ROHAN Hutson, owner of this tough blown ’55 Chev, reckons Street Machine Drag Challenge is the best week of the year. “It’s a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts all there for the same thing,” he raves.
With Rohan positively gushing about the event within the first 30 seconds of our conversation (it was like he was reading from a late-night infomercial script!) you just know this fella can’t wait to go fast and have fun at DC 2018!
This will be the Victorian’s third crack at Drag Challenge, and this time around his classic-cruiser Chev has been given a few tricks and tweaks.
“It was a factory V8, one-owner, 71,000mile car,” says Rohan of the Chev, which he’s owned for a decade. “I put a tough smallblock in it and it did a 10.60@129mph.”
With the help of giggle gas, Rohan ran in the Dial Your Own class at DC 2016. “At that stage it was a standard-type body and chassis but had tough running gear in it,” he says.
“My second year – last year – I put a fourlink in it,” he continues. “It didn’t need it, as such – it had hooked up pretty hard in 2016 with the standard-type chassis, 255 tyres and CalTracs – but I wanted more rubber under it.”
The car now sports a set of 315/60/15 ET Streets, and also scored a ’cage and a few other items that raised its weight and pegged it to around 10.9 for 2017. But the tubbed rear end, larger footprint, safety ’cage and tighter rear suspension were great preparation for this year’s upgrade: more grunt!
The 10-second, gassed 383-cube smallblock has been lifted out; in its place sits a BDS 8/71-blown, Holley-fed, 540-cube big-block Chev V8. To keep costs under control, the ‘new’ engine was sourced second-hand. Originally built several years ago by The 308 Shop in Dandenong, Rohan tore it down to its Bowtie block and Dart Pro1 alloy heads for a precautionary freshen-up of the basics: steel crank, hydraulic-roller cam, H-beam rods and JE forged pistons.
WEST Aussie Lorenzo Gullotto’s VL has had a big birthday ahead of Drag Challenge 2018, and if its first full hit is anything to go by, it could be a real contender. The Streetbuilt Racing machine reeled off an 8.17@170mph at Perth Motorplex with plenty of boost left in reserve, but it wasn’t all beer and skittles. The fibreglass bonnet on the immaculate-looking LS-powered Commodore went to pieces in the big end and made a nasty mess of the windscreen at a terrifying 274km/h! We’re sure the lads will repair the damage in no time, and turn up to DC 2018 gunning for a seven-second hat.
JOHN Huysmans didn’t make Drag Challenge last year with his killer twin-turbo 429ci Windsor-powered XW ute, which was built specifically for the event. The beaut news is the stars have aligned for this year, and everything’s on track for the car to debut at DC 2018. “I’ve been following Hot Rod Drag Week in the States for years, and when I heard that Drag Challenge was kicking off in Australia, I knew I had to get involved,” John said when we met him at Bathurst Autofest last year. The combo is good for well north of 1000hp, with fellow DC entrant Frank Marchese from Dandy Engines manning the laptop.
IN LAST issue’s Drag Challenge column we mentioned that Jarrod Wood recently came within six one-hundredths of being able to call his gorgeous XT Falcon a nine-second, all-motor street car at the Ford-Powered Nationals at Heathcote. He didn’t have long to wait though, with the big Falcon gelling nicely with the Swan Hill blacktop at its next outing to bust out a 9.96@133mph, with a short time of 1.325sec. Impressively, the aspirated Ford small-block has thus far provided five years, 8000km and 245 passes worth of service. Congrats, mate!
“It made 1011hp on the dyno and 965lbft,” Rohan says happily, one month out from DC18. “It’s drinking pump fuel at the moment, but it’s my intention to set it up to run on E85. But that might have to wait until next year. For E85 I’ll need a much bigger tank and I don’t think I have time to get that into the car for this year.
“There are still a few things to do,” he continues. “I’m doing quite a few midnights right now!”
The big-block is backed by a tough Reid- cased Powerglide transmission. “Yeah, that’s fancy!” Rohan exclaims. “I bought it from a mate, Milan Dokic, who used it in his burnout Camaro. We gave the ’box a freshen-up, too. It’s capable of holding a lot more power than I have, so it should be trouble-free. hope so!”
The engine/driveline conversion – and the desire for a hassle-free cruiser – saw Rohan splash cash on a rack-and-pinion steering system, stout tailshaft and a new radiator.
For Drag Challenge the car will tow a 6x4 trailer. “That carries the Esky and our tools and tyres,” Rohan says. “I’m expecting it to run in the high nines, but to be honest, that doesn’t matter too much. It’s a street car and trip the and aim have for the fun!” event s is to do a terrific road
1955 CHEVROLET BEL AIR Paint: Straight black
Brand: 540ci big-block Chev
Induction: BDS 8/71 Teflon-tipped blower, 6psi
Heads: Alloy Dart Pro1
Camshaft: Crow hydraulic-roller Conrods: Carrillo
Pistons: JE, 9:1
Crank: Scat stroker
Oil pump: Moroso
Fuel system: Two Holley Dominator pumps
Exhaust: MPW-built 2¼in primaries into dual 3in
Gearbox: Powerglide two-speed; Reid housing
Converter: TCE 4500rpm
Diff: 9in, sheet-metal housing
Springs: Moroso (f), QA1 coil-overs (r)
Shocks: 90/10 Pedders (f), QA1 coil-overs (r)
Brakes: Wilwood (f); HQ Holden drums (r)
Master cylinder: 15/16in Corvette aftermarket
Rims: Center Line; 15.5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: 185/70/15 (f), 315/60/15 ET Street (r)