Stock * '67 Impala
For years, many racers have sheid away from large, heavy cars because of concerns over braekage and performance disadvantages, but for Steve Hutar, who campaigns a near-4,300-pound '67 Impala, neither issue applies.
"We have an automatic transmission on the car, so that provides a lot of cushion for the drivetrain," said Hutar. "The most I have to do is change a ring gear every two years for preventive maintenance. I wouldn't want to run a four-speed with this car, however. A friend used to have a '67 Chevy with a manual transmission and had nonstop drivetrain problems."
The car is no slouch, either; its 325-horsepower, 396-cid engine has propelled it to bests of 11.89 and 111 mph and a 60-foot best of 1.56. "We run 4.88 rear-end gears and a Turbo 350 transmission with a 2.75 low gear," said Hutar, "and that gets it moving pretty good."
Hutar had previously bracket raced the car for eight years before converting it to Stock trim in 1995. Before this car, he had a similarly sized '65 Impala that he campaigned in the brackets for three years.
Hutar does all of the engine assembly, Wayne Lewis machines the short block components, and Jeff Stealy works the valves. The engine is equipped with a Mike McDonald-prepped 750cfm carburetor, Ross pistons, Comp Cams camshaft, and Stahl headers. Lawrence Line did the transmission, which has an A-I torque converter, and the car's stock-type Chevy 12-bolt rear end features Strange axles and spool. Hutar runs Hoosier tires on Center Line wheels.
Hutar, who has operated his business, Steve's Auto Body, since 1987 in Wright, Minn., attends approximately four races a year. "We run the Brainerd national and divisional races and a couple of other Lucas oil Drag Racing Series events."
Hutar's Son Ryan, 13, is in charge of the dial. Said Hutar, "When Ryan is old enough, he'll start driving this thing. I want to thank my wife Shari for letting me race and Lawrence Line's son Lance for all of the technical assistance and dyno work that he provides."
Super Gas * '65 Opel
Johnny Thompson's '65 Opel took an unusual road to Super Gas competition. When it was built in the early 1970s, it was originally campaigned as an AA/Gas car with a blown Hemi engine and a Torqueflight transmission. More than 30 years and four owners later, it is a regular in the West Central-area Super Gas wars and bracket racing scene with naturally aspirated Chevy power.
"I purchased it almost 18 years ago and converted it to Super Gas," said Thompson. "I had a 427 Chevy motor that I took out of a '7O Chevelle I used to bracket race. Everything on this car is custorn made, and it has an unusual amount of chrome underneath the rear end and on the suspension."
The 427 engine makes an estimated 750 horsepower. Machined by Wheeler Racing Engines in Blaine, Minn., it is fed by a Barry Grant carburetor. It has an all-roller cam valvetrain and a 14:1 compression ratio. The power is converted through a TCI transmission with a Jerry Haas-built powerglide onto the Oldsmobile rear end with a 5.13 gear ratio. CNF Race Cars has updated some of the chassis work. Minus the Dedenbear throttle stop, the car is capable of running 9.18 seconds at more than 140 mph.
"The wheelbase is only 96 inches, which makes u fun and exciting to drive," assured Thompson. "I have it tamed down now, but it stays on the wheelie bar for 200 feet when the throttle stop isn't on."
Racing is a family tradition for Thompson. He was introduced to the bracket racing world by his brothers Gerald and Paul. After learning from them, he ventured off on his own and began bracket racing with a '7O V28, which he has owned since he was 13 years old. He also races with Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Bruce Carlson, whom he met through Paul 18 years ago.
Thompson, 40, got off to a late start this season after the purchase of a new truck and fifth wheel trailer, but he has since been racing at Division 5 events. He was confident going into eliminations at his home track in Brainerd after having three excellent reaction times - .000, .003, and .004 but he cut it too close in the first round and lost via red-light. However, the Minnesotan saw career-best runs from Carlson's hot Pursuit Top Alcohol Funny Car, and he was able to enjoy all the family in attendance.
