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EDITOR IN CHIEF.........................................................CHRIS BIRO

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 To subscribe to RPM go to or email Trish Biro at, 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 19 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@ 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.


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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.

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Tom Bailey



MAKE PLANS NOW for 2019...



s I get to be the editor for a month of this great publication that we have all come to love as the best quality magazine available, I would like to first thank Chris and Trish Biro for the opportunity to work with them on this issue. My idea for the “Tom Bailey’s Woodward PreParty/RPM Magazine Takeover” was to bring back the feel of the Gus’s Drive-In cruise that happened years back. RPM (partnering with Brian Hanson) would assemble some of the baddest cars in the country for a Friday night cruise in the middle of small town Wisconsin, and RPM dedicated an entire issue to the event. It was one of those great “happenings” that you took for granted until it was gone. Unfortunately, though, Brian simply could not continue to pour his heart and soul into the event given work and family commitments. As most know, I am not a lawn chair car show fan, but love horsepower, so last year with only a week to prepare we held the first event. The idea behind it is to bring together some of the fastest and baddest cars in North America to celebrate horsepower—not sit around in lawn chairs with stuffed animals in your car drinking sweet tea. Surprisingly, even with such short notice we were able to pull in over 50 vehicles, and more importantly we had over 30 cars with ’chutes! With 2017 well in hand—and far more notice for a 2018 event—we wanted to make it one of those go-to events for both car owners and fans alike, so I worked with Eddie at Clubhouse 81 to take this event over the top….and we did just that. Not only did we reserve parking for 70 cars with ’chutes, we also had another 50 cars with horsepower reserved, then we added a dyno challenge, a test day at the all new Lapeer Dragway, poured a concrete pad for a burnout compe-

tition, and to make it extra special, Eddie even added a pig on the rotisserie to feed the crowd! When all was said and done, I knew we had accomplished something special. By all accounts, it was a huge success as it was an event unlike anything that I—and I am sure most of the attendees (both car owners and fans)—had ever experienced before. Plus, we raised over $4,000 for the Michigan Epilepsy Foundation! The best part about all of this is that in the few short weeks since the event almost every person I run into says one of two things to me: either “Dude that was the coolest event I have ever been to,” or “Man I heard about your party and wish I would have been there as I heard it was epic!” Don’t be the second guy or girl! Now, you have read about it here and on social media, you know it was epic, so you need to be there! We have the entire issue of RPM as an EXCLUSIVE PARTY ISSUE, so sit back and enjoy the exclusive event coverage and feature rides that can only be found in the pages of RPM. We’ll also be bringing more features on cars from the event in upcoming issues of RPM. It’s that simple… being part of Tom Bailey’s Woodward PreParty/RPM Magazine Takeover makes you eligible for a full feature in the world’s top car mag. Not to mention the amazing time you will have being part of the action. And next year, we’ll have all the action, plus you can meet the senior staff of RPM MAG as they will be in the house with a full display, and are promising something big. I am already excited about planning next year’s event. Remember, don’t be that would’ve could’ve should’ve person who didn’t come out, make plans now to be at the 3rd annual PreParty. It’s not a car show… it’s a celebration of horsepower!

COMING NEXT MONTH: Back to the YBNats!.............................................................

RPM takes you back to the YellowBullet Nationals for exclusive coverage


THIS AND MORE IN THE NEXT RPM! october 2018 | RPM Magazine

ADVERTISER INDEX ACC Performance................. 100 Accufab Inc............................ 37 Aeromotive........................... 10 AFCO..................................... 91 Alan Johnson Performance (AJPE)............................... 102 Alston Race Cars.................... 18 Applied Racing Components (ARC).................................. 35 ATI Performance Products..... 45 Auburn Gear.......................... 32 Autoglym.............................. 99 AVAK/Ridgegate Tools........... 48 Baer Brakes......................10, 59 Bear’s Performance............... 23 Be Cool................................ 104 BES Racing Engines............... 17 Bill Mitchell Products.......40, 80 Blower Shop............................ 5 Borla..................................... 90 BTE Racing............................ 67 C&C MotorSports................... 12 Calvert Racing Suspensions... 96 Canton Racing Products........ 31 CFE Racing Products.............. 66 Chassis Engineering...........8, 22 CN Blocks.............................. 93 CNC Motorsports................... 41 Coan Engineering................ 105 Competition Products......... 113 Crane Cams......................... 101 Crower.................................. 34 CVR Products....................... 107 DART..................................... 20 Design Engineering..........43, 83 Diamond Pistons................... 78 DIY Auto Tune/MS3-Pro EFI... 85 Drive Train Specialists (DTS)... 13 DRIVEN Racing Oil................. 30 Dynocologists........................ 86 Dynomite Dynamometer...... 13 Dynotech Engineering........... 95 Ed Quay Race Cars................. 42 Edelbrock.............................. 92 Empire Dragway.................... 84 Energy Suspension...........50, 95 FUELAB................................. 63 G Force Racing Transmissions.25 Granatelli Motorsports.......... 44 GRP Connecting Rods............ 12 GZ Motorsports..................... 79 Harland Sharp....................... 25 Harwood............................... 21 HoleShot Wheels................... 40 Holley.................................2, 39 Howard’s Cams...................... 27 Hughes Performance............... 7 Induction Solutions............... 19 Indy Cylinder Head................ 64 Innovate Motorsports.......... 109 JE Pistons.........................20, 53 Jesel...................................... 14 Justice League..................... 108

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Often Imitated, Never Duplicated—For 19 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!


Tara Hurlin photo

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

EXCLUSIVES Tom Bailey’s Woodward PreParty....................

Back In Time...........................................................40 Greg Csernai’s 1967 Mustang has been terrorizing the streets for 38 years!


RPM Magazine Takeover: A celebration of horsepower!


RIDES Nice Nova.................................................................... 80 Rob Leimenstoll’s ’64 Chevy II is a sweet dream

Dirty 30...................................................................................8 Nick Plewniak’s 1930 Plymouth is a barn-find extreme machine

PonchoJonInvasion ............................................... 94 Swango’s blown, methanol-sipping Pontiac is hot & ready! Not Yesterday’s Yenko.................................... 24 Jason Sack’s 1969 Nova is inspired by classic muscle, but no ‘60s dealership ever sold a Chevy like this!


PROJECTS & TECH RPM adVANture..................................................108 RPM’s Matt Trombley takes his passion on the road


october 2018 | RPM Magazine


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story by

Elena Scherr photos by

Matt Trombley


here do you start in telling the story of Nick Plewniak’s 1930 Plymouth sedan? Does it begin when he first brushed the cobwebs off it after dragging it out of an old barn? Was it a year later, in 2017 at Drag Week, when he was scrambling to finish the wiring and turbo-piping in line

for tech inspection? He’d say it started way before that, before he even had a driver’s license, way back before he was born even, in the early 1990s when his father was building engines and following the burgeoning Fast Street Car movement. Nick grew up around car parts and quick street machines. He was helping his pop wrench way before he was legally

driving, and cars that are faster than they have any business being have been a part of his life well before this barn-find Plymouth. If Plewniak’s name seems familiar, it’s probably because of his previous creation, a 1985 S10 pickup with a 1000-horsepower, twin-turbo big block Chevy mounted in the lengthened bed. Known as “Stretchy Truck” by Nick

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ALL IN THE FAMILY There’s nothing “ratty” about this rod. Plewniak left this original body the way it was intentionally, and then built a badass street/strip car around it. This is the real deal.

SNAILS PACED Twin 82mm turbos peek out from just above the hefty original front fenders of Dirty 30.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

and often referred to as “Sketchy Truck” by race fans, the pickup was a crowd favorite at grudge races and street car events because of its bizarre looks and unpredictable on-track behavior. Eventually the truck’s twitchy ride met a dewy evening track and Nick had a truly wild ride. He was okay, but the truck was not. Perhaps that’s really the start of this story, the moment Nick realized he survived his rollover, and immediately started thinking about what to build next. “Even before the truck crash, I had intentions of building a four-door, four-seater street car, and when my friend Rick sent me photos of this ’30 Plymouth on its wooden wheels, all original and just a real, true, barn find, I said, ‘That’s the one.’”

The Plymouth had been sitting since 1956 and only Nick would look at its sky-high stock ride height and original scrolling-drum speedometer and say, “That’s my next racecar.” Out of curiosity, we asked him what top speed was on the old speedo. “I dunno,” he answered. “I think it would roll over a couple times in a quarter-mile.” This led the two of us down a rabbit hole of 1930s Plymouth research which eventually landed at Abbott Instruments where vintage gauge restoration expert Bruce Abbotts informed us that the speedometer would have originally spun over at 80 mph. “Very optimistic for the Plymouth,” he said, but then, he didn’t know that the car we were looking at has had a few additions since 1930. | october 2018


DIRTY 30 Of course, the Plymouth didn’t leap to its new role as a drag car without some encouragement. The first year was mostly cleaning and disassembly, or as Nick puts it, “Hard work because I had no money.” Speed parts didn’t start coming in until about a year and half into the project, but when they did,


everything became, appropriately, fast forward, as Nick and his friends tried to ready the car for Drag Week. “I had a fulltime job, but I got my shifts changed to be four long days, and then I’d go straight from that shop to work on the Plymouth. It was basically

LOWERED WAGON Plewniak dropped the big Plymouth body by a whopping 10-inches on the chassis.

october 2018 | RPM Magazine

CROSSOVER APPEAL Like something out of a horror movie, the Dirty 30 is sinister, intimidating, and flat out cool all rolled into one. It’s plated, insured, fully road legal and best of all, driven! | october 2018



CLEARLY COOLER The gangsters would have gotten away if they had the Dirty 30 Plymouth. No photo editing work here – the original open roof area was covered with a slick skin of Optic Armor. As the upper rad tank attests, many of the original parts as possible were kept in place during the build.

