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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF.........................................................CHRIS BIRO editor@rpmmag.com

RPM Magazine is a REGISTERED TRADEMARK of Revolution Publishing & Media Inc. RPM Magazine is a worldwide motorsports publication distributed in 34 countries and can be found on popular newsstands in the USA, Canada and select newsstands in the UK. If you cannot find a copy near you please call 519-752-3705 or email circulation@rpmmag.com To subscribe to RPM go to www.rpmmag.com or email Trish Biro at trish@rpmmag.com, or call 519-752-3705. The focus of RPM is to bring a diverse mix of high performance street and race automobiles to life within its pages including race cars, musclecars, hot rods and street legal machines with an emphasis on the “EXTREME,” including fast doorslammer and outlaw forms of drag racing. Not familiar with these types of cars? They are considered to be the top-shelf of the industry and are on the edge with regard to design, performance, and power! RPM Magazine does not sell its mailing list or share any of the confidential information regarding its subscribers.


RPM Magazine has been a world leader in motorsports publishing for 20 years and has support locations in Ontario, Canada, Alabama, Texas, and Virginia, along with contributing writers and photojournalists worldwide. If you have a story that may fit within the focus and scope of RPM Magazine’s coverage, please email our Editor In Chief at editor@ rpmmag.com. Submission of an article does not guarantee that it will be published. Revolution Publishing & Media Inc. (RPM) / RPM Magazine IS NOT responsible for errors or omissions in ANY advertisement or article. Advertisements may be rearranged or altered at the sole discretion of RPM to allow the ad to fit in the space purchased by the advertiser. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE ANY ADVERTISING WHICH WE CONSIDER TO CONTAIN MISLEADING, OFFENSIVE OR FALSE INFORMATION. REPRODUCTION OF ANY INFORMATION HEREIN IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT.

Publication Return/Address Change Information USA RPM MAGAZINE (USPS Periodical #023474) is published monthly 12 times per year by USA Publisher’s Agent, 10387 Main Street, Suite 300, Fairfax, VA 22030.

TRISH BIRO ...............519.752.3705.......trish@rpmmag.com

Periodicals postage rate is paid at Fairfax, VA and additional mailing offices.

Art & Graphics Director: Toby Brooks

Postmaster: Send address changes to:

Special Events Manager: Chris Biro events@rpmmag.com Special Events Sales: Trish Biro: 519-752-3705 trish@rpmmag.com Subscriptions/Address Changes: Circulation circulation@rpmmag.com General Inquiries: 519.752.3705 info@rpmmag.com




Chris Biro

You made it!



t’s safe to say that re-running my CONGRATULATIONS! Editor’s Rant has now become tradition in RPM in the first issue of every year. CONGRATULATIONS! You Made It! Before you read on, just to be clear, I am all for progress, innovation, advances in safety, science, better health and moving forward, however, some things–read “some” things, just might make more sense the way we used to do them. The point is, learning how to deal with responsibility and challenges as well as success and failure at a young age can go a long way in life as years pass. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this with the spirit in which it was written. Congratulations! CONGRATULATIONS to all of our 40+ year-old readers. First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses full of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, white bread, and tuna from a can. Then, after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored leadbased paints. We had no childproofed medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking! Mom didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet, she worked only if she wanted to. We would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags, and riding in the back of a pick-up on a warm spring day was always a special treat, not a crime. If someone cut us off while driving we’d flip them the bird, and they would return the favor, without getting out a bat, knife or gun at the next light. We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. Take-out food was limited to hot dogs, fish and chips, and pizza. You didn’t line up at the drive-thru for your morning coffee but got up earlier and made it yourself. Even though all the stores closed at 6:00 pm and didn’t open on weekends, somehow we didn’t starve to death. We shared one soft drink with four friends from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. We could collect bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy a whole bag of penny candy, sports cards, bubble gum and some fire crackers. We ate cupcakes, white bread, and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in them, but we weren’t overweight because...WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING! We’d leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us, yet we were okay. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill only to find out we forgot the brakes! We’d hop-up our bikes with banana seats and long forks and didn’t need some guy on TV’s reality show of the month to tell us how to do it. We built tree houses and played in river beds with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. We did not have any video games at all, and when we did finally get them it was for occasional entertain-


ment with the whole family. No on-demand TV or 200 channels on satellite, no DVD movies, no surround sound, no personal computers, no internet, internet message boards and forums or social media, no cell phones or other handheld devices, and no texting...we did have friends though, and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits. We were given pellet guns, jack knives and slingshots for our 10th birthdays. We played with toy guns that looked like real guns—only because it was cool—not because we wanted to be a gangsta. And every young boy wanted to be a policeman or fireman! At 13 we learned to drive the family car at the empty mall parking lot on Sunday. Christmas was Christmas not Xmas…no really, it was! We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell or just yelled out for them. Football, baseball, and hockey had tryouts and not everyone made the team…and those who didn’t had to learn to deal with the disappointment. Imagine that! Getting on the team was a privilege based on ability and merit, and not due to special rules, threats, fear or guilt. There were very few football, hockey, or soccer moms and dads who cared more about their kids becoming the next million-dollar star over just letting them play and have fun. I know this all sounds strange, but it’s true! If a company we bought something from made a mistake, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and simply called them about it—and they either fixed it or they didn’t, and they would live with the word of mouth (good or bad) AFTER we gave them a shot at fixing it. We didn’t go on social media (because there was none) and smear the company’s name first. We did not talk back to our parents or we’d get spanked, and knowing that kept us in line… most of the time. Our teachers used to belt us with rulers or leather straps, and knowing that kept us in line…most of the time. Bullies always ruled the playground at school until someone stuck up to them. The idea of a mom or dad bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever! The past 70 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we LEARNED how to deal with it all! And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS! You were allowed to grow up as kids, before the lawyers, governments, and big businesses regulated our lives “for our own good.” You may want to let your kids read this so they will know how brave their parents truly are. Once again, have a fantastic 2020!

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

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january2020 Often Imitated, Never Duplicated—For 21 STRAIGHT YEARS RPM Magazine has been the ORIGINAL Voice Of Wild Street Machines and Extreme Drag Cars WORLDWIDE! Don’t Settle For Less! We DELIVER Insane Fast Cars and Bring You NO POLITICS... JUST ACTION! Your ONLY “Real Time” “Real World” Car Mag...PERIOD!

THE SO Much Horsepower Packed Into One Place... That Place IS RPM Magazine!


2019 Top Guns.................................................88 All the best our pages had to offer from the past year!

Fresh Horses................................................................... 8

More Cowbell.................................................... 54 I got a fever. And the prescription is Grim Reaper 1.5.

After 27 years of racing, Luciano Vitelli saddles up a new nitrous-assisted pony for 2019-2020

Drag-N-Drive.............................................................24 Summit Racing’s Midwest Drags giveaway 1967 Nova


EXCLUSIVES Shop Talk......................................................................40 How old do we have to be to be old-school?

Meant to Be............................................................ 72 If you love your street machine, let it go...just like Phil DelSignore did. TOWTECH

Trickin’ Out Your Trailer..............................46 We begin upgrades to our new 28-foot enclosed car hauler

The Fenders of Doom: Part II................................ 110 Bob Thrash keeps working his magic on the sheetmetal from hell


january 2020 | RPM Magazine


Mickey Thompson was unstoppable. He was the first American to 400+MPH at Bonneville & the manager of Lions Drag Strip. At heart, Mickey was a drag racer, now his DNA lives on in the innovative winning products we build today for drag racers like you. UNCOMPROMISED CONSTRUCTION / UNDISPUTED PERFORMANCE.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



january 2020 | RPM Magazine

story by

James Williams


here’s a reason we call it horse-

power. Before our modern era of racecars, dragstrips, and high performance street machines, there were horses. Whether

photos by

on bareback, saddled up, or teamed ahead of a stagecoach, the American West was explored, settled, and eventually connected thanks in no small part to the horse. In the 1800s, travelers could

Blake Farnan squeeze aboard rickety wagons and coaches to make their way across the vast expanse of the New Frontier. Typically, such journeys would cover anywhere from 50-70 miles per day. If you were really in a hurry, the

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


FRESH HORSES OUT TO LAUNCH The grippy Mickey Thompson drag radials fill the rear wheel openings nicely, but they’re there for function over form. After Vitelli heats them up on a smoky burnout, the sidewalls wad beautifully on another laser-straight launch.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

best solution wasn’t to drive your horses harder. It was to swap them often and keep the team fresh. Nearly two centuries later, Woodbridge, Ontario racer Luciano Vitelli had a similar idea. Except he wasn’t just interested in a new ride. He wanted to go fast. “I’ve raced for years, but this car is new for 2019,” he said. But the upgrade wasn’t just for aesthetics. “We plan to

run 4.30s with the current combo,” he added. “I started racing at 19 and never looked back. I bought my first Mustang and it was stock for two weeks before the mods began,” he said. That first car, a 1991 Fox body, ran a best of 9.10 before being sold to purchase a 1995 Mustang. True to form, Vitelli left it alone for just two days before it was transformed into the 2005 Street Eliminator championship car

that won every race that year. In 2007, Vitelli got married and decided to shelve his racing exploits for a while and focus on his growing young family. However, as time and finances eventually made racing more feasible again, Vitelli decided to get back to the track in 2017 when he purchased his current car, this 2009 Mustang, that had been built by HFR Fabrication.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


FRESH HORSES HATE TO SEE YA GO... LOVE TO WATCH YA LEAVE A Mark Williams modular housing rides out back and has been stuffed full of Mark Williams goodies. It rides on a custom 4-link with JRI shocks and a single funny car-style wheelie bar works to optimize the hookup. Meanwhile, double adjustable struts ride up front. HFR started with an arrow-straight, lightweight chromoly skeleton that is a legal 10.5-style chassis with the factory front frame and shock towers retained. The double frame rail arrangement adds rigidity, while a pair of Santhuff double adjustable struts with Hypercoil springs were used up front. Out back, a Mark Williams modular housing has been fit with all MW internals before being suspended via a custom 4-link on Kinetic Engineering valved JRI shocks. Tires and wheels for the Mustang consist of a sinister black


coated set of Mickey Thompson Pro5 wheels, with 15x4.5s with Goodyear Eagle tires up front and 16x15-inch double beadlocked hoops with 10.5 Mickey Thompson ET Drag radials out back. A lightweight chassis is all for naught if you hang a heavy, clunky body all over it. To keep things svelte and sleek, the Mustang envelope was retained using mostly lightweight composite alternatives. Carbon fiber replacement doors, trunk lid, wing, and rear valance were all employed along with a traditional fiberglass nose with pin-on hood.

