There is nothing sane about Drag Week contenders. Instead of the direct route, they all volunteered to drive their race cars along four circuitous routes that added up to 1,200 miles total—each hidden from them until the day of the drive. Those new to Drag Week or drag racing in general need to understand these are hot, noisy, homemade vintage vehicles with about five times the power of the average street commuter. It’s an exercise in physical and mental endurance.
To win Drag Week overall, you must have a fast car. That may be a giant oversimplification considering last year’s winner, Tom Bailey’s Camaro, covered the quarter-mile in 5.99 seconds at 250 mph. To add a little perspective, the average drivable street rod or muscle car would be about 10 seconds slower, a lifetime in motorsports of any kind. Bailey couldn’t make the call for 2021 allowing long-time Drag Week competitor Dave Schroeder to step in with his new Corvette and win the overall event with a 6.73 at 198 mph average.
DAVE SCHROEDER’S 2019 CORVETTE
Dave Schroeder and his cousin John Ens have been racing on Drag Week since 2010. The first car was a red and white 1955 Chevy that ran 8.90s at more than 150 mph in the Modified Power Adder class. In 2012, Schroeder debuted a 1966 Chevy Corvette with a nitrous-assisted 872-inch Reher Morrison engine. Schroeder and Ens took some losses, DNFs, and even a crash before winning the Unlimited Class in 2017. The next year, Tom Bailey appeared with a Camaro and put them on the trailer in 2018 and 2019 while running the first 5-second pass in Drag Week history.
Starting early in 2021, Schroeder began to put together a chassis to handle all the power to compete. “Originally we were looking for a C1,” says Schroeder. “But the aero was bad.” The C7 has a slicker shape and can hold a 36.0x17.0-16 Hoosier slick. The Pro Mod chassis is from Jerry Bickel with a 25.1 certification that allows the car to run at the top of any Drag Week class. The body is from Cynergy, painted in the original Corvette Grand Sport livery. There is nothing off the shelf about the shell. The hood needed to be removable to service the car, the nose needed OE headlamps to see during the night time drives and the car needed taillights and mirrors to be legal for the race. The Pro Mod wing was carefully trimmed to fit the body and the car is one foot narrower overall than a C7 Z06.
There are some additional tricks to get the car down the highway. There is a small fuel tank that attaches to a custom hitch behind the differential. For the drives, the car can run on premium pump gas when switched from the main tank in the front to the auxiliary tank in the rear. On the track, the car runs on methanol. The front brakes use carbon-fiber discs to handle the heat from the road and are a combination of an Anglia spindle with 5-lug hubs from a Chevy G-body. The radiator has its own water pump welded to the tank and is used for both the street and track. The oil pump bolts to a billet oil pan for strength on bumpy roads and long drives.
The engine has four kits of Monte Smith nitrous oxide that can deliver 1,000 hp on top of the estimated 1,750 hp the engine makes N/A. To get this kind of power they started with a Dart block with 5.30-inch bore centers and added a set of big Dart heads. To get it all to live on the street, Ed Iskenderian pitched in with a cam grind that didn’t beat the valvetrain to death. After that, it’s all about fuel and temperature management. The transmission is a Rossler TH400 with a Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive in front of a 10-inch fabricated differential with a 4.56:1 gear. Nothing too exotic. To keep it cool, they used a giga-trick Laminova cooler that doubles as an engine oil cooler and filter.
Another trick that no one seemed to notice is that the intake manifold is mounted backward. “I am fortunate that Warren Johnson answers the phone when I call,” said Ens. “I started to ask him about where to pick up the air and he finished my sentence for me.” The intake was reversed, and the hood was raised to take advantage of the high-pressure area around the cowl. Much like a 1970 Chevelle, the Corvette uses cool intake air from the base of the windshield instead of picking up hot air off the ground like a modern Pro Stock car.
ALEX TAYLOR’S 1955 CHEVY
Alex Taylor is best known for Badmaro, her 8-second 1968 Camaro that she has been competing within Drag Week since 2013. In 2021, she brought a 1955 Chevrolet 210 to compete in the Unlimited class.
“I had raced Badmaro for seven years. I was ready to go faster. I have been for a couple years now,” said Taylor. “Badmaro is super streetable, but only certified to 8.50. We could upgrade the cage and make a few upgrades, and I believe it would run a 7. But I didn’t want to take away the streetable-ness of it,” she said.
The plan was to build the ’55 in four months. After stripping the 210 down to the usable metal, it was time to get to work on structural repairs and the chassis. More than a month of work went into the design and fabrication of the chromoly tube chassis and the 6.0-second capable Funny Car ’cage. Alex says they’re only going to certify the car for 6.50 because she doesn’t want to have to deal with the annual red tag renewal of 6.0-second certification.
Alex and her father Dennis had to consider that “Quest for the Sixes 55” (the blue 210’s official name) would be riding on street tires for the 1,000 miles between the four Drag Week venues, which are 1-inch shorter in diameter than the slicks they’re running at the tracks. The rear portion of the chassis had to be able to allow enough travel in the four-link rear suspension for the different sized street and track tires, and enough room in the tubs for the drag slicks to grow during burnouts and passes, accommodate a trailer hitch receiver and wheelie bars, and fit the handmade aluminum fuel tank—all under a stock-appearing fiberglass rear decklid.
The Swiss-cheese metal bumpers, doors, and front clip had to go as well—and being experts at making tri-five fiberglass—Alex, Dennis, and Debbie (mom), all hand-laid the remaining panels needed to complete the exterior. Weight is the enemy of speed and the Taylors used carbon fiber in the door skins and front clip, making the assemblies stronger and lighter than the solid fiberglass parts Dennis built his name on.
Working with carbon fiber was a first for the Taylors, but just like everything they do, they made it look easy, finishing the interior of Alex’s 6-second 210 with carbon-fiber door cards, rear bulkhead, and wheel tubs.
Alex wanted to keep as much of the original patina as possible, and we applaud the decision to duplicate the patina on the new portions of the car. Normally, we can’t abide fake patina just for the sake of fake patina. It didn’t make sense to have pristine paint on half the car with all the hard-earned character on the other half, and the detail that went into making a cohesive look for the 210 is spectacular.
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