Part I: Back to the track a former NHRA record-holder shows life is better over 40 for his special-ordered '68 Ram Air GTO
This month, HPP introduces its first ever Pavement Pounders Shootout, Florida Edition. For the event, we used the world-famous, NHRA-sanctioned Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida. We invited four Florida-based racers and asked them to show us the best that their Pontiacs can bring.
To kick off our new Shootout series, we start with a previous NHRA record-holder, who drove Pontiacs professionally in the '60s, and had the "inside" knowledge to special-order a Ram Air GTO in fall 1967, which he still has today.
Jim Barr of Naples took delivery of his '68 Ram Air GTO on December 2, 1967. It's currently equipped with its original 400 block, '69 No. 722 R/A-IV heads, an M21 trans, and 4.33 rear gears. It hasn't been on the dragstrip in six years, since being restored in 2003. What will this original factory-racer do with an upgraded round-port top-end and an old pro behind the wheel?
The temperature at Gainesville Raceway during our Shootout ranged from 53.1 to 60.1 degrees. Barometric pressure was measured at 29.92 hg and the dew point was 46 degrees. The track is 167 feet above sea level and density altitude ranged from -83 to 415 feet, so no correction factor is needed to chart the theoretical best performance at sea level.
|Strip Tuning Log
|1.36-deg timing, 19 psi,
||12.85/114.37 M& &H DOT drag radials
|2. Changed to M/T slicks, 11 psi
|3. Removed air filter, 15 psi
Run Notes: 1) First quarter-mile pass in six years; 2) Tire pressure too low; 3) Alternator belt kept sliding off, affecting mechanical water pump and ending the day.
Owner Bio: Jim Barr
Jim, a 67-year-old race car driver/car restorer, has been professionally racing for 47 years, though he took 32 years off from 1971-2003.
He bought his '68 GTO Ram Air new from Waldron Pontiac in St. Petersburg, Florida, after learning of Pontiac's Ram Air program. "I knew about the Ram Air program for the '67 GTOs, so it was a logical progression to order a '68 Ram Air GTO," he says. (Back in the day, it ran 12.60s at 108/109 mph.) It's special to him because "it came exactly one month after my son was born." His favorite moment in it was the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) national win in 2004.
Jim's first Pontiac was a '58 Tri-Power Bonneville, and he currently also owns a '69 R/A-IV GTO, which his friend bought new and he eventually bought from his friend for his son. Jim's NHRA mph record came in a '69 RA-IV Carousel Red Judge four-speed at Miami-Hollywood Dragway in the summer of 1970, with a 114.51 mph run.