Viewed from the outside, this 'Cuda would be at home on the World of Wheels circuit. Vern sheepishly admits he gets amped about his car's appearances, so every detail has been attended to. Creative checkerboard paint covers the lower rocker areas, with a red and yellow "rip" up the side. The interior is black, with the standard dash still in place, and a bundle of electronic gizmos for bracket racing.

"Vern is a really good guy to drive for," says Jay. "We make the tuning decisions on the car together. He gets whatever we need in terms of parts and safety gear, and it's probably the cleanest car at the track, race or otherwise. I am proud of how well I have done as a driver, but nobody wins forever. I am just enjoying it now while it is happening."

Jay once worked as burnout box support person and as a starter at Bradenton back in the days when the legendary Art Malone owned the facility and has been to 13 finals in the last 18 months, winning 12 of them. At Immokalee Regional Raceway in central Florida, his home track, he was the '05 points champ and won it again in 2006. His 17-year-old son, Matheu, is now getting some dragway driving lessons from the old man, posting a final-round finish at Immokalee during 2006.

This Barracuda may not be the ultimate end for Vern; he is planning on attending a few of those aforementioned SS/AH events in 2007 with Hensley's operation. Regardless, the spirit of '68 will live on-Hemi-powered and roaring to victory.

Fast Facts
'68 NMCA A/FX Plymouth Barracuda
Vern Hill
Kingston, TN

Mopar Power

  • Engine: Hemi racer Matt Hensley gets credit for this one. It's a legal 572-inch Indy aluminum lung with a Callies 4340 forged crank, BME rods, and Ross custom-cut pistons. Into the center of the clearanced and blueprinted short-block went a Comp roller cam that actuates parts from Crane (lifters), Smith Brothers (pushrods), and Jesel (upper valvetrain gear, rockers, and timing belt). Indy also supplied a set of CNC-ported heads, which are bridged by a custom Matt Hensley cross-ram intake supporting twin Holley 770s and equipped with secondary adjusters for indexed racing. MSD ignition parts, an HRE 8-quart pan, and Hooker headers finish out the mix.
  • Transmission: A John Donato beefed-up A727 automatic is behind the monster motor. Unique because the transmission does not use any parts from the smaller 904 unit, a popular modification these days that reduces reciprocating weight but increases potential breakage and maintenance.
  • Differential: Bullet-proof Dana 60 outfit, complete with a 4.56 Richmond gear set for off-the-line dramatics and good e.t.'s, and durable Strange axles.
  • Horsepower and Performance: Far from over at the self-imposed 7,500 rpm redline, the car has gone as quick as 9.17 despite its weight.

Sure Grip

  • Suspension: Out back are 32-inch ladder bars, heavy-duty springs and shocks, and that's all she wrote-the rear suspension has limited adjustability. In the front, however, it's adjustable QA1 coilover shocking and the ol' standby torsion bar layout. The car will 60-foot in about 1.25 on a good track.
  • Brakes: Shiny discs courtesy of Strange all the way around.
  • Wheels: Weld Racing five spokes
  • Rubber: M/T ETs 27.5x5.5-15s under the nose and big 31.0 10.5-15 under the tail.

High Impact

  • Body: The car was partly done when purchased, but all the great handiwork credit goes to Joe Graska in Sarasota, Florida, who completed the bodywork. All that trim-N.O.S. and it doesn't get any nicer than this.
  • Paint: Joe also handled the paint and graphics.
  • Interior: A combination of vintage cues with space-age bracket electronics, lightweight seats, and a sanitary gauge layout. Yes, it's safe.