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APRIL 2020 NEWSLETTER

 

I remember watching the late news on March 1st; and the field reporter for a local TV station was standing outside of the Danbury hospital announcing that the first case of the Corona virus had been detected in Connecticut. At that time, things didn’t seem too serious; and there were plenty of other more important stories going on in the country. Here we are some 11 weeks later and all we hear about is the virus and the damage it has done not only to our nation; but to most of the world’s major countries. Here in the USA, we’ve had almost 1.7 million cases recorded and we’ve lost almost 98,000 people. Our club members live as far west as Minnesota; as far south as Florida; and as far north as Maine; but a majority of our members live in the most severely affected states. It seems almost inevitable that some of you may have been affected by this virus in one way or another. If you have lost someone in your family, or a co-worker, a neighbor or a friend; Karen and I send you are heartfelt sympathy. If you or anyone you know currently has the virus, we hope and pray you or they will soon recover and get better. Our hope is that we will quickly get past this pandemic and resume a normal life. Who could have imagined that we would be required to stay at home, wear a face mask, and not be allowed to congregate at any sort of sports or social event? We would not be able to get some pizza at our favorite spot; grab a burger or have a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop? How quickly our lives have changed!! When you see the TV coverage of our major cities, they look like ghost towns in some movie. I can’t believe how empty our highways here in Connecticut are. It’s also possible that some of you or your family has been temporarily laid off from work. If that is the case, we hope that you will soon be able to go back to work and begin to get back to your usual routine. This ugly germ has turned our country upside down in just a few months. But we’re confident that we will eventually be able to once again see the kids back in school, be able to go to the beach or lake, go to church, watch a movie or get a HAIR CUT!! We know all of you are a pretty resilient group; and we’re confident you all will recover from this event; and are better for it. We’re a strong nation; and we will prevail again!! So, keep the faith everyone and stay strong!

If you drive southeast from our house for about 20 minutes, you come to the city of Bristol, Connecticut. Ever since I was a kid, Bristol has always been a place where there were many fast street cars and race cars. My favorite, was a black ’34 Chevy sedan delivery that was powered by a blown 409 Chevy. It was called the “Blown Hearse”; and its driver, Dickie Doyle, was always a crowd pleaser. Bristol also happens to be where club member Steve Vallieres (#46) lives and this month we’re going to take a look at one very nice and fast ’55 Chevy gasser.

Steve’s folks bought his 210 model 1955 Chevy in 1984 for $800.00. It had been drag raced at Connecticut Dragway in the early 70’s and it came with a 283, no transmission and broken stock rear end. Steve installed a 12 bolt rear with a posi to get it ready to race. But since Steve was only 14 years young; he would have to wait until he was old enough to drive; before he could race. By 1991, this car would begin its drag racing career; and it has become a welcome sight at any track that hosts a nostalgia gasser event. Initial sheet metal work was performed by Steve and his dad; while the paint work was done in 1985 by a friendly neighbor, Gene Bretten. Steve does all of his own mechanical work; but he wanted to thank Billy Carlquist who owns and operates Carlquist Competition Engines in Watertown, Connecticut for giving him a bullet proof motor. He also wanted to thank Billy Strahowski and Garrett Monde for their excellent craftsmanship. Believe it or not, this ’55 has taken Steve to 2 high school proms, keg parties, street races, cruising the Bristol Plaza (the place to be seen) and of course, many trips down the quarter mile. To date, it has seen 8 different engines, 8 different transmissions and 5 different rear ends. But right now, this ’55 Chevy is one to be reckoned with at the track. Now, let’s take a look at what has gone into Steve’s gasser.

