Without a doubt, the 1960s have to rank as one of the coolest decades in history to have grown up as a kid. Coming at you from all angles were new innovations and technology fresh from the creative pens of designers, making the Schwinn Sting-Ray the bike to have, plastic kit models of your favorite hopped-up cars, and Hot Wheels giving anyone in the know a reality check on just what was coming down the automotive road. The summer months meant hanging out with a transistor radio crackling out the latest super hits. Suddenly your adrenalin would rush when that memorable commercial came on with the excited voice leaping out of your radio “Sunday, Sunday Sundaaaaay!” This ensured the chest-rattling roar of killer, blown and injected horsepower, the strong scent of nitro, and burning rubber was coming to a dragstrip near you. And if you were real lucky, you’d convince dear ol’ Dad to take you to the drags once over the summer. That is unless your name was Jim Reid Jr!
Growing up in Whitman, Massachusetts, lends the thought that this sleepy town would have little connection with drag racing. But for Jim it was a place where his every minute out of the classroom would be consumed by the world of high-performance engines, dyno rooms, and his dad, Jim Sr., who was the owner of one of the most prestigious engine shops in the area: Reid’s Automotive. While most kids were folding and delivering newspapers, Jim was out at the shop learning the finer points of engine dynamics. The fact that his dad and his racing partner Les Lucier fielded a 1957 Corvette—known as the California Corvette—assured that, during the drag racing season, Jim Jr. would spend almost every weekend at the strip. When not helping the crew on the ’57, Jim would wander the pits and meet his racing idols like Tom McEwen, Don Prudhomme, and Bill Jenkins. It wasn’t uncommon for the youngster to hear “Hey, Kid, give us a hand” from his racing heroes. As Jim tells us, “racing was all I knew of while growing up.”
As the years passed and the ’57 Corvette had been sold off, Jim missed the excitement of the dragstrip and the camaraderie with his dad. So, in 1994, he started looking for a suitable donor car to build a competitive Stock Eliminator drag car with his dad. As an accomplished race engine builder, carrying on the family’s legacy was important, so it was time to go racing!
A low-mile 1987 six-cylinder Camaro was found at auction for $1,800—a perfect base on which to get started. Once the drivetrain was pulled, the obvious first step in prepping the car was a trip to John’s Racecraft in Brockton, Massachusetts—one of the top race car chassis fabrication shops in the Northeast. Jim met with owner John Ondrejko to go over the class rules and to put together a plan that would give them an edge over the competition. The masterful team at John’s Racecraft tended to the ’87, giving it a full freshening up underneath, including a solid-mounted adjustable torque arm, boxed control arms with solid bushings, subframe connectors, and a six-point chrome-moly rollcage. From there, Jim added Moroso springs and Koni adjustable shocks all around complemented by Aerospace 10-inch discs up front and stock drums out back. Rollers are Cragar Superlite’s wrapped in Moroso Drag Specials up front and extra-sticky Hoosier drag radials out back.
As with any racing class, the rules have to be interpreted to the letter, so Jim and his dad needed to be on top of their game in order to build just the right powerplant. Starting with a seasoned 305 block, the team at Reid’s machined it to perfection, bumping up its displacement to 317 ci while giving it a mild bore and stroke. The GM crank was treated to a set of J&E slugs while a Lunati hydraulic flat-tappet cam gives plenty of life to the GM iron 081 cylinder heads. Spent gasses make their way through a set of Davis stepped ceramic-coated headers. Oiling duties were left to a Melling oil pump housed in a Stef’s 5-quart pan. Handling the air/fuel mixture is a Chevrolet Tuned Port Injection system matched up with FAST injectors. An MSD electric fuel pump supplies the octane to which an MSD 7AL ignition lights the fire. An ATI Turbo 350 transmission with a manual valvebody is fitted with an ATI 5,200-stall converter and is shifted with a Hurst Quarter Stick. The GM 12-bolt is packed with 5.13:1 gears enabling the ’87 to rip its front wheels off the ground when the tree turns green.
