6 Mike Mars
'66 Plymouth Belvedere
Mike's '66 Belvedere was in contention to be the quickest car in the group and it's surprising how close some of these cars were running with each other with radically different setups. The black Belvedere came into the hands of Mike by luck. His friend, Patrick Butler, purchased it for $1,200 as a 318 car with around 200,000 miles on it. It had rusted quarters and a three-on-the-tree. Patrick eventually bought a Duster from Mike's brother and offered the Belvedere to him for $600.
The story with the car is filled with attrition. His first engine bent a rod and cracked the block. From there, he built a 340 for use with spray, and melted six pistons not too long after. Bob Baldwin rebuilt the 340 and it lasted for 20 years before needing to be rebuilt and that lasted for six years before the crankshaft broke. The frustration got the best of Mike and he decided to get a fresh start with a 415 small-block from Indy that he would run with the bottle.
Inside the new 360 block is a set of forged Wiseco pistons attached to Eagle SIR I-beam rods and a cast Eagle 4340 crank. He selected a Comp 254/262 duration .576/.597 lift camshaft. Bob was again elected to take care of the top end and chose aluminum Edelbrock heads that were ported and milled bringing compression to 11:1. Air and fuel is collected by a Demon Six Shooter carburetor and a Mopar Performance Six-Pack intake manifold. The ignition system was swapped to a MSD 6AL using an MSD Pro Billet distributor and the oil pump is from Melling. A set of Flowmaster mufflers and Hooker headers struggle to tame the sound of the big-cube small-block as it screams down the track or rumbles down the street. Gone is the three on the tree in favor of the reliable TCI 727 transmission using a 4,000-stall and a B&M Mega Shifter.
A while back, the bodywork was completed and it was painted Coach Black in his friend’s garage in Aurora. Surprisingly, the suspension is mostly stock, save for the rear Cal-Tracks and a mini-tub. The Plymouth rides on Weld Aluma Stars measuring 15x3-1/2 inches up front with Mickey Thompson front runners and 15x10 out back with 28x13.50 slicks. Inside the car looks extremely clean and fresh, thanks to a pair of low-back racing seats and new, red carpeting from YearOne. "My favorite thing about the car is that some cars can only be driven on the street or at the track and this can do both," he proclaims. He was dead consistent too, with a pair of near 11-second passes under his belt for the TSC passes.
7 Buddy Marshall
'69 Plymouth Road Runner
Buddy almost didn't make it to the competition because the car he originally entered wasn't able to come on the trip to Vegas. Thankfully, he had another trick up his sleeve with this gorgeous '69 Road Runner he just completed. Brian McCain in Delta, Colorado, applied the Sunfire Yellow paint and gave a great attention to detail to make it look as close to showroom stock as possible. Once the paint was dry, Roger Donner restored the interior with Legendary parts, recovered the seats in new white vinyl, and installed new black carpeting.
The chassis is all stock but Buddy wanted to go with a set of early '60s Dragmaster wheels that are staggered 14x8 inches in front and 15x10 in the rear. They wear BFG rubber measuring 235/70R14 front and 245/60R15 rear. The 383 under the hood is also an entirely stock, numbers matching motor that has never been rebuilt. Buddy was worried about thrashing on the car and took it easy down the track. But the bodywork and road manners received some of the top marks.
8 Gary Helwig
’65 Plymouth Belvedere
If there were a category for shock and awe—possibly for next year—there would have been a clear winner with Gary Helwig. His ’65 Belvedere was certainly the talk of the group because of it’s evil cackle coming from the side exhaust, giant wing, outrageous paint job and attention to detail. The car was painted by Thomas Auto Body in Lodi, California, and was then sent to Dan Trick at Air Paint Works to have custom air brushing misted on the car.
Underneath, the car was converted to a tubular K-frame up front and a four-link out back. A Dana 60 stuffed with 4.56 gears was narrowed and the back of the car was fully tubbed to accept the steamroller 33.0x17x15 Mickey Thompson Sportsman tires mounted to 15x17-inch Pro Stars. The fronts are your traditional 15x5-inch Pro Stars with 195/65R15 BFGoodrich radial tires. Gary also tossed the factory brakes for a set of Wilwood binders on all four corners. In the cockpit, Gary filled the dash with the proper gauges to keep him up to date with the engine’s behavior and installed new black carpeting and racing seats from Summit Racing.
The powerplant behind the mad machine was in the car when Gary acquired it, so he’s not exactly sure what’s inside, he just knows it runs strong. He added a Weiand High Rise manifold with a big Dominator carburetor breathing through the large, pro stock scoop. The evil sound is thanks to his custom exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers and a big 3-inch megaphone side-exit tip. Unfortunately for all of us, the car didn’t pass the NHRA tech inspection and wasn’t allowed to make any hits down the track. It scored well in the categories it was judged in but the lack of a track pass gave him a default score in the category.