"It's kind of an expensive race for me after buying 15 tickets so that all of my family members can go," said Thompson lightly, "but it's worth it after you're there with everybody and able to camp out at the track."
Stack * D/SA '68 Tarina
Countless drivers have followed their fathers' footsteps into drag racing, but Dick Lux did the opposite: He was lured back into the sport by his son, Stock racer Shannon Lux. "He was having so much fun that I thought I ought to try it, too," said the senior Lux, who previously-raced from 1962 to 1969.
About the time Lux left drag racing to raise a family and build a business, his car was just getting its start in the sport. Lux's D/SA '68 Torino has been not just a race car but a Stock car continuously since 1970. He purchased it from Paul Long, who bought it from noted Ford campaigner Richie Pauley. "Richie's a big guy, and so am I, so I figured it would be a good car for me," said Lux, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall.
A Ford was the only option when he decided to make his return. "Blue runs in my veins," said Lux, a transplanted Chicagoan who has lived in Texas for the last 25 years and owns Five Star Electric, a company that sells power-electronic equipment to industry. "All of the company trucks are Fords. Everything I own is a Ford."
Division 4 Stock racers Charlie Ford, R.J. Sledge, and Rusty and Steven Hall helped Lux and wife Janette, who is "as big a gearhead" as he is, get up to speed. Hall performed all of the machine and balance work for the car's powerful 428 Cobra Jet engine, which has JE pistons, Grower connecting rods, Bullet camshaft, and Holley carb. A C6 transmission transfers torque to a nine-inch Ford rear end with a 4.71:1 ring-and-pinion. Strange axles rotate Monocoque wheels and 15x9x30 Hoosier slicks, and the suspension is a unique "one and a half" leaf-spring setup.
"I'm a rookie again, just trying to go as fast as I can," said Lux, who helped Shannon with the mechanical work on Shannon's car for five years before deciding to return behind the wheel, "I just want to have fun, and to tell you the truth, it's almost too much fun. The Fords, the Halls, and K.J. really helped me get this thing running."
Clearly, they knew what they were doing because Lux's car is one of the fastest in the country. He qualified ninth at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals presented by Pennzoil in Memphis with a (-.93) 10.92. Lux, who has run as quick as 10.82 with the car, was eliminated in the first round of eliminations when opponent Clint Blezien, who won his first national event earlier this year in Bristol, ran a 12.291 on his 12.29 dial.
Camp * '63 Corvette
Charlie Stewart has raced a variety of cars - most notably in A/ED, where he was a multiple NHRA national event finalist and record holder - since he began racing in 1979, but his current car is unique.
Stewart, in the car-conversion business for 25 years dealing mostly with GM products, was perusing a flyer about the new Chevy Trailblazer two years ago, and the specs on its engine caught his attention: It's a 4.2 liter, straight six cylinder with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder that makes almost 300 horsepower stock. That type of engine - six cylinders, four valves per cylinder - is exactly the type required to run in F/EA.
"I was looking for something different," Stewart said. "A class where nobody would be beating up the index but me. Something I could control.
"I thought, 'If that engine makes 300 horsepower stock, I only need to double that to make it a good piece."
As a result of his long relationship with GM, the company sent Stewart two complete engines in crates. That was two years ago, and now Stewart is on the cusp of becoming competitive. He has been fast for a while, but only recently has he made the engine consistent, and he hopes to contend for the national championship next year. He set the class records at 8.34 (on a 9.00 index) and 156.95 mph at the Lucas oil Drag Racing Series event in Houston this year, and he has run a best of 8.29.
David Cook of DC Carburetors built the three 500cfm Holley carbs that bolt to a Stewart-designed and Hogan-built intake manifold. The aluminum cylinder head was reworked by Stewart with input from Yelvy Racing Heads in Fort Worth, Texas. The aluminum block has ductile iron cylinder liners and is filled with JE pistons. The crankshaft is a stock iron GM unit.