Despite the eye-catching appearance of his ’69 Camaro, when Mike Recchia set out to build a new car for ADRL’s Pro Extreme class he claims not to have even cared about how it looked. When you’re competing in the quickest and fastest eighth-mile doorslammer series on earth, performance reigns supreme. “I just wanted a fast car,” Recchia insists. “And Garret [Livingston] knocked it out of the park—gave me a fast car. And then my son Mikey gave me a great-looking car, so I have to thank both of them for making it happen.”
At his son’s suggestion, Recchia’s supercharged, Hemi-powered ’69 Camaro was painted to resemble the classic Chevy in which Jim Rathmann paced the Indy 500 field. Even the original’s convertible top was replicated, giving the ride a unique presence. “As far as we know, that’s a first, at least on a Pro Mod-style car,” says Recchia, co-owner and president of Agrow Fresh Produce, a Chicago-based repacker of potatoes and onions. “The fans really seem to like the convertible look and it’s getting us a lot of extra attention from the media, so that’s a good thing, too.
“The convertible roof probably draws more attention than anything else. Of course, the other side of attention is you better be fast. You get all this attention and you go slow? That’s not cool. You’ve got to live up to expectations.”
Fortunately, that hasn’t been a problem. After Livingston gave the original chassis a bumper-to-bumper makeover late in 2012 at his Garret Race Cars shop in Marble Hill, Missouri, the car made its debut last April. Performance improved throughout the year, ultimately delivering a 3.619-second pass at 211.83 mph in October to qualify fourth for the ADRL season-ender at Houston, and set new career-best numbers for Recchia and crew.
“We were debating going soft or going for it and I told my guys let’s go more aggressive because I could drive a more aggressive car,” Recchia explains. “I felt I could pedal it and get it in the show, but I can’t drive a car that falls off the tires. The tire shakes and you’re done. So that’s what we did, we went aggressive. And I think we should have been more aggressive, to be honest.”
Recchia stresses it’s a collective effort that gets him down the track, with no one officially serving as crew chief. “We do a lot of our own maintenance between races, but we bounce ideas back and forth with our engine builder Jeff Fowler, too. And right now it’s running like a bracket car, not hurting anything,” Recchia says. “You know, it’s always good when you have a car that can back it up pass after pass after pass. Repeating, that’s the important thing. It gives you something to work with.
“The approach we took in thirteen was just to hit the closer races and have some fun and it really paid off. We did have a ton of fun and learned a lot, but next year I think we’re just going to focus strictly on ADRL and try to do the whole circuit.”
Seven months of hard launches and high speed took its toll, so Recchia’s Camaro will spend time over the winter at Larry Jeffers Race Cars in House Springs, Missouri, where Livingston merged his shop with Jeffers.
“It needs a few things repaired, but we’re also going to pull some weight out,” Recchia says. “We’ve got Jeff working on some stuff for us to make the block actually lighter, take a little more weight off the front end.”
With Recchia already running parts-friendly and consistent low 3.60s at over 210 mph, that may be just what it takes for the eight-time Chicago Wise Guys Pro Mod champion to finally set the pace in ADRL Pro Extreme, too.
“It’s taken a while, but we’re getting there,” Recchia says. “These guys are so tough out here, but I think we’ll be ready.”
CHASSIS & BODY
Builder: Garret Race Cars
Location: Marble Hill, MO
Wheelbase: 110 inches
Front Suspension: Lamb Pro struts
Rear Suspension: Penske shocks
Rear Tires: Hoosier 34.5 x 7.0-16
Front Tires: Goodyear
Wheels: Weld back, American Racing front
Brakes: Mark Williams back, Lamb front
Differential: Tom’s Differential
Axles: Mark Williams
Paint: Rodney Benson Custom Paint
Builder: Fowler Racing Engines, Inc.
Size/Type: 526-ci, Hemi
Power Adder: PSI Screw Supercharger
Block: Alan Johnson TFX
Rods/Pistons: Fowler Racing Engines/Venolia Pistons
Valves/Springs: Victory Titanium Valves
Oiling: P&P (wet sump)
Fuel Pump: Lil’ Bertha
Spark Plugs/Wires: NGK/MSD
Intake: Alan Johnson
Transmission: Bruno/Lenco two-speed
Converter: Coan built by Snyder Motorsports
Seat: ISP (poured in)
Steering Wheel: Pro Wheel
Data Acquisition: Racepak
Window Net: Stroud
Driving Suit: Stroud
Michele Recchia, Michael Recchia Jr., Mark Tukiendorf, Larry Abbate, Tom Tukiendorf, Denny Miller, Ed Romanelli, Timmy Norton, Timmy Straton
Agrow Fresh Produce Co., Abbate Screw Products, Bensenville Screw Products, Dandee Pallets, Legend Racing Enterprises, Fowler Racing Engines, Bruno’s Automotive Products
Fowler Racing Engines, Inc. takes credit for the copious amount of horsepower the 526-ci Hemi produces (3.619 E.T./211.83 mph). Check out the tech sheet for all the goodies.
It takes a village to stage a Pro Mod! Recchia is quick to give high praise to his crew for their tireless efforts.
The rear view looks as if someone attached springs to a Funny Car.
The interior is meticulously executed and stripped of unnecessary weight. A Bruno/Lenco two-speed transfers power.
Text and Photos by Bryan Smyth