Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Project H2Olds

For years I wanted a drag race or street/strip type of car, but there are just no more decent 1/4 mile race tracks around in Southern California anymore. There is one local track... but it is a dump and is so overcrowded you are lucky to get 2 or 3 runs in MAX if you are patient and wait at least 8 hours! The legendary Pomona Raceway only has 3 major events per year, other then that the track remains unused, unless you can cough up enough money to rent the track. Given the limited amount of events held there, decreased attendance and sky rocketing insurance premiums, this venue is pushing up daiseys and I wouldn't be suprised to see it bulldozed in a few years just like OCIR. LACR (Palmdale) closed it's doors in '07 and Drag City in Banning never materialized, much to the disappointment of investors and race fans alike. If you like shortened tracks there is one lone Southern California 1/8 mile race track located in Irwindale. Toyota Drag Strip at Irwindale, billed as "the fastest 1/8 mile dragstrip in the country", is open to all types of racing and street legal vehicles. You are allowed to run approved racing slicks but no "dragster type vehicles" are allowed.

The number of motorsport activities that a person can do with their car around So Cal is pretty limited. Basically, the way I see it there are 3 choices: Drag Race, Drifting, or Autocross. Anything else, like dirt track or paved oval, requires a dedicated race car and an even more dedicated racing budget. Adams Motorsports Park in Riverside features weekly drifting competitions and Willow Springs out in Rosemond also has club sanctioned drifting events. That's all great if you like drifting but I've never seen very many muscle cars at these events, as it seems to be geared toward the imports. I want to be able to have a car that not only looks good but can perform as well, and a venue to bring it to that caters to that type of "show and go".

Good Guys Rod and Custom Association have been putting on car shows for years but recently have started to feature autocross events at their shows that really draw in the Pro-Touring cars. They have a couple of events in So Cal at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Orange County Fairgrounds and seem to be adding more venues every year. These guys have their act together and know how to put on an event. I checked out a few of the autocross events and they are pretty cool. The Pro-Touring cars remind me of what I use to refer to back in High School as the "NASCAR look". Big, huge meats on all four corners and slightly lowered. Of course now-a-days everything is high tech with four piston calipers, drilled and slotted rotors, tubular control arms and four link rear suspensions.

I was thinking it would be cool to put either a truck-arm type suspension on the rear of my Olds or an independent rear, aka Corvette, along with an updated front suspension and huge binders on all four wheels. What I can't decide is the wheels. The trend is huge rim sizes, like 20" rear and 18" front, or just 17's all the way around. I never really liked the look of those big ass rims. To me they make the car look like a life-sized Hot Wheels or something. I am leaning towards 15" rims - 10" wide rear and 8" wide front, with huge rubber. Wide-5 rims would look sweet but I don't think they are DOT legal. I have a 403 that would make for a decent powerplant and either a 5-speed manual trans or a overdrive automatic. If I go automatic I was thinking of a TH400 with a Gear Vendors over/under drive, basically a 6-speed automatic. I didn't want to start on my Olds without a plan, but I never knew planning would be so hard!

That being said, my project needed a name, so I came up with "Project H2Olds". The plans are not final yet, but I'm thinking of a twist on a Hurst theme, hence the "H2", that and the car is a '72 model. With the project name decided and plans under way, all I need to do now is come up with some money! Hey, at least I got it in the garage...

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