Tom Shaw
March 1, 2005

If you want to see stock, original, unmodified musclecars mix it up on the quarter-mile, you need to see the Pure Stock Drags, held the second weekend after Labor Day each September. Open to all American performance cars from 1955-1974, the Pure Stock Drags is a unique venue for cars running in full factory trim: cast-iron exhaust manifolds and mufflers, stock size tires, all OEM engine components, suspension, and body parts. The only wiggle room is for supertuning the carburetor and distributor. Low restriction air filters and electronic ignition triggers are also allowed.

It's fascinating to see so many restored period musclecars at this race, performing exactly as they did right off the assembly line 40-50 years ago. Big-blocks, small-blocks, ponycars, full-size Galaxies, intermediate mega-engine supercars-there is an amazing spectrum in this type of racing. It's also great to watch the cars get faster every year as drivers make improvements and shave their elapsed times (e.t.'s).

Here's the format: Friday and Saturday morning is open track. Drivers run their best e.t. Then, the e.t.'s are sorted, and the two fastest cars are paired with each other for a best two-out-of-three shootout. Then, the next two fastest are paired, and so on. Typically, the qualifying e.t.'s are within a couple hundredths of a second, so the racing is very competitive. It's like drag racing was in the good old days.

What makes these particular musclecars remarkable is their weight. These are heavy cars, tipping the scales between 3,500 and 5,100 pounds. Talk about candidates for a weight loss program!

The Pure Stock Drags is a blast for those of us old enough to remember hot factory musclecars. It reminds us of walking around the pits at the U.S. Nationals back in the '60s and '70s.

How did the Fords do this year? Funny you should ask. The first racers are pulling to the line right now.

Bob Lovell's got the first Ford up, a Light Pewter Metallic '71 Mach 1 with the 429 Super Cobra Jet, C6 Select-Shift, and 4.11:1 Traction-Lok gears. He's up against Dave McCutcheon, a Pure Stock Drags regular who drives in from Red Bud, Illinois, in his '70 Chevelle SS396, a 350hp car, also with a Turbo 400 transmission and a highway-friendly 3.31:1 Posi-traction 12-bolt axle. Dave's Chevelle weighs in at a hefty 4,236 pounds, 488 more than Bob's 3,748-pound Mach 1. On paper it looks like a cakewalk for the lighter, better-geared, bigger-cube Mach, but the beauty of the Pure Stock Drags is the cars are paired together based on their actual performance during qualifying, not some well-meaning formula that attempts to calculate a car's potential.

Round One: Dave gets his Chevelle off the line with a fast .524 reaction time, visibly ahead of Bob's .873. But with a 2.30-second 60-foot time, the Chevelle is having some traction issues-highway gears will do that. Bob's better 2.19-second 60-footer erases the Chevelle's lead, and now we've got a real drag race! The two vintage musclecars roar downrange door handle to door handle and flash through the traps with-wow!-virtually identical e.t.'s: 14.952 seconds for Bob's Mustang and 14.95 for Dave's SS396. Speed was identical: 92.83 mph for both. by one half of a micro-whisker, the win light went on for the Chevelle.

Round Two: This time at the line, Dave's a little slower, and Bob's quicker. The 60-foot times are very close, and, again, this pair clears mid-track too close to call, hits high gear, and sprints towards the finish line. With a winning 14.92 at 92.61, it's Dave's Chevelle edging the Mach 1's 15.01 at 93.08.

Here's a great match up between a pair of '72 middle-block intermediates. Mike McPhillips has a Ford we just don't see enough of-a Gran Torino Sport with the 351-C 4V and Top Loader four-speed transmission. It's a big car, high on weight and with less power than in previous years, but with Magnum 500 wheels and a laser stripe, the Torino has looks as well as performance. Mike qualified with a strong 14.64 at 98.96 mph.

Lining up against him is Steve Caruso, a member of the Buick Club's strong Michigan chapter and another Pure Stock Drags veteran. In 1971, the GSX option was available for the first time with the 350ci V-8. The Buick GSX has a Turbo 350 automatic, 3.42:1 gears, and 258 fewer pounds than Mike's Torino. Steve's a sharp driver who qualified with a 14.68 at 94.10 mph. Should be another close one.

