At the '06 National Hot Rod Reunion, Nick had an unfortunate crash. He wasn't hurt, but th
Ignition is lit with a Mallory Unilite distributor, Mallory Promaster coil, and MSD 6AL box feeding spark at 32-degrees total through Taylor Thundervolt 10.4mm wires and NGK V-Power plugs. The squeeze is put on to the tune of 13.0:1, making 112-octane race fuel a requirement. Spent gases are evacuated by a set of Tyree-designed and built headers featuring 2-inch primaries and 3 1/2-inch open collectors.
A Butler Performance-sourced TCI 8-inch 4,500-rpm stall converter and flexplate connect the engine to a Turbo 400 trans built by Lowell's Automotive in Fontana, California. Nick hits his gears with a B&M Pro Stick with spring-loaded gate action, and one-hand reverse lockout.
After viewing the accident (see sidebar) which sidelined Nick in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2006, Jess came to his aid and reminded him that the Tempest's original chassis was a unibody design, and was unacceptable for high-speed A/FX drag racing. Nick then enlisted Mark Harrison of HRF Fabrication in Yucaipa, California, to install a vintage chassis back-half from Jess Tyree's '63 B/Gas Tempest. He added the four-link suspension, Strange coilover shocks, a narrowed Ford 9-inch rear end with 4.10 gears, a spool, and Strange 31 spline racing axles.
Jess also offered advice for the front suspension, which Nick followed: Art Morrison five-inch super struts, tubular A-arms, and Pinto rack-and-pinion steering, all tucked into a realigned factory subframe.
Notice the callout lettering on the rear quarter-panel to Bill Barry Pontiac of Santa Ana,
Paint And Interior
The Tempest features Cameo Ivory single-stage urethane paint sprayed by Alex. After the track accident, Mark Patterson of M&M Collision in Riverside, repaired the racer and matched the existing white paint. Period-correct lettering was reapplied after the accident by Bob Thompson of Team Thompson Lettering in Alta Loma, California. Although the Tempest LeMans originally came with front buckets and rear bench seat, Nick removed them. He installed an RCI race seat and five-point harness and-to retain a stock appearance-brown door panels and a matching 80/20 loop carpet. He also added an Auto Meter tachometer, and water temperature and oil pressure gauges to monitor his engine's vitals. The rollcage is made of 15/8-inch mild steel tubing.
At The Track
After the rebuild, the Tempest's race weight, with driver, is 3,000 pounds and the curb weight is just 2,820 pounds. The car is NHRA certified for 8.50 e.t.s.
Nick rolls through the water box, engages the Line-Loc and throttles to 4,500 rpm to do a burnout in first gear. Moving to the line, he stages at 3,500 rpm on the transbrake and launches on the last yellow. He shifts at 6,500 rpm and hits the traps at 6,800 rpm. The Tempest's best pass to date is 10.14 at 130 mph at Speedworld Dragstrip near Phoenix.
Nick says, "It's a real blast to race and show my nostalgic Tempest, which brings back memories of the early '60s. It gets a lot of attention at the races; several spectators have indicated that they remember the early A/FX cars when they were younger. The '62s are a rare breed and seldom raced, as compared to the '63 Tempest."
Nick traded his grocery-getter for a timeslip-getter, and he hasn't regretted it once. In building his race car, he joins the likes of Jess Tyree, Mickey Thompson, Arnie Beswick, Bill Shrewsberry, Hayden Profit, and Jim Christianson who raced Tempest A/FX cars in the early '60s. But he says he can never compare himself to these greats. "This Tempest is simply a tribute to the legendary Pontiac racers," he says. "And for me, it is a dream that started when I was a young man, and finally came true."
A traditional Pontiac 428, Kauffmann high-port heads, Holley 1180-cfm Dominator and Victor
A Morrison racing steering wheel, Auto Meter tach and gauges, B&M Pro Stick, and custom ro
An RCI racing seat and five-point harness keep the driver's glutes glued to his seat at al