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2012 Pure Stock Drags - Stocker Shockers

The Pure Stock drags showcases superb muscle cars that run as hard (or harder) than they did new.

By Tom Shaw, Photography by Tom Shaw

If you wanted to have a great drag race, but hide it from the world, you might well pick the Mid-Michigan Motorplex, tucked away in the potato fields of north central Michigan. But its here that virtually stock (a few minor mods are allowed) muscle cars of all types and sizes gather for an annual assault on the quarter-mile. It's called the Pure Stock Drags and it emphasizes maximizing what the factory gave you.

Open to all America marques, the event begins with time trials on Friday. The track is open-run all you want. Talk to other racers-they're friendly, and try different tuning. Friday's elapsed times are analyzed, and each car is paired with the one running closest times for a heads-up, best 2-out-of-3 shootout. For example, the two slowest cars run each other, then the next to slowest, and so on. That way, whatever your skill level, you'll be challenged, and have a good shot at winning your shootout too. No matter how slow or fast you are, it's all about having fun improving your car and your driving.

Cars must be stock, with correct castings and components for the year, ergo no L88 Camaros, etc., but you can run 1.5 points more than advertised compression. Electronic ignition (hide the box), high-flow air filters, mufflers, and 2.5-inch exhaust are allowed, but exhaust must exit at the stock location. Tires must be OEM size or equivalent, and engines must run stock iron exhaust manifolds. (Full rules are online at www.purestockdrags.com.)

The Chevrolets were out in force this year, and have had a mortal lock on the top spots for a while. Whatever your preference in classic Chevrolet performance, there was plenty on hand. It's exciting to watch the shootouts get faster and faster, as they work towards the Top Guns. We've recapped the Chevy shootouts here, and listed their e.t. by round. The Bow Tie team didn't win 'em all, but the racers did us proud.

1964 Impala SS vs. 1972 Buick GS350
327/300hp vs. 350/195hp
Qualified: 15.30 vs. 15.34

Cameron Payne's mild-motored '64 Impala SS taking on Jason Dodge's '72 GS350-both are small displacement engine with 4-speeds, and both are 3,900-ish pounds. This turns out to be the battle of the red lights as Jason fouls away Round 1, and does it again in Round 2. Cam also redlights Round 2, but his opponent fouled first, so he wins this shootout.

Round 1Round 2
1964 Impala SS15.21 @ 93.0115.43 @ 91.19*
1972 Buick GS35015.23 @ 85.90*15.32 @ 94.34*
* foul

1966 Chevelle SS396 vs. 1971 Pontiac GTO
396/325hp vs. 400/300hp
Qualified: 14.78 vs. 14.75

Tom Papazian puts his classic '66 SS396 up against Dwayne Mills' '71 Goat. Both are 4-speeds. The GTO has 3.90:1 rear gears (3.31 in the Chevelle), but the SS396 is a couple hundred pounds lighter. Tom gets off the line first and holds off the GTO to win a close Round 1. Dwayne cuts a good light for Round 2 and turns the tables, but Tom wins the Round 3 reaction time and stays ahead all the way to the traps. Chevelle wins.

Round 1Round 2Round 3
1966 Chevelle SS39614.88 @ 93.2714.64 @ 97.0614.68 @ 96.26
1971 GTO14.85 @ 95.1214.88 @ 94.5614.95 @ 94.81

1970 Chevelle SS396 vs. 1964 Studebaker Commander
402/350hp vs. 289/240hp
Qualified: 14.66 vs. 14.46

I know what you’re thinking, but these Stude guys really tune their cars, practice a lot, and love to knock off big-name muscle cars. Mark Barker fears no underdog, staging his ’70 SS396 against Steve Doerschlag’s light, 4-gear, 4.56 Stude. At the green, it’s close, but the SS has the goods under the hood rolls to an easy win. Round 2 has the Stude out front early, but not by enough to hold off the hard-charging Chevelle. The big-block 396 carries the day.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Chevelle SS39614.54 @ 97.4514.54 @ 96.67
1964 Commander15.23 @ 93.7014.70 @ 94.93

1962 Bel Air vs. 1968 Pontiac GTO
409/380hp vs. 400/350hp
Qualified: 14.27 vs. 14.33

How 'bout an old school '62 W-motor Bel Air? Kevin McCauley's one of the Canadian contingent, and he's drawn David Box's '68 GTO. Kevin puts the spurs to the '62 and gets a fender on the GTO and hits all his shifts to win Round 1. Round 2 looks too close to call, but the win light goes on for Kevin. Hey, Chevrolet is pitching a shutout.