Round One: It's a close start, with Steve getting the GSX rolling first. Mike's hot on his heels, but a slow 2.36-second 60-foot puts his Torino in an early deficit, but losing is not on Mike's to-do list. He kicks the 351C hard and lets those big ports go to work. The 351C-4V engine makes its torque at high rpm. At mid-track, the Torino comes on strong, reeling the GSX back in. At the big end, Steve's Buick opened up enough of an early lead to take the round, 14.71 at 92.44 to Mike's 14.78 at 97.87 mph.

Round Two: These Detroit intermediates switch lanes. At the green, Mike's off like a shot with a .575 light; Steve leaves on a .699. That lead doesn't last long, however. A slow 60-foot (2.40) lets Steve pull ahead. These heavy four-speed cars can be challenging to launch. After fluctuating in the early going, the battle of drivers settles into a battle of horsepower. Mike hits all the shifts cleanly, and the Torino's top-end charge overpowers the GSX to even the race at one round apiece. The e.t.'s: Torino, 14.72 at 98.00; GSX, 14.73 at 92.36.

Round Three: Even closer reaction times (.662-Ford/.613-GSX) get the tie-breaker underway. In a virtual replay of the previous two rounds, Mike's 60-foot time is slower, this time 2.25 tenths behind the Buick. In Round Two he had enough horsepower to get past the Buick, in Round One he didn't. It's showdown time. The drivers let it all hang out, as Mike pours it on, and Steve tries to fend off the Torino's kick. Score this one for Ford as the Torino blasts through the timers with a best run of the weekend, 14.63 at 98.96. Steve runs a very consistent 14.72 at 92.83.

’71 MACH 1 429 SCJ VS. ’70 CHEVELLE SS396
CAR '71 MACH 1 '70 CHEVELLE SS396
Engine/hp 429 SCJ/375 402/350
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission C6 Select-Shift Turbo 400
Axle 4.11:1 Traction-Lok 3.31:1 Posi-traction
Weight 3,748 lbs 4,236 lbs
Round One 14.952 @ 92.83 mph 14.95 @ 92.83 mph WIN
Round Two 15.010 @ 93.08 mph 14.92 @ 92.61 mph WIN
’72 BUICK GSX VS. ’72 GRAN TORINO SPORT
CAR ’72 GRAN TORINO SPORT ’72 BUICK GSX
Engine/hp 351C/264 (net) 350/190 (net)
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission Top Loader four-speed 350 Turbo
Axle 3.50:1 Traction-Lok 3.42:1 Posi-traction
Weight 4,213 lbs 3,955 lbs
Round One 14.78 @ 97.87 mph 14.71 @ 92.44 mph WIN
Round Two 14.72 @ 98.00 mph WIN 14.73 @ 92.36 mph
Round Three 14.63 @ 98.96 mph WIN 14.72 @ 92.83 mph
’70 MERCURY CYCLONE VS. ’69 HURST/OLDS
CAR '70 CYCLONE ’69 HURST/OLDS
Engine/hp 429 {{{CJ}}}/370 455/380
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission Top Loader four-speed Turbo 400 automatic
Axle 3.50:1 Traction-Lok 3.23:1 Posi-traction
Weight 4,125 lbs 4,155 lbs
Round One 14.19 @ 98.14 mph WIN 14.38 @ 96.11 mph
Round Two 14.35 @ 98.31 mph 14.27 @ 96.13 mph WIN
Round Three 14.29 @ 97.50 mph 14.53 @ 95.98 mph WIN

Ron Tuttle's up next with a Competition Orange Cyclone, powered by the 370hp 429 Cobra Jet. It's got the Top Loader four-speed and 3.50:1 Traction-Lok gears. It qualified with a 14.37 e.t.

Ron's paired up with Paul and Tami Panczuk's '69 Hurst/Olds, a 455-powered supercar with 380 hp on tap, easy-to-launch Turbo 400 automatic transmission, and 3.23:1 Posi-traction gears. Paul qualified the Olds with a 14.36.

