For the past four months, High Performance Pontiac has delivered dynamic drag race pair-ups from our Pavement Pounders Shootout private-invitational at Norwalk, Ohio. We continue the series this month with two more racers who have their sights set on scoring their best e.t.’s ever. The first built a Judge-tribute GTO racecar so he could retire his real Judge from active duty, and the second recently bought a popular late-’60s convertible so he could teach himself the science of drag racing.

Let’s meet the racers.

Wayne Kennedy and Tyler Caughill of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, comprise one of the Pontiac hobby’s more popular racing teams. Their ’70 GTO features a 0.040-over 455, aluminum heads, a Turbo 400, and 4.33 gears.

Howard Botting of North Syracuse, New York, recently joined the Pontiac hobby, but he’s been a fan of the marque since he was a teenager. His ’68 LeMans features a 428, No. 16 heads, an M20 four-speed, and 3.23 gears.

Weather Report

The temperature at Summit Motorsports Park during our Shootout ranged from 77 to 81 degrees. Barometric pressure was 29.95 hg and the dew point was 70 degrees. The track is 853 feet above sea level and density altitude ranged from 2,504 to 2,741 feet, so we will give each racer his own correction factor based upon the density altitude at the time of his best pass. Tyler’s best pass occurred at 2:54 p.m. (DA: 2,741); Howard’s best pass occurred at 2:27 p.m. (DA: 2,607). The correction factors are designed to chart the theoretical best performance at sea level and will be done on the best pass only, based on e.t.

Wayne Kennedy/ Tyler Caughill (driver)

The team