The Ames Performance Pontiac Tri-Power Nationals is the Pontiac hobby's premier spot for drag-racing action. Each year, hundreds of racers from across the country come to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, to vie for cash, prizes, and peer recognition. The day before the Nationals, High Performance Pontiac invites select Pontiac drag racers to participate in the Pavement Pounders Shootout. In a relaxed atmosphere, drivers test and tune their cars, dial in their combinations, and make multiple passes down the NHRA-sanctioned track.
In Part I, we'll feature three A-Bodies that run naturally aspirated Pontiac engines. Let's meet the drivers.
Ken Deabenderfer of Indiana, Pennsylvania, arrived at Norwalk ready to race his '68 Tempest. It features a 511ci MR1 block, E-heads, a Turbo 400 trans, and 3.70 rear gears.
Ron Meyer of Warren, Michigan, rose to the challenge with his '66 GTO. It's powered by a 400/467 stroked iron-block engine, a Turbo 400 trans, and a 4.10-geared rear.
Steve Liebert of Southampton, Pennsylvania, showed up with a welcome wagon, literally. It's a '79 LeMans wagon stuffed with a '72 455 H.O. round-port motor, a Turbo 350 trans, and 3.55 gears.
The temperature at Summit Motorsports Park was 70.6 degrees at our first reading at 10:30 a.m. and rose to 76.1 degrees by 3:00 p.m. Barometric pressure was 28.63 hg, and the dew point was 63.9 degrees. The track sits at 853 feet above sea level, and density altitude was about 2,500 feet, so we'll use a factor of 0.9705 for e.t. and 1.0311 for mph to chart the theoretical best performance at sea level. This will be done on the best pass only, based on e.t.