Round One: this one's over as soon as it starts-dual redlights. The race goes to the driver who fouled the least, in this case, Ron, his .448 reaction time versus .327 for the Olds. This is when a low reaction time can bite you in the posterior. Even so, they stay in the gas and make it a race. The Cyclone outruns the Hurst/Olds, 14.19 at 98.14 mph to 14.38 at 96.11 mph.

Round Two: Ron eases up and leaves on a .872 tree. Paul cuts down the tree with a blazing .509 and hustles through the first 60 feet with a 2.15 to put the Hurst/Olds out front by a half second. Everything's going Paul's way. Ron plays hard to catch up. It's a clean, close race that ends with the Hurst/Olds barely holding off the hard-charging Merc. The e.t.'s: Olds, 14.27 at 96.13 mph; Merc, 14.35 at 98.31 mph. Tie-breaker, here we come.

Round Three: A better reaction time would have won Round Two for Ron. He knows this and tries to squeeze the light, only to draw the dreaded red eye. Too bad, because Ron had him covered. The foul gives game, set, and match to the Hurst/Olds.

’69 BARRACUDA S 440 VS. ’71 MUSTANG MACH 1
CAR '71 MACH 1 ’69 CUDA 440
Engine/hp 429 {{{CJ}}}/375 440/375
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission C6 Select-Shift TorqueFlite automatic
Axle 3.91:1 Traction-Lok 3.55:1 Sure Grip
Weight 3,904 lbs 3,668 lbs
Round One 14.14 @ 98.56 mph 13.72 @ 99.21 mph WIN
Round Two 14.05 @ 99.54 mph WIN 13.74 @ 99.16 mph
Round Three 14.02 @ {{{100}}}.07 mph 13.82 @ 98.91 mph WIN

Squaring off next is a pair of big-block ponycars. Mark Maybee pilots the '71 Mach 1, another 429 SCJ car with the C6 automatic and 3.91:1 Traction-Lok differential. Lighter than the Torino that shares this engine, Mark's Mach 1 is also faster, qualifying with a 13.91 at 100.07 mph.

Mark is competing against Mopar man and Pure Stock Drags veteran Norm Verhage. Norm's tough in his 375hp 440 Barracuda S, the lightest ever built with a 440. The Barracuda has an automatic, 3.55:1 Sure Grip gears, and tips the scales at just 3,668 pounds-pretty lean for a big-block musclecar. Norm qualified his Plymouth with a 13.90, a scant one hundredth quicker than the Mach 1.

Round One: Red light in the Ford lane. Mark is off his rhythm and runs a 14.14 at 98.56, far from Norm's best-of-the-event 13.72 at 99.21. Mark gets spanked.

Round Two: Talk about role reversal: red light in the Mopar lane. Mark has a clean run, but it'll take more than his 14.05 at 99.54 to knock off the Barracuda's 13.74 at 99.16 mph.

Round Three: It's a clean launch on both sides: a .551 r/t for the Mustang, .524 for the Plymouth. The Barracuda's really hooking and runs an excellent 2.05 60-footer. Mark's short time is 2.168. Into open track now, the big-cube brawlers wind out and barrel towards the finish line. Typical of the 429s, the Mach 1 has a powerful top end, but the 440 'cuda hangs on to carry the day, 13.82 at 98.91 to the Mach 1's 14.02 at 100.07 mph.

’64 MERCURY MARAUDER VS. ’72 BUICK GSX
CAR '64 MERCURY MARAUDER ’72 BUICK GSX
Engine/hp 427/425 455/270 (net)
Carburetion 8V 4V
Transmission Four-Speed Turbo 400 automatic
Axle 4.56:1 Limited-Slip 3.73:1 Posi-traction
Weight 4,367 lbs 4,208 lbs
Round One 13.37 @ 106.21 mph WIN 13.{{{80}}} @ 103.16 mph
Round Two 13.43 @ 106.96 mph 13.48 @ 103.55 mph WIN
Round Three 13.28 @ 107.50 mph WIN 13.49 @ 104.16 mph

Brian Stefina's '64 427 Marauder is all about old-school Ford power. FE power once ruled the tracks and streets, and Brian's out to prove that it still does. Under that big hood is the legendary R-code 427 dual-four-barrel engine, good for 425 hp. Brian has tuned and dyno'd the engine (best run was 471.2 hp at 5,600 rpm), and he drives like a man on a mission.