Opening the fiberglass hood on Steve’s Chevy, we find a GM Performance Rocket 4-bolt main small block, nestled between the inner fender panels. Coupling a 4.195” bore with a 4.00” stroke; you get 442 cubic inches of mouse power. Scat supplied the forged crank and H-beam steel connecting rods; while the old Jahns Engineering Piston Company; now known as JE Pistons, took care of producing a nice set of forged aluminum slugs that hold a set of Total Seal piston rings. Covering up the Melling oil pump and holding the Gibbs XP-9 10W/40 motor oil is a Charlie’s custom fabricated aluminum oil pan. At the heart of this small block is a Cam Motion solid roller camshaft and a set of Iskenderian EZ-Roll lifters. Synchronizing the movement of the cam with that of the crank is aptly handled by a Jesel belt drive system. To complete the long block assembly, Steve selected a pair of Dart aluminum 18 degree aluminum cylinder heads that hold 2.20” intake and 1.625” titanium valves courtesy of Del West. When the engine starts to turn, the roller lifters move a set of Trend double tapered, .165” wall push rods; which in turn activate the Crower 1.6 shaft mounted rocker arms. As the Isky tool steel valve springs are compressed, they open the intake valve by .782” and when the intake cycle is complete, the mixture is compressed at a 14.2 to 1 ratio and it’s fired by a complete MSD ignition system. After ignition, the exhaust valves open up to .720”, to allow the spent exhaust gases to exit the engine via a set of G-Monde Performance 21/8” to 21/4” stainless steel fender well style headers. Duration on the cam specs out at 285 degrees on the intake and 298 degrees on the exhaust at .050” lift. Covering up the valve train are a nice set of factory aluminum Corvette valve covers. Steve chose CFE Racing to fab up a sheet metal intake for his high revving small block and they proceeded to construct a beauty that holds a pair of super trick Davinci 1050 CFM dominators that drink in copious amounts of VP C-12 racing gas. In the trunk, there’s a 10 gallon fuel cell which feeds a Magna Fuel electric pump that moves the fuel through braided stainless steel lines up into the Davinci’s. To help keep this stout mouse cool, Steve uses an Afco aluminum radiator and a Proform electric water pump. Just in case the engine has a catastrophic failure, there’s a DRE engine diaper in place; but hopefully the ARP fasteners will help keep the engine from coming apart.

a pair of Moroso 27.75”x7.10x15” drag tires. To date, the modified Chevy frame has been straightened 3 times because of those crowd pleasing wheel stands. Steve’s advice to all racers is: “Don’t get out of the gas when you’re in a big wheelstand”!! But when it’s time to stop the car and stand on the brakes, he relies on a Wilwood disc brake setup on all four corners. To protect Steve inside the car is a 12 point roll cage that was built by No BS Fabrication in Terryville, Connecticut; and Steve controls the car from the original bench seat that has been modified to accept the lower portion of the 5-point seat belt harness. Monitoring the engines performance is a trio of Stewart Warner Green Line gauges that include: water temperature and oil temperature and pressure. As Steve approaches the starting line, he utilizes his line lock system to do his burnout and then he moves toward the starting line, concentrating on the Moroso mechanical tach as it begins to climb toward 6400 RPM. When the light goes green, he’s on the gas, shifting three times at 8200 RPM and he crosses the finish line at approximately 8400 RPM. Wow, a 442 cubic inch small block Chevy that turns 8400 RPM in the traps. To date, it has managed a best of 9.48 @ 145 MPH. Naturally, Steve is very grateful to his mom and dad for getting him his first car and for all the late nights, dirty clothes, and frustration that his wife Debbie and his two children, Lela and Evan have put up with over the years. If you get to attend one or our races, you’ll probably see the entire Vallieres family somewhere in the pits.

Steve is usually somewhere around the family motor home or he’s driving around the track on his small quad ATV. He’s got a ton of knowledge on Chevy engines and all the pieces and parts that go into creating a 9 second gasser. He’s a great guy, with a wonderful family and you’ll be enriched if you take the time to stop by his pit. Steve has enjoyed drag racing for nearly 30 years and he said he’s made many friends within the East Coast Gassers, NETO Nostalgia club and the Gear Heads organizations. Now, let’s look at some neat pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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