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By the time you read this newsletter, there will be less than 2 weeks left; before our initial race of the season down in southern New Jersey at Atco Dragway. Karen and I are hoping that we’ll have some nice spring weather and a great car count for our first race at Atco in over a year. It’s been a long, cold and snowy winter and we’re looking forward to getting back to the track and some gasser racing. Last week, I had the chance to take a quick look at Bruce Deming’s ’41 Willys after it had been painted and lettered; and boy, did the car come out looking beautiful. I won’t give away any of the details; but you’ll all be able to see it for yourself if you make it to the event. We’ll be bringing the donuts on Saturday morning; as well as a new load of T-shirts. This newsletter should be the last one without any race details until November; and this month, we’re looking at Richard (aka Cricket) Clonch’s ’57 Chevy.

I think after you look at the first few pictures in this article, you’ll agree that the ’57 Chevy Belaire that Cricket found in Missouri really does look like a true barn-find. Since I’ve been doing these articles, I’m always amazed at how the cars our guys purchased looked; when they were first brought home. All of you have done an exceptional job transforming some pretty beat up vehicles into good looking gassers.

Well, the heart of any gasser is the engine and Cricket chose the most popular power plant in all of drag racing; the beloved small block Chevy. Measuring 358 cubic inches, this 4-bolt main mouse motor has been bored .040” over stock. Callies supplied the 3.48” forged crankshaft as well as the 6” H beam forged connecting rods. Eight forged aluminum Mahle pistons and a set of Total Seal piston rings keep the cylinder pressure where it belongs. A Melling high volume oil pump sends the oil to all the right places and it is housed in a 6 quart steel oil pan. Speedway contributed the front harmonic balancer and pulleys. Nestled in the center of the block is a Speedway solid lifter camshaft that is connected to the crank via a double row, roller timing chain. The cam specs out with .537” of lift for the intake valves and .555” for the exhaust valves. Topping off the Chevy short block is a set of Pro Comp aluminum cylinder heads; that contain the often used 2.02” intake and 1.94” exhaust valves. Completing the valve train is a set of Liberty push rods that activate Scorpion 1.5:1 roller tip rockers; and all this is covered up by a set of tall aluminum valve covers. Sealing up the valley area of the engine is a Victor aluminum intake manifold and a Holley 750 carb with mechanical secondaries. Cricket utilizes the original steel fuel tank and lines to bring the 110 racing gas up to the carb. As is the case with most drag racers these days, MSD supplied the complete ignition system.

Exhaust gases are funneled away from the car via a set of fender well headers. ARP fasteners are used exclusively throughout the engine. Once the engine is fired, a SFI steel flywheel passes the power to a 10” torque converter, with a 3,700 stall speed; into a modified Powerglide with a reverse valve body and a Turbo 350 input shaft. Gear selection is handled by a B & M Pro-Rachet shifter. Once the transmission is in gear, the power continues on its journey to the Ford 9” rear end via a 3” steel driveshaft. Contained within the rear end is a 4.56:1 gear set that is mounted on a 31 spline spool. Supporting the rear end housing is a Calvert leaf spring setup; that uses Caltrac traction bars and adjustable shocks. Wheels Vintiques manufactured the special 15” rear wheels that support a pair of Hoosier 28x9x15 drag slicks. Up front, the suspension and steering is pretty much a stock setup that uses 1” longer coil springs; and the front tires are 225x75x15 Coopers. The car is stopped by a quartet of GM disc brakes on all four corners. Cricket’s ’57 Chevy weighs 3,400 pounds; and it does not have any fiberglass parts. It still has the original bench seat; and because it runs in the 12 second bracket; it does not need to have a roll bar or roll cage. There is however, a full complement of Autometer gages, shift light and tachometer arranged on the dash to help the driver shift at 6,000 RPM and cross the finish line at around 6,800. To date, the best run for the Dandy Mart Special was a 12.17 @ 115 MPH. Way back when I was a kid; a car that ran in the 12’s was a rocket. Boy, have things changed. It just goes to show you that you can have some great fun drag racing without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars building a gasser. Cricket wanted to thank the guys at Performance Automatics in Westfield, PA.; for their transmission work; and Forbes Machine in Wysox, PA.; for doing the engine machine work. Cricket did most of the rest of the work on the car; including all of the engine assembly chores, suspension work and rear end assembly. He worked alongside his father-in-law and drag racing mentor (club member Jack Matson); as they both were involved in building his ’57 Chevy. A special thanks goes to his sponsor, Dandy Mini Mart for all the years of support that they have given to Cricket. It is always a blessing to have a sponsor who helps with some of the expenses that club racers incur in building and maintaining their race cars. Finally, Cricket wanted to thank his wife Michelle for all of the encouragement and support she has given to him since he started to go drag racing. You see, it was actually Michelle’s idea that he try drag racing, instead of going down the circle track road which is the style of racing that Cricket has always loved. I know many of our members have wives and girlfriends that unselfishly support their men in what they do. So, if you find yourself at one of our events; take a walk over to Cricket’s pit and say hello to a genuinely “Good Guy”; and don’t forget to say hello to Jack Matson too. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Cricket’s ’57 made it onto the pages of the 2014 winter issue of Rod & Kulture magazine; that featured an article on “The Jalopy Showdown” at Beaver Springs Dragway.






























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