january 2020 | RPM Magazine






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www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



LIGHT FLIGHT Carbon fiber abounds, including the helmet along with the doors, trunk lid, rear wing, and rear valance. Champion Motors performed all the body and paint work, using an understated metallic charcoal hue. Gino Bucci of Monster Graphics added a number of custom graphics touches, including GT rally stripes and highly

detailed air brushed faux grilles and headlights on the nose. The Ford was certainly looking like a fast and formidable foe, but it still needed a drivetrain. For that need, Vitelli turned to his friends at Zex Toronto for a


spacious 565 ci big block Chevy with laughing gas assist. First, a Dart block was filled with a Callies crank, MGP rods, and Diamond pistons. A top-secret roller cam was selected to orchestrate the bulletproof valve-


B ELT D R I V E SYST EM Patented High Torq Drive™ reinforced belt runs dry, spins with less friction than timing chains or gear drives and absorbs harmonics. Kit hardware is all Grade 8 Allen and Torx™ design. Cam timing is externally adjustable. 2 Piece Pulley is infinitely adjustable ±10°. Solid Pulley is adjustable ±8° in 2° increments. Crank Pulley is heat-treated steel and incorporates a High Torq Drive™ tooth configuration. Hard coated Billet Aluminum Upper Pulley features patented High Torq Drive™ tooth configuration. Teflon® coated vacuum cam and crank seals. Accessories available to run distributor drives, fuel pumps or oil pumps off front of cam. For product videos and information, visit us at Jesel.com or call us at 732-901-1800


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

train. Brodix DX9 aluminum cylinder heads were equipped with T&D shaft rockers and covered with custom Zex Toronto fabricated covers. A gorgeous Zex custom billet intake reaches toward the hood opening without disturbing

Turning Mopars into Monsters.

Trick Flow PowerPort® 240 cylinder heads for Mopar B/RB engines are the bolt-on street performance heads you want. The heads are packed full of the good stuff: A356-T61 aluminum castings; fully CNC-ported combustion chambers and ports; beefed-up rocker shaft bosses; 334 cfm intake flow; 2.190"/1.760" stainless valves; PAC Racing Pacaloy™ valve springs; factory port locations; stock-style valvetrain, pistons, intake, and exhaust compatibility; plus much more. Pricing starts under $2,000 for a pair of fully assembled heads. Intake manifolds, cam, top-end kit, valve covers, gaskets, and other components for Big Mopar also available. Airflow Results

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Cast Aluminum Valve Covers Treat your build to cast aluminum valve covers! They are made from durable A319 aluminum, which is much less prone to flex and distortion than stamped steel covers to prevent oil leaks. Plus, the covers clear most roller rocker arms, have added clearance for the distributor, and can be drilled to accept breathers.

Track Heat® Intake Manifolds Just oozing high performance, these high-rise single plane Track Heat intakes feature a one-piece spider-type design with extended, high-flow runners and raised plenum floors to significantly increase power and torque in the 3,000-7,000 plus RPM range. Other bonuses include bosses for nitrous nozzles and extra material for custom port work.

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www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



LUCIANO VITELLI’S OUTLAW N/T 2009 FORD MUSTANG Chassis Type & Mods: HFR Fabrication double frame rail Outlaw 10.5-style chassis. Factory front frame rails & shock towers. Suspension & Brakes: FRONT: Santhuff double adjustable front struts. REAR: Custom 4-link rear with Kinetic Engineering valved JRI shocks. Body & Paint: Metallic gray with GT stripes. Carbon fiber doors, trunk lid, wing, and rear valance. Fiberglass front end. Prepped and painted by Champion Motors with graphics by Monster Graphics/Gino Bucci. Engine: 565 ci big block Chevy by Zex Toronto. Dart block with Callies crankshaft, MGP rods, and Diamond pistons. Brodix DN9 cylinder heads with titanium valves and T&D shaft rockers. Zex Toronto fabricated valve covers. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Zex Toronto billet intake manifold with Meyer Racing billet throttle bodies. Power Adder: Zex Toronto two-stage nitrous system. Electronics & Ignition: Big Stuff 3 engine management system. MSD Digital 7 ignition box. Speedwire Systems and Racepak v300 data logger. Crank-driven distributor with Moroso wires. Exhaust: Custom fabricated and ceramic coated headers. Transmission & Driveline: Rossler 3-speed automatic transmission with Neal Chance 2-piece converter. Differential: Mark Williams modular 4-link housing with Mark Williams axles and gears. Tires & Wheels: FRONT: 15x4.5-inch Mickey Thompson Pro5 wheels with 26x4.515 Goodyear front tires. REAR: 16x15-inch double beadlocked Mickey Thompson Pro5 wheels with 33.0x10.5-16 Mickey Thompson ET Drag tires. Performance (eighth-mile): Best pass to date of 4.53@157 Special Thanks: “Zex Toronto, Champion Motors, Speedwire Systems, Gennaro Musto, Marty Vanin, Xerxes Surkari, Jasmine Surkari, Peter Skoubouris, Olga Skoubouris, Rob Ing, Gil Zeneri, Gimi Consoli, Marty Vanin, Frankie Doldo, Pat Doldo, and family Sofia Vitelli, Mario Vitelli, and Christopher Vitelli."


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

LOOK AT ALL THOSE PONIES It isn’t always popular with Ford purists when you put Chevy power in a Blue Oval build, but it’s hard to argue with the power-per-dollar and parts availability of the venerable Rat motor. The 565 cubes here are augmented with a two-stage Zex Toronto nitrous system.

the sightline and billet throttle bodies manage the airflow. A Big Stuff 3 EFI system manages the air, fuel, and spark with the assistance of an MSD Digital 7 box and Speedwire

wiring system. A crank-driven distributor is mounted up front and employs Moroso wires to get the current where it needs to be while a Racepak v300 data logger records the

info for further analysis. A two-stage Zex Toronto direct port nitrous system adds even more ponies when Vitelli decides to unleash them. Behind the transplanted Rat

motor is another piece of GM engineering, a Turbo 400 3-speed automatic transmission, that has been beefed up and refined by Rossler Transmissions. A Neal Chance

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


CERTIFIED. FRESH. The Mustang’s cockpit features a lightweight chromoly skeleton and lots of carbon fiber panels and bar protectors. A Racepak digital dash is the lone addition to the fiberglass replacement dashboard that lives behind the quick release Strange steering wheel.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

FRESH HORSES 2-piece billet converter helps minimize power loss while also ensuring the power gets back to the tires where it needs to be. Inside, the Mustang is all business, where a cleanly fabricated cockpit is a jungle gym of chromoly, carbon fiber, and well-fit tinwork. A single racing bucket has been installed in the funny car cage with driver input provided via a quick-release Strange steering wheel and a Precision Products billet shifter. A Racepak digital dash has been recessed into a fiberglass replacement dashboard that can be quickly removed for service if necessary. The finished ride is fast and getting faster. “I did a lot of changes to it to personalize it and I’m happy with how it turned out,” Vitelli said. So far, on just 17 runs,

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


the Ford has cracked off a 4.53@157 mph on a single stage and the team fully expects 4.30s before season’s end of 2020. Vitelli runs the car at heads-up events across Canada and is excited for the future. “Ian Hill has done a fantastic job in such


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

a short time to bring us some great racing again. I will most definitely be attending Smackdown4 as well as well as any type of series races the car fits into,” he said. Vitelli is quick to credit his family and friends for supporting his racing exploits. “My


www.rpmmag.com | january 2020




CERTIFIED. FRESH. The Mustang’s cockpit features a lightweight chromoly skeleton and lots of carbon fiber panels and bar protectors. A Racepak digital dash is the lone addition to the fiberglass replacement dashboard that lives behind the quick release Strange steering wheel.


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january 2020 | RPM Magazine



Dad Luciano enjoys running the Mustang at the track with the assistance of sons Mario and Christopher.

Add ground speed to any Racepak V-Net recorder or dash, utilizing our new GPS Ground Speed module. • Requires no externally mounting rpm sensor pick-up • Requires no calibration or special programming • V-Net plug and play installation simplicity

two boys always come racing with me and offer great support. And although my wife doesn’t usually come to the track, she supports my choice to

race and puts up with all things associated with what it takes to prepare for racing,” he added. One thing is for certain: Vitelli’s pony

is packing plenty of horses of its own and after a long, cold winter in Woodbridge, it’ll be rearing to blast out of the gate this spring!


www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


story by


ith draganddrive events turning from small underground events to the mainstream,


PJ Nadeau

it’s no surprise to see cars like this 1967 Chevy Nova being built. Other than the overwhelming quality of the build usually reserved for trailer queens, this car has

photos by

Brian & Jesse Havlik

been engineered to be driven and driven hard. Hotrods by Havlik took the reins on this incredible machine, which is going to be given away this summer at

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

the Summit Racing Midwest Drags in June. When building a car to compete in events like the Midwest Drags, a different approach

cvrproducts.com For more information visit


www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



is needed to make a car not only go fast but also survive the grueling conditions often found when driving thousands of miles of rural highway, interstate, and heavily congested city areas. Simply gutting a car and throwing horse-

power at it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make the next track. The Havliks are veterans of these events with past podium appearances at Drag Week. These guys not only talk the talk, they walk the walk. “Live on the street then go fast,”

is a motto of Brian and Jesse. They understand what it takes to build a truly successful drag and drive street car. The team at Hotrods by Havlik started the build with a ’67 Nova. A new body from Real Deal Steel was

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january 2020 | RPM Magazine

JAW DROPPER delivered without the roof skin welded. By doing this, the team was able to install a NHRA 8.50 legal chromoly cage, fitting it as tight to everything as possible

and essentially making it disappear into the beautiful interior. Taking notes from GM and sourcing all the parts from Trim Parts and GM Classic, the Nova

looks showroom fresh. Knowing what it takes to make a car survive and to do it comfortably is a huge part of building a true street car. The Nova not only

Hotrods by Havliks built this incredible Nova to help showcase what it takes to be successful in the Summit Drag-N-Drive event. The detail and craftsmanship is usually reserved for trailer queens. Their attention to detail is what it takes to finish a difficult event like the Summit Racing Midwest Drags.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020




january 2020 | RPM Magazine



BLACK ON BLACK The fresh interior is outfitted with all new pieces from Trim Parts and GM Classic. Staying true to 1967, all new wiring, a custom steering column, and 8.50 chromoly cage round out the interior.

has a complete stock-appearing interior, it also employs sound deadening materials throughout the car. Flatline Sound Barrier (FSB) has been laid under the interior. Why would you put sound deadener in a car you want to go quick and fast, you ask? FSB is up to ten times lighter than competitors and really lets you enjoy the drive without the fatigue of unbearable engine noise and allows you to listen to your navigator give directions,

crunch potato chips, or ask for bathroom breaks. The body was covered in Jet Black by Cassill Collision Centers. After being wet sanded and buffed, the depth of the black really came through. The GlassTek hood and bumpers fit to perfection and look amazing. The trim was all sourced from Trim Parts. The underside of the body was treated with a coating to protect the chassis, help with heat, and further sound deadening.

