A Look at Some of the Early Chevys That Shaped Drag Racing History, Part 2

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Last time we took a look at some of the Chevys that made history during the Golden Era of drag racing. Let’s take a look at a few more.

 

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Corvairs were known to weigh several hundred pounds less than the Chevy II, so they became a quick favorite among racers. Rusty Delling built this blown car in late 1966 to run in NHRA’s S/XS. Late that year, he ran an 8.980 at 153 with this car hosting a Chevy 327 and an automatic.

 

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Conceived by dealership owner Fred Gibb and Dick Harrell, the first ever Camaro ZL1 successfully debuted at the 1969 AHRA Winternationals running in Super Stock. With its COPO 0560 all-aluminum 427 engine, it would later win an AHRA national championship in 1971. This car became the benchmark for many after it, including the new 2012 Camaro ZL-1. It sold at a Mecum auction in early 2012 for $400,000.

 

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Randy Walls became a household name in 1969 when he went on a nationwide match race tour with his Chevy-powered Super Nova II. Before retiring in 1971, he had run as quick as a 6.90 at 220 mph with Chevrolet power. After coming back into Nostalgia Funny Car racing, Walls won the Goodguys championship in 2004, and later made nearly every magazine in the country when this car was destroyed in a top end fire in 2007.

 

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Running out of Royal Oak, MI, Pete Seaton’s series of Seaton’s Shaker Chevys were well known throughout the country. Del Heinart handled both the wrenching and driving duties on this 1964 Chevelle, which ran an injected 396 big-block. With virtually no aftermarket parts available, the car reportedly ran 10.30s at 136 mph with a Turbo Hydramatic while weighing 2,830 pounds. Seaton would later run a 1966 Chevelle and then a Corvair, where he was the first to break 180 mph.

 

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One of the earliest supercharged Chevy match racers was this Chevy II originally campaigned by Steve Bovan from Blair’s Speed Shop in Pasadena, CA. (It’s still in business.) Ed Carter and Bob Little campaigned the car for Central Chevrolet out of Fremont, CA, in 1966. Running at 2,400 pounds, the car ran nine-second time slips with a 427 Chevy with a 6-71 GMC blower on alcohol.

 

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One of the very first flip-top Camaro Funny Cars was owned by Don Blair and driven by Steve Bovan, who worked in the engine room at Blair’s Speed Shop. The car was running on a 125-inch wheelbase chassis built by Mike Hoag and match raced throughout the country with a blown 427 and an automatic transmission. The car reportedly ran an 8.35 at 175.78 at OCIR in late 1967 and was campaigned through 1969.

 

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Running out of Birmingham, AL, Bobby Wood found success on the match race trail with the 106-inch wheelbase, fiberglass-bodied 1966 Chevelle. Running a 427 milled out to 454 ci with Mondello heads, a Pete Robinson-prepped 6-71 blower and a Torqueflite, Wood ran as quick as an 8.43 at 171 mph in 1966 with the car.

 

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In 1963, no better Chevy could be had than the lightweight Impala with the Z-11 option featuring a dual quad 427/430 four-speed Posi-traction rear and an all-aluminum front end. Dave Strickler and Bill Jenkins ran this one–with the factory sticker still on the rear window just above the car number. The car is still around, restored and ready for action.

 

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Many Chevy cars lived long lives racing successfully in other classes. After starting out as an E/Gasser the early ’60s, this ’55 got a big-block and altered wheelbase treatment in 1966. Nick and Joanne Iarussi of Wickliffe, OH, won a Pro Gas national championship with Godzilla in the mid ’80s, and it’s still seen racing on occasion.

 

 

Text and photos by Rod Short

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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