Round 1Round 2
1962 Bel Air14.12 @ 100.0814.19 @ 99.64
1968 GTO14.12 @ 98.9214.27 @ 98.79

1966 Chevy II vs. 1970 Pontiac GTO
327/350hp vs. 400/366hp
Qualified: 13.80 vs. 13.82

We're crossing into 13-second territory. Jeff Ancil's potent L79/4-speed Chevy II pulls to the line alongside Rich Straub's Ram Air III/automatic GTO. All the stats are close. The GTO is away first holds off the Chevy II's top-end charge in a squeaker. Rich cuts an excellent Round 2 light and carries the lead to the take the shootout, despite the Chevy II's slightly quicker and faster e.t./mph.

Round 1Round 2
1966 Chevy II13.93 @ 98.1413.87 @ 99.46
1970 GTO13.99 @ 99.0813.92 @ 99.49

1970 Camaro Z28 vs. 1970 Ford Cobra
350/360hp vs. 429/375hp
Qualified: 13.74 vs. 13.76

Charles Gilliland's LT-1 Z28 is posting some strong numbers, strong enough to take on the 429 Super Cobra Jet Ford of Chris Jones. Round 1: Charles pulls the trigger too soon and fouls out. In Round 2 they both cut quick lights but Charles grabs two tenths with a better 60-foot. It's not enough, as the 4.30-geared, big-inch Ford drives around him for the win.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Camaro Z/2814.11 @ 99.09*13.95 @ 99.78
1970 Ford Cobra13.97 @ 102.8213.83 @ 105.06

1966 Chevy II vs. 1970 Buick GSX
327/350hp vs. 455/360hp
Qualified: 13.51 vs. 13.50

Here's another L79 Chevy II, piloted by Tom Payne, and quicker than the other. It's a 4-speed with 4.10 Posi, battling veteran Buick racer Roberta Vasilow. At the green, it's the GSX out front by a whisker. Tom gives it all he's got and battles back, but the Buick flashes through the beams first. In Round 2, it's Tom out front and looking strong, but he slows mid-track and the GSX cruises to an easy win.

Round 1Round 2
1966 Chevy II13.56 @ 102.6914.06 @ 102.16
1970 Buick GSX13.50 @ 101.4613.49 @ 101.72

1970 Camaro Z28 vs. 1970 Olds F81
350/360hp vs. 350/325hp
Qualified: 13.45 vs. 13.42

Even with 3.73 gears, Ty Taccone qualifies his '70 Z28 under 13.50, but he's got his hands full with James Kryta's '70 F-85 W31, at one time, the Pure Stock Drags' fastest small-block. Both are automatics, 3.73 Posi in the Z, 3.90 Anti-Spin in the Olds. James comes out strong in Round 1, edging Ty at the light, in the 60-foot and at the finish line. Ditto Round 2. This shootout's all Olds.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Camaro Z/2813.72 @ 100.5413.68 @ 101.29
1970 Olds F81 13.40 @ 102.2713.33 @ 103.77

1972 Chevelle SS454 vs. 1963 Studebaker Super Lark
454/270hp vs. 289/289hp
Qualified: 13.41 vs. 13.40

Looks like a slam-dunk on paper-a 454 Chevelle vs. a 289 Studebaker, but we're warned you about the Studes. This red Lark, the "Stude Tomato," is loaded for bear with a belt-driven supercharger (a rare factory option), 4-speed, 4.55 gears, and is driven by former NHRA champ Ted Harbit. Gary blasts the Chevelle off the line ahead of Ted, but the blown engine just outpowers the SS454. Being 500 pounds lighter doesn't hurt either. Gary leans on the tree a little too hard in Round 2, redlighting. The Tomato had him covered anyway.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Chevelle SS45413.55 @ 100.9913.38 @ 102.23*
1963 Super Lark 13.25 @ 104.0313.22 @ 103.14

