In front of a packed grandstand at Virginia Motorsports Park, Tim Harper proved that the '55 Chevy is still a force on street or strip at the 30th anniversary Super Chevy Show in Petersburg. He drove his F-2 ProCharged, 515-inch, two-door sedan to a dominant victory in the Super Chevy magazine True Street Challenge, averaging 8.72 seconds over the course of three runs after a 20-mile drive through the beautiful countryside surrounding the track.
Harper is well-known for cruising his Bruno/Lenco transmission-equipped 210 to and from the track and to various events in the area. He knew his Rat-powered shoebox had enough oats to take on just about anyone. But after Friday night's test-and-tune session, he realized he had plenty of competition from East Northport, New York's Glenn Hunter and his blown red-and-white '56 Bel Air. They were running near identical e.t.s at the start of the evening, with Hunter holding a growing advantage after three hits. For Harper, this meant an early morning scavenger hunt through the event's swap meet.
"I bought a smaller pulley at the swap meet this morning to get 2 pounds more boost," he said after the awards ceremony.
With the pulley installed and the road tour successfully completed, who else would he find himself lined up against for the first of the three runs but Hunter? The '56 launched like a missile, covering the first 60 feet in 1.285-seconds (to Harper's 1.340), but Hunter knew something was wrong.
"When I came down and the steering wheel was crooked I knew something wasn't right," he said, adding that he had to lift at the finish line. He ran a remarkable 8.941 at 150.43, but it would be his only pass. He had split the Dana 60 rear housing at the line, giving him an early DNF.
Harper blasted to an 8.770 at 154.92, then followed this with an 8.681 and an 8.721 for a three-run average of 8.723. No one else in the 26-car field was within a second of the '55. Mick Sites was the runner-up in his 598-inch '72 Cheyenne pickup-talk about a long-bed!-with a three-run average of 10.041 (best e.t. of 9.943 at 136.04.
Like any Super Chevy True Street race, though, it wasn't about just finishing first. We awarded prizes to the folks who came closest to the 10-, 11-, 12- and 13-second averages. You don't need an 8-second hot rod to have fun in this class, just the desire to go fast with like-minded crazies is enough. The spectacular sight of more than two-dozen powerful Chevys in formation on public roads with a police escort is enough to get the blood pumping for most.