120 hours a week for six months. As you know, we basically finished it at the track the second day of Drag Week.” Because it couldn’t make the first day of racing, the Thirty was out of competition for Drag Week that year, but Nick did get it sorted out


enough to grudge race his friend and arch-rival “Aussie Chevelle” Harry. “I cut a perfect light and just kicked his ass,” says Nick, still gleeful with the memory. These days the car is running strong, although it still has a slightly unfinished appear-


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ance, or at least, unrestored. Unless you’re an expert in ’30s sedans, the exterior looks unmodified, you know, except for the giant twin turbo engine in the front. But Nick did make some changes to the body, namely lowering it on

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RAT ROD? ROD WITH A RAT. A Plewniak Performance and Fab-built twin-turbo 580 ci big block Chevy resides between the rails of the U-Sedan. A Dart Big M block with Trick Flow Specialties fully CNC 365 CC conventional cylinder heads was used and the mill runs on pump gas squeezed through a Holley EFI system.

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NICK PLEWNIAK’S 1930 PLYMOUTH U-SEDAN Chassis Type & Mods: Stock suspension, factory floor, factory firewall. Factory frame with an integrated Plewniak Performance and Fab built 25.3 6.50 SFI certified chromoly cage. Frame notched in the rear to fit a 29x10.5 tire. Suspension & Brakes: FRONT: 6-inch WAC Customs tubular drop axle with a 4-bar setup and coil over springs. Rack and pinion steering. REAR: Leaf spring with Cal Trac suspension attached to a Plewniak Performance and Fab built fabricated 9-inch housing. Body & Paint: This was a completely original car that sat inside a barn since 1956. Pulled out of the barn a little over two years ago to begin work. Body was not painted; true patina from 62 years of rust and dust. Optic Armor windows and sunroof. Engine: Plewniak Performance and Fab built twin turbo 580 ci big block Chevy that runs on gasoline. Trick Flow Specialties fully CNC 365 CC conventional cylinder heads. Dart Big M block with a Dart crank. Billet steel rods. Forged piston with Total Seal rings. Crower valve train .842 Crower hippo lifters, stainless roller rockers. This set up currently has over 8500 street miles. Holley EFI Engine management tuned by Nick Plewniak. Controls boost, water methanol (intercooling), fuel, ignition timing and data logging. Induction & Power Adder: A pair of 82 mm Borg Warner AirWerks s400 T4 flanged turbos and Stainless Works stainless tubing. the chassis by some 10-inches. “Some of that was wheel and tire,” he says. The stock wooden wheels were something like 28-inch tall tires!” There is a surprising amount of original

Plymouth in the frame, although Nick boxed and strengthened it, since the average, and even above-average Plymouth driver in 1930 wasn’t popping a

chute at 170mph. The rear is notched to fit a 29x10.5 tire and it all ties into a 6.50 SFI-certified chromoly rollcage that Nick built himself. More subtly, the stock fenders

Electronics: Holley EFI Management tuned by Nick Plewniak. Transmission & Driveline: Extreme Automatics Th400 with a 1st or 2nd gear leave. Extreme Automatics valve body with a Pro Torque converter. Other Important Info: Follow the team at @Plewniakracing to check upcoming events or to purchase “Dirty 30” apparel. Best ET & Speed: 8.20 at 170 on 93 octane pump gas. | october 2018


SEATING FOR THE WHOLE GANG There’s room for pretty much anything inside Dirty 30. A 6.50 SFI-certified chromoly roll cage that Nick built himself protects driver and passengers.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

have been widened to cover the big meats. Leaving the fenders and running boards intact is one of the aesthetic decisions Nick made on the car that give it such a cool look. It’s more antique than ratty hot rod “rat rod.” Inside the Plymouth is a mix of weathered metal and stock gauges with modern race tech and a few homebuilt solutions. If you only look at the dash in

macro shots, you could imagine it back in the barn, dusty sunlight slanting over the ovalframed gas gauge and the vaguely radiator-shaped surrounds housing ignition key and that optimistic speedometer. Pull back for the bigger view though and you’ll see Procar by Scat racing buckets in the front and a third seat in the rear. A parachute handle hangs down



Nick kept things simple with a digital dash to display vital signs. Of course the race seats, ratchet shifter, and parachute pull handle are necessities for track use. The custom wood door panels just fit the theme of Dirty 30 best and were fabbed up by Nick’s uncle and finished by his girlfriend Maddy.

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DIRTY 30 over a ratchet shifter and a yellow-striped steering wheel hides a digital dash. The door panels are wood because Nick found the weight similar to metal, and liked the look better. His uncle cut them out and his girlfriend Maddy finished them off and drilled all the holes for window cranks and door levers. The whole car was built that way, everyone pitching in with their expertise and enthusiasm. “There’s no way that anyone does something





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like this all by themselves,” says Nick. He had help from family, friends, even Street Outlaw racer and Drag Week Unlimited winner Jeff Lutz, who lent him shop space and moral support. “He didn’t just help with fabrication advice, although he did that too,” says Nick. “But when people said early in the project that it wasn’t going to work, Lutz said ‘Go for it. Make it work.’ I did this project to gain experience, and that’s what he told me to do--make some mistakes,

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DIRTY 30 that’s the best way to learn.” The engine is similar to the Stretchy Truck’s twin-turbo big block but there’s just a little more of everything. It’s a gas-burning 580ci Dart Block topped with CNCported conventional Chevrolet Trick Flow aluminum heads. Billet steel rods spin forged slugs wrapped in Total Seal rings. Under the valve covers are Crower .842 HIPPO lifters and stainless steel roller rockers. Twin 82mm turbos flank the mill, which was built by Plewniak Performance and Fab, and tuned by Nick. A Holley EFI engine management set-up controls the boost, water methanol intercooling, fuel, ignition timing and data logger. Keeping everything cool is a universal Summit aluminum radiator that Nick cut apart and fit to the 1930 cowling. Behind the big block is a Pro Torque torque convertor mated to an Extreme Automatics Turbo 400 sending the ponies

back to a custom fabbed 9-inch with Moser axles and bookended by 295 Hoosiers on Mickey Thompson wheels. The fronts, which spend half their time in the air, are M/T Sportsman radials on American Racing wheels. The Dirty ’30 had a bit of a rough start with its last minutes completion at Drag Week, but by the time we shot it for RPM, Nick had a ton of street miles and dragstrip passes in the rearview mirror. On the street the 30 will lift the front tires, or annihilate the rears, depending on how much throttle Nick uses, and it’s best E.T. so far is an 8.20 at 170 on 93 octane pump gas. If the Stretchy Truck was a headturner because of its wild and dangerous appearance, the Thirty is the next step in Nick’s automotive evolution. It’s still wild, still a little homespun and roughedged, but full of thoughtful details and

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clever joining of antique and modern materials. The canvas roof that once covered the top is OpticArmor now. The rear seat folds up to give Nick access to the rear-mounted battery and air compressor. It’s all very usable and reliable. So much so that Nick says he’s a little disappointed. “When I got in it and it went straight and quick, I was like, well now what do I do?” He’d gotten so used to wrestling

the Stretchy Truck that it was almost a let-down to have such a docile machine, but surely a little additional boost will solve that problem. In the end, Nick says that he tries to live by his friend Jake Brantner’s advice. “He told me, do the stuff that you like to the best of your ability, and if other people like it, that’s great, but even if they don’t, you do and that’s all that matters.”