While the topside of the car is show worthy, the car was definitely built to be driven and raced. After years of experience, there is no excuse to not use the best, safest, and most reliable parts available. All the chassis parts, including the bolt on subframe came from Chris Alston’s Chassis Works and Wilwood street brakes are on all four corners. The added safety of a true performance braking system far outweighs the weight

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



ROLLING IN STYLE The 17x4 front runner with custom disc brakes. The Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R is a radial tire perfect for street use without the weight penalty of a regular street radial. penalty by not using a drag brake. Putting all the power and stopping to the ground is a set of 17x4 and 15x10 double beadlocked RC Components wheels with Mickey Thompson 295/65-15 drag radials on the back. Under the GlassTek cowl hood is where the experience once again shines through. This time, however, it comes from Beck Racing Engines (BRE). BRE went with a simple formula: proven parts to give


proven performance. Mahle pistons and rings and a Scat crank and rods fill the bottom end and the heads are topped with PAC springs that control the Manley valves. COMP rockers, push rods, and lifters are pushed by a custom spec’d hydraulic roller camshaft. This 91-octane pump gas, naturally-aspirated beast makes 740 hp and 720 ft lbs. of torque. It’s designed for reliability, power and ease of maintenance.

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

EFI was a must to provide easy cold starts, fuel economy on the drives, and everything you would expect in a daily driver hot rod. The Holley Dominator EFI with screen has been an industry leader in everything from NHRA pro modified to basic street cars. When you are trying to build a true street/strip car, the EFI system is the last place to skimp out.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



SO FINE A narrowed 9-inch was braced and filled with all the goodies. An aluminum third member, 4.11 gears, 35-spline axles, bearings, and billet bearing ends round out the beefy rear diff. Also check out how clean that Real Deal Steel undersurface is!

Brushless High Performance Cooling Systems

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january 2020 | RPM Magazine

The Dominator EFI could be considered overkill for this setup. However, the functionality far exceeds the needs with this engine combination while leaving room for future expansion if the winner of this car wants to improve upon the already stout package. Keeping the heart of the Nova cool

is a trick piece from Delta PAG. The 100% custom radiator and fan setup is nothing short of breathtaking. Considering the purpose of the car and the engine, the Havliks went with a stunning cooling system that not only works but looks incredible, too. The radiator is tailor-made

to the car. A trick feature of the brushless fan setup is the soft start. This is incredibly easy on the charging system, no longer requiring huge amp loads to fire the fans while providing super-efficient cooling capacity. When a transmission was needed for the Drag-NDrive Nova the team de-

cided on Rossler Transmission. Rossler has been the transmission to have for over 60 years. In fact, they have been run in heavy hitter street cars like Tom Bailey’s 5.99 second Drag Week car to the baddest Radial vs. the World rockets. The TH400 is attached to a Gear Vendors Overdrive unit. This


TSV Technology

We started from a clean sheet to create the most efficient, most advanced supercharger ever created for GM LS engines. Our revolutionary new intercooler design delivers more power than the competition run-after-run, regardless of how hot it is outside. With factory-like drivability, a bypass valve for enhanced fuel economy, and OEM-level fit and finish that looks great under the hood, Magnuson's Heartbeat is true horsepower without compromise.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



SUMMIT RACING’S DRAG-N-DRIVE GIVEAWAY 1967 CHEVY NOVA Chassis Type & Mods: Hotrods by Havlik NHRA 8.50-legal cage cert. Chris Alston bolt-on subframe connectors. Suspension & brakes: FRONT: Wilwood disc brakes. REAR: Ladder bar suspension with diagonal link and coilovers. Wilwood disc brakes. Body & Paint: Real Deal Steel replacement body with GlassTek fiberglass bumpers and hood. Prep and paint by Cassill Collision Centers. Jet Black basecoat/clearcoat. Replacement factory trim and brightwork from Trim Parts and GM Classic. Engine: Beck Racing Engines big block Chevy with Scat crank and rods and Mahle pistons. PAC springs on Manley valves. COMP hydraulic roller cam, roller rockers, roller lifters, and chromoly pushrods. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Holley Dominator EFI system. Power Adder: None. Electronics & Ignition: MSD 7AL3 box. MSD Pro Billet distributor and MSD 8 mm wires. Transmission & Driveline: Rossler Turbo 400 with Gear Vendors Overdrive. Stall converter. Differential: Narrowed 9-inch housing braced by Havliks. Moser center section with 35-spline axles and 4.11 gears. Tires & Wheels: FRONT: 17 x 4-inch RC Components wheels with Mickey Thompson tires. REAR: 15 x 10-inch double beadlocked RC Components wheels with 295/65-15 Mickey Thompson tires. Performance: 740 hp and 720 ft/lbs of torque.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

proven combination is once again used to provide reliable, consistent performance and combined with the 30-inch tall Mickey Thompson Radials provides easy low-RPM highway cruising. Out back, a Moser 9-inch is narrowed with a nodular center section, 4.11 gears, and 35-spline axles.

The Havliks braced the housing and went with overbuilt components to provide reliability and performance in the long term. The DragN-Drive Nova is full of too many custom tricks and touches to list. The car needs to be seen in person to take it all in. Hotrods by Havliks have poured

their decades of experience into this stunning Nova to provide a car that is not only comfortable to drive but very capable on the dragstrip. The car will be displayed at shows until the Summit Racing Midwest Drags. You can see it in person at the Summit Retail Store in Norwalk Ohio, the Summit Booth

during the Detroit Autorama, Goodguys Scotsdale, Goodguys Nashville and the Griots both for Goodguys show in North Carolina. If you can make it to any of these events, you’ll be able to see it for yourself. Even better, If you want to win this amazing car, you will have to compete at the Summit Racing

TO THE MAX The Max Velocity BBC from Beck Racing Engines looks right at home in the front subframe. This beast makes 740 hp on 91 octane pump gas. It’s backed by a Rossler trans and a Gear Vendors overdrive.




Beat the Heat Before It Beats You! What kind of problems are created by engine heat? When engines create power, they also create heat. Underhood components such as wiring, cables, lines and hoses are susceptible to the harmful and damaging effects of heat that can break down mechanisms prematurely. And it’s not just heat. Moisture, oil, dirt, road and track grime are other environmental factors that can cause damage.

any vehicle. This protection is a relatively inexpensive preventive measure compared to the parts and labor costs of replacement. It can be as simple as covering the hose or line with products specifically designed to protect them from the heat and other damage.

Why should I protect my under-hood components?

Protecting a vehicle’s electrical wiring, coolant hoses and other lines is vital to the overall performance and operation of

For more from Design Engineering, Inc., go to DesignEngineering.com/TechCorner

With so many different components doing different things, how do I know which sleeve to use?

DEI offers over a dozen affordable and highly effective cable, hose and line protection solutions. From insulating to reflecting damaging heat, there are several effective options that feature

flexibility, different temperature ratings and are light weight. Protection for spark plug wires to prevent burning and cracking Installation is easy with What kind of DEI products sleeving that simply wraps around wiring, would you recommend? secures with hook and loop closure or Choose from the popular selling DEI Heat slides over. Sheath™, the highly abrasion-resistant EXO™ How do they work? Series Sleeve with its stainless-steel outer Utilizing different types of braided glass covering, the new Vapor Block™ fuel line and basalt base material, the various styles sleeve or the extremely light-weight, racing of DEI sleeves/shrouds protect components application, Ultra 47™ Sheath. such as wiring, cables, hoses, fuel/oil/brake/ DEI has the correct wire, cable, hose and transmission lines-even speedometer cables. line solution to protect you from potential They work by reflecting heat away or insuunder-hood, heat-related problems later, lating from heat, in turn, protecting critical when you least expect them. components from thermal damage. Depending on your needs, some sleeves can protect up to 1800°F direct heat and 2500°F radiant. These coverings also protect from cold, moisture, oil, dirt, road and track grime.

Available at

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



ONE COOL CHEVY The custom designed cooling package from Delta Pag. They supplied both the brushless fans and the radiator to keep the Nova cool between tracks. The radiator fitment is a thing of beauty!


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

Midwest Drags this June. Dates, registration details and other information can be found at www.summitmidwestdrags.com. The 2020 Summit Racing Midwest

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



january 2020 | RPM Magazine


NO JUNK Check out how clean the trunk is. There’s plenty of room for luggage on those long drives, too. Drags is limited to the first 300 cars, each faster than 10.50 quarter mile. If you’re faster than 10.50 and would like to register, call or text (317)299-RACE (7223).

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020





story and photos by

s much as I hate to admit it, we are getting older. Now don’t

get me wrong: I don’t feel old, act old, or even look

old. People find it hard to believe that I am in my fifties. Something happened the other day, though, and for the FIRST time in my life, I felt old! My buddy asked if I could go to his shop and take a look at an old 427

Cobra he just restored for a customer. The car sat in the shop for over a year, and although it looked absolutely beautiful and pristine in its restored condition, it barely ran. He had a few mechanics look at it and even sent it to a tuning specialist. No

one had any success getting it to run better. Before I left my shop, I loaded a bag of tools I thought I may need. These tools included the following: a vacuum gauge, timing light, multimeter, my box of Holley jets, jet

(800) 208-1755


removal tool, set of cleaning brushes and jet cleaning picks, stethoscope, spark tester, a ratchet with a spark plug socket and assortment of extensions, and a screwdriver/wrench for float adjustment. When I arrived at his shop, the foreman gave


Crafted in the U.S.A.

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

1: Are we “old-school,” or just really good technicians who thoroughly understand the combustion engine and how it works?


me the run-down on what he was told by all of the techs who looked at the car. The one comment that made me laugh was he was told that the idle was maxed out and could not get any lower than 950 RPMs. This diagnosis came from a young super-tuner who has his own thriving shop that specializes in BMWs. When I looked at the idle screw, it had enough room left on it to stall the car. What screw was he turning?