1969 Camaro SS396 vs. 1972 Buick GS455
396/375hp vs. 455/270hp
Qualified: 13.13 vs. 13.33

What's faster, a mid-inch, high-compression 396 or a big-inch, low-compression 455? Mike Seibold's '69 SS396 is one of the event's best looking Camaros, but pretty doesn't get you down the track. Joe Shepherd intends to drive that point home in his '72 GS455 torque monster. Round 1. Mike cuts a superb light pours it on to edge the Buick. He betters all his numbers in Round 2, slamming the door on the Buick, which redlights in a desperation launch. Conclusion: fewer hotter cubes beat more detuned cubes.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Camaro SS39613.36 @ 105.3113.29 @ 106.00
1972 Buick GS45513.39 @ 101.6313.38 @ 102.38*

1968 Camaro Z/28 vs. 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge
302/290hp vs. 400/366hp
Qualified: 13.30 vs. 13.29

Eric Maher caught the racing bug from dad, Jim, and brings the skills of youth to his '68 Z/28. He's racing Larry Dupuis' '70 RA III. Eric's got 4.56 gears, 4-speed, and almost 700 fewer pounds. Round 1. It's a clean start and they leave together, but the Poncho pulls ahead by a fender at mid-track. Eric's Round 2 redlight wraps it up for the GTO.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Camaro Z/2813.66 @ 100.7613.41 @ 104.82*
1970 GTO Judge13.52 @ 102.9613.61 @ 103.71

1966 Corvette Sting Ray vs. 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
327/350hp vs. 400/370hp
Qualified: 13.25 vs. 13.48

Donny Brass' gorgeous '66 Sting Ray runs hard with L79 power, and Donny's a sharp driver. So is Steve Rehberg in his '69 RA IV GTO Judge. When their opponents dropped out, Donny and Steve agreed to race each other. That's good sportsmanship. Steve redlights Round 1 and backs out. The GTO moves first in Round 2, but the quick Corvette makes it all back and then some at the 60-foot mark. Donny wins the shootout, which goes into the books as bye runs.

Round 1Round 2
1966 Corvette13.12 @ 104.7813.28 @ 103.15
1969 GTO Judge14.17 @ 103.16*13.59 @ 104.95

1969 Corvette Stingray vs. 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler
427/435hp vs. 390/315hp
Qualified: 13.17 vs. 13.21

An unlikely pair here: Devin Conlee's Corvette is packing maximum thump with a Tri-Carb 427, 4-speed, and 3.73 Posi. Believe it or not Bob Witt's AMC SC/Rambler is some 200 pounds lighter and tuned razor sharp. Round 1. Killer reaction times in both lanes, but the Corvette rips the 60-foot with a 1.92, 2 tenths quicker, and keeps that lead all the way despite identical trap speeds. Round 2. Devin hits it out of the park again as the SC/Rambler slows a bit. A big-block Corvette, well driven, is a thing of beauty.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Corvette13.25 @ 104.6513.22 @ 105.34
1969 SC/Rambler13.48 @ 104.6513.37 @ 105.39

1970 Camaro SS396 vs. 1966 Chevelle SS396
396/375hp vs. 396/375hp
Qualified: 13.12 vs. 13.12

Battle of the L78s, and with identical qualifying times. Amanda Waligora's from a racing family. Her Camaro SS396 (you gotta love those split-bumper '70s) runs a TH400 with 4.10 Posi. But she's gonna need all she's got dealing with Chuck Lombardi. Another second-gen Pure Stock Drags racer, Chuck's 4-speed, 4.30-geared Chevelle is just as strong, and he's extra-tough at the tree. Round 1. Sure enough, Chuck is out on a monster .063 light but Amanda seems to have better traction, and she takes the win light by the slimmest of margins. Round 2 is a virtual repeat, but Chuck's the winner. Round 3. This time Amanda cuts a .072 light. 60-footers are identical so it comes down to steer straight and don't miss a shift. In the end, it's Amanda's Camaro by a hair. That's good racing!