In the next lane, Joe Shepard stages his mighty Buick 455 Stage 1 GSX to spoil the party. Besides more displacement than a container ship of Hyundais, Joe's Buick has cold air induction, 3.73:1 Posi-traction gears, and more torque than a GM Electromotive. This will be the last-and fastest-Ford versus Buick shootout.

Round One: Brian comes off the line with a sizzling .521 reaction time, almost three-tenths ahead of Joe's .810. Brian rides those 4.56 gears to a quick 2.11 60-footer. This is an impressive feat considering the Merc's 4,367-pound heft and skinny tires. Brian bangs off three quick shifts and stays ahead of the Buick coast to coast, stopping the clocks with a 13.37 at 106.21, way out in front of the GSX's 13.80 at 103.16.

Round Two: Joe strikes first, coming out of the hole with a quick .545 light. Brian's a tenth behind with a .651. Joe also has the edge through the first 60 feet. It all comes together for the GSX, and Joe stays ahead for the win despite his winning 13.48 at 103.55 e.t. being a tick slower than Brian's 13.43 at 106.96.

Round Three: The final race. No margin for error here. Brian leaves hard on a sharp .537 light, then shaves his 60-foot time down to 2.09. Meanwhile, Joe red lights! The race is now for pride, and, for Brian, there's no such thing as backing off. The win goes to the mighty Merc, which posts its best e.t. of the event, 13.28 at 107.50. That's a runnin' Merc! Joe runs 13.49 at 104.16, which proves the old Mercury's worth.

’69 MACH 1 VS. ’70 OLDS 4-4-2 W-30
CAR '69 MACH 1 '70 OLDS 4-4-2 W-30
Engine/hp 428 {{{CJ}}}/335 455/370
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission C6 Select-Shift Turbo 400 automatic
Axle 4.11:1 Traction-Lok 3.91:1 Anti-Spin
Weight 3,686 lbs 3,915 lbs
Round One 12.92 @ 108.12 mph 12.69 @ 109.63 WIN
Round Two 12.91 @ 108.39 mph 12.71 @ 109.60 WIN

The only Ford running 12-second quarter-miles is Tom Artes' Candyapple

The only Ford running 12-second quarter-miles is Tom Artes' Candyapple Red '69 Mach 1. It's packing iron with the 428 Super Cobra Jet, C6 Select-Shift, and deep 4.11:1 "digger" gears. Tom's got the suspension working. His 12.78-second qualifying e.t. is over two-tenths quicker than last year's 12.99, and he's a tough customer.

Tom will have to get by Darrel Detwiler, a passionate Oldsmobile devotee who brings one of Oldsmobile's biggest guns to the party: a '70 455ci, W-30-powered 4-4-2. Darrel's 4-4-2 has 370 hp, Turbo 400 automatic, 3.91:1 Anti-Spin axle, and mountains of torque. Darrel qualified the Olds with a sizzling 12.70-second e.t.

Round One: These two get it on right away, with Tom cutting a .519, and Darrel right behind with a .527. They roar past the 60-foot timers dead even. It's an emotional rush to watch these two spectacularly styled musclecars going at it. At the finish line, Darrel out-muscled the Mustang, running his best e.t. of the event, 12.69 at 109.63 to Tom's 12.92 at 108.12.

Round Two: Darrel cuts a mean .533 light and 60-foots his Olds with a quick 2.05. Tom red lights. He runs a 12.91 at 108.39, not enough to defeat the 4-4-2's winning 12.71 at 109.60.

2005 Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag RaceSecond Weekend After Labor DayMid-Michigan MotorplexStanton, Michigan

Info: Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag RaceP.O. Box 341Tecumseh, MI 49286-0341Bob Boden: (517) 423-8133 (days)Dan Jensen: (517) 647-2474Web site: www.geocities.com/psmcdr/Email: info@purestockdrags.com