When I started the 427, she was not at all happy. She ran so rich it made my eyes water. The carb was coated black with soot. I would have liked to take the carb off and bring it back to my shop for a thorough cleaning and rebuild, but time and money was a huge factor. The car needed to be running that day. They recently installed new plugs, wires, cap, and rotor. I pulled all of the plugs and gave them a thorough examination. Running rich was an understatement. Despite the spark being great, the new plugs were soaked with gas. I asked to see the old plugs and got a strange look because they were in the garbage. I told

2: I have to admit that I am not a Ford guy. But before you hate me, it’s for no other reason than I was born into a GM family. I may not know the intricacies of a Ford engine, but the basic principles of a combustion engine apply to this beastly 427 Cobra. The carburetor, distributor, coil, and mechanical fuel pump didn’t scare me one bit. In fact it simplified diagnosing the problem. I can’t say the same for the new-school tech who had no idea how to begin this repair.

them I needed to see what the old plugs looked like when the car was supposedly running. The old plugs revealed that the 427 was not at all happy in her last few outings before the restoration process began. I thought to myself, “did everyone forget how to read spark plugs?” The first of many things that made me feel old that day was when a really experienced tech held my jet tool and asked me what it was. He had turned many screws on that carb but didn’t know where the jets were or how to remove them. He then grabbed my float-draining cup and once again asked what it was for. I


3: My little bag of tools was quite the hit with the other techs when I showed up to fix the Cobra. I figured a timing light, vacuum gauge, stethoscope, magnifying glass, jet tool, float bowl cup, an assortment of jets, carb picks, brushes, and a very handy spark tester would be a great compliment to the standard tools that any modern tech would have in their box.

www.rpmmag.com | january2020


SHOP TALK believe that actions are louder than words and I quickly removed a lower float bowl screw and showed him how the cup works. That was the second time I felt old. He thought that was the coolest thing ever. His next question was, “How are you going to adjust the air/fuel mixture without an O2 sensor?” I told him normally I like to weld in a bung on each bank and install a gauge for the owner somewhere in the car. But this car needed to stay 1965 and they did not have O2 bungs welded into the collectors back then. I then instructed him on how to set the idle air screw with a vacuum gauge and a good set of ears. “Wow, that’s some old-school stuff,” he exclaimed as he unknowingly made me feel old, once again. I guess when all that I play with is old-school stuff, it’s not oldschool…it’s just school! The final blow that knocked me firmly into old man’s land happened when I went to adjust the timing. They said


they were going to check the timing, but didn’t know where it was supposed to be set at. There were no marks on the balancer because it was all rusted. My friends, an engine is either happy or it isn’t. It either likes timing or it doesn’t. If things were as bad as they said they were, be a man and grab that distributor and start turning it. You have a 50/50 shot of moving it in the right direction. By the way, that was all internal dialogue. I took a deep breath and checked the balancer with my own eyes. It was indeed rusted, but this was not my first rodeo. I knew that if I took some time and cleaned it up, some markings would reveal themselves to me. It only took fifteen minutes of scuffing and cranking the engine to reveal where 30 degrees was, as well as several lines before and after it. Not being a Ford guy at all, I shocked the young guys and used my smartphone to Google where the timing should be on a 427 Ford. Thirty-four degrees emerged as a good starting point, so I took a pink paint

pen and made a mark on the 34-degree line. I have to admit that the young techs did make me feel like Master Yoda or Einstein (both of who look very old). Long story short, the 427 did like 34 degrees of timing the best. However, the mechanical advance was way off and besides someone randomly turning screws on the carb and completely messing it up, I believe the timing was the root of the original problem. Having the car sit for over a year also caused a myriad of other carb-related problems that I needed to address. After a change in jet size, resetting the idle/air adjustment, cleaning the accelerator pump and adjusting it properly, setting the float bowls properly, adjusting the timing, and yes adjusting the “maxed out” idle to a mean and nasty low rumble somewhere around 750, it was time for a test drive. There was no way I was going to drive that thing and be responsible for damaging it, so the owner of the shop agreed to jump in and take me for a ride while I


4 & 5: These two little standards found in any naturally-aspirated drag racer’s trailer amazed a few young guys that day. It’s funny that a tool that I have used over a hundred times would evoke a question like, “What is that?” listened with my old ears. For a guy who releases the trans brake on a violent 1000 horsepower big block every weekend, this Cobra made me feel old. That little thing with no roof scared the grease off my fingers sitting in that passenger seat. She makes enough power to break the tires loose in every gear and the driver seemed to enjoy doing so. We encountered a slight stumble accelerating and that revealed that one of the holes on the accelerator pump nozzle was clogged. I can assure you that I


was nowhere near that passenger seat when he took it for the second ride. I heard that car screaming around the busy little town, echoing between the buildings and store fronts as he melted the tires trying to get the carb to stumble again. Happily, he came back with a smile on his face and told me I nailed it. So the question still remains: how old do you have to be to be “old-school?” In my humble opinion, it is not a matter of age but rather of knowing how a combustion engine truly works and what it needs to




800.264.9472 • DesignEngineering.com


january 2020 | RPM Magazine



be happy. If you have the wisdom to open up a laptop and re-map a fuel injection system to make a modern car happy, you surely have the ability to go on YouTube and watch one of the many videos on how to tune a carb. Granted you may not have a fancy jet tool or float bowl cup, but a regular flat head screwdriver and the top of a carb cleaner can or coffee scooper with a lot rags will get the job done just fine. Timing is timing. Whether you control it manually or with a computer, it does the same thing. Many so-called “old

www.rpmmag.com | january2020


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6 6: This clogged nozzle, two undersized jets, an improperly adjusted accelerator pump, and float bowls were the cause of most of the problems. An improperly adjusted timing advance took care of the rest.

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刀䤀䐀䜀䔀䜀䄀吀䔀 吀伀伀䰀匀 ☀ 吀䔀䌀䠀

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

7: For a so-called old-school guy, I am totally comfortable and at home with a multimeter, a data logger, and adjusting my power grid to control timing curves. If you are afraid of learning new things then in my eyes you are definitely old-school.

school” guys do it every weekend with our ignition boxes or Power Grid. We have a base timing and add or pull back wherever we need it during our few seconds of fun. What is a shame is that there are less and less young techs who have mentored under an older master mechanic. I was fortunate to have learned all that

I know from my dad who was born in the 1930s. His vast knowledge of the combustion engine continues to inspire me even though he passed back in 2007. That man was a genius, and I swear he could tune a car by smelling the exhaust pipes. Whatever your knowledge and skill set is, make sure you have the best tools to

make your life easier. Don’t be afraid to learn new things and admit what you don’t know. This is the only way to progress and expand your knowledge. There is not a doubt in my mind that somewhere here on Planet Gearhead there is a young 30-year-old tech/tuner who was classically trained and mentored by an old-school

master mechanic. That my friends, is the new ultimate tech. Oldschool…new-school, why can’t we all just get along? Don’t tell anyone I said this, but it’s kind of fun to beat up on the new GTRs on import verses domestic days. Until next time... keep wrenching!

Nitrous Power Buy Factory Direct! Nitrous Supply, the company headed by Mike Thermos (founder of NOS) is a primary resource of components used by many popular brands. The company now offers compete nitrous oxide kits for racing and street applications.


t Sup0eHPrasdjuhso ta b le 1 2 5 -2 5

For Holley 4150 or 4500

O nl y

5 $379.9 erican-made

t of Am This complete ki es: ud cl in s nt ne compo lb. bottle (blue) • Aluminum 10 with safety relief ve • Hi-Flo 660 val ts • Bottle bracke . bottles) (fits 10 and 15 lb eel line (14 ft.) st s es nl ai Get everything • Braided st you need to olenoids l s ue F pl nd umb a manifold a us • Nitro yourself; ith gaskets w te la p us tro st ni ainless steel lin • Thin 5/8” es ) (4 s stud nozzles, fittings, , • Longer carb etc. ing switches rm a nd a er gg • Throttle tri fuel d an s ou itr r n fo • Filter fittings 50, 200 Similar systems also available • Jets for 100, 1 ts for EFI applications at $379.95 and 250 HP sho

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing Kits

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Nitrous Supply has aluminum bottles in a multitude of standard and “candy” colors and sizes ranging up to 64 lbs. Includes Hi-Flo bottle valve with gauge port. Our most popular sizes are: 10#.......$201.50 15#.......$241.50

Properly delivering and atomizing fuel and nitrous is the key to power. NS offers a range of Fogger-style nozzles up to the new “Fang II” design that outperforms anything on the market today. Let our experts help you set up the most effective system for your application.


Upgrade your system or build a new one with the latest in solenoids from Nitrous Supply. They range from small solenoids that can support 175HP to high capacity 800 HP-rated models, including “Trash Can” and “Dragon” styles. Nobody has more experience with nitrous than our staff…call for personalized tech assistance.


Supercharger Setups

Ideal for high volume Optimize the power available nitrous users or through your supercharger performance retailers, with a custom-built plate the N/S station runs off from Nitrous Supply. We your shop’s compressed can build a readyair to quickly and to-install system or safely refill nitrous provide you with the bottles. Complete with components to do plumbing, hose, and it yourself. Call for gauge. New sportsman details. pump refill station starting at $799 Only $3.95 each when purchased in handy 56-jet kit. ™

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Send your intak e m our experienced anifold to NS and te professionally s chnicians will et up a system to specifications. P y riced from $400 our . Call for quote.


Absolutely the highest flowing valve on the market, it accepts an extra large 5/8" siphon tube and AN-8 outlet. Quick ¼-turn for on/off and spring-loaded safety pin to prevent accidental opening, the exclusive N/S Powervalve™ fits all popular 5-20 lb. aluminum or carbon fiber bottles.

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Get the maximum power from your system through jetting it. Our premium quality stainless steel (not brass) jets are precision made and totally consistent. Individual jets…$4.50


Everything you need to build a new system, or refurbish an existing NOS, N/X, Zex, Edelbrock or other nitrous kit is available from Nitrous Supply. This includes lines, fittings, distribution blocks, jets, solenoids and other parts that will enable you to increase power.

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The NS tech team includes Mike Thermos, the nitrous pioneer who founded NOS over 40 years ago and “Pro Mod Wad” Haman, who has been working with the world’s quickest nitrous racers for over 30 years. Nobody has more experience in nitrous than the NS team!


