When many of us reached our teenage years, we rebelled against the way our folks did things. But what if you're Travis Hess from Martinsburg, West Virginia, and your father is noted racer Bucky Hess? How can you rebel against a guy that spends his weekends driving really fast in a Hemi-powered A-Body? Bucky has made a name for himself in SS/AA drag racing, where his 8-second King Cuda has been a major contender during the last decade. His son Travis didn't really rebel, but he chose a different way to go when it came to building his performance goal.
"What I wanted was a '60s-inspired Super Stock street car," he told us as we looked over his '65 Coronet. "Plus, I wanted to be able to do a little nostalgia racing with it." Travis had made all that happen with this cruiser-taking accolades at the first-ever Hot Rod magazine Pump Gas Drags in 2004, putting down quite a few highway miles, and even qualifying for Nostalgia Super Stock races on open weekends.
The Dodge originally came into the Hess family in 2001. The original plan was to build a mild street beast out of it. In fact, in Travis' mind at the time, the car would be fun with just a worked 383 in it. However, when Bucky won the '01 Hemi Challenge SS/AA race at the U.S. Nationals that year, there was a brand-new Hemi block available and plans changed. Travis paints cars and custom bikes for a living, and he's pretty good at it. Part of the payment he got from a job he did for Johnny Kelley, another SS/AA racer friend, was a used set of spare Indy Stage V Hemi heads. In fact, most of the motor was assembled with cast-off parts from Super Stock programs that time and competition had left in the dust. The lung, which the guys at Ray Barton's place put together, now displaces 528 inches.
Travis says, "The intake and valve covers are off Dad's first 8-second Cuda. They leak a little, but they look supercool. The seats are the originals out of that first 'Cuda as well."