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story by

Elena Scherr photos by

Matt Trombley


ewborns are nervewracking. They are fragile and needy and sometimes they are all rusty under the surface and you get so discouraged you just put them in the garage for a year and forget about them. Hopefully it’s clear we’re talking about an automotive baby. For Jason Sack, the Woodward Pre-Party was pretty much the

first time his brand-new 1969 Chevy Nova spun a wheel since his plan of building a light street/ strip car turned into a full-on turbo and tube chassis race car. A street-legal race car. It’s common courtesy to tell people their babies are pretty, but Jason’s really is. The Nova is low and clean, with just the bulging hood and the parachute on the back to hint that despite the vinyl

top, this is no show car restoration. Instead it’s a 25.2c-SFI spec double frame Skinny Kid Race Car chassis with steel doors, roof and quarters and carbon fiber decklid, interior, and front clip. “The car isn’t stretched,” says Sack. “It was important to me that it still look like a street car. It has chrome trim and drip rails. I don’t know which the guys at Skinny Kid

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october2018 | RPM Magazine

Racing were more mad about—leaving the drip rails or putting on that vinyl top.” Let’s talk about how an electrician from Wyoming ended up changing his plans from knocking together a 10-second, $30,000 dollar aroundtown machine to an 8-second stunner that would give Don Yenko tingles. It started, like | october2018




october2018 | RPM Magazine

ROLLIN’ LOW With such a low stance you’d swear the Nova was stretched, but that’s not the case. In fact, the doors, roof and quarters, along with the car’s dimensions are all GM. A carbon fiber front clip hides the boosted LSX mill but there’s no hiding the 76mm turbo behind the front grille.

so many projects, when Sack was just a kid, watching the older guys with their racecars, and eventually getting a Nova in high school. That car ran 12s, and then,

with a little gas-assist, 10s. He raced casually, got married, did normal life stuff, and then got drunk in a bar one night and wrote a $15,000 check for a 7-second dragster.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he says. “I didn’t have $15,000. I didn’t have $5,000! I had to rush to the bank the next day to get a loan to cover it.” Luckily, | october2018


Jason’s wife not only didn’t mind, she was into it, and took over driving duties on the rail. They raced that for a few years and then sold it to get a 1963 Nova. The shoebox was Sack’s first experience with the dangers of body-shop jail. “It


october2018 | RPM Magazine

sat for three years and I kept putting money into it and never getting a car.” He finally lost patience and sold it at a major loss, just to be free of its weight on his soul. What’s the first thing you should do to recover from a sketchy project

that just eats money? Of course! Buy another one. Enter the 1969 Nova off of “It was a minitubbed 275X car, and it looked good in pictures, but the ‘cage— well—it was welded where you could see, and everything you


LONG TIME COMIN’ A far cry from the dragster purchase Jason made over a few beers that required some quick banking to finance, this Nova is a wellplanned work of art—that just took a while to come to life. | october2018



october2018 | RPM Magazine


couldn’t see was just rotten. I took it to Racecraft and them boys looked at it and said it was a pile of junk, that it needed $100K to make it nice. So I took it home and stuck it in the garage and didn’t think about it for a while.” Sack is friends with Tom Bailey, and Bailey is nothing if not an enabler, so he kept pushing Sack to get back on the Nova, but by this time, Racecraft was busy, and the last thing

anyone wanted was another car sitting for months in a shop. Bailey suggested Skinny Kid Race Cars. The guys at Skinny Kid weren’t any more flattering about the car. “They also said it was a pile of junk,” says Sack, but at this point he’d accepted that he was going to spend some money so when the floors and firewall and, well, pretty much everything below the roof needed to be replaced,

Fully accessible when needed, the removable front clip and placement of everything under it was expertly planned. The Nova is powered by a GM LSX B15 crate motor with Steve Morris stage 1 hydraulic roller turbo cam. | october2018



oh, and also the roof, he decided to go all in. “All that’s left of the original car is the A-pillar, the B-pillar, and some of the windshield frame. When we were doing all that, it didn’t make sense to, for example, cut out the


floor and replace it with a stock pan when we could do carbon tubs,” he says, demonstrating racecar owner logic at its finest. When Sack was telling me all this I was laughing, but when he got to how

october2018 | RPM Magazine

he chose a GM LSX as the powerplant, I really lost it. I’ll give you the short version. He was at Power Tour and correctly answered a question about Holley Performance Products and won his choice of any intake

JASON SACK’S STREET/STRIP 1969 CHEVY NOVA Chassis Type & Mods: 25.2C double rail frame from Skinny Kid Race Cars. Powder coated chassis. Suspension: Santhuff front struts. AFCO Big Guns on rear with Skinny Kid sway bar and four-link rear with wishbone. Body & Paint: Bodywork and paint by Alan Pennywitt Farmington hills Michigan. Steel doors, roof and quarters. Carbon fiber front clip, carbon trunk lid, rear bumper, wheel tubs and dash. Power windows with Optic Armor. Engine: GM LSX B15 crate motor with Steve Morris stage 1 hydraulic roller turbo cam with matching valve springs, .135 wall push rods. LSX B15 6-bolt heads as cast, bronze bushings in rocker arms. Holley hot rod pan with baffling. ARP head stud kit. LSX b15 8-bolt crank. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Holley High Ram. Aeromotive dual Phantom fuel pump, Holley 120-pound injectors. Power Adder: Garrett GT billet 76mm ball bearing turbo. Skinny Kid Race Cars air to water intercooler and pump. Electronics & Ignition: Holley Dominator system with Holley boost controller, Racepak sensors with IQ3 dash, Racepak V300 datalogger. Davis bump box. Transmission & Driveline: Neal Racing Transmissions Pro Mod powerglide with 1.69 first gear Neal chance aluminum bolt together converter (4000 stall) and Gear Vendors 2500hp overdrive unit. Rear Differential: Skinny Kid Race Cars 9-inch with 4.30 9.5-inch gear set on Strange spool. 40-spline Strange gun drilled axles, Strange XD aluminum bolt thru center, and PST carbon drive shaft. Other Important Information: 3,000 pounds with 20 gallons and driver. 34.5x17x16 rear tires and 25x4.5x15 DOT fronts. GPS speedometer. All wiring by Andy Chopp at Chopp Racing , Michigan.

UNDER THE NOSE The Holley High Ram intake was the basis for the build‌really! Sacks won it and built the engine around it. A Holley 105mm throttle body was also used to mate to the intake. | october2018



october2018 | RPM Magazine

NOT YESTERDAY’S... Eric Gash photo

CREATURE COMFORTS Leisurely drives on the mountain roads of Wyoming are common for Sacks and his ’69 Nova, as is showing off at Tom Bailey’s Pre-Party. Inside you will find almost all the comforts of home; USB ports, cup holders, padded seats, and best of all, air conditioning!

in the Holley catalog. “I picked the Hi-Ram LS intake because it was most expensive.” “So basically, you built this whole insane car around a free intake manifold?” “Yeah.” “Kinda ended up being an expensive intake manifold?” “Yeah.” Expensive maybe, but

worth it, because Sack had a blast all week in Detroit. The runs he got to make at LaPeer International Dragway before the Bailey Pre-Party and RPM Magazine Takeover were perfect for getting a handle on driving and tuning the car, and after the second one he came back to

the pits and told his buddy Jaimie Busch that the car was about 1000 times better than when they started. “Look,” he said, holding up his arm. “I have goosebumps.” The Nova gives goosebumps thanks to that GM crate LSX topped by ascast LSX 6-bolt | october2018



CLEAN CONFINES Impeccable work by Skinny Kid Race Cars (SKRC) is evident inside and under the Chevy. A Racepak V300 data logger monitors vitals that are displayed on a Racepak dash.

heads modified from crate specs by a Steve Morris Stage 1 hydraulic roller cam and valve springs. The famous free Holley Hi-Ram is fed by 120-pound injectors and boosted by a single Garrett 76mm ball bearing turbo. A Holley Dominator EFI and boost controller sets the rules for the engine and a Racepak dash and data logger

do the tattletale work. Jason’s been doing the tuning, something he says keeps him up at night, but in a good way. “I lie in bed messing with the Holley software. Back in the day I was pretty good with a small block and nitrous. I’m not as smart on EFI tuning, but I’m learning.” Behind the block is a Neal Chance

4000-stall converter sending power back through a Neal Racing Transmissions Pro Mod Powerglide, and Gear Vendors 2500-hp overdrive which spins a PST carbon fiber driveshaft and ends in a Skinny Kid Racing aluminum 9-inch and Strange XD aluminum center section packed with a 4.30 9.5-inch gearset and 40-spliine



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october2018 | RPM Magazine

gun-drilled axles. Weld wheels spin drag radials in the rear and skinny Racemasters up front. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of Sack’s car, but it really comes together in the big picture. It’s so clean and well-thought out. There isn’t a stray wire or an ugly weld. The underside and engine bay are as finished as the exterior. Even the place-

ment of the turbo and coolers was perfectly planned to fit not just structurally, but aesthetically, behind the grille. The interior is tight, but comfortable, with adjustable pedals so that the Sacks can take turns behind the wheel. There are all the amenities—okay, some of the amenities—you’ll find in a new car. With leather-covered seats,

A heavily fortified SKRC built rear diff is filled with Strange goodies and suspended by a custom SKRC 4-link with wishbone and sway bar and AFCO Big Gun shocks. A trick Aeromotive dual Phantom fuel pump system was used for the Nova. cupholders, USB ports, and power windows, it’s worthy of its license plate and street car status. “I just took a friend for a ride and he said, ‘This wasn’t what I was expecting.’ It’s not hot and rough in here. You can drive it to Dairy Queen.” | october2018



october 2018 | RPM Magazine

story by

Elena Scherr


f Greg Csernai’s name sounds familiar, it could be for a number of reasons. He might have done a custom exhaust for you at his shop, Great Lakes Customs. You may have read about his championship-winning Fox-body Mustang in

photos by

Matt Trombley

NMRA results, or about his ’67 GT350 clone in the Shelby club newsletter. Maybe you saw this car, his blown ’67 coupe on the cover of Hot Rod in 1983. Maybe you’ve raced him at the track or on the street. If so, you probably lost. Don’t feel bad if you’ve lost to Greg—the man’s

had a lot of practice. He’s been racing since he first got a fast car in high school—a ’72 W30 Oldsmobile 442, and he’s been building exhaust systems for other people’s fast cars almost as long. It’s fair to say that his life basically revolves around performance machines. When | october 2018