H C E T W O T 1

1 & 2: A hail storm totaled out our previous 28-foot enclosed trailer that was only a year and a half old to begin with. After our insurance covered replacement cost for a new one, we decided to do some work on the interior to make it a bit nicer and a ton more functional. We started by priming and painting (1) the walls of the factory raw wood interior (2) first.


story and photos by

Toby Brooks

>>We begin some budgetfriendly interior and lighting upgrades to our new 28-foot enclosed car hauler



ome of us can’t leave well enough alone. Oh don’t worry... we aren’t trying to be ugly, as we’d undoubtedly qualify for such a statement ourselves. Case in point: we took delivery

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

of a brand-spankin’-new 28-foot Spartan extended tongue enclosed car hauler about six months ago. Unfortunately, we had a similar unit bought new less than two years ago that was totaled by a West Texas hailstorm last spring. And while the

new trailer looks great on the outside with gray metallic paint, blackout trim package, LED lighting, and black and machined wheels, the interior was— well—unfinished. With our project car under the knife 1,200 miles away, time on

our hands, and a tight budget, we decided to try and spruce things up inside our car hauler just a bit while we waited. After some shopping both locally and on the interwebs, we ended up spending less than 300 bucks and have dramat-


3 3: We used a gallon and a half of oil-based primer from the local home improvement store first. ically improved the looks—not to mention the utility—of our trailer. First up, the raw plywood walls inside needed to be painted. However, if you’ve

ever tried to use latex wall paint on unfinished wood, you know how it can soak it up like a sponge. To prevent that from happening, we used an oil-based primer

before paint. We taped off the edges with painter’s tape, removed the door trim, and rolled on one coat of primer and two coats of paint. We opted for a

Matt Trombley photos

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


RPM EXCLUSIVES semi-gloss white to brighten things up and also make cleanup of grease and oil a breeze. We considered other options but eventually settled for paint. Many finished trailer interiors use textured wall panels, diamond tread aluminum, or a material like Formica to enhance appearance and protect the finish. In all honesty, any of those approaches would have most likely yielded a better looking result. However, the downside to that approach is added weight and a significantly steeper cost than our two gallons of primer ($34 total) and two gallons of paint ($70 total). For just over $100, we were able to dramatically enhance the looks



of the trailer walls, protect them from stains, and do so without destroying our budget. With the walls complete, we turned our attention to interior lighting. We looked for special pre-packaged LED lighting kits for just such an application with no success. Instead, we pieced together what we needed from parts on eBay and Amazon, including a $12 RV switch, a 100-foot spool of speaker wire ($15), and four-pack

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

4: Here you can see mid-way through the initial coat with the oil-based primer. It covered fairly well but still allowed some of the plywood grain to show through. We considered other options including aluminum panels and even printed vinyl banner but ultimately opted for likely the simplest and most cost-effective solution by just giving it a coat of paint.

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5: We got this 12-volt RV wall switch off eBay for $12 and a 100-foot spool of two conductor speaker wire for another $15. It was more than enough to give us a clean and simple LED lighting install. 6 & 7: We drilled a 1/2-inch hole in the aluminum flashing trim panel at the back of the trailer, protected the wiring with heat shrink, convoluted tubing, and TESA tape, and mounted it in place. 7: The 5-meter strip of waterproof LED strip light came with an adhesive backing and we stuck it straight to the roof understructure. Install took about 10 minutes start to finish and is as clean and simple as it could possibly be. of 5-meter waterproof LED strips ($32). Install was a breeze. We located a convenient mounting location for the switch on a piece of aluminum flashing on the driver’s side of the rear door. We drilled a 1/2-inch hole,

ran the wiring, and mounted the switch. Using heat shrink, plastic convoluted tubing, and TESA tape we were able to protect the wiring from abrasion and add a finished appearance, too. The LED strip lighting comes with

an adhesive backing and simply stuck in place. Since the interior of the trailer will undoubtedly get hot in the West Texas sun, we were a little concerned that the adhesive might not hold up so well, so we added a couple of sim-




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RPM EXCLUSIVES 9: Here’s the finished product (so far) with the trailer fully closed up and only the LEDs providing lighting inside. If you use too many strips daisy chained together, resistance will eventually result in dim lighting so you have to be certain not to overdo it, but with install being so easy, it sure is tempting to run strips all the way down both sides and across the cross beam supports, too.




january 2020 | RPM Magazine

ple office binder clips to provide a physical mount in addition to the sticky stuff. For less than $175 counting rollers and brushes, we had completely transformed the look of the inside of our trailer. But what to do about the floor? After reading up on our options for floor covering, we were a bit torn. The typical checkerboard vinyl tiles used by many didn’t seem to hold up well. We considered close loop indoor/outdoor carpet, but online opinions seem fairly negative to that solution, too. If we had the budget, polished

diamond tread would certainly look awesome, but again you’d be dealing with added weight and considerable expense. What to do? In the end, we tossed in another $250 and purchased a garage floor coating kit from the local home improvement store. Opinions seem fairly positive to this approach but there appears to be some concern how the product will hold up on a flexible floor like the 3/4-inch plywood in our trailer. The manufacturer’s packaging clearly indicated that the product is suitable for

use on wood, so in the coming months we will serve as the guinea pig and give it a shot. If successful, you’ll know it’s a viable option for your trailer. If it fails, we’ll have to figure out how to fix it and you’ll know not to even try it. See how we give? In addition to a new floor coating, we also need to install our winch and battery tray and get ready to go get our project car soon. So what are you waiting for? Get out in the shop—or in our case, the trailer—and make something awesome!

www.rpmmag.com | january2020



story by

Toby Brooks

photos by

Blake Farnan

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

www.rpmmag.com | january2020




n one of the most iconic and memorable sketches in the history of Saturday Night Live, Will Farrell played the role of fictional musician Gene Frenkle on cowbell during recording of the Blue Oyster Cult’s classic (Don’t


Fear) The Reaper. At the urging of record producer The Bruce Dickenson, Frenkle is encouraged to “explore the studio space” and give the track “more cowbell.” Frenkle admits that he owes it to the band and his producer to “perform the hell out of it.”

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

So what on earth does an SNL skit have to do with this sleek 1999 Pontiac Trans Am? Easy. Rochester, New York’s Ed McGuinn’s version of adding “more cowbell” to his Grim Reaper 1.5 is something

FLYING IN A FOURTH GEN With Pontiac no longer in business, it is becoming increasingly rare to see them at the track, and despite the slippery good looks of the fourth-gen body style, they are even fewer and further between than their more classic counterparts. Ed McGuinn’s 1999 Grim Reaper 1.5 is as fine an example as you’re likely to see.


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ED MCGUINN’S OUTLAW N/T 1999 PONTIAC TRANS AM Chassis Type & Mods: Cage Rage Fab/Nathan Chesler SFI 25.2 6.0-cert chromoly cage with factory mounting points and 4-link for potential use in the future. Suspension & Brakes: FRONT: Midwest Suspension tubular components with Menscer Motorsports shocks. Strange front brakes. REAR: Midwest Suspension tubular components with Menscer Motorsports shocks. Aerospace Components brakes. Body & Paint: Basecoat/clearcoat black paint prepped and painted by Steve at East Coast Collision. All carbon fiber body panels by Joe Van O and Synergy Composites. Optic Armor windows. Engine: Bill Trovato at BTR Performance-built dry decked 535 ci IA Pontiac block. 4.500 stroke Bryant crankshaft with GRP aluminum rods and custom CP pistons. Dry decked and o-ringed Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads with 2.190-inch intake and 1.700-inch exhaust titanium valves. T&D roller rockers and BOP belt drive. 55mm camshaft and Titan oil pump. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Victor aluminum intake manifold with custom CFM Performance Carburetors 4500 carb by Dale Cubic. Power Adder: Single stage Induction Solutions nitrous system. Electronics & ignition: MSD Grid ignition system, NOS Launcher, Race Wire Solutions switch panel and relay board. Exhaust: Custom fabricated fender-dump exhaust. Transmission & Driveline: 2-speed Powerglide with 1.58 first gear. PTC 9-inch 7,000 RPM stall converter. Differential: Moser fabricated 9-inch housing with gun drilled and lightened 35-spline axles axles, aluminum center section, and 4.30 gears. Tires & Wheels: FRONT: 15x4.5-inch RC Components wheels with 26x415 Mickey Thompson ET Front tires. REAR SET #1: RC Components double beadlocked 15x12 inch wheels with Mickey Thompson 315 ET Drag tires. REAR SET #2: Billet Specialties wheels with smaller tires for other events. Performance: Best pass to date of 4.64@156 mph with a 46 NOS jet “with more to be had.”


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

that, unlike the song, SHOULD definitely be feared. And, while he might not have gotten as crazy as Frenkle did in the skit, you can bet that he explored his studio space and came up with the best possible combination to “perform the hell out of it” and get the job done. “I have always been a Pontiac guy. I wrecked my 1980 Grim Reaper Trans Am in St. Thomas at the first RPM Smackdown event,” McGuinn

recalled. It wasn’t your “usual” wreck, though. McGuinn was hammering the power to the surface, got loose, and just when things looked to be getting back under control, the unthinkable happened and the car bit in on the front end, barrel rolled over the guardrail and came to rest in the grass. Ed was uninjured and basically unfazed by the crash simply saying, “it’s all part of drag racing”. “My father Ed ‘Chip’


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JUICED PONCHO A 535 ci Pontiac engine built by Bill Trovato has propelled the Trans Am to a best so far of 4.64@156 in the eighth, but that was on a mild tune and small nitrous jets. A port system from Induction Solutions adds several hundred horses at the push of a button.


McGuinn raced until I was about 12 years old and I always went with him. I just loved the sport and when I was 18, I built my first car—a 1975 Trans Am,” he said. “Then I bought my 1980 Trans Am and little by little built that one. I mostly drove that on the street for many years. Then I got out of racing, and just showed the car for some time. I finally back halfed the 1980 Trans Am in 2011 and that’s when it became a full-blown

race car and it’s been all downhill since then,” McGuinn said with a chuckle. Although the wreck was unfortunate, it served as a great opportunity to upgrade to the more contemporary stylings of the fourth gen body style. “I always wanted to build this body style, so this seemed like a good time to start. My buddy Al DiSalvo found this car on the internet for

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

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LOW FLYING BIRD The Firebird rides on Menscer shocks all around to help the 315 radials hook up consistently. The slammed stance not only performs well, it looks awesome, too.


