Jim’s Blog – Winter Project: 11s in the Quarter Mile

Drag racing is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter how fast your car goes — you always want to go faster, and that usually comes down to how much cash you have in your pocket. But you can pick up time by making the most of the parts you already have, and while that still costs money, it doesn’t always require completely emptying your wallet.

I haven’t checked in with my ’66 Caprice in a while, but I’ve been working on it as I find time. My long-term project has been to get this heavy beast into the 11s in the quarter mile without completely losing its drivability OR dumping piles of cash on it. And I’m clawing my way there, one step at a time.

My car is an oldschool package: 468 BBC, TH400 auto with a shift kit, and 12-bolt posi with 3.73 gears. Nothing exotic here. When I built the motor, I used a steel crank, L88 rods, forged pistons, Edelbrock aluminum heads, and a hydraulic roller cam. It’s a stout setup, but even so, passing that 11-second barrier is going to be a challenge.

Last winter, I had the rear suspension completely apart. It was all original, and the factory-installed rubber bushings were shot. The plan was to box in the control arms to eliminate flex and install polyurethane bushings and an adjustable rear panhard rod, all of which would center up the rear end, help the car transfer its weight, and plant the slicks to the ground. Total cost was about $250 for parts and materials. I got it all back together in April and was able to get it on the track in June.

The car ran solid 12.40s that night, but that wasn’t a big surprise. The change came in the form of ridiculously consistent 60-foot times — 1.81 seconds, plus or minus a thousandth, all night long. Considering all the factors that impact a drag car’s results, that’s pretty cool. And on top of that, it ran straight as an arrow. Straighter than ever before. I’m sure there’s more I can do to dial it in even further, but the results were really encouraging — right up until I blew the oil seal out of my fuel pump on the far end ot the track and coated the underside of my car in oil. An easy fix, but it ended my night.

Now that my ’72 K10 resto is finally done, I can focus on getting this car to run harder again. Of course, there are thousands of ways to spend money here with little or no gain, so I’m going to try to stay focused on making the most of the package I have. I still need to install my wideband 02 sensor kit so I can dial in the carburetor and fuel delivery system. I’ve recommended these before — it’s smart money spent on any carbureted car.

Once that’s handled, hopefully it’ll give me some data I can use to plot my next move. Bigger carburetor? I’ve got my eye on a Holley HP950 to replace my street-friendly Edelbrock 800. Different fuel delivery system? I rebuilt one of my mechanical fuel pumps as a race unit, with heavier springs and more pressure/flow. Just add nitrous? I’ll keep you posted.