As our company van cut a swath through the humid West Virginia air, it appeared that our luck couldn't be much worse. DeMauro and I had finished covering the rainy POCI Convention in Charleston the day before, where the wet weather put a damper on the impressive Pontiac turnout. The precipitation had prevented us from getting the tech stories and car features we wanted from our trip West. So when Sunday, July 14th dawned, we jumped up in anticipation of a sunny day and spending some time with a group of quick local Pontiacs from the Almost Heaven chapter of POCI that we had invited to an eighth-mile shootout with help of POCI chapter members Bill Muck and Bill Fortune. But as we headed Northwest to the track, the humidity was so thick that it was actually starting to pool on the windshield. Weather reports for the greater Charleston area called for rain throughout the day, and two very grumpy editors predicted that the next 12 hours or so would be spent in our dusty people-mover, sharing beef jerky and racing stories while wholeheartedly cursing Mother Nature.
As a steaming nuclear power plant materialized out of the mist, it was decided that we would stand our ground and wait the storm out, for days, if we had to. And it would have been worth the wait--umpteen very serious Pontiacs were ready to rumble when we pulled into Kanawha Valley Dragway Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia--a well maintained facility in a pastoral setting, owned by Tim Bell and Ray Lewis.
Here's a look at the first five competitors. Vance Heck's 470-powered 1962 Catalina is a low 10-second quarter miler. Jim Hillard's '67 Goat performs much the same with a rockin' 462, and Tim Wade's 406 pushes his '68 Firebird to the 10-second zone on fewer inches and less weight. Then there is Johnny Duncan with his enigmatic '95 Bird class racer packing 406 cubic inches of Pure Pontiac power and more 10-second time slips. Allan Sandy represented the only true street car in this shootout. His 1970 GTO uses 462 cubic inches of Pontiac engine to run mid 12s in the quarter. Let us not forget, however, that today we are eighth-mile racing. Our contestants were ready, but we weren't willing to risk bent sheetmetal just to get a shootout off--then, Kanawha Valley Dragway's management invited us into the tower to check the track's weather radar. It was upstairs, with an excellent view of an excellent eighth-mile racetrack, that we saw the mass of rain showers on the computer screen heading away from our IHRA digs. And just like that, our bad moods evaporated like West Virginia fog, leaving a full day of wheels-up fun in its place.
OWNER BIO: JIM and DAVE HILLARDJim Hillard is a 61-year-old racer who owns a used car lot specializing in classic Pontiacs. In addition to this quick Goat, he has owned a '62 Cat since 1964 and a Bonneville convertible--c'mon, he owns a dealership. What did you expect? Son Dave does the majority of the driving in this family racing effort. This tool engineer from Dayton, Ohio grew up watching his dad race, and has logged 15 years on the drag strip himself. Notice we said he does most of the driving--occasionally, Jim can't resist kicking the boy out and taking a 10-second thrill ride courtesy of the hard pulling 462.
|OWNER: JIM & DAVE HILLARD|
|Race Weight:||3,860 lbs.|
|Curb Weight:||3,650 lbs.|
|Fuel Level: ||1/2 tank|
|Engine:||1974 Y4-code 455, 462 cubic inches|
|Built by:||Jim and Dave Hillard|
|Induction:||2 600-cfm Edelbrocks, stock jets|
|Intake manifold:||Warrior tunnel ram|
|Heads:||Ported 1970 Ram Air-IV, #614, 2.11/1.77-inch stainless valves|
|Rods:||Crower forged steel|
|Crankshaft:||Stock nodular iron|
|Camshaft:||Comp Cams roller, 276o/280o at .050, .608/.608 lift|
|Ignition:||Stock distributor, MSD 7AL2, Pro Power coil, crank trigger|
|Total timing:||Fixed at 36o|
|Exhaust:||1.875-inch primary diameter headers by Warrior, no exhaust system|
|Transmission:||Turbo-400 with homemade shift kit|
|Converter:||ATI 8-inch, 4000-rpm stall|
|Shifter:||Hurst Quarter Stick|
|Rear type/ratio:||GM 12-bolt, Strange spool, Moser axles, 4.10 gears|
|Brakes, F/R:||Aerospace disc/factory drum|
|Wheels:||Center Line, 15x4 front, 15x9 rear|
|Tires, F/R:||Goodyear, 28x4.5-15 front, 30x 9 Slicks rear|
|Suspension, Front:||Koni shocks, Moroso springs, no stabilizer bar|
|Suspension, Rear:||CE shocks, stock springs, urethane bushings, factory boxed control arms, stabilizer bar|
|Chassis modifications:||Custom roll cage|
|Safety modifications:||Roll cage, RJS 5-point safety harness, driveshaft loop, fire extinguisher, SFI-approved balancer and flexplate|
|Launch technique:||On the foot brakeat 1800 rpm|