"Who cares about winning? Just be fast and clean." These words come from the same man: Don Cruz, who tells us that his gorgeous '87 Grand National is going to be the fastest legal Turbo Street Modified (TSM), stock-block 109 in the 8-second zone. Normally we may not believe such bold claims, but Don has a proven record of deadly fast passes and has already gone a blistering 9.02 at 150 mph, helping Don hold the current record for both e.t. and mph. He has done this on a 275mm drag radial, less than 250 cubic inches, and a stock block, which is truly an amazing accomplishment.
"I owned several Grand Nationals at the time I bought this one. I decided to build a race car and none of the others fit. This car started as a very clean, low-mile roller." Before doing anything, Don began fortifying the chassis to make sure he would be safe running into the 8-second zone. A custom 10-point 'cage would act as his foundation, with almost all TRZ suspension front and rear, including front upper and lower control arms, TRZ-spec coilovers and a trick TRZ anti-roll bar. Not taking any chances, Don installed a Stroud parachute and window net, before custom wrapping a set of aluminum racing seats using the original Grand National-style material. Always a man of reason, Don told us, "the car handles very solid as it was built around keeping me safe!"
Outside, as well as in, Don made sure to keep everything insanely clean, opting to completely repaint this Grand National in, of course, PPG Black. After sanding off the old paint, Don had the car slathered in black base and topped with "lots of clear" to maximize the depth. With the proper stance and the black Weld Magnum wheels, Don's GN stands apart from the crowd, which is exactly the statement Don wanted to make.
With the chassis complete, Don began building his first motor, a stock block with Champion heads, which was just powerful enough to get him completely hooked. Looking to go faster-much faster-Don began working on his new combo, the one you see here. Starting with a stock 109 Buick block, the usual machine work was performed before dropping in a set of JE slugs, held strong by a set of Oliver connecting rods. Dan from DLS set Don up with a custom DLS crankshaft and high-flow oil pump, which nearly completes the 249-cubic-inch short-block. Last but not least, an RJC girdle was installed and covered with a DLS aluminum oil pan. Having such good luck with his last set of cylinder heads, Don again turned to Champion Heads for a fresh set of aluminum, complete with T&D shaft-mount rockers, which are actuated by a proprietary DLS camshaft.
Boost is key to this GN's success and a Precision GTQ 70mm turbo feeds the motor with as much as 24 pounds of boost (right at the much joked about TSM legal limit). Exhaust is routed through a set of custom tubular manifolds to the turbo, which ingests air and then passes it through a custom air-to-air intercooler in the front grille. Aft of the intercooler is a 70mm Accufab throttle body, bolted to a ported, stock intake manifold. Fuel is provided by a set of 95 lb/hr injectors supplied by a Weldon 2015 pump and matching regulator. It is almost no surprise that Don chose Cal Hartline to tune this beast, using the ever-popular FAST XFI to control everything. "Without Cal Hartline, I got nothing."
With so much power on tap, the old 200-4R just wasn't up to the task, so Don had Jason White build him a stout TH400, complete with a custom-built PTC converter. Behind that transmission is a Moser 9-inch with 35-spline axles and a Moser 3.90 gear, which turns a pair of 275/60/15 Mickey Thompson drag radials. With the power output of the motor, the matching driveline, and the TRZ suspension, Don consistently runs in the mid-1.30-second 60-foot range, which is flying for a 275 radial and less than 250 cubic-inches. In fact, by the time you read this, Don may be well into the 8-second zone and looking to go even quicker. With several other racers nipping at his heals, we look forward to the results. We wish everyone luck and look forward to seeing the Grand National scene continue to grow and get faster with every race.