Car guys tend to go through phases when it comes to the purpose of their vehicles, as it's easy to grow tired of a particular combination. If you're a car show guru, then you'll want to take your car to the next level in terms of cleanliness and eye-catching detail. And if your car is built for the occasional trip to the dragstrip, there's no doubt you'll eventually get the urge to make it faster. For Marcus Wooden, it's all about going fast these days, although he'd originally planned to build a mild street cruiser out of this silver '64 Chevy II. He finished the car in '09, but it didn't take long for him to catch the drag racing bug, thanks to his good friend and longtime racer, Mike Farley.
Marcus lives on Brockdell Mountain, which lies in the outskirts of Pikeville, Tennessee. This sleepy little town is home to a surprising number of drag racers, which may be a result of the nearby strip in Crossville, Tennessee. Known as I-40 Dragway, the eighth-mile strip is a hot spot for outlaw racing and has a heads up series known as the Bounty Race. One of the classes in this series is called Cheap Streetùit's a category that restricts racers to a 28x10.5-inch tire, a single-stage power adder, and a weight limit, based on engine configuration and overall setup.
During the '09 season, Marcus watched the field of racers, including his buddy Mike, battle it out and progressively get quicker and faster as the year came to a close. At this point, Marcus had completed his Chevy II, but it was a little different than the version you see here. It had stock wheeltubs, a Heidts Mustang II subframe, and a small shot of nitrous. This combination was enough to put the car into the 6s in the eighth-mile, which is very impressive, but Marcus wanted more.
He transformed this average street car into an all-out performer with a number of modifications, starting with wider wheeltubs. The Chevy II now features a Smith Racecraft round-tube front subframe, which consists of chrome-moly tubing and mounting points for an '82-92 Camaro strut setup. Santuff struts are fully adjustable, allowing Marcus to dial in the weight transfer, while Aerospace disc brakes shed several pounds off the nose, and hide behind the Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels. A matching (but obviously wider) pair of Street Lite wheels rolls out back with a pair of Mickey Thompson 28x10.5-inch slicks heading up the traction department.
The rear suspension consists of Calvert Racing split mono leaf springs, which have been moved inward for tire clearance and work in conjunction with Cal-Trac bars and Rancho adjustable shocks. The 9-inch rearend features a Moser differential and axles with a 4.10 gearset. Mike Farley handled most of the suspension work and also installed the rollcage, which features S-shaped door bars to make entry and exit much easier when compared to a standard, straight door bar.
For power, Marcus uses a small-block Chevy, which was machined and assembled by J.P. Holt at Performance Automotive Machine in Cleveland, Tennessee. It all starts with a Dart block, which features a tall deck design and a raised camshaft to make room for a 4-inch stroke from the Callies crankshaft. A total displacement of 436 ci is partially created by a 4.165-inch bore, which is filled with JE pistons and Oliver connecting rods. The heavily worked Pro Topline cylinder heads move lots of air in and out of the combustion chambers, while a custom-ground roller camshaft operates the Manley valves. A Dart intake rides atop the small-block, and it's fitted with a custom fogger nitrous system by Induction Solutions.
A steady supply of VP C16 racing fuel is drawn from a fuel cell by a BG400 electric fuel pump and sent into the 1,050-cfm Holley Dominator carburetor. Ignition is controlled by an MSD system, complete with a Digital 7 controller (commonly known as a 7531 box), while a set of Lemons headers and Bullet mufflers play a radical tune through a short expanse of 4-inch piping.
Behind the small-block is a BTE Powerglide transmission, which is built to withstand the abuse of nitrous launches and features a trans brake. Pro Torque Converters of Riceville, Tennessee, built the converter, which stalls to 4,500 rpm, while a Hurst shifter selects the gears. Inside, the Chevy II has a pair of Kirkey aluminum racing seats and Simpson harnesses to keep Marcus safe behind the wheel. The nitrous bottle rides in the passenger-side floor pan, and there are a few auxiliary gauges mounted beneath the dash-other than that, the interior is all stock. The lack of a heater, air conditioner, and radio doesn't bother Marcus-he's interested in going fast and all that stuff just gets in the way.
Part of Marcus' success with this combination is its simplicity, as it doesn't utilize any exotic components, relying mainly on bolt-on parts from respected race parts manufacturers. The car weighs 3,175 with Marcus behind the wheel, and that's the minimum it can weigh in Cheap Street trim. Competition in the Cheap Street class is very tight, with stock-suspension cars running mid-five-second elapsed times, so the initial goal involved getting the car into the five-second zone. He dipped into the 5.70s when the car still had a plate nitrous system and Heidts front end, but Marcus really stepped it up by switching to the fogger system and tubular subframe. His best elapsed time so far is a 5.48 in the eighth-mile, blazing through the traps at over 130 mph. Prepping the car between rounds, and making sure Marcus is lined up in the groove is Zack Cagle's job, while Marcus' wife Emily is always there to cheer him on.
Mike Farley has also been there all along to lend a helping hand when it comes to tuning the car, even though he is part of the competition. The two raced in the same class for most of the '10 season, and Marcus reached the ultimate goal of outrunning his friend and racing partner in the finals of the Brainerd Outlaw Street Car Reunion in October last year. And though he didn't bring home any hardware from the Bounty Race series in '10, Marcus enjoys the close competition and the thrill of driving his wicked deuce through the eighth-mile.
It's a clean car that can still be driven on the street, but it's proven its potency at the track, making it a tough decision when it comes time to choose a sole purpose for the car. Marcus doesn't plan to slow down anytime soon, so the Brockdell Bullet will keep doing its thing and hopefully end up in the winner's circle again.
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