Round 1Round 2Round 3
1970 Camaro SS39613.03 @ 107.9913.53 @ 107.5213.06 @ 107.84
1966 Chevelle SS39613.16 @ 108.4213.53 @ 107.0413.17 @ 107.81

1969 Chevelle SS396 vs. 1969 Pontiac GTO
396/375hp vs. 400/370hp
Qualified: 13.10 vs. 13.04

Next in the parade of Pontiacs (more Ponchos at this year's race than any other make) is John Glasgo's super-clean '69 RA IV GTO duking it out with another L78 396, this one in Justin Maher's '69 Chevelle. Both are 4-speeds with 4.10 axles. The Glasgos, from Akron, have some of the best looking, best running Pontiacs around. But Justin's a young gun from a racing family, and he didn't come to lose. Round 1. Clean start in both lanes. At the 60-foot mark, it's dead even. Down the track they go. Justin gets the win in a photo-finish. Round 2. Whoa-John redlights in the GTO, but Justin stays in it, posting his best e.t. of the weekend.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Chevelle SS39613.04 @ 107.5713.04 @ 108.40
1969 GTO13.12 @ 110.7613.11 @ 111.13*

1963 Impala SS vs. 1971 Trans Am
409/425hp vs. 455/335hp
Qualified: 13.02 vs 13.02

Nobody has more fun at the Pure Stock Drags than Charlie Lombardi, shutting 'em down in his very hot vintage SS 409 Impala. But Mark Weymouth is a seasoned restorer and racer with a high-powered T/A under him. Check out those qualifying times. Should be a doosey. Round 1. Charlie digs hard on those 4.56 gears, out front as they pass the tree. Once ahead, he usually stays there. Yep, Charlie spanks the T/A. Round 2. It's not just young bucks that can cut a tree. Charlie chops it down with a .064, leaving the T/A in the dust. Old school rules, kids.

Round 1Round 2
1963 Impala SS13.26 @ 109.5013.20 @ 110.19
1971 Trans Am13.93 @ 105.2813.55 @ 107.52

1970 Yenko Deuce vs. 1970 Buick GS455
350/360hp vs. 455/360hp
Qualified: 13.02 vs. 13.02

Owen Simpson's genuine, unrestored Yenko Deuce was found on eBay. It's got the LT-1 350, 4-speed, and 4.10s. Following in the footsteps of his hotshoe dad, Peter, Owen can drive. Knocking on the 12s, this is the fastest small-block at the meet, except for a supercharged Stude. He's up against Jeremy McNicol's brawny Buick GS455. Round 1. Owen blasts off with the slimmest of leads, charges hard on the big end, and takes the win. Round 2. Jeremy's looking a little too hard for a missing tenth, and redlights. That's a wrap for the Deuce.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Yenko Deuce12.76 @ 108.6113.10 @ 108.57
1970 Buick GS45512.90 @ 106.5312.87 @ 106.47

1970 Chevelle SS454 vs. 1969 Plymouth Road Runner
454/450hp vs. 440/390hp
Qualified: 12.92 vs. 12.92

Steve Arp's in the '70 LS6 club. His Tuxedo Black TH400/4.10 Posi SS454 qualified in the 12s. But he's up against another heavy hitter in Dan Austin's 440 6-Pack Road Runner. These things, with crushing torque and a traction-happy rear overhang, launch like crazy. There's always a cluster near the front of the pack. Round 1. Steve jumps first and clings to a narrow lead, but Road Runner's got his number and comes around for the win. Round 2. Steve, in search of the perfect light, fouls out. Game, set, match to Brand X.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Chevelle SS45413.40 @ 108.1213.05 @ 108.77*
1969 Road Runner13.11 @ 109.0213.28 @ 108.72

1967 Chevelle SS396 vs. 1970 Pontiac GT-37
396/375hp vs. 400/345hp
Qualified: 12.87 vs 12.88

This installment of the Chevy vs. Pontiac wars features Jim Maher in his signature '67 Chevelle SS396 tangling with Chris Smetana's GT-37, a kind of LeMans-based, insurance-beating GTO in disguise. Round 1 has Jim off the line first and holding a tenuous lead and fending off the Poncho's strong top-end charge. Another great start in Round 2 fades as the Chevelle slows almost 3 tenths, giving Chris an easy win and setting up a tie-breaker. Round 3. Both have strong starts. Jim shaves his e.t. to almost 13-flat, but is quicker and bags the shootout for the P-team.

