Here is Project Six Pack as it looks today. Our plan was to get the big B-Body to hook and
Editor's Note: Project Six Pack was one of the most famous cars of the '70s, covered in-depth during the early part of that decade in the now-defunct Super Stock & Drag Illustrated magazine on the Stock Eliminator trail. Now 30 years in the making, we are happy to bring you this update as the car returns to bracket competition in the Colorado Rockies. Former readers of HPM have followed some of the other changes made to the car in the last few years.
Most magazine project cars, despite good intentions, tend to be rather short-lived. The '69 M-code Road Runner seen here is the exception. This project first appeared in Super Stock and Drag Illustrated Magazine in the February '70 issue for a lace-painting feature, and officially became Project Six Pack in April 1972. Back in the early to mid-'70s, owner and SS&DI field editor Ted Struse, along with partners Mike Smith and Terry Welsh, campaigned the car in Stock Eliminator, setting six NHRA national records in the process. Now restored and sporting a 15:1 McCandless Performance low-deck 451-inch stroker and some nine-second time slips, the car would be perfect for nostalgia racing. Trouble is, there is absolutely nothing in the Denver area but brackets.
In his mid-'50s and forced to contend with Parkinson's disease, Ted had to rule out traveling to other parts of the country to compete in nostalgia meets, and he even considered putting the car back into street trim. Because of the car's racing heritage and the fact it runs so well in its current configuration, all agreed it would be a shame to take it apart and start over without further exploring its potential.
This shows the "old" way of setting up a Mopar with Super Stock springs. The theory was to
In that light, a phone call was made to transmission guru Frank Lupo, owner of Dynamic Converters in Delaware, to ascertain if the converter stall speed could be optimized to better-utilize the higher rpm power band of the Indy-McCandless 451 Wedge. While the car had the power, it didn't seem to come off the line like it should.
This is a prime example of why high-altitude racing is a challenge. The converter Frank originally built was rated at 6,000 rpm, and at sea level, that's pretty much what you'd get. But at Bandimere's often 8,000-foot plus effective elevation, a 4,800-rpm flash speed is about the limit for this unit. Nonetheless, the car left the line cleanly, with no trace of bog or stumble, and at an uncorrected 10.76 e.t. (which equates to a 9.98 at sea level), lack of power was certainly not the problem. We've seen legal NHRA stockers at Bandimere that run over a second slower yet can pull the wheels off the ground. Some of this may be due to the shifting of weight allowed by NHRA rules, something that has not been done to this car, but the bottom line is that the car was just not in the power band off the line.
As luck would have it, East Coast Max Wedge campaigner Joe Aluise, the first NHRA Stock Eliminator record-holder in the nines, made a visit to Denver to do some high-altitude running a while back, and collected quite a bit of data while he was here. Since we knew the Aluise crew also used Dynamic converters, we asked if they would be willing to help us out with some concrete figures on how converter performance varied from sea level to Bandimere. They knew of Project Six Pack and were more than happy to help.
The new unit that resulted from this meeting of the minds has a nominal stall-speed rating of 6,700 rpm. The general rule of thumb is that stall speed should be approximately 1,500 rpm less than your shift point. Running at sea level, this would be too much for our combination, which is shifted at 7,200-7,500 rpm. But at Bandimere's elevation, Joe Aluise's data showed that we could expect to lose approximately 1,000 to 1,200 rpm in stall speed. While that seems like a lot, our initial testing showed an even higher 1,400 to 1,500 actual rpm loss! In other words, our 6700-rpm converter became a "5,200" at our mile-high elevation.
Moveable-link suspension systems, like four-links and ladder bars, may offer the ultimate
We installed the new converter, but left the old suspension still in place, and home video
John Calvert's CalTracs bars are refined traction bars, similar in construction to the tra
CalTracs, like four-link and ladder bar systems, flatten out the pushing vector and smooth
Frank Lupo, of Dynamic Converters, has been involved with Project Six Pack since he was a
Our suspension guru, NHRA national record holder Gary Gokey, has years of drag racing unde
If your chassis is not rigid enough, all the traction enhancements in the world won't make
Nevertheless, the approximately 500 net rpm increase definitely made the car come alive off the line. Of course, none of this newfound power does any good unless the car hooks. Up to this point, even the nine-year-old Firestones seemed to do the job with no slippage whatsoever. But with the engine now up in the power band, it was a whole different ballpark, and this precipitated some new problems. On a high horsepower car, when super stock springs get tired, the car tries to tuck the right rear tire under and roll over it. This is a direct result of the rotational energy produced by the torque of the engine. In our case, this resulted in a very subtle "skating" effect and further aggravated a tendency of the car to pull to the right.
Thanks to fellow Mopar racer Mike Molgard, we hooked up with John Calvert, whose new CalTracs suspension system would solve this problem. If you follow Super Stock racing at all, you've probably heard of Mr. Calvert-he's the West Coast racer with the original four-speed Cobra Jet Mustang who wins World Championships with 9-inch wide stocker tires! Running in Super Stock against a legion of four-links and 14x32 monster meats, John knew he had his work cut out for him. His motives were quite simple-he wanted to race his car, but since original-paint four-speed Cobra Jets are scarce and increasingly valuable, he wasn't willing to cut it up.
John carefully studied his suspension needs and determined that a refined traction bar, similar in construction to the traditional slapper bars but using a more sophisticated approach, would do the trick. The resulting system worked so well that other racers asked to purchase similar bars for their cars, and the rest is history.
Taking things a step further, John has recently released a unique monoleaf rear spring setup specially engineered to work with and optimize the effect of the CalTracs bars. One obvious benefit is that the monoleaf springs are much lighter than the factory Super Stock spring bundle. Depending on the application, as much as 40 pounds of unsprung weight can be eliminated.
The CalTracs springs and bars cured all our handling ills and brought consistency back to the launch. Plainly evident was the absence of the almost-excessive lift the rear suspension had exhibited prior to the CalTracs. After all, the whole idea is to move the car forward as quickly as possible, not waste time separating the leaves and going up. The new converter/suspension combination also pulls the wheels off the ground consistently.
The last run we made was a "pretty as a picture" 10.77 at 126 mph, which factors out to a sea level 9.99 at 136 mph. Significantly, this was run in the summer heat, while our earlier 10.76/9.98 was run on a cool October evening. We feel confident that a little more thrashing next season will yield several more tenths from the existing setup, but it's wintertime in the Rockies, and we'll have to wait for the spring thaw to prove it. In the meantime, we're trying to figure out how to tell Frank Lupo that we need another 600 rpm.
Shopping for tires, we'd heard good things about the Mickey Thompson tire line, so we chec
These Rancho RS9000 five-position adjustable shocks are built for the ultra-tough world of
Original owner Ted Struse (second from R) claims the money he paid for his '69 Runner was
The purists may ask, "If this is Project Six Pack, why is there a Dominator on the Indy 45