BACK IN TIME he was just out of college, drag racing his own car, and working at a local Midas repair shop, he started getting requests for custom pipes from some of the hot rodders in the area. Midas didn’t do that kind of work, but Greg


was able to do it after hours and on weekends. Eventually his list of customers got so big that he decided to go into business for himself, and as we were talking he added up the years since he first started working and laughed. “I’m coming

up on my 30th anniversary of owning my own shop! It sure went fast.” Life goes by fast when you’re having fun, and all Greg’s cars go fast too. We’re here to talk about one in particular, a 1967 Mustang in a light me-

october 2018 | RPM Magazine

RETRO COOL Greg’s ’Stang was originally built as Super Stocker over 40 years ago. Big Mickeys fill the stretched wheelwells now.



tallic shade of aquamarine that would look perfect set in platinum and surrounded by diamonds. That is to say, it’s a subtle, classy color, and then you walk around to the front and get a crick in your neck trying to see

the top of the bugcatcher on the 6-71 blower sticking out of the hoodless engine bay. Jon Swango’s Pontiac in this issue is more dramatic, but somehow Greg’s car is more cartoony. You can absolutely picture a 10-year-old with a

pencil clutched in their fist, drawing cars just like this in the margins of their math book. That’s a compliment, by the way. The Mustang was a crowd favorite at every stop during the festivities before and during the Woodward cruise.



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CLASSIC IRON The cool 1980s Pro Street stance is not a Pro Street 2.0 effort, on the contrary, this car was one of the pioneers of the movement and there have been very few changes to the look of it since.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

BACK IN TIME One of the reasons Greg’s car stands out is because unlike most of the cars we’re featuring, it isn’t a full tube chassis. It’s a back-halved stock Mustang, and that gives it a different stance than a dropped racecar. It has a bit of a nose-high look, like the Super Stock car it started out as. Greg bought the car for $500 in 1979 and built it up a year later, in 1980 when the Pro Street movement was filling the streets with cars that looked the business but couldn’t back it up. “They were all show and no go,” says Greg. “I

WELL PRESERVED While over the years of being driven and raced the Mustang has seen a few bumps and scrapes, you would never know the paint is 38 years old.

wanted to build a street race car that could go.” The problem was, Greg already had a reputation for owning fast cars, and nobody wanted to race him in the new ’Stang. He stops here to assure me that he no longer races in the streets. “Stakes are too high. Too many people, it would be terrible to hurt someone.” Instead, the Mustang mostly took on street driving duties, and of course, drag strip runs. Greg is a big proponent of driving cars, not just keeping them in garages as show pieces. He says the reason he has a

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Shelby clone is that when he had a real Shelby, he never wanted to take it out for fear that something would happen to it. “I was afraid to drive it,

but now I’ve been all over the country in the clone.” He drives the blue Mustang a lot too, and when asked what the best modification he’s made

is for drivability he’s quick to say E-85. “It’s the biggest difference. I did it for the cost, but then it ran cooler and I make more power. I had to change the

PREHISTORIC PRESSURIZATION? Hmm, this isn’t your average street car mill! The Roots blower is actually a Don Hampton 6/71. It’s a true historical artifact, back in the day everybody wanted a Hampton! The huffer sits atop a 393inch Cleveland with cast 4bbl open chamber heads.



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october 2018 | RPM Magazine

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GREG, BARB, & DILLON CSERNAI’S PRO STREET 1967 FORD MUSTANG Chassis Type & Mods: Pro street back-half with 10 point cage. Suspension: Stock front suspension with drag shocks and disc brakes. Rear ladder bar with leafsprings. Wheelie bars. Body & Paint: Imron light blue metallic lacquer. Stock steel body throughout. Engine: 393 Ford Cleveland. Eagle rods, Eagle crank, Mahle pistons, Crane roller cam. Ford 4 bbl iron open chamber heads done by Greg Douglas. Great Lakes Customs exhaust, powder coated by QC Coatings with Flowmaster 4” race mufflers. Power Adder & Fuel Delivery: Hampton 6-71 blower running 8 pounds boost, Mark Sullens E-85 carbs. Aeromotive fuel pump, Barry Grant regulator. Electronics & Ignition: MSD 6A box, and coil, wires, Mallory Unilite distributor. Transmission & Converter: A-1 3500 10in Ford C6 by JPT. Rear Differential: Ford 9-inch housing with 33-spline Strange axles and spool, Ford rear disc brakes, Ford 4.70 gear. Other Info: “I built the car 38 years ago, and built the new engine 4 years ago and at that time switched to E-85 from racing gas. The paint is 38 years old. The car was originally built by Mike Dawson as a super stocker. Updates to the rearend, rear suspension, front suspension, and 10 point roll cage were by MPR. I bought the car in California when my grandfather died for $500 in 1979. Street raced for about 4 years, but no one wanted to race it anymore. Performance: 9.60 street trim.



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HIGH FRUCTOSE 4 years ago, when he built the new engine, Greg changed it to E85 and has no regrets. It runs cooler and gets great mileage—when he’s not into the boost, that is.





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october 2018 | RPM Magazine

thermostat so that the car would warm up, because it was running so cold!” Greg made the fuel swap when he rebuilt the 393ci Cleveland a few years ago, and he wholeheartedly recommends it to anyone with locally available E85. He says he hasn’t had any problem with the alcohol, but he did swap all the lines to nylon rather

than rubber, upgraded the fuel pump to a high volume Aeromotive unit, and had Mark Sullens rebuild the two 750 cfm double pumper carburetors to E85 spec. “I get great gas mileage, it gets 16-18 mpg when I’m not into the boost.” Beneath the Don Hampton blower and double carbs is an Eagle crank-stuffed

small block spinning Mahle pistons on Eagle rods. A Crane roller cam makes the rumble between iron Ford open chamber heads ported by Greg Douglas. Spent gasses leave through a custom system done by our featured Greg (Csernai) at Great Lakes, and the power finishes its journey to the pavement via a C6 automatic,


BACKIN’ IT UP While Greg keeps his racing at the track now, back in the day the Mustang was quick on the street, so quick that he ran out of guys that would race him. Greg easily slams down mid 9-second runs, then drives the car out for ice cream. | october 2018



COCKPIT FROM THE PAST 3500-stall converter, and a Ford 9-inch packed with 4.70 rear gears. Greg admits that his torque converter choice is probably holding him back on track, but says it’s worth giving up a little E.T. to keep the heat down on the street.

“It doesn’t 60-foot real good with this combination,” he says, “But it’s just a lot more usable than a loose race converter.” As a street car, the Mustang is surprisingly docile. Other than climbing over the doorbar

of the 10-point rollcage, the interior is mostly stock, with low-backed buckets that Steve McQueen would recognize, and a woodgrained steering wheel in front of a big Autometer tach. There’s even a usable back seat, which



october 2018 | RPM Magazine

Like stepping into a time capsule, Greg’s Pro Streeter retains the original buckets, and for that matter most of the original interior. It’s cars like this that inspired us all. A 10-point cage was added for safety, and a miniaturized OEM-looking backseat was added between the mini tubs for that extra thrill-seeking passenger.

REPLACE WITH NEW COPY | october 2018


BACK IN TIME isn’t something most 9-second car owners can say about their machines. Because he sees so many performance builds in his work at the shop, Greg says he really appreciates all the modern options for going fast. “DOT tires, that changed everything. We used to drive

around on slicks. The cops didn’t like that. Now they only pull me over so they can look at the car.” He also approves of turbo technology, but says that he’ll leave those builds to his kid for now. “I’m still an old school carburetor man. I’ll let my son learn fuel injection and build turbo cars.”

BIG OL’ BUNS Long before fabricated rearend housings, we ran a braced original 9-inch housings like the one in Greg’s ’67. Note the retro spring loaded wheelie bars that are period correct for the build. The car rides on a leafspring ladder bar setup.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

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october 2018 | RPM Magazine | october 2018


TOM BAILEY’S story by

photos by

E lena S cherr M att Trombley


woke up to a banging on the door. I opened my eyes and saw my own feet at the foot of the bed (normal) and Tom Bailey’s 3000hp, street-legal “Sick Seconds” 1969 Camaro behind them (less normal). Tom had offered me the use of his garage and loft at the M1 Concours in Pontiac, Michigan so I could save on a hotel bill while I was in town for the Tom Bailey Woodward PreParty / RPM Magazine Takeover. The garages at the M1 track are amazing, nicer than my house, and Tom’s place was great, convenient and smelled deliciously of race gas. There was only one problem. While I was using it as living quarters,

a half-dozen racers who were also in town for the party were using it as a garage, so we’d been up until about 2:00 am the night before (that morning?) changing plugs and teasing each other about whose car leaked worse—Tom to Joe Barry, “Most cars leak in one or two spots, your car left six spots!”--and now it was about 6:00 am and Craig Groebner was outside needing to get in to get tools because all the bolts had vibrated out of his Nova the day before during testing at LaPeer International Dragway. “Not all the bolts,” he corrected me. “Just some.” I opened the door and told Craig, “I hate you.” I may have told Craig I hated him, but in reality, I


Elena Scherr photo

1. The view as I awoke after a late night wrenching and bench racing; does it get any better than this? 2. The PreParty pre party. 3 & 4. The lineup of incredible rides was impressive to say the least!


