Comparing elapsed time slips between dissimilar vehicles takes the whole apples-and-oranges thing to new heights. After all, driving skills and response times being equal, theory tells us that a big-block car will most likely have a quicker quarter-mile time than a small-block; that a performance modified car will blast through the traps sooner than a stock car. Then there's the matter of car weight, aerodynamic profile, tires, suspension setup, and on and on. As a result, true scientific evaluations between vehicles are nearly impossible due to the infinite variables that can positively or negatively influence straightline performance.
That's why bracket racing was invented.Nevertheless, the "what's fastest" question has been with us since the turn of the century-culminating in the '60s, when performance vehicles became a turnkey buying option and go-fast buffs flocked to their area drag strips. The debates have not yet faded into history, and they likely never will.
Still, it is always interesting to pit car against car no matter what the make, engine or performance upgrades. The multitude of variables almost always leaves competitors a theoretical out-a way to explain a car's good performance or lack thereof.
That said, we thought it would be interesting to pair up a set of stock and modified small-block and big-block Mopars for a couple of old-fashioned, unscientific, Saturday-night-style grudge runs. We wanted, however, to do this a bit differently than normal. The typical deal would be to throw the big-blocks together and pair up the small-blocks. Our nontraditional approach was to see how a "typical" modified small-block would stack up against a modified big-block, and how a stock-restored small-block and big-block would fare in a heads-up run. Again, it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but it's still an interesting notion.
To set this up, we contacted the Port City Mopars club in Wilmington, North Carolina. PCM runs the show portion of the annual Mopars At The Rock event at the Rockingham Dragway, across from the Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina. The Mopars At The Rock event is a combination show, drag race, and swap meet hosted by Steve Earwood and the good folks at Rockingham Dragway.
Our contenders were selected by random chance from a pool of willing Port City Mopars club members, with member Tom Leasure rounding up the grinning group. Once we had our game plan established, track owner Steve Earwood let us squeeze our runs in between the ongoing race events.
Maintaining as close to a stoplight showdown as possible, each contestant was given a trial run just to loosen things up and get a feel for the track and the light. Then it was off to the final showdown, with the modifieds and the stockers battling each other for an all-or-nothing run down the straights.
Competitors in our unconventional matchup included Les Wyatt in his modified '65 440 Plymouth Belvedere II, Pat Moore in a warmed-up '68 340 Dodge Dart, Dave Blankenship and his stock '70 Plymouth 'Cuda 426 Hemi, and Ed "The Breadman" Bjorkland in a stock '73 360 'Cuda.