1970 Plymouth Baracuda
Engine: 426 Hemi
11.94 at 118.68
Bob Karakashian is a well-known Mopar racer and former IHRA record holder. Ask any Mopar guy, and they'll say that he deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award as a front-of-the-pack fixture. The Cuda has run a best of 11.59 at 121.25 at Milan, and at this meet, he qualified 9th using old reproduction Polyglas GTs.
Bob says that there's no real trick to making power with the Hemi.
"The Hemi makes the power by blueprinting," he maintains. And his 'Cuda engine is pretty conservative. The block is .060-inch over, the crankshaft is a standard factory-forged unit, and still uses a factory balancer. The connecting rods are stock-style forged Manley I-beams, and CP pistons with the stock ring package finish it off. There's nothing trick, just very careful attention to machining to ensure cylinder sealing and minimal friction.
One thing that Bob insists on is his proprietary "Mr. Six Pack" camshaft. "My camshafts look small on paper, but have a much faster rate of lift," explains Bob. "Mr. Six Pack camshafts are very close to stock lift, and are single pattern just like the factory. They use the fast ramp that Mopar used back then. They're not Chevy lobes like most cams use today."
The balance of the valvetrain is all stock—rockers, shafts, and a single valve spring that the factory had on the '70 Hemi. Like we said, no porting or even port matching is allowed.
Bob hasn't dyno'd this engine, but he did dyno one virtually identical, which made 565 hp at 6,700 rpm.
Bob's 'Cuda is a column-shifted automatic, and he rebuilt his own TorqueFlite which, like the engine, is essentially stock—no rollers, no aluminum, all factory parts.
"The torque converter is an 11-inch Turbo Action that's been in the car for about 20 years. Stall speed is about 1,800 rpm—I'd like it to be about 2,000 or even 2,100."
The axle is an 83⁄4 with digger 4.30:1 gears.
The 'Cuda makes good if not spectacular power, but driving it is a big part of its success. The Hemi can easily overpower the tires, even on a sprayed starting line, so Bob brings it out just above idle, then gets into it once the wheels are rolling, and 60-foots in the low 1.80s.
"With an E-Body, it's a little bigger challenge to get the car to launch because there's no [rear] overhang," says Bob, who is accomplished as both an E- and B-Body pilot. "When the second carburetor kicks in, it's really violent. The back of the car is so light, [and] that's part of the problem. Unlike other racing classes, the faster Pure Stock racers usually have to add weight to increase traction and go faster. With Bob aboard, his 'Cuda weighs 3,765 pounds.
If you can exercise throttle restraint in the early going and not give the race away in wheel spin, the Hemi will rally to win a lot of races.
"The 440 Six Pack has the torque off the line, but the Hemi has a top end charge that out powers it. The Six-Pack, up to 800 or 1,000 feet will run with a Hemi all day long, but [after that], the Hemi takes over like gangbuster."
Last year Bob ran 11.62 at 121 at the Pure Stocks. He was off over three tenths this year and thinks he knows why.
"I had different fuel with a pinch more octane and I think it actually slowed the car down."