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

was having a blast. It’s one thing to see fast cars at the track. It’s a whole different kind of fun to see them cruising in the city, spinning the drum on a mobile dyno, and absolutely obliterating tires in a restaurant parking lot. The mastermind behind this fun was Tom Bailey, hopefully familiar to readers from previous features on his two 6-second and Drag Week-winning Camaros, and also from the editorial in this issue. Tom’s the kind of guy who answers most questions with “Yup,” or “Nope,” but when you get him started on a topic he likes—say, fast street cars—he’s got a lot to say.

“This isn’t really my idea,” Tom told me. “RPM Magazine used to do an invite-only meet at a drive-in in Wisconsin. It was fast cars only, and it wasn’t a car show, it was real race cars. It was just a good time, because, you know, you do this kind of thing and you see each other once or twice a year at the dragstrip or on an event and you’re busy. You’re focused. This was just casual, you could actually talk and relax and look at each other’s cars. I think I met Joe Barry at that first meet.” Tom liked the idea of the fast car cruising so much he decided to revive it, and figured that the week leading


Ken Cox photo

3 Ken Cox photo

4 Ken Cox photo Elena Scherr photo | october 2018



into Roadkill Nights and Detroit’s famous Woodward Dream Cruise was the perfect time to do it. After all, there were already a lot of quick machines coming into town to race the Roadkill street event or stay for the dream cruise, so why not expand the adventure and get everyone together over chicken wings and beers at Clubhouse 81 near Woodward Ave? Before the party, a small group of dedicated racers took advantage of the newly-remodeled Lapeer International Dragway to shake down their cars, and in the case of Craig Groebner, test their fastener torque. Lapeer is a track with a great history. Shirley Muldowney raced there, and all the famous Michigan Super Stockers, as well as jet cars and the wild “Michigan Madman,” on his insanely fast motorcycles. The new owner, Bill Jennings, bought the track from the founder, and has been steadily improving the facility, paving the pits, and completely redoing the racing surface in concrete. He says he wants the track to be modern in safety and amenities but maintain its romantic barnstormer looks. We’re glad there are no plans to tear down the retro timing tower, because seeing it there, sticking up like a lighthouse in the sea of tire smoke

makes you feel like it is 1968, and you’re about to see Art Arfons or E.J. Potter make a run. Tom says the track day wasn’t just for the good of the racers. “It’s important to support local tracks,” he told me. “Bill is doing something good for the community, keeping this little local track alive. We need to give back.” Speaking of giving back, the whole week’s activities were for charity, and it wasn’t just the racers who kicked in. Along with RPM Mag and Lapeer Dragway, Tom got support for the events from LS Pharmacy, Garbarino Construction, Billy Briggs Racing Engines, ASN, Gear Vendors, Tracklab Dyno and Clubhouse 81 (more on them in a second). Track entry fees and shirt sales raised money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. At the end of the weekend, Tom, along with shirt sales coordinators and overall behindthe-scenes mavens, Allison and Kyla Seff, were able to present the foundation with a check for $4224.00. Good burnouts for a good cause! Speaking of burnouts, let’s get into the rubber-melting, lung-burning, clutch-frying, brakes-a-flaming, nitty gritty of this party, eh? Words don’t do it justice, but luckily, we have photos.

october 2018 | RPM Magazine


5 & 6. This is the way Tom Bailey enters his Party!


Tom Bailey was adamant about not hosting a static car show, but if you’re in the parking lot of a restaurant and you don’t want to end up in jail, or driving through the wall of the kitchen, what are your options? Well, if you’re Eddie Sickmiller, owner of a nice pub called Clubhouse 81, which has a nice big parking lot, you’ll rip up part of that parking lot and lay down a concrete slab with rings in it so that Chad Sadler and Gaven Upson can strap down thousands of horsepower and the owners can turn the tires to hot goo, without running over any waitresses. 7. This is the first, and last time the concrete pad that Eddie Sickmiller of Clubhouse 81 poured will ever look like this. By the way, a few strategically placed highway barriers will stop any cars from dining with Restaurant guests. 8. Crowds gathered quickly every time a car was strapped to the pad.


8 9 & 10. Only in Motor City would you see a new F8 Dodge Demon fry the tires off, just for kicks! That is one huge pile of molten rubber‌ well done Matt!


Entering a burnout contest is a commitment, especially with this audience, where you’re not getting any respect unless some part of your car is on fire by the end. The top three burnouts were done by Matt Zurbrick in an F8 green Dodge Demon, Steve Metcalf in a black Camaro,

and our friend from the features section, Jon Swango in the flamed Pontiac. Choosing between the final two, Steve and Jon proved so difficult that Tom split the $1000 and gave each half. Steve, despite really needing new tires, gave it right back for the Epilepsy Foundation.

10 | october 2018


TOM BAILEY’S Steve Metcalf did a morning burnout that toasted his tires, then he went out and bought new tires, came back and did a second burnout that literally stopped traffic on the nearby roads due to the impenetrable cloud of smoke. Jon Swango’s burnout was not just impressive, but beautiful, as the intake suction of the supercharger grabbed the smoke from the air, sucked it through the engine and spit it out the pipes in skyscraper high columns on either side of the Pontiac. “Engine builder Billy Briggs was there,” says Jon. “He asked me the plan and I said I was just going to bring it to five grand and see what happened. Nobody knew if the rods were gonna come out the thing or what. In the end, I started it, looked at the tach and it said 6100 and sounded good, so I held it there. A few seconds later I couldn’t see anything but smoke. I pulled my shirt over my face, shut my eyes, and tried to hold my foot steady. Eventually


I heard the motor come up, so I figured we were running out of fuel. I let it come down, waited a second and clicked it off. All I could hear was the roar of the crowd.” Jon says he went through 8.5 gallons of fuel in 40 seconds, and was sick with a sore throat and watery eyes for four days afterwards but it was “Totally worth it.” It’s one thing to calculate your horsepower based on your build sheet. It’s another to do it with your car that you just drove on the street, and haven’t spent all afternoon tuning for maximum graph racing. The dyno contest can be summed up by the fact that the Third Place car put down 1510 horses. Third Place! That was the Chevelle belonging to Bryant Goldstone. Second Place went to Mike Serrano with a fourth-gen Camaro that can brag 1798 hp, and then we’re back to Bryant for First Place, with a jaw-dropping 2313 ponies from his Chevy-powered 1973 Javelin. When plot-



11 & 12. One day, two ginormous burnouts, traffic delays, and two sets of tires. We agree Steve, thumbs up, indeed! 13. “Umm, somebody lost this… 14. “…6100 (RPM) sounded good, so I held it there. A few seconds later I couldn’t see anything but smoke. I pulled my shirt over my face, shut my eyes, and tried to hold my foot steady.” –Jon Swango Matt Trombley achieved the cool smoke effects by using a 4 second exposure. 15. Much thanks to the folks at Tracklab Dyno for bringing their 5,000hp capable bad boy to the PreParty Takeover.


16. & 17. Third place in the Dyno Shootout at 1510 HP went to Bryant Goldstone’s Chevelle.

october 2018 | RPM Magazine





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RPM TAKEOVER Ele na Scherr pho

18. Second at 1,798 HP went to Mike Elena Scherr photo Serrano in his fourthgen Camaro (shown here racing Roadkill 2018 the following day).




19. & 20. And Goldstone took the podium again when his Javelin took #1 spot with a whopping 2,313 to the rear wheels! He didn’t hit the Dyno, though, until he put a few more street miles on the Javelin…just because he can.

ting out the show, Tom saved 70 parking spaces for use by street cars with parachutes only. Those spaces got filled, and we saw a few ‘chute cars in the “normal” race car parking spaces too. Think about that for a second.

20 | october 2018



21. Everything and anything is welcome on the dyno at the PreParty.


22 & 23. Great aerial shots show the show as cars were pulling in and things were getting set up according to Bailey’s vision.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine



25 I don’t want you to get the idea that this show was snobby, because it was anything but. While it celebrated the high horsepower, single-digit street cars,

there were plenty of pretty stockers and first-timer builds in attendance too, and everyone was having a blast sharing information and admiring each other’s cars.

Elena Scherr photo

24. Let’s get this party started. Once everything was in place, the people poured in and the action got underway. It seemed as though something was always happening.

25. One of the things that sets the cars at the PreParty apart from your average racer is the amount of driving time they’ve seen. Not only were there at least two dozen former Drag Week cars in the lot, but windshields bragged True Street Weekend, Rocky Mountain Race Week, NMCA. These cars aren’t just for show. They’re out there racing. | october 2018




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Elena Scherr photo

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26. & 27. Casey Anderson brought out his 1978 GMC and the two-tone truck got a lot of attention. It’s a 5.3 LS sporting twin 66mm turbos, a Turbo 400 trans and a Ford 9-inch. It runs on E-85, and Casey built everything himself, including the rollcage. “I learned a good lesson on measure twice and bend once,” he said with a grin.