Round 1Round 2Round 3
1967 Chevelle SS39612.92 @ 109.2313.21 @ 106.4413.02 @ 108.84
1970 Pontiac GT-3712.77 @ 111.2712.97 @ 110.1712.89 @ 109.83

1969 Nova SS396 vs. 1969 GTO Judge
396/375hp vs. 400/370hp
Qualified: 12.63 vs 12.65

Both Mike Waligora' RA IV Judge and Tony Ragla's L78 Nova qualify deep in the 12s, but after a first round redlight for the GTO, both are no-shows in the staging lanes. Officially it's a DNF.

Round 1
1968 Nova SS39618.87 @ 39.53
1969 GTO Judge13.01 @ 94.03*

1971 Corvette vs. 1970 Chevelle SS454
454/425hp vs. 454/450hp
Qualified: 12.58 vs 12.56

Battle of the LS6 454s - one with a 450hp rating in Dale Waligora's '70 Chevelle, the other carrying a 425hp rating in Jeff Morgan's '71 Corvette. Dale redlights in the Chevelle in Round 1, but wins Round 2 at the line with a good reaction time, despite a quicker and faster run from Jeff's Corvette. Round 3. Dale's tough to beat off the line, and gets out ahead of the athletic Corvette. He digs deep and runs his low e.t. of the meet to fend off the faster Corvette. Shootout: Chevelle.

Round 1Round 2Round 3
1971 Corvette16.40 @ 69.9512.47 @ 115.5612.49 @ 115.69
1970 Chevelle SS45414.44 @ 69.47*12.66 @ 110.6712.37 @ 111.75

1968 Camaro SS396 vs. 1969 Firebird 400
396/375hp vs. 400/370hp
Qualified: 12.56 vs. 12.42

Paul Richards' Camaro SS396 and Adrian Beltrame's Firebird 400 both drop a round to redlights, leaving Round 2 as the only clean run. In it, Paul out-drove the faster but wheel-spinning Firebird for the win.

Round 1Round 2Round 3
1968 Camaro SS39612.59 @ 113.65*12.50 @ 113.5212.53 @ 113.29
1969 Firebird 40012.43 @ 115.2312.89 @ 115.0615.24 @ 64.48*

1970 Camaro Z28 vs. 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury
350/360hp vs. 426/415hp
Qualified: 14.41 vs. 12.37

Intended as a pair of admittedly lopsided bye runs due to opponents' DNFs, Wayne Biernacki's Z28 runs more than 3-tenths quicker than his qualifying time, triggering the anti-sandbagging DQ on both runs. This is to prevent racers from holding back during qualifying to get an easy victory in the shootouts.

Round 1Round 2
1970 Camaro Z2813.96 @ 101.22**13.98 @ 100.98**
1964 Sport Fury12.76 @ 115.6312.53 @ 115.50
** DQ

1969 Corvette vs. 1969 Dodge Super Bee
427/430hp vs. 440/390hp
Qualified: 12.10 vs 12.06

A couple of big bruisers going at it here. Jim Spetzman is a fixture in the upper ranks of stock racing in his fast and fine 6 Pack Super Bee. It's a beast with column-shift TorqueFlite and 4.10 axle, and the fastest Mopar B-body at the race. But in the other lane is the guy nobody wants to race, Jim Johnston, current Pure Stock Drags record holder (11.43 @ 125.50) and a speed-shifting miracle-worker with a 4-speed in his Cortez Silver '69 L88 Corvette. This is gonna be a knife fight. Round 1. Jimmy redlights in the Corvette. Both drivers back out. Round 2. Jim cuts a good light in the Corvette, but the other Jim is already rolling. A rare off-run in the Corvette hands the shootout to Mopar Jim, a worthy adversary.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Corvette15.79 @ 68.25*12.35 @ 118.18
1969 Super Bee12.58 @ 90.9812.19 @ 114.69