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$800,” he added. The running and driving Firebird was certainly a worthwhile start, but was light years away from being a functional, formidable drag car. “I had had my previous car since I was 21, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to put the old car back together or build the new one,” he said. “Everyone was trying to talk

me into building the new car because they knew that’s what I really wanted. So, after months of tire kicking, I finally decided to build it,” he added. Along with friend Jimmy Hillin, McGuinn started to cut the car apart and get it ready to go to the chassis shop, Cage Rage Fab where Nathan Chesler put together an SFI 25.2 6.0-cert chromoly cage. Chesler included not only

factory suspension mounts but also 4-link mounts for added flexibility and configuration options in the future. A collection of Midwest Suspension tubular suspension components were partnered with Menscer Motorsports shocks. Strange brakes were installed up front, while Aerospace Components discs were installed out back. In just four short months, Chesler had


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completed his work and McGuinn brought the car home to begin other tasks. Again with Hillin’s help, the pair spent long hours and late nights completing the work before sending the car off for paint at East Coast Collision. “Steve is the best at what he does, and he handled all the prep and paint,” McGuinn said. A number of panels were replaced with lightweight composite pieces from Joe Van-O

and Synergy Composites. A pin-on Ram Air-style hood and a pro stockstyle rear wing rounded out the modifications before a miledeep basecoat/ clearcoat jet black paint job was laid down with only a subtle Ram Air graphic on the hood. With the chassis, body, and paint well in hand, McGuinn turned his attention to the engine and trans. Bill Trovato at BTR Performance-built a 535 ci Pontiac

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using a 4.500inch stroke Bryant crankshaft with GRP aluminum rods and custom CP pistons. Dry decked and o-ringed Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads were installed next but not before being fit with titanium 2.190inch intake and 1.700-inch exhaust valves and T&D roller rockers. The engine was then topped with a Victor aluminum intake manifold and a custom CFM Performance Carburetors 4500 carb. A single stage Induction Solutions nitrous system was installed to add extra oomph at the push of a button, while the MSD Grid ignition system and NOS Launcher provide infinite adjustability and control. The ignition and other systems were wired using a Race Wire Solutions switch panel and relay board. A pair of custom fabricated fender-dump headers exit the exhaust just ahead of the front wheel openings, with the superheated exhaust making for quite the show during launches when the sun goes down. Behind the potent Poncho is a 2-speed Powerglide transmission with a 1.58 first gear. A PTC 9-inch 7,000 RPM stall converter was also utilized to fortify the driveline against the punishing launches and copious power. Inside, the coated chromoly chassis and carbon fiber panels

www.rpmmag.com | january2020




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january 2020 | RPM Magazine


Big carbon tubs out back leave room to run pretty much any tire from a 10.5 to a 33-tall and suspension mounts that include factory OR custom 4-link ensure McGuinn can run the car in pretty much any class.

and tinwork by Dave Rice were cleanly installed along with a fiberglass dash that has been fit with a Racepak digital display and a handful of analog gauges. A single fabricated aluminum racing bucket is draped with a three-inch six-point harness for safety, and hand controls actuate the on-board fire suppression system and rear-mounted Stroud parachute. With the car complete, it was

time to race. “Jimmy Hillin and I maintain all the car stuff, while Michelle Pagano does the tuning. We have had a good start but it has been a challenge with a new car. I have a great team and we will get there,” McGuinn said. So far, the car’s best outing has been during the RPM Birthday Bash weekend at LaPeer Raceway, even though the car was struggling. “Every pass we were

www.rpmmag.com | january2020



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(L to R): Tuner Michelle Pagano, owner/driver Ed McGuinn, and crew chief Jimmy Hillen.

hurting cylinders but still going rounds,” McGuinn recalled. “We ended up in the finals with our friends and teammates Moe and Nadi Alfaqih. We had a great time,” he said.

Although the car typically competes in Outlaw N/T, McGuinn created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the “I can’t tell you” nonsense and went straight for the throat. “It’s best

pass so far has been a 4.64@156 mph with a 46 NOS jet and there’s more to be had,” he concluded. So there you have it, now you know exactly what McGuinn’s Grim

Reaper has in store for you, including his generous release of numbers, but the big question is, how will you use your fear when 1.5 lines up beside you at the track?

www.rpmmag.com | january2020


photos by


Tia Rumble

story by

Chris Biro

january 2020 | RPM Magazine


here is an old saying that started around human relationships: if you love someone, let them go and if they come back it was truly meant to be. Over the years it has morphed to include material possessions: if you love something, let it go,

and if it comes back it was truly meant to be yours. While our love for automobiles and horsepower is without question, some might question letting their pride and joy go. But some things just must be done as was the case for Brantford, Ontario’s Phil DelSignore and his 1967 Firebird.

After purchasing the car of his dreams in 1988 and racing and driving it for 22 years, the time came to sell it. Not only is the story of how he first got the car a tear jerker, the way he got it back is equally as emotional. “I have always been interested in and liked cars from when I was

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young. I liked to know how things worked and enjoyed working on cars,” tells DelSignore. In Canada, he was one of those guys who always had his summer car and a “winter beater” and since his jobs as a concrete contractor were always seasonal,


he found time during the winter months to devote to his summer cars. After completing work at a home in 1986, DelSignore was dropping off the invoice in his secondgen Trans Am. He curiously asked what the garage out back of the home was for

january 2020 | RPM Magazine

and the homeowner, seeing that Phil was interested in cars, took him back for look. “There was this beautiful silver Firebird that he and his son had restored, modified and raced occasionally,” explained DelSignore. “I asked if he was

interested in selling it, but he wasn’t at that time so I told him that if he ever wanted to, to please let me know.” A few years passed and out of the blue the homeowner called. Tragically, his son had passed away and he wanted to sell the car, but only to


Our shoot location couldn’t have been more appropriate considering it’s a Firebird, and one that has actually been in a fire. The 2013 Mustang Boss “Gotta Have it Green” pops in the sunlight.

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The restoration of the Firebird is amazing and the car maintains all of the factory body panels. Features and trim unique to the car have been kept factory.

someone he knew would take care of it. With a recent home purchase and a 2 year-old keeping Phil and wife Doris busy, the timing wasn’t ideal. Maybe, though, if he sold his Trans Am he could pull it off. “I was finally able to scrape up the money,” he said. “Needless to say, it was hard and very emotional for the owner to let it go, but I assured him that it was in good hands and would be well taken care of.” And so the ultra-clean Firebird was kept show-quality, frequently street driven, shown and flogged at the track to 11-second runs in street trim—very respectable for the early ’90s. At one


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



point the ’Bird even saw nitrous installed for some added fun. In 2003, Phil’s dad passed and he lost interest in the car. It sat in the garage for many years until 2010 when the need for a new daily driver for his wife meant it was time to sell.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

“We sold it to a good friend who decided he was going to ‘make it his own’ by stripping the whole car, including the paint!” More misfortune found the Firebird when there was a fire in the building where it was being stored.

“I saw the car stored in a back corner of a shop after the fire and almost couldn’t believe that it was my old car. I almost cried.” After talking with the owner, he agreed that the car should go back to Phil due to the history behind

it. Back in Delsignore’s care, over the next three years, the Firebird would see a complete rebuild into what you see today— all new wiring, new engine and drivetrain, new paint, replacement vinyl top, and most everything else on the car.


Firefighters from left to right Darrel Bruder, Captain David Duckworth, James Closs, and Jamie Hurley are suited up to keep the Pontiac protected.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



PHIL DELSIGNORE’S 1967 PONTIAC FIREBIRD STREET MACHINE Chassis & Suspension Mods: Stock chassis with frame connectors. Tubular front, QA1 coilovers in the front, back stock suspension with Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link rear traction bars. Leaf springs. Body & Paint: 2013 Mustang Boss “Gotta Have it Green.” Engine: 455 1974 Pontiac block bored 0.030 over. 497 ci stroker motor with Eagle rods and crank, Ross pistons, hydraulic roller Howards camshaft with 4/7 swap.. Billet 4-bolt main, custom ported Edelbrock aluminum heads flow 315 on the intake and 281 exhaust. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Custom fuel injection intake (originally stock Victor Jr. intake converted to fuel injection). Holley throttle body controlled by DIY Autotune MegaSquirt computer for tuning. Custom designed and welded air intake system with twin Can Am air filters.

“With tons and tons of help from some very good friends, in 2016 it was back on the road. I can honestly say that I may not have done everything, but I had a hand in everything and know every bolt on this car,” he added. The plan was to recapture the street/ strip use of the car by upping the power and possibly adding nitrous down the road and hit the track again. With

that in mind, a stout engine was built that would be up to the task, but this Pontiac had to stay all Pontiac. A 455 1974 Pontiac block was bored 0.030over ending up with just shy of 500 inches. Eagle rods and crank with billet 4-bolt main caps, Ross pistons, and Howards hydraulic roller camshaft with 4/7 swap fill the punched out block and custom-ported Edelbrock alumi-

num heads were studded in place. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake was modified to accept fuel injection and a Holley throttle body is controlled by a DIY Autotune MegqSquirt engine management system. Chassis-wise, the car is stock with a connected frame, tubular front A-arms with coilovers up front, and stock suspension in the rear with

Power Adder: None. Electronics: Dakota HDX digital dash with EZ Wiring system. Exhaust: 1-7/8-inch Doug’s long tube headers with 3 1/2-inch collectors. Magnaflow 3-inch pipes with Flowmaster exhaust. Transmission & Driveline: Turbo 400 turbo with aftermarket stall torque converter and drive shaft (broke the last driveshaft on the chassis dyno and decided that wouldn’t happen again!). Planning to change to 4L8E with overdrive later in 2020. Tires & Wheels: FRONT: 15x7-inch Weld Pro Star wheels with Cooper tires. REAR: 15x8-inch Weld Pro Star wheels with 275/60-15 Mickey Thompson drag radial tires. Special Thanks: There are so very many people that helped along the way, who without, this car would not be what it is today. Rick Deer (Rick’s Auto Electric), Chris Rook, Jay Misener (Misener Motorsports), Pete Mazzocatto (“Pontiac Pete”), Braneida Auto Body, Clearshot Customs, Jeff Chatterson (Chatterson Machine), Jim Thomson, Dan Douglas (Douglas Engine Repair Ltd.), and Donny Hill.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

OUT BACK BATT During its race days, the Firebird’s battery was moved rearward.


Considered “light duty� by most RPM feature car standards this beefed up 10-bolt with 33-spline axles and 3.42 gears now in place under the car does the trick for the almost 700 horses available from the Pontiac mill, as long as it remains a street car that is. Aftermarket leafs and shocks with Comp Engineering bars suspend the rear diff.

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january 2020 | RPM Magazine


aftermarket leafs, Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link rear bars and custom shocks. Inside the ’Bird has been meticulously restored to factory, including the factory steering wheel and 8-track sound system. A Dakota HDX analog/digital gauge system looks stock but incorporates the latest technology for accuracy. “I love this system,” said DelSignore, “it works just as amazingly as they said it would.” A Quick-

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


MEANT TO BE Silver ratchet shifter controls gear changes of the beefed up TH 400 trans. Here is where this story takes another twist. You won’t see any bars in the interior of this Firebird as once the rebuild was complete and Phil hit the streets with the car, a problem with the cylinder heads made him realize something…he had changed. At this point in his life he no longer wanted to drive a temperamental street car with big compression, big cam and tons of power, instead he wanted a street machine that was, well, more streetable. So before things went too far out of control, such as installing a cage, beefier rear diff, and more converter, Phil put the brakes on, installed

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The restored to factory interior is flawless. You won’t find a roll cage here. After the rebuild of the car, DelSignore has opted to detune it and instead acquired a ’76 Trans Am for track duty. Upper right: Phil runs through how the Dakota HDX analog/digital gauge system works. It is a trick high tech system that looks stock in the dash.