30. & 31. It wasn’t all boys and their toys, there were plenty of girls and their toys too! Michelle Barry joined her husband Joe with their 1956 Chevy, and Alex Taylor brought out her 1968 “Badmaro” Camaro.


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october 2018 | RPM Magazine

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34 32. Doc Fox’s 1967 8-second Corvette Stingray.

33. Gage Eichbrecht (age 7) demonstrates his proficiency with a race harness in the back of his parents’ 1964 Ford Galaxie.

34. From Left to right: Video host Emily Williams, drag racer and owner of the Orange Badmaro Camaro, Alex Taylor, photographer Liv Scaffidi, and myself, Elana Scherr.

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35. Racing is a family affair for the Box Performance Corvette. Owner Gary Box always get attention when he pulls in with the blown Vette surging and spitting. “When you have a car with no computer, you have to drive it,” he said, “And the best of both worlds is to drive it to the track and then drive home. The road levels the playing field.” 36. Bryant Goldstone grins from the driver’s seat of his 1973 AMC Javelin. You’d smile too if you had a turbo big block Jav that put down 2,313 hp on the dyno!


37. Rick and Jacki Steinke race a 1967 four-door Chevelle Malibu jokingly called the “Honk If Parts Fall Off Chevelle.” The car looks like a ratty four-door, but it’s a low 8-second screamer.



38 38. Engine builder Steve Morris stands at the starting line at Lapeer International Dragway.

39. Craig Groebner hit the new concrete surface at Lapeer International Dragway with his boosted Nova.

39 | october 2018



october 2018 | RPM Magazine

story by

Elena Scherr


want you to admit it’s the nicest-looking car you’ve ever seen,” demanded Rob Leimenstoll a few seconds after we were introduced. Now, I’ve

photos by

Matt Trombley

seen a lot of nice cars, and I’m reluctant to play favorites, but I’ll give Rob this, his 1964 Chevy Nova is definitely in the top five nicest cars I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those cars that just gets better the longer you look at it. The

two-tone paint is so deep you expect to see fish swimming around in it. The pinstripe along the split isn’t just a simple line along the body crease, but instead dips down at the nose and rises at the quarter-panel giving | october2018



the Nova’s normally boxy body a pointed, purposeful energy. The side-pipes, oh, those side-pipes. They’re frenched in and flush and if I can’t commit to crowning the whole car, I can whole-heartedly say that it has the nicest sidepipes I’ve ever seen. Ever. Rob’s interest in building a fast street car started a handful

of years back, when he saw Alan Pennywitt’s Chevelle, with its in-the-weeds stance but factory lines and trim, and intensified when Tom Bailey won his first Drag Week in the Sick Seconds Camaro, another superfast, but stockish looking muscle car. He met Tom, and through Tom, Keith Engling and started thinking about what


Definitely a top-shelf build, Rob Leimenstoll’s ’64 Nova is as comfortable on the street as it is on the track, or for that matter the car show “feature room” floor.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine




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Unlike many builds, there is no indication of turbocharging whatsoever when looking into the eyes of this Nova.

he could build that would make for an interesting street car that would stand out in a crowd. He really wanted a ’69 Camaro, but just couldn’t imagine a way of building a quick one that hadn’t already been done by someone else. One of the guys at SKR had an early Nova for sale, and Rob thought

it just might be different enough to be worth doing. “Mostly I let the guys choose the direction,” he said. “They suggested the Billy Briggs 454ci LS engine and the carbon interior. Even the side pipes, those were Bob’s idea over there. The only place we argued is on the weight. Keith, | october2018



ROB LEIMENSTOLL’S STREET/ STRIP 1964 CHEVY NOVA Chassis Type & Mods: Skinny Kid Race Cars chromoly chassis. Car was built to be as friendly on the road as it is at the track. Suspension & Brakes: Strut front suspension and a 4-link in the rear. Strange Engineering front struts and PRS rear coilovers. Strange brakes all the way around. Body & Paint: All steel body except fiberglass hood and decklid. Painted by Todd Wilson. Engine: 454 cubic inch LS motor built by Billy Briggs. Dart aluminum block, Callies crank and rods, Gibtec pistons, COMP cam. Mast Motorsports PXR heads. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Custom billet intake with Wilson throttle body. Power Adder: Twin Precision Turbo Pro Mod 88mm turbos. Electronics & Ignition: Holley Dominator fuel injection. Davis Profiler and Racepak v300 are also utilized. Transmission & Driveline: Rossler Turbo 400. Neal Chance converter. Differential: Strange billet third member with 4.11 gears. Performance (quarter-mile): 7.11 @ 196mph. Other important info: Car is maintained, tuned, and serviced by Walsh Motorsports.


Not just for the cool look, these dual chutes help bring the full weight Chevy II to a stop after a bottom 7-second pass. The long chromoly wheelie bars, notched rear bumper, fabricated pro stock wing, and massive rear tires add to the form and function out back. he wants to make the fastest car. I didn’t want the fastest car. I wanted bumpers, windshield wipers, power windows, a horn. I wanted a street car. That was a little battle between him and I.” Rob also had a little battle with the painter Todd Wilson, not because Todd’s work was


october 2018 | RPM Magazine

bad, but because Rob’s vision changed. He originally wanted a fade between the burgundy and the black on the Nova, but when he went to pick it up, he hated it. “I had him repaint it. I just didn’t want to look at it the other way.” When I asked Rob what inspired the two-

tone paint he sighed. “Do I have to tell you?” he asked. “Is it embarrassing?” I asked back. “Yes,” he said. “I stole it. I stole it from a photo of a car I saw on the internet.” He paused for a second then perked up. “But for sure someone is going to steal that sidepipe design from





october 2018 | RPM Magazine


A 454-inch Billy Briggs LS motor powers the Chevy. They are tucked well away, but rest assured that a pair of Precision Turbo Pro Mod 88mm turbos are on board. A custom billet intake with Wilson throttle body control air flowing into the LS. me, so I guess it all works out.” In the end, Rob got the exact car he wanted. It’s all steel except for the hood and decklid. It has all the street car stuff, from glass windows to wipers to cupholders, and while it may not be the fastest car, it sure isn’t the slowest, with a best E.T. so far of 7.11 at 196 mph, and more to come. “We haven’t totally got it dialed in yet,” said Rob. “We’re going to do some local stuff this fall, might see if we can make it fit in any NMCA classes. I just want to get some time in it.” The Nova sits on a chromoly chassis with a Strange Engineering strut front suspension and four-

link rear. The engine is a Dart aluminum LS block with Mast Motorsports PXR heads and a Callies Performance rotating assembly spinning Gibtec pistons. A Comp cam moves the valves, and Holley Dominator fuel injection feeds them, with exhaust side help from two 88mm Precision turbos. A custom billet intake with Wilson throttle body tops the LS. Behind the engine is a Rossler Turbo 400 with a Neal Chance converter, and a Strange billet third member sits out back with a 4.11 rear gear. At the Lapeer Dragway test day, Rob was delighting the kids in the crowd with halftrack burnouts. | october2018




A digital dash panel and Racepak dash panel sit front and center for Rob, while his Holley EFI panel is off to the lower right, easily viewed for tuning. “Burnouts are the best part of racing,” he told me. “I wasn’t even really going for it. Don Walsh (of Walsh Motorsports, which maintains the car) gets mad at me for getting too far out of shape.” “Ok, John Force,” I replied and he laughed.


He’s got a good attitude, this guy. He does car stuff because he did car stuff with his dad, and it’s the only time he seems down, when he tells me that he lost his father last winter. “The car wasn’t quite ready for Drag Week last year, so I canceled

october 2018 | RPM Magazine


A chromoly cage protects Leimenstoll and his passenger on long drives, and track hits.

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NICE NOVA my hotels, and then my dad got sick that week,” he told me. “So in the end, I felt like I didn’t go racing that week for a reason.” This is how Rob approaches everything, with the certainty that it is happening for a reason and will all work out. He’s not in this for cut-throat competition or show car awards—despite his jokes about best-looking. He likes the company, and the burnouts. “I’ve been drag racing since I was 16,” he told me. “I used to do sand drags with my dad, and then we got into gassers, and raced nostalgia drags, but really, I just like the show. I don’t care nothing for winning or losing. If people enjoy watching my cars, that’s what I like. I like to know I gave ‘em some enjoyment.” Then, because he’s a big tough millwright and he can’t end on a soft note like that, he added, “Not too much though, I’m too old to be up late. I can’t even race the Milan heads-up class because they race at night. I won’t be there for the finals. I gotta go home and go to bed.”

While Leimenstoll said that he never wanted the quickest car, the Nova hauls butt! 7.11 quarter-mile hits are just the start as with more seat time he expects the already quick ETs will drop even lower.