1969 Corvette vs. 1968 Plymouth Road Runner
427/435hp vs. 426/425hp
Qualified: 11.92 vs 11.82

Crossing into the 11-second frontier, we find Larry Kirkum's vicious L71 427 Tri-Carb Corvette (automatic, 4.56 gears) staging against Rick Mahoney's incredible, state-of-the-art Hemi Road Runner (automatic, 4.88 gears), driven by restorer Scott Tiemann. Round 1. Scott nails a near-perfect light (.007) en route to his best-of-the-meet e.t., a scorching 11.54. Larry sails through with an 11.60 more than 3-tenths quicker than qualifying, and you know what that means-DQ. Scott doesn't protest, and they line up for Round 2 in which Larry redlights. Jeez Louise, ever have one of those days?

Round 1Round 2
1969 Corvette11.60 @ 119.60**11.87 @ 119.66*
1968 Road Runner11.54 @ 123.8811.63 @ 106.18

1969 Corvette vs. 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T
427/430hp vs. 426/425hp
Qualified: 11.80 vs 11.77

The L88 Corvettes have dominated the top spots for years. This year Ed Keim joined the L88 squadron with his TH400-equipped, 4.56-geared '69. He's up against Jim Keyes, original owner of extra-clean, extra-strong Hemi Coronet R/T, also an automatic with 4.56 gears. Round 1. Jim edges the Corvette by a whisker at the tree, by another whisker at the 60-foot, and that's how it ends-Hemi in e.t. and mph. Round 2. Ed cuts a hot .042 light, and keeps it through first gear, but the Hemi winds up and slips past Ed's L88.

Round 1Round 2
1969 Corvette11.92 @ 116.1211.88 @ 116.92
1969 Coronet R/T11.79 @ 120.4111.79 @ 121.40

1969 COPO Camaro vs. 1964 Belvedere
427/430 vs. 426/415
Qualified: 11.70 vs. 11.70

Eric Simpson's got racing in his blood. He's driving his dad Peter's renowned Ermine White '69 COPO-spec Camaro, a former Pure Stock Drags Top Gun, theft recovery, and Super Chevy feature car. It's always a tough customer. He's racing another well-known name - Tom Hoover Jr, son of Tom Hoover, Hemi engineer. So why's he running a 426 Max Wedge and not a Hemi? Round 1. Eric blasts off on a .043 light, backs it up with a 1.82 60-footer, and pours it on. The Plymouth comes on strong mid-track, but there's no catching the Camaro. Round 2. It's a rerun as Eric's storms off the line first, and holds off the Belvedere's half-track attack to win this so-close shootout.

Round 1Round 2
1969 COPO Camaro11.67 @ 118.9211.63 @ 119.84
1964 Plymouth Belevedere11.62 @ 121.5311.55 @ 121.68

TOP GUNS
1969 COPO Camaro vs. 1969 Corvette

427/430hp vs. 427/430hp
Qualified: 11.69 vs. 11.53

That brings us to our Top Guns: Jim Jarrett's blistering COPO Camaro vs. Julie Pennington's fast-and-fanged '69 L88-spec Corvette. Notice the final is all-Chevy, and a woman is top qualifier. Just so you know, the Corvette has been protested, and through a heavy tech teardown. It's legit, gang. Round 1. Julie rockets out of the gate with a .021 reaction time and a 1.85 60-footer. The powerhouse Corvette has the Camaro handled and Julie shuts off early to avoid the new 11.49 DQ rule-any car running faster than 11.49 must have a roll cage or be DQ'ed for this year and next. Round 2. Julie is laid back and you're probably not going to get her rattled at the line, especially when she's faster. Jim's Camaro is strong, but today the Corvette is just untouchable. Julie leads start to finish, and is 2012's Top Gun.

Round 1Round 2
1969 COPO Camaro11.69 @ 119.1411.76 @ 118.28
1969 Corvette11.64 @ 105.1611.63 @ 106.42

By Tom Shaw
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