Editors note: The advent of IHRA's Crate Motor Stock classes has opened up some great opportunities to race in Stock Eliminator without spending a bundle on finding and developing old parts. Myron Piatek was IHRA's Holley Sportsman Championship Division 2 Stock Champion in 2000 (he was Second this past season) and finished Third overall in the Summit National Championship for Stock Eliminator in 2001. We thought you would like to hear first hand some of his experiences and to also get an idea of what it takes to compete in this form of racing.
Most people in drag racing get their feet wet in the bracket divisions. I live in Holly Hill, Florida, and I began ET bracket racing in 1978. While I enjoyed every minute of it, I have always admired the Stock and Super Stock classes with their factory bodies, limited rules, and wheels-up launches. Like many bracket competitors, however, the time, money, and know-how to race in these class divisions kept me as a spectator of those cars.
As the years passed, there were occasional discussions of driving a class car for someone, but nothing ever developed. Regardless, I prefer to be my own boss, setting schedules, making changes, and so on anyway. I continued to bracket race, often twice per week during most of the year because of track points. However, the "itch" to go class racing was still there when IHRA announced the new legality of corporate manufacture, or crate-motor engine classes in 1995, and my interest was rekindled.
One of the most attractive features was the allowance of a four-barrel Holley 750 double-pumper or vacuum-secondary carb on small-blocks and the bigger 850 Holley on big-blocks. It must be remembered that most "regular" Mopar Stock and Super Stockers must use a Carter carb, which in turn must be carefully tuned for racing. However, my bracket experience had only focused on how Holley carbs work. Though the IHRA did not have any major races close to me, I was able to see the cars race on television and keep track of what was going on in its publication, Drag Review. After researching this new form of Stock class racing, I took the plunge.
What are the benefits to doing it this way? First, instead of chasing down specific carburetors, heads, and whatever, you simply buy a motor, or the individual parts, to assemble a legal combination from scratch, right out of the Mopar Performance catalog. IHRA has a list of the engine packages that are legal for the CM classes. Next, because you don't need to worry about breaking all that rare stuff, you can go out and bracket race the car every weekend locally-break something and the Dodge dealer or speed shop can get it. Practice is key to being successful, and the more you race your car, the better you will do. If you race only in Stock events, you limit that practice time. Finally, due to the way the cars are factored, you can move from class to class as needed.
I needed a good base to work with. My plan was to select a combo that would still make a good bracket racer between IHRA events or if class racing didn't work out. To that end, I purchased a '74 Plymouth Duster in 1998. This was an NHRA G/SA car that had never been competitive against the index. I was a little more anxious than I should have been, and being in a hurry to buy a car unfortunately meant that it took a lot more time, work, and money to fix, change, and repair the problems this vehicle suffered from. Nonetheless, my desire to go class racing was finally coming together.