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 didnt 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 worlds major countries. Here in the USA,
weve had almost 1.7 million cases recorded and weve
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 cant believe how empty our
highways here in Connecticut are. Its 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 were 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 were
confident you all will recover from this event; and are better
for it. Were 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 were going to take a look at one very nice
and fast 55 Chevy gasser.
Steves folks bought his
210 model 1955 Chevy in 1984 for $800.00. It had been drag raced
at Connecticut Dragway in the early 70s 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, lets take a look at what has gone into
Opening the fiberglass hood on
Steves 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 Charlies 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
its 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,
theres a 10 gallon fuel cell which feeds a Magna Fuel electric
pump that moves the fuel through braided stainless steel lines
up into the Davincis. 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, theres
a DRE engine diaper in place; but hopefully the ARP fasteners
will help keep the engine from coming apart.
a pair of Moroso 27.75x7.10x15
drag tires. To date, the modified Chevy frame has been straightened
3 times because of those crowd pleasing wheel stands. Steves
advice to all racers is: Dont get out of the gas
when youre in a big wheelstand!! But when its
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,
hes 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,
youll probably see the entire Vallieres family somewhere
in the pits.
Steve is usually somewhere around
the family motor home or hes driving around the track on
his small quad ATV. Hes got a ton of knowledge on Chevy
engines and all the pieces and parts that go into creating a
9 second gasser. Hes a great guy, with a wonderful family
and youll be enriched if you take the time to stop by his
pit. Steve has enjoyed drag racing for nearly 30 years and he
said hes made many friends within the East Coast Gassers,
NETO Nostalgia club and the Gear Heads organizations. Now, lets
look at some neat pictures!
COAST GASSERS-DRAG RACING LIKE IT USED TO BE!