1961 Catalina vs. 1971 Mustang
389/348hp vs. 429/370hp

Qualified: 13.74 vs. 13.74

Ken Riebel is a Pure Stock Drags veteran, piloting a sharp ’61 Catalina with the top-option 389 Tri-Power, four-speed, and 3.64 Safe-T-Track axle. Pretty cool, huh? In the other lane is Bill Kulenkamp, another PSD veteran, running a stout ’71 Mustang with a strong 429 Cobra Jet engine. It’s an old-school hardtop against a decade-newer ponycar, but the Catalina spots the Mustang 40 cubes, 22 horsepower, and almost 500 pounds.

Round 1: Ken is off like a shot, grabbing a tenth at the line and stretching it at the Tree. Stock racing is an odd duck in which weight can help your traction on the all-important launch, as Ken’s proving. It’s tight all the way, but the Cat gets its chrome bumper through the beams first by a whisker. That’s good racing!

Round 2: Knowing the race is close, Bill leans on the Tree a little too hard and redlights. That throws the shootout to Ken and the mighty Tri-Power Catalina.

Car Round 1 Round 2
1961 Catalina 13.83 @ 99.81 13.90 @ 99.41
1971 Mustang 13.82 @ 99.72 13.78 @ 99.97•

1970 GT-37 vs. 1967 Chevelle SS396
400/345hp vs. 396/375hp

Qualified: 12.88 vs. 12.87

Chris Smetana drives the GT-37, a Tempest-based, de-contented A-body that was Pontiac’s low-buck performer when optioned with a 345hp 400. Chris is taking on Jim Maher’s tough ’67 SS396, a top-option 375hp version. Both cars are four-speeds.

Round 1: Jim knows how to drive the Tree and gets a couple tenths at the line. He’s the same on 60-footers, so Jim carries his lead into Second gear and beyond. Chris mounts a mid-track run at the Chevelle, but Jim’s got this one all sewn up.

Round 2: Just as in Round 1, Jim cuts a smokin’ 0.047 light and mats the Chevelle. But Chris is also out on a quick reaction time and putting the spurs to the GT-37. At mid-track, the rapid red Tempest is making its move and coming around the Chevelle. At the big end, both are off their Round 1 pace but the Chevelle slows by more. It’s Chris who takes the win light for Round 2. That means we’re going to a tie-breaker.

Round 3: Jim can’t be beat at the light, but Chris isn’t down by much, and he brings the GT-37 through First gear with a strong 2.06 60-footer. From there he lets the 400 unwind, banging the gears for all they’re worth. Jim is right beside him doing the same, but in the end, it’s Chris with the power and the glory. Shootout: Pontiac.

Car Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
1970 GT-37 12.77 @ 111.27 12.97 @ 110.17 12.89 @ 109.83
1967 Chevelle SS396 12.92 @ 109.23 13.21 @ 106.44 13.02 @ 108.84

1971 GTO vs. 1964 Sport Fury
455/335hp vs. 426/415hp

Qualified: 12.86 vs. 12.85

Ron Hammer’s maxi-cube GTO is a looker with Quezal Gold paint and a runner with the beefy 455 H.O. engine. It has the Turbo 400 automatic and 3.31:1 street gears. At just under 4,000 pounds, it’s no lightweight, but it goes well into the 12s with strong driving and the 455’s pile-driver torque. He’ll have his hands full with Bruno Beltrame’s ’64 Fury, powered by the revered 426 Max Wedge, Chrysler’s pre-Hemi powerhouse. It has a four-speed and steeper 3.90:1 gears, and Bruno knows how to drive.

Round 1: Ron must have a Vulcan mind-meld going with the Tree, because he cuts what may be the best light of the meet—a near-perfect 0.021. He brings the big Goat through the first 60 feet quickly, in just 2.03 seconds, and all of a sudden Bruno is playing catch-up. It’s a close race as Bruno pours it on, but Ron fends off a strong top-end charge to take the win.

Round 2: Bruno gets trigger happy at the line and redlights. It’s all over, but the timeslips suggest it would have been a repeat of Round 1. That makes the tally one big-block and one small-block Mopar falling to Pontiac power.

Car Round 1 Round 2
1971 GTO 12.91 @ 107.66 13.10 @ 106.57
1964 Sport Fury 12.91 @ 111.49 13.11 @ 110.81•