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Drag Racing the Z16 and L79 1965 Chevelles

Back in the Day

Doug Marion Apr 30, 2015
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We could write an entire magazine on what went on in 1965. Besides what owners nationwide were doing with their ’55-’64 Chevys, from my working at Nickey Chevrolet in 1965 I’ve always thought that the exciting, new 396 big-block and 350hp 327 were going to do big things throughout the rest of the decade. They were also the beginning of many other great doings with other engines. I was undefeated in my C/Stock, Formula 1 (dual quads and solid lifters) ’62 409 SS. It ran low 12s and one 11.96 (September 24, at night)—with every modification known to man (other than a stroker crankshaft and nitrous oxide). Yet, Jerry Huffman’s B/Stock, Formula 3 (single 4bbl and hydraulic lifters) Z16 396 Chevelle Malibu SS ran 11.80s. It won at tracks like Alton, US 30, Cordova, and Rockford. It also held a few class records at these tracks.

Insofar as the L79 350hp 327 did in G/Stock, try 12.70s in drag race prep and 13.80s with headers and factory 3.31:1 gears. A lot of Z16 and L79 guys got write-ups in Drag News, a weekly newspaper. No one had ever heard of a hot hydraulic lifter camshaft, but that’s what was in the L79. They were usually quickly replaced by the Duntov 097/098 solid lifter cam, which was the factory cam of choice in modified street 283 and 327 engines.

For many years, one of the winningest L79s was Al Smith’s “Mr. Goodwrench” Malibu from Berwyn, Illinois. Bill Jenkins prepped the engine and it sported Jere Stahl’s “Total-Tuned” headers. It went on to be called the “Bald Eagle,” as Al was as such. Today, Jerry Huffman and his son own and race it in Nostalgia Super Stock Eliminator, Class D.

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The Mr. Goodwrench/Bald Eagle L79 was raced from 1965 through 1979. It then was stored until 1999. From 2000-2005 it was seen at shows and was on display at Floyd Garrett’s Museum in Tennessee, then Huffman bought it. With his magic, the car now runs 11.50s.

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What do you think is Jerry Huffman’s summertime driver? This is his loaded ’65 Malibu SS327 convertible.

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