LOADED WITH OPTIONS Yes it’s a factory 8-track and yes it still works...finding tapes is the hard part!

LEFT: Always a big fan of drag racing, during the restoration DelSignor had Cruz and Tony Pedregon sign the glove box door.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020


MEANT TO BE PONCHO PACKIN’ A punched out 455 1974 Pontiac block ended up just shy of 500 inches and is filled with goodies from Eagle, Ross Pistons, and Howards and topped with ported Edelbrock aluminum heads.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

INJECTED An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake was modified to accept fuel injection. The Holley throttle body is controlled by a DIY Autotune MegqSquirt engine management system.

a smaller cam and detuned the mill to a more street-friendly level. But hardcore RPM readers need not worry: DelSignore recently acquired an 8-second ’76 Trans Am to sew his wild oats. So while this car may not be the overthe-top, big-powered, small-tire brute that we see a lot of in the pages of RPM, it is an amazing story about

how the bond between this more than capable show quality street machine and its owner was simply meant to be. Editor’s Note: It was a particular honor for me to write this article for a longtime friend like Phil. He bought the car when I was a very young performance shop owner by day and also spending off hours nights at a shop doing

anything car related just to make ends meet. I still recall the day when Phil came into the shop one late night and told me the story of how he had found and just bought this amazing Firebird, and how excited he was. All these years later I guess that story was just meant to be in RPM Phil!

SIMILAR BIRDS Interesting how the Firebird symbol resembles the emblem on the Spartan fire truck siren.

www.rpmmag.com | january 2020



january 2020 | RPM Magazine


t’s become tradition around these parts that we devote some pages in the December issue to look back at the previous 11 months to show you what we

decided were the meanest, nastiest, and all around baddest rides we had the pleasure of featuring throughout the year. We like to call it our Top Guns, and while all of our feature cars have some-

thing unique to offer, for us, the process is a fun trip back through recent memory lane that allows us to honor the best of the best. However, we realized the error in that approach just last year

because if there was a wicked ride in the December issue, it didn’t make much sense to “remember” it just a few pages deeper in the same issue. That said, we decided to push our annual Top

www.rpmmag.com | january2020


2019 TOP GUNS Guns list back a month as a full-blown double feature in the January issue. That was the easy part. Usually, it’s the composition of the list that proves the most difficult. The process goes something like this: our staff is assembled in our top-secret underground facility we’ve fashioned from an abandoned Cold War-era missile silo in rural North Dakota. Armed with strong opinions, back issues, and an occasional thrown folding chair, we build out our list individually and then vehemently defend it against the opinions of our peers. The exchanges get heated and from time to time a difference in perspective necessitates a tie breaker like a best-of-five thumb

wrestling tournament, rock/paper/scissors or the like, but in the end, we somehow manage to pare our 40-50 feature cars for the year down to a list of our ten absolute best. Okay, so most of that isn’t true (although it would be super cool to have a repurposed missile silo to work from, wouldn’t it?). But in a world of opinions, reaching consensus can sometimes be a real chore. And it usually is. Usually. Not this year, though. We had nearly 100% agreement on our list among our staff, with 9 of the 10 spots being unanimous choices. Our list of honorable mentions was less congruent, but still, when


f o N U R G A E P eY TO th

you figure our staff is as diverse as it happens to be with cars (and trucks) of all different make, model, year, powerplant, power adder, and purpose, then that much agreement is—well, frankly, kind of frightening. At any rate, here’s our list of the baddest of the bad for 2019 (note: after #1, the remaining Top Guns are in no particular order).

KEN 1967 FORD FAIRLANE..............................................AUGUST 2019

It isn’t the wildest car we featured this year by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t have wild paint, power adders all over the place, or zippy, exotic carbon fiber ball joints anywhere. Heck, it doesn’t have much of anything “extra” at all. Yet somehow, it was the groundbreaking August feature car that our staff just couldn’t stop coming back to for our highly coveted 2019 Overall Top Gun award. Ken Clark’s gorgeous 1967 Ford Fairlane sports an all-aluminum naturally aspirated 482 ci side oiler Ford built by Keith Craft Racing Engines and a mild mini-tub by Qualafab Performance Fabrication. The nicely tucked Mickey Thompson 315 drag radials give it a drop-dead perfect stance, and the PPG light blue poly paint with most all the factory trim and brightwork provide a crisp, understated tone. Fit and finish on the build are nearly flawless, and in a high-speed world of EFI, digital delay boxes, and 50-input data loggers, it is an analog piece of awesomeness and beauty. Our staff discussed whether or not the Ford was wild enough for the top spot and we all agreed: what the car lacks is precisely what makes it so worthy of closer inspection. So what if it doesn’t reach Mach 7 with a 43-color digital vinyl wrap and more electronic gadgets than the International Space Station. It is a study in how beautiful a minimalistic design can be when executed to perfection. And that’s what makes Clark’s subtly radical Fairlane worthy of the top spot for 2019.

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ROB & TINA 1965 FORD MUSTANG.................AUGUST 2019

Speaking of groundbreaking, what’s not to love about Rob & Tina Matheis’ Pro Street 2.0 1965 Mustang? The owner-built Ford took the cover of our August issue and features more trick, one-off custom touches than you can imagine and, like Clark’s Fairlane, does it all with monochrome paint sans graphics and even a flat hood. Lurking beneath that baby-scooped reverse-flip bonnet is a twin turbocharged 364 ci Gen I Hemi with a handmade ribbed aluminum intake manifold. The six-year build might not have unfolded as Matheis had originally intended, but the end result is as innovative as it is breathtaking and more than worthy of a spot among the elite of our 2019 Top Guns.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

Stephen Taylor photos

www.rpmmag.com | january2020



Matt Trombley photos


MATT 1990 FORD MUSTANG.......SEPTEMBER 2019 In a sea of Fox body Mustangs, standing apart can be a real challenge. However, Matt Rosentel was able to do just that with his gorgeous Kandy Apple Red 1990 Ford that graced our September cover. With a chromoly Kocher chassis, 315 Mickey Thompson drag radials, and a House of Kolors paint job, it certainly has the stance and the looks to get your attention. However, it is the 427W Ford powerplant by BMS Racing Engines with a Jeff Prock-tuned port nitrous system to keep your attention that ensures this pony is more than just a pretty face.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

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CRAIG 1971 CHEVY NOVA.......................................................................OCTOBER 2019

Speaking of candy paint, yet another candy-hued bruiser that demanded a place on our list was Craig Groebner’s incredible 1971 Nova that was featured in our October issue. The mostly-steel Chevy flavored the candy brandy wine paint with copious amounts of black trim and black anodized billet aluminum to give it a sinister, villainous look. However, with huge 15x15 rear hoops hanging 33x22.5-15 tires and a ProCharged Steve Morris 540 ci engine capable of propelling the car deep into the 4s in the eighth, the Chevy is more than just a beauty queen. It’s one more example of this year’s trend of a less-is-more exterior coupled with punishing amounts of power under foot.



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JOE & LESLIE 1990 FORD MUSTANG......................................................DECEMBER 2019

Finally breaking with the trend of our first four Top Guns with single-color paint and flat hoods, Joe & Leslie Murphy’s scooped and graphic’d 1990 Mustang is a high performance drag car built around the theme of a World War II fighter plane. That’s not the only place where the Murphy’s Ford zigged when everyone else zagged, though. A high-winding NASCAR-inspired Roush Yates 358 ci mill is naturally aspirated and can regularly be heard shrieking at 10,000+ RPM before another trouble-free pass. How trouble free, you ask? Murphy says that despite 400+ passes on the small block, he has yet to so much as pull a valve cover! Although performance specs on the grudge car are hard to come by, rest assured, the Leslie Jaye is a formidable opponent at the track!

Matt Trombley photos


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

Matt Trombley photos

A mspacher


1968 DODGE CORONET.......................................MAY 2019

Pro street never died. It just morphed. Newer, sleeker, and more refined builds that pay homage to the iconic big-tire stylings of yesterday are still popping up across the country and around the globe. Case in point: Jason Amspacher’s silky smooth green 1968 Dodge Coronet has the look, the stance, and the rear meats out back to give it serious pro street cred. Yet, unlike some of the anemic, underpowered pro streeters of yesterday, it boasts almost 500 cubes of Chrysler power under the hood. Keeping things simple with a single stage nitrous plate, the May feature car is as comfy and competent on the street as it is at the strip or at a show, making it a triple threat of awesome!

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WILLIAM 1970 OLDS CUTLASS 442......JULY 2019 In our experience, most drag cars and their owners/builders come in two basic varieties. There’s the type that have one objective and one objective alone: to go fast. Their stuff is usually zip tied together and covered with burnt remnants of overused drag slicks, but speed is speed, right? Then there’s the other type: the detail freak. Usually these characters not only have impeccably clean drag cars, but impeccably organized tool boxes, a tricked out pit cart, and maybe even a toterhome with matching paint and graphics. Now this may be conjecture on our part, but William Marks is probably one of those second guys. His Kocher Chassis equipped 1970 Olds 442 looks like it could be a World of Wheels contender. But the ProCharged 572 ci Andy Jensen engine is enough to make it one of the fastest cars on the property at most grudge events. Throw in a maniacal attention to detail and a unique vinyl top, and you’ve got the recipe for a more than worthy member of the 2019 Top Gun team. JE_BBC_RPM_2015_Layout 1 8/11/15 2:29 PM Page 1

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Wrist Pins • High quality 2.500'' pin further reduces reciprocating weight • Carbon steel wire locks included

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www.rpmmag.com | january2020



january 2020 | RPM Magazine

Matt Trombley photos


ANDY 1966 CHEVY NOVA...............................................MAY 2019

While Andy Jensen helped put the power in William Marks’ Oldsmobile, he also had a car of his own featured this year, too, when his triple threat street/strip/show 1966 Chevy Nova snagged our May cover. The classic Jensen Blue paint with minimal graphics and a flat hood further illustrated this year’s biggest trend. Make no mistake, though: this car is no follower. With a massive 118 mm Precision Turbo pushing monstrous boost through a 500+ ci Jensen Engine Technologies big block, the dual fuel alky or pump gas powerplant is capable of putting more than 2,000 horses to the rear wheels. Couple that with a flawless nearly all-steel body (only a glass cowl hood) and you have a recipe for a street-legal cruiser than can absolutely throw down when the need arises.

