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MARCH NEWSLETTER 2018

 

For most of us who live here in the Northeast part of the country; we’ve had a pretty tough go of it for March. There were 4 so-called nor’easter type storms that hit our region within 3 weeks; and the snow here in Connecticut is still melting. Hopefully, it will all soon be gone. I’m sure many of our competition members are working on their cars; getting them ready for our first race that is scheduled for May 12th. As you read this newsletter, there will be just about 6 weeks left before our cars make it into Atco’s staging lanes for the first round of time trails. Let’s hope we have a great weekend to begin our racing season; and speaking of competition members, this month I’m going to take an in depth look at the “Marylander” 1937 Chevy gasser that is driven by Gordie Ford.

Gordie started drag racing way back in 1960 driving a ’57 Chevy that propelled him to many eliminator wins and also a national record. He set the Hot Rod C AHRA record at Suffolk Dragway in Virginia. Gordie built the first Marylander gasser in 1965; and with this car, he was able to capture 2 president cup victories and a comp eliminator title at the “Little Guy” nationals; which were held at the now closed Aquasco Speedway. He continued to win eliminator races from the 60’s thru the 70’s and into the 80’s. After racing for so many years; Gordie began to pursue other hobbies like golf and bowling; and he got out of racing for a few years; but in 2008 the old racing juices began to flow again and it was time to get back into a sport he loved. This latest version of the original Marylander is a clone of the car Gordie campaigned during the previous 3 decades. Gordie purchased this West Virginia roller for $2500.00 from an ad he saw on ebay; but when he took delivery of the car; he almost lost his lunch. There was rust and holes everywhere in the body. Because the car was in need of much sheet metal repair; he enlisted the help of fellow East Coast Gasser member Mark Fenzel; who worked his magic welding on many new body panels and fabricating pieces of sheet metal for the areas that were damaged and needed repair. The guys also added some extra steel to the frame for rigidity; as well as some new cross members that were needed to support the transmission and anchor the forward mounts of the ladder bar setup. Gordie did all of the aluminum panel work that was used in the car; and he also did all of the body work; that was necessary to prepare the car for paint. Once all of the primer was dry, Gordie laid down the final coats of ’63 Corvette yellow and ’65 Cadillac firemist finish coats; and he also did all of the spider web graphics on the car. Not too shabby for a do-it-yourselfer!! I always enjoy showing our members how resourceful people can be; if they just take the time to try and do some work themselves. Nice work Gordie!!

The power for Gordie’s Chevy gasser comes from an aftermarket GM 400 CI, 4-bolt main block that has been bored .030 thousandths over standard. A forged steel crank, forged H beam connecting rods, high volume oil pump and ARP fasteners are all covered up by an aluminum Milodon oil pan. As the crankshaft rotates, it moves a set of forged aluminum pistons that compress the Sunoco racing fuel at a rate of 13:1. Air Flow Research supplied the aluminum racing heads that house 2.25” intake and 1.80” exhaust valves. An ATI balancer helps reduce vibrations; while a double row timing chain rotates a Comp Cams roller camshaft with .750” of valve lift and 306 degrees of duration. Gordie also used a set of Comp Cams solid roller lifters and pushrods to activate the forged aluminum shaft mounted rocker arms; while Edelbrock provided the finned aluminum valve covers. Covering up the valley area is an Air Gap cast aluminum manifold that was actually manufactured in New Zealand; and sitting atop the intake is a Quick Flow carb that flows 950 CFM. That Sunoco racing gas starts its journey to the carb from an ATL 8 gallon fuel cell; and it is pushed forward through a stainless steel fuel line by a Holley “Red” electric fuel pump. Once the fuel is atomized and sucked into the cylinders; a complete MSD ignition system fires the fuel mixture and the spent exhaust gases are funneled out of the cylinders via a set of Hooker headers. An aftermarket aluminum radiator and belt driven water pump keep the engine’s temperature in the safe zone.

All the power that the engine produces is transmitted from an ATI flywheel to an ATI trick torque converter that has a 5,000 RPM stall speed. As the converter spins up, it turns the input shaft of a re-worked Turbo 400 transmission that utilizes a reverse valve body and a trans brake. Gordie controls the gear selection via a Winters shifter and he uses a line-lock unit at the starting line. As the power leaves the transmission, it travels through a custom 4” steel driveshaft to a standard 9” Ford rear end housing. Strange supplied the custom aluminum center section that contains a 4.30 gear set which is mounted on a spool; that spins a pair of Strange 35 spline forged axles. The rear suspension consists of Koni coil/over shocks and ladder bars. Gordie also employs the use of a custom wheelie bar setup. Stopping power for the 2700 LB. car is aptly handled by heavy duty Ford drum brakes out back and a set of Wilwood discs up front. The tire and wheel combinations for this Chevy gasser, finds a set of Super Trick 3-1/2”x15” rims up front and a set of 8”x15” wheels in the rear that hold a pair of Hoosier 28.5”x10.5”x15” racing slicks. Gordie removed the original front straight axle that utilized parallel leaf springs; and he replaced it with a dropped axle and a transverse leaf spring and radius rods from Speedway Engineering. He also removed the stock steering box and installed a Corvair reverse box that also came from Speedway. Koni also supplied a pair of coil/over shocks to help stabilize the front axle. Inside the car, there’s an 8-point roll cage, a fiberglass racing seat and an Autometer tach; along with a full complement of gages. To help keep the weight of the car down; Gordie substituted lots of steel body parts for their much lighter fiberglass counterparts. This ’37 Chevy’s entire nose, along with the running boards, rear fenders and trunk lid are all made from fiberglass by the Ai Company. To date, Gordie has managed to coax his car to a best of 10.18 seconds @ 133 mph.

That mouse motor really does get this car down the track in a hurry. Speaking of getting down the track; in 2016 Gordie was running at Capital Raceway and during one of his runs, his left front tire blew just as he crossed the finish line. The blown tire caused his car to veer to the left and he hit the left side concrete barrier hard enough to temporarily knock Gordie unconscious. When he finally regained his whereabouts; he found he had crashed head-on into a tree at the end of the track. Gordie refused to go to the hospital; and he was okay except for some soreness and bruises; but the car was not so fortunate. It took some time; but the Marylander is back together and Gordie is ready to head back to the track and start making passes down the quarter mile. Even when you are in your 70’s, the desire to drag race can be just as exciting as it was when you were in your 20’s!! Gordie is very grateful to Mark Fenzel, Bob Smith and Roy Jordan who helped him in many, many ways as he was building this car. Working together with your buddies on a car builds relationships that will last a lifetime; and Gordie really did enjoy his days and nights constructing this car. As always, if you are at the track and you see

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EAST COAST GASSERS-DRAG RACING LIKE IT USED TO BE!

 

 

 

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