The jet-black glamour was laid down by Ron Fortin at Jim McLaughlin’s Rt. 28 Collision Center in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Jay Dennehy supplied the graphics, while lettering was handled by Bob Johnson at Sign Creations in Rockland.
Thanks to relentless time at the track and on the dyno, Jim’s car has been able to maintain major success in NHRA Division 1 Class for the past few years. Jim mentions he couldn’t have done it without the help and support of his lovely wife, Karen.
We all know when fielding a racing effort sponsors are of the utmost importance in keeping the operation going. Jim wanted to especially thank Ralph Crowell of Glines & Rhodes, Richard Rosen of Rosen Realty, and Steve Negrini of Drivers Edge for all of their support.
According to Jim:
NHRA’s Stock Eliminator class is insanely competitive, so we asked Jim Jr. what it takes to stay one step ahead of the Division 1 competition.
“Regardless what type of car you’d like to field, first and foremost is to get acquainted with the NHRA Rulebook for the most up-to-date details of what the sanctioning body will allow for upgrades to your race car. It takes careful planning and 100 percent commitment to be competitive, as many original parts of the car have to be maintained. Building a reliable combination that won’t let you down is of the utmost importance and it requires endless hours of dedication to dial it in just right. We’re fortunate enough to have a dyno in our shop, so once racing season ends we immediately pull the engine from the car, tear it down, and start reviewing the track history of the past season. Dyno time is extremely important as we can determine if we are making strides with each and every tweak or if we’re inadvertently sacrificing horsepower. In the Stock Eliminator class, there are strict rules regarding boring, stroking, and machining. This is especially apparent with the block and cylinder heads. However, there are also plenty of other restrictions regarding all of the internal and external engine, transmission, and chassis components. In our class, it’s open to production vehicles from 1960 forward that are rear-wheel drive, so that allows a variety of combinations to meet us at the lights. Through smart planning and attention to every minute detail we have been able to stay on top of our class in Division 1, but you can’t rest on your past. You must maintain all of your research and development with each season.”
|Owner:||Jim Reid, Jr|
|Vehicle:||1987 Chevrolet Camaro|
|Bore:||Stock, bored 0.060 over|
|Stroke:||Stock, stroked 0.015 over|
|Oiling:||Stef’s 5-quart pan, Melling pump|
|Rotating Assembly:||GM crank|
|Cylinder Heads:||GM Iron, Model # 081|
|Camshaft:||Lunati hydraulic flat tappet|
|Valvetrain:||Comp Cams pushrods, lifters, and valvesprings; Manley valves|
|Fuel Pump:||MSD electric|
|Exhaust:||Davis 1 3/4-inch stepped Headers|
|Machine Work and Assembly:||Work and Assembly: Reid’s Automotive (Whitman, MA)|
|Tuning:||Jim Reid, Sr.|
|Dyno Results:||360 hp at 5,800 rpm, 400 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm|
|Transmission:||ATI Turbo 350 with manual valvebody|
|Converter:||ATI 5,200-stall speed|
|Shifter:||Hurst Quarter Stick|
|Rear Axle:||GM 12-bolt limited-slip with 5.13:1 gears assembled by Summers Brothers|
|Front Suspension:||Stock spindles and A-arms with Moroso coil springs and Koni adjustable shocks|
|Rear Suspension:||Moroso springs with Koni adjustable shocks|
|Brakes:||Aerospace Components front 10-inch discs, stock drum rear|
|Chassis other:||Solid-mounted adjustable torque arm, boxed control arms with solid bushings, subframe connectors, and six-point chrome-moly rollcage all by John’s Racecraft (Brockton, MA)|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Front Tires:||Moroso Drag Special 760/15|
|Front Wheels:||Cragar Super Lite 15x3.5|
|Rear Wheels:||Cragar Super Lite 15x10|
|Rear Tires:||Hoosier Drag Radial 30/9-R15|
|Color:||Black Spies Hecker|
|Paint and Body:||Ron Fortin at Rt. 28 Collision Center (West Bridgewater, MA)|
|Body Other:||Graphics by Jay Dennehy, Lettering by Bob Johnson of Sign Creations (Rockland, MA)|