www.rpmmag.com | january2020


Cameron Richardson photos


G oacher

DYLAN 1968 CHEVY NOVA.................FEBRUARY 2019

With mile-deep Goachers Street Legends paint, polished billet everywhere, and an incredible twin turbo 632 ci engine, Dylan Goacher’s 1968 Chevy Nova is as radical as they come. Illustrative of just how deep the field was this year, the “Kingpin” Nova would have undoubtedly been worthy of the top spot in another year. Having been awarded a prestigious Top 12 in the SEMA Battle of the Builders last year, the Chevy is no stranger to the awards podium, and after grabbing the cover of our February issue, it is more than deserving of a spot on our 2019 Top Guns, too.


january 2020 | RPM Magazine

www.rpmmag.com | january2020



Rick Kowalczykowski photos

F ountain

RON 1968 CHEVY CAMARO.............JANUARY 2019 There’s something to be said for a classic, home-built street machine that has the looks and the gumption of a street/strip brawler. Ron Fountain built his sleek charcoal silver ’68 Camaro almost entirely in his own garage with the help of a few friends. Fountain built the ProCharged 427 ci small block himself and even prepped and painted the 50+ year old sheetmetal, too. With a full interior, working lights, and an all-steel exterior (with the exception of a fiberglass hood) it is just as comfortable on the street as it is at the track. And the remnants of the smoked Mickey Thompsons on the rear quarter attest to the fact that this firstgen Camaro gets flogged plenty hard whether at the track or at an impromptu street race. True to the spirit of RPM, the capable Chevy is a worthy addition to this year’s Top Guns. A GLOBALLY TRUSTED NAME IN

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RPM PROJECT CAR 1 & 2: This single fender you see here may look pretty run-of-the-mill, but it actually took six shops four tries requiring six fenders (three on each side) each time. Quick math will tell you that we burned through 24 total fenders to create this one and its mate on the passenger side. Considering this pic in raw steel is completely filler free, we’d say Bob Thrash (2) knocked it out of the park!



PART 53 >> Bob Thrash keeps working his magic on the sheetmetal from hell


ast month we happily showed you how metal master and unsurpassed automotive artist Bob Thrash was able to do what we haven’t been able to do despite more than three years of trying: namely put some fenders on our 2006 Ford Mustang project car. The problem was the application included a 5-inch stretch not to mention a conversion to

P ar t I I

DOOM story by

put a 2013-2014 front fascia, headlights, and hood on the car. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. When we left off last month, Bob had expertly fit up six total fenders to give us the look we were after. All that was left was to finish weld the fenders together and start on the hood. Again...sounds simple enough, right? Wrong again.

Body mods are never exactly easy, but as it turns out, modern sheetmetal is particularly unpleasant to work with. You see, those federal mileage regulations all manufacturers are required to comply with mean that modern cars are made of much thinner material than their classic predecessors. Bob said that the factory Ford fenders were approximately 20-gauge steel, and welding ma-

Toby Brooks

terial that thin without warping it beyond recognition is a slow, tedious process. “I welded the fenders at around 25 amps max and usually did a very small bead that I immediately cooled with a compressed air blow gun before skipping around to another part of the panel. It takes forever, but it’s really the only right way to do work like this,” Thrash said. In addition to the stretch

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5 3: The factory 2005-2009 wheel opening has a sharp edge on the trailing edge. We opted to have Bob cut that out and add an eased opening to enhance aerodynamics and give the car a full-on race look. Coupled with the zoomie headers, the idea was to look like a fuel funny car and a door car had a love child.


4, 5, & 6: Bob spent several days on these slick lower mounts with custom reliefs for the zoomie headers. The lightweight factory steel is around 20-gauge thickness, meaning it is a painstaking process to stitch weld it with a TIG set to 25-30 amps to avoid warpage due to heat. Bob started by joining the panels together as seen in pic 6, then grinding it down and welding a 1/2-inch or less at a time before moving somewhere else to let it cool.

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7 7: Here’s another look at the precision surgery Thrash performed, this time on the front portion of the fender where the 2013-2014 conversion had to be grafted in. Work like this may be expensive, but it’s cheaper in the long run than any alternative we’d tried previously!


8: Here the lower mounts have been fully welded before Thrash makes his way up the vertical seam to finish up the driver’s side. Although the metal work is incredible, it will still require minimal body filler and primer before it is ready for paint. The sculpted reliefs for the zoomies add a very cool finished look to what would have otherwise been a pretty boring part of the fender.

january2020 | RPM Magazine


9 & 10: The upper portion of the fenders near the A-pillars needed to be patched, too. Bob trimmed out a filler panel then cut a notch in the fender to match, tacking the filler in place using a butt weld. The tighter the fit up the better, as 20-gauge sheetmetal disappears pretty quickly if it doesn’t fit right. After grinding and sanding, the end result looks like nothing ever happened!





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Bob was able to get the driver’s side fender complete and mounted and is now turning his attention to finishing up the passenger side using the same process. Although the metal work is as near flawless as any



and the conversion, the fenders were also heavily modified along the lower edge where Thrash added a custom mounting flange and a relief to make room for the zoomie header pipes fabricated by Mark Peck.

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12 11 & 12: It was so easy, huh? Well, maybe not exactly easy, but at least it’s done. Now here’s hoping we never have to do it again.



13 & 14: Here’s what we are up against with the old hood. There’s a 1/2-inch flat spot where the fender crown is. This can’t be fixed without destroying the current hood, so we will be starting from scratch to build a new hood. Again. we’ve ever seen, there’s still work to be done. First, the fenders will require very minimal body filler to finish up. We will also need to fabricate a new hood understructure and build a new hood (fifth try at that task!) to fit the new fenders. As we said last


january2020 | RPM Magazine

month, there is still a looooong way to go, but it is very exciting to see progress again. With a lot of work, a little luck, and a fair amount of cash, we are holding out hope for paint sometime this spring. Stay tuned!

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Spiro-Pro Universal Spark Plug Wire Sets The 600º F, 100% silicone core and jacket keeps the wires flexible while maintaining their vibrant color. 350 ohms per foot resistance provides more fire power to the spark plugs than OEM resistor core wires. Available with 90º, 135º or 180º boot angles in Red, Blue or Black.

Mojave Heater Compact and Powerful. Makes the job of adding (or replacing) a heater easy and affordable! Small enough to mount under the dash or a seat - 10-1/8"x9"x5". Moves 140 CFM of air. Features a 12,000 BTU output. PN 640 Heater PN 650 Optional Plenum Kit

API-Licensed Motor Oil • Better wear protection. • Increased fuel efficiency. • Superior corrosion protection. Enhanced additive technology prevents metal-to-metal contact beyond GM dexos1™ and ILSAC GF-5 specs. PN 21520 SAE 5W20 Full Synthetic Oil, 946ml PN 21530 SAE 5W30 Full Synthetic Oil, 946ml PN 21540 SAE 5W40 Full Synthetic Oil, 946ml

7" LED Headlight Kits

An excellent option for trucks, off-road vehicles and classic cars. Metalized reflector optics provide a lighting experience that is smooth and clean across the driving surface. PN 55000 Kit with PWM adaptor PN 55004 Kit with PWM adaptor - HEATED

Modern Muscle

Oil Pumps

Providing your late model Hot Rod with dependable performance every time in every application. Featuring the latest in gear and gerotor technology to provide the highest level of quality and performance.

Ask For Details

High-Performance AGM Batteri es The REDTOP® will outperform and outlast traditional batteries in demanding cranking/starting applications. It delivers the strongest 5-second burst of ignition power for reliable startups every time. The YELLOWTOP® is one of the few true dual-purpose automotive batteries available. With premium cranking power and impressive cycling capability, perfect for modern accessory-loaded vehicles. The BLUETOP® is a flexible boat battery and RV battery is ideal for those who need a sure-starting, strong-cranking, maintenance-free power source.

ZEON Series

Recovery Winches Tough enough to tackle anything you will, with a look that is advanced, capable and strong. Muck-busting sealing keeps out everything but the good times. PN 89120 ZEON 12 - 12,000 lb. with steel cable. PN 89611 ZEON 10-S 10,000 lb. with synthetic cable. PM 92815 ZEON 10-S Platinum 10,000 lb. with synthetic cable and wireless remote.

Half Shaft

'15-'19 Mustang

• Severe duty Upgrade serviceable Kit CV joints with CNC billet centers support up to 1,500 PN M-4130-MA HP. • CNC-machined from aerospace high-alloy materials. • Billet one-piece 34-spline inner and 32-spline outer stub ends. • Axle shafts feature anti-wheel hop technology. • Built by G-Force Engineering.

Pro Series Differentials Auburn Gear Pro Series Differentials outperform all competitors. Auburn's unique cone clutch arrangement provides the advantage over plate or gear type limited slip differentials. Available for Dodge, Ford, GM, and Toyota applications.

AVS2 Series Carburetors

The next generation. Featuring annular flow primary boosters with a new calibration for improved off idle and cruising performance. 1905 650 CFM, Manual Choke, Satin Finish 1906 650 CFM, Electric Choke, Satin Finish

More Sizes Available Ask For Details

Ultra Pro Magnum Rocker Arm Upgrade Kits The 8650 chromemoly material and arched, web-like design deliver increased strength and rigidity while still reducing the moment of inertia and optimizing the dynamic balance. 1601-16 Chevy; 3/8" Stud, 1.52 Ratio 1602-16 Chevy; 3/8" Stud, 1.6 Ratio 1605-16 Chevy; 7/16" Stud, 1.6 Ratio 1620-16 Chevy; 7/16" Stud, 1.7 Ratio 1630-16 Ford; 7/16" Stud, 1.7 Ratio 1631-16 Ford; 3/8" Stud, 1.6 Ratio 1632-16 Ford; 7/16" Stud, 1.6 Ratio

Fabricated Aluminum Valve Covers Perfect for street performance junkies, racers, or enthusiasts trying to save weight. Crafted from 6061-T6 aluminumalloy, they have successfully endured rigorous pressure testing, proving that they are built to last. Available in polished, black anodized or Satin Silver. Available for GM, Ford and Mopar engines.


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january2020 | RPM Magazine


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RPM Magazine - January 2020  

THE RIDES 2019 Top Guns... All the best our pages had to offer from the past year! Fresh Horses... After 27 years of racing, Luciano Vitel...

RPM Magazine - January 2020  

THE RIDES 2019 Top Guns... All the best our pages had to offer from the past year! Fresh Horses... After 27 years of racing, Luciano Vitel...

Profile for rpmmag