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Spotlight on Influential and Unique Sportsman Drag Racers

Straight Line Spotlight

Bruce Biegler Oct 9, 2018
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White Winged Wonder
The Nostalgia drag racing scene continues to thrive within North America, and a perfect example is the dedicated veteran, 78-year-old Charlie Kueuster from Lancaster, Wisconsin. Charlie oversees one of the more rare machines seen within the Midwest region racing scene: a Nostalgia Super Stock 1959 Chevy El Camino. Charlie confirmed that this car was rescued from a lonely bone yard in Minnesota back in 1973 and since then has received a lot of love from both he and his sons, leading up to its current form. While Charlie used to drive it, the keys have since been passed on to his son Jerry. The El Camino features a pretty much stock, 0.090-over 409ci engine, and despite tipping the scales at over 4,000 pounds, it does lumber and shake its way down track and into the mid-11–second zone. Charlie revealed that he also owns a 1959 Chevy Impala, which he races sporadically. That machine has a bit more steam under the hood with a 0.060-over 454ci engine and roller cam. That car will run 10.5s. Cool stuff!

002 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo Drag Car 2/4

Toast of Top Sportsman
After proudly serving 23 years in the US Army for his country, former service member Don O’Neal is now making his mark within Top Sportsman. Don and his VP Racing Fuels/Madditive-sponsored Monte Carlo have morphed into a high-impact and consistent 6-second player and to what is now a Top 10 nationally ranked and event-winning car in that very fast bracket-racing category. After originally being an ET bracket machine, this 1999 Monte Carlo was refurbished at JBM Race Cars in Evansville, Indiana (Don’s hometown). It now features a 632ci big-block, which produces 1,200 hp, but Don has also equipped it with a NOS nitrous oxide system, which can more than double the engine’s available power to 2,500 hp. Don proudly showcases the support from his primary sponsor VP Racing Fuels, but also receives valued support from associates NGK, Tub O’ Towels, the Strassweg Family, Streetway Marketing and Media, LLC, Mickey Thompson Tires, Lucas Oil, Carts Gone Wild, AFCO Racing Products, Simpson Race Products, K&N Filters, Racepak, Earl’s, and Fred’s Towing. Don’s team is very family orientated, including his wife, Diane, and daughters.

003 1957 Chey Launch 3/4
004 1957 Chevy Pro Mod Burnout 4/4

1957 Chevy Contrasts!
The sport of drag racing continues to embrace the legendary 1957 Chevrolet. The examples are everywhere and they differ vastly, ranging from restored originals to highly modified replicas.

We really admire the effort and the deep history behind the 1957 Chevy raced by the Willard family (Leominster, Massachusetts). Janice Willard is now the driver of a spectacularly prepped ’57 that runs in NHRA’s Super Street 10.90 and also in the Super Pro category. In fact, Janice is just the latest family member to drive this particular car. It was purchased by family patriarch Larry Willard back in 1966 and has been driven (in addition to Larry) by Joyce, Nick, and Jessica Willard. Originally this was a Formula L2 Stock four-speed car with a 283ci engine, but it now houses a 600hp 0.060-over 427ci big-block engine. Janice’s husband, Nick—who races a ’57 Chevy in Top Sportsman—oversaw this Chevy’s rebuild in 2017, which put it back into action after about a 15-year absence from the dragstrip. The great-looking machine features some very cool gold/brass anodizing, which gives it a perfect car show quality finishing touch.

Out from Western Canada comes a ’57 Chevy with the exact opposite finish. This new Pro Modified version, which comes from Red Deer, Alberta, is owned by Dean Bettenson and has certainly achieved its “scrap yard look” objective with a highly effective rust and dirt wrap done by Palmer Signs (Sacramento, California). Dean, who’s BelAir Power Chevy is a newcomer in the Pro Mod ranks, began his adventure after Bunker Motorsports (Sacramento) built the car. In stark contrast to the rough exterior look is a very unique engine program that falls well outside the Pro Mod class norm. Bettenson has a 526ci PSI (C rotor) supercharged alcohol burner, but uses EFI individual coils between the framerails. Dean’s machine became an immediate fan favorite following its debut at Las Vegas late in 2017. The team includes valued crewmembers Bob Bunker, Rick Worthington, Michael Barnett, and Ryan and Darryn O’Conner. Dean funds his innovative racing effort as a 100-percent independent, but he is the founder and owner of BelAir Power and Production Equipment, which is deeply involved in the province of Alberta’s oil patch industry.

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