548 cubic inch big-block ario, California dyno tested a Vrbancic Brothers Racing in Ont ched with an Edelbrock or 24° CNC cylinder heads mat Chevy with Edelbrock/Musi Vict r 1,550 horsepower ove in . This combination resulted Super Victor II intake manifold and 1,100 ft-lbs. of torque! Manley dual-spring valve ds feature an extra thick deck, Edelbrock/Musi Victor 24° hea ilable bare or complete. ava are y The for up to .880” lift. springs and titanium retainers 270 tor intake manifold #29 The Edelbrock Super Vic e larg tch ma to ts por the features a 3/4”radius in oval port cylinder heads. CNC’d for a variety of custom This manifold is suitable er, ow sep hor for modern high cylinder heads required HP. + 950 g s makin large displacment engine FOLLOW US ON:




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story by

Elena Scherr


photos by

on Swango feels a little awkward about having his 1963 Pontiac Lemans in the same issue with all the street cars from the PreParty. His car doesn’t have a radiator. It doesn’t even have a starter, and Swango doesn’t want anyone to think he’s muscling in where he doesn’t belong. We say that he’s quite welcome, because while the Pontiac may not be exactly street-legal these days, it comes from streetcar beginnings, so it shares the same heritage. He admits that it wouldn’t

Matt Trombley be impossible to put the car back in street trim, and he really only changed it to save having to work around the extra obstacles since he spent so much time with the car at the track. Also, and most importantly, Swango was willing to do a nearly minute-long burnout with the Pontiac in a restaurant parking lot for us, and if that isn’t earning your spot, we don’t know what is. Like so many of the owners in this issue, Swango’s relationship



october2018 | RPM Magazine

STRIP | october2018




Flame-themed hot rods were a large part of the evolution of fast cars, and are still cool today, especially when they have a blown and injected big block poking through the hood. This Pontiac body was born a Pontiac and not simply fabricated from a pile of parts on the shop floor. The roof and quarters are still steel while the rest was replaced with fiberglass for weight savings.


october2018 | RPM Magazine


with fast cars goes back to childhood. He grew up in Indiana, just an hour south of Indianapolis, and both the Indy 500 and the NHRA U.S. Nationals made yearly appearances on his calendar. In high school he started drag racing and working on a small stock car team that raced at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His handson skills led to a career at General Motors as a tool and die maker, and he’s been doing that for nearly a quarter of a century.

It’s allowed him to pursue his automotive passions, and in 2001 he bought his dream car, a 1995 Viper which he modified for club racing and ran the One Lap of America with. Twice. “We did okay,” he recalls. “Not last.” “One day,” says Swango, “I went out to the garage and I was just over it. I was just over the Viper.” He felt lost for a minute, then remembered a wild, flame and candy Lemans drag car he’d seen about five years before, and on a whim, called the owner and asked him

Fat tires, a big wing, ’chute, and wheelie bars…all the making of a wild Outlaw car! Custom flames and pin striping were originally done by “Yosemite” Sam Radoff and restored by Ed / Eddie Shreve at Deuce’s Garage & Steve Fairman. “I didn’t come up with it,” said Swango referring to the flamed look that took over an era of the hot rod scene, “but I want to be a good caretaker to it,” he added.

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SUBTLE IT AIN’T Whether it is the fulllength candy flame job, massive rear tires, towering chrome strutted rear wing, fabricated zoomie headers, or snarling methanol injected blown big block, absolutely everything about the Pontiac is intended to strike fear and awe into onlookers or would-be challengers alike. The sinister red headlights add to the mystique.


october2018 | RPM Magazine

if he’d care to trade his Pontiac for a Viper. The Pontiac owner said he sure would, and just like that, Swango was the owner of a 1963 Lemans that had been customized in the early ’90s by famed chopper and van painter, “Yosemite” Sam Radoff. “I still remember seeing it for the first time, at least five years before I traded the Viper,” he says. “I just fell in love with it. It’s not normally my style, but it just has such a connection to hot


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If it looks like an alcohol funny car engine, that’s because it is one. A Robbins Racecraft machined and prepped 526 aluminum Keith Black Oldsmobile block with Dart Big Chief Heads was slid between the Lemans rails by Swango. He just happened to have one sitting in his garage! A Fowler F-11 14/71 high-helix blower provides the boost factor, not to mention wow factor for the Poncho.


october2018 | RPM Magazine

rodding’s roots. It just looks so cool.” Swango loved the appearance of his new car, but he wasn’t as into the carbureted 632ci big block Chevy and old-school, square-

tube chassis. He wanted a blower car, and luckily, he just happened to have a 14-71-topped, methanol-burning, 526ci Keith Black Chevy-headed Oldsmobile just sitting around

in the garage. Sure, don’t we all? “I used to work for an alcohol funny car team, and when the owner sold and parted out the car, I bought the engine. It was a top-to-bottom

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JOE SWANGO’S1963 PONTIAC LEMANS OUTLAW 10.5 Chassis Type & Mods: Skinny Kid Race Cars (SKRC) full chromoly 25.2 chassis. Suspension: SKRC steering & rack. Strange strut front suspension with spindle mount front wheels. SKRC 4-link full floater rear housing, AFCO coilover rear shocks. Strange 4 wheel disc brakes. Body & Paint: Steel quarters and roof, fiberglass doors, deck lid, hood and fenders. Flames and pin striping by “Yosemite” Sam Radoff. Paint kept by Ed / Eddie Shreve at Deuce’s Garage & Steve Fairman. Engine: Robbins Racecraft machined and prepped. 526 solid aluminum Keith Black Oldsmobile block. Dart solid Big Chief Heads. SKRC zoomie headers. Bryant Billet crankshaft, R&R rods, JE pistons with Akerly & Childs rings. Induction & Fuel Delivery: Mechanical fuel injection, Waterman fuel pump. Power Adder: Fowler F-11 14/71 high-helix blower. Electronics & Ignition: Pro-Mag 44, MSD Grid, Racepak SD300. Transmission & Driveline: Ken Langlois Powerglide with Neal Chance billet aluminum two-piece converter. Differential: Mark Williams third member and aluminum spool. Other Important Information: Sam Radoff did this car over 20 yrs. ago and he is a hot rod /bike/ van legend, so the car has ties to a special time in customizing and hot rodding. Performance: 4.39 @ 168mph in the eighth-mile. Division/Class: Outlaw 10.5/Quick 8/run what ya brung.


october2018 | RPM Magazine

blower motor, and I knew I wanted to build a blower car eventually.” If you’ve read the other stories in this issue, you might notice a reoccurring theme of buying a car to match an engine. Hmmmm. It’s a thing. Anyhow, Swango got the Olds shoehorned into the Pontiac, and he hit the track to see what it could do. What it did was have problems, but that ended up being a good

thing because he met Brian Robbins and Aaron Achors and they helped him work out his tuning issues. Even more importantly, they introduced him to Keith Engling--Skinny Kid Race Cars-who would eventually redo the entire car. “When we got the engine running good enough, the chassis wasn’t good enough,” says Swango. The car went to Engling and came out with a full chromoly 25.2-spec

tube chassis, steering and rack, four-link, full-floating rear housing, and a host of other modern upgrades. A racer from 1992 used to sheet metal patchwork wouldn’t even recognize the cockpit of the Pontiac with its glossy carbon fiber tubs and panels. Swango sits surrounded by a scuffed but sturdy SKRC ‘cage, in easy reach of a Hurst ratcheting shifter which

PONCHO INVASION | october2018




Out back an SKRC fabricated 4-link with full floater fabricated rearend is accompanied by AFCO coilover shocks.

bangs through the 1-2 of a Ken Langlois Powerglide. A Neal Chance aluminum torque converter connects the ‘glide to the KB block, and in the back a Mark Williams rearend houses an aluminum spool. Robbins fine-tuned the engine for Swango. Beneath the solid aluminum Dart Big Chief heads spins a Bryant Racing crank, R&R Racing Products rods attached to JE pistons, sealed by Akerly & Childs rings and fed by a Waterman fuel pump. Spark is controlled by an MSD Pro-Mag 44 and MSD Grid ignition. The rest of the smart stuff is done with a Racepak SD300.

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Swango was all for mechanical changes, since he has big plans for the Pontiac’s performance. It’s currently run a best 8th-mile time of 4.39 at 168 mph, but he says that he’s just getting started now that the car is ready for the big time.

october2018 | RPM Magazine

“I’ve got to give thanks to my friends Bill Parker and Rick Hager,” says Swango, adding that Parker and Hager help him tune and race the car. “A car like this is not a one-person job,” he adds. “It’s a team effort.” During the whole rebuild process, it

was really important to Swango that the Pontiac kept its retro paintjob, and since Radoff was retired from painting cars, it fell to Ed and Eddie Shreve at Deuce’s Garage to preserve and recreate the master’s flames and stripes. They mapped out the whole car on tracing paper, copying each


Looking inside the cockpit, it is evident that this Pontiac is meant for track duty. A double rail Skinny Kid Race Cars chassis protects Swango while a host of carbon fiber panels surrounds him. Aside from a single gauge and warning light, a Racepak dash displays everything else Swango needs. Even the trunk area has chassis bars and carbon fiber everywhere and is detailed to show quality…not bad for a race car!

of Radoff’s lines and placements, and even calling him to discuss the right mix of candy paints. Swango says nobody does cars like the Pontiac anymore, because it’s not in fashion, but he thinks

it’s a really cool part of hot rod history. “I didn’t come up with it, but I want to be a good caretaker to it.” We’d say the Lemans couldn’t ask for a better boss. For more information visit | october2018




E R U T Ke n Cox ph


>> RPM’s Matt Trombley takes his passion on the road photos by

Matt Trombley


ver the last year, RPM readers have been introduced to a new and rising talent in the world of motorsports photography and his name is Matt Trombley. Matt has been shooting for RPM fairly regularly and when we approached him six months back about covering


Tom Bailey’s Woodward PreParty/RPM Takeover event, “I’ll shoot it all and the feature cars, too” was his response…that’s no small order. But after enjoying this issue, we’re sure you will all agree that Matt performed above and beyond, especially when you learn a bit more about what lead up to the PREPARTY/TAKEOVER event.

october 2018 | RPM Magazine

“I’m what you would call a traveling photographer,” says Trombley. “I actually now live with my girlfriend, Jamie, in our van; a 2000 Ford E-350 Super Duty. Matt and Jamie travel fulltime and go where they please, or wherever there is work to be done. “We dreamed of a life where we weren’t counting down the days until our next vacation and, wanting to start my photography business (Matt Trombley Photography LLC), we decided that the best way to do it was to be completely mobile and available.” Trombley has been taking photos as a hobby for about ten years—weddings, families, headshots, pets, landscapes, products, and automotive. However, growing up near Detroit, he was surrounded by cars his entire life, making it very easy to become engulfed in the automotive world. His interest in cars doesn’t end with taking photos of them, though, in fact on a professional (pre-camera) level his involvement includes multiple roles with The Big 3. “ I was everything from a mechanic working on autonomous vehicles, to chassis dyno

work, and most recently vehicle software updates.” At some point Trombley found that he enjoyed taking photos of cars much more than working on them (although his van keeps him busy with upgrades and repairs). “I am proud to be partnered with this great magazine (RPM),” added Trombley, “And I look forward to working with them for many projects to come.” Matt and Jamie’s adventure started earlier in 2018 and he has kept a log of their adventures to date: To set the stage for this story, my van has 265k miles on it. It’s not a brand new vehicle, we can’t afford that. We are trying to live a different lifestyle than 99.9% of the world. We aren’t doing this on a trust fund. This is our blood, sweat, and tears story to its fullest extent. We started off our trial adventure life with a trip to Goodguys car show in Columbus, Ohio one of the coolest car shows around, filled with great builds and fantastic people. My buddy and I also showcased our 1963 Rambler at the show. The first stop though,

1. Trombley’s van displays her justfinished facelift! Here she features new bumpers, winch, tire carrier, storage box, light bars, and control arms. The heavy equipment and cool sky made for a great pic.

1 | october 2018



2. One of our first adventures in the van, Silver Lake Sand Dunes for the Prerunner Invasion 2017. She did well, only had to get pulled out once! This triggered the realization that we needed more power--tuner followed shortly after.



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october 2018 | RPM Magazine

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3. Matt’s dad, a retired carpenter, built out the interior with room for a queen-sized mattress, refrigerator, solar batteries, rooftop fan, and plenty of storage. 4. Six days after leaving on our maiden voyage, we were introduced to true “van life” as we watched her get towed away after a trans failure. was at a random mutual Facebook friend’s home to fix our broken sway bar links on the van. After being a gentleman and dropping Jamie off at a random strangers house to fix the van while I went to the show, it went well and the van was 100% again, or so we thought. We then headed to St Louis, MO to visit some of Jamie’s family. On the way, the van decided to stop shifting and put us on the side of the road in southern Ohio. I had a spare trans back home, a lot of good that does us in Ohio. Once again, a mutual friend from Face-

book came to our rescue—Jared. We didn’t know this guy for more than about a half hour until I mentioned my spare transmission, and he offered to drive us back home to pick it up. My first question was ‘Who are you?”. You don’t find people like Jared much it seems these days, but he stuck to his word and drove us back home (5 hours) and then to Kentucky the next day (6 hours) where we had the van towed to be worked on. After working with the guys at the shop and having more issues of the spare trans not working. We had a hail Mary

situation to swap the old trans pump into the (used) spare transmission and hope that it would work. After four very long days of sleeping in a compound where the van was parked, we were free to go! Two days later, we headed out to hang with Jamie’s cousin at the St. Louis Zoo. What better way to spend a 100 degree day with 100% humidity than a zoo? Maybe noticing a vacuum pump eating itself as soon as you park at the zoo entrance. Extremely annoyed and feeling defeated, I got the tools out yet again asking the


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5. Matt (orange shirt laughing), seen here slightly delirious. Four days spent in a Kentucky bullpen building and rebuilding transmissions can do that to a guy.

7 universe why it hates me so. After tearing the van apart again, we got a ride to the parts store and dealership to get the parts. A longtime social media friend picked us up and took us back to the van. Finally, we could be done with these ridiculous issues! As we got back to the van, I noticed that the doors were unlocked. “That’s strange,” I thought, as I religiously lock them. That’s when we realized that someone had broken in. First—and we wish it was the only thing—the radio was stolen. How stupid, the radio wasn’t even that great! Then we

realized that all of my camera gear was in the van—camera, the lenses, the LAPTOPS with unfinished work on them, the external hard drive with practically my entire life on it... literally everything! The gun safe was gone. They ripped the entire countertop off. The inside of the van is built to live out of and someone invaded our home, grabbing our things, sitting in our seats, on our bed... the anger, hate, loss, confusion, the rage, it’s all there at 110%. The looming question was where to go from here? Yet another new friend let us stay at their place for a couple


6. Outside the St. Louis Zoo, replacing the vacuum pump for the second time in under a year. Over $15,000 worth of photography and personal property stolen from our van while we went to the auto parts store.


october 2018 | RPM Magazine




8 of days. David and his wife Jessica are soon to be vanlifers themselves and David is also an automotive photographer. We cannot thank these people enough. They let us come hang out for a couple days, fix a few other things on the van, and allow us time to regroup our lives as much as

possible after such a devastating thing. After this stop, we drove to Colorado to visit friends, Utah to visit family, and then Montana to pick up a dog, a dog for our friends in Colorado, because why not? What other issues could possibly happen that would make us any worse

off than we already were? Before Montana though, we had to stop in Wyoming to take some photos of Jason Sack’s Nova (on page 24 of this very issue of RPM). But, even before that, we needed to do a little sightseeing. We deserved it. We’ve been beaten up, rode hard,

and put away wet, so time for some adventures for us! After all, it was my birthday! We decided randomly to go to Fossil Butte. We saw a sign, and went. That’s the whole point of being able to live out of a van, right? If you’ve never been, it’s awesome. Fossils from millions of

7.The little plaque featured here details a haunting story of pioneers from the Oregon Trail getting attacked by Native Americans, covered wagons getting thrown over the cliffs and all, at this exact spot after a day-long trek up the steep hill on which we are perched. We continued down the Oregon Trail. 8.Shortly after visiting Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming. Amazing views from this great little trail! 9.Usually you would turn around at this point, when you realize you are on the power line service trail. We did not turn around. | october 2018


RPM EXCLUSIVES years ago, turtles, palms, fish, and even alligators! What a cool place, we highly recommend it! After the museum portion, there’s a road that heads up into the mountains, it’s a scenic road with amazing views, and terrible signage. The dirt road turns into a two track not greatly maintained road. Those views though, so phenomenal . Just keep driving, I said to myself, it’s my birthday, and the GPS says its three hours until we get to our destination, and it’s only 5:30 pm now. 10:00 pm rolled around with being lost on the Oregon Trail, in a random farmer’s field, in the middle of Wyoming. After being found by the farmer, made fun of for how extremely lost and far away from our destination we actually were (and kindly given directions to where we needed to be), we headed off back the same direction we came and drove a mere 4 or 5 hours to find our way out.


The next morning we made our way to Jason’s to shoot the Nova, and headed towards a blue heeler puppy in Montana. Before getting the dog, we decided the dog’s name was to be “Turtle.” This wasn’t going to be our dog, it was a pick-up and drop-off situation. After falling in love with the dog, we drove as far and fast as we could so we didn’t get attached. Too late. We were. After many instances of whining (by us) we gave the dog to the rightful owners and headed back to Michigan to finish shooting all the cars and the party for this issue of RPM Magazine. Just think, as you flip through this magazine, it’s not all glamorous. I shot all of this without all of my gear. I had some of it, because we had to start a GoFundMe for either of us to start working again, but overall, we were hurting pretty bad, and are still recovering, but we still look forward to the road ahead.

october 2018 | RPM Magazine

10. Shooting Rob’s Nova in Jackson, Michigan. Three weeks after breakin.


11. Matt and Jamie in Washington.


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Profile for RPM Magazine

RPM Magazine October 2018  

Tom Bailey’s Woodward Preparty/RPM Magazine Takeover…A celebration of horsepower! THE RIDES Dirty 30…Nick Plewniak’s 1930 Plymouth is a ba...

RPM Magazine October 2018  

Tom Bailey’s Woodward Preparty/RPM Magazine Takeover…A celebration of horsepower! THE RIDES Dirty 30…Nick Plewniak’s 1930 Plymouth is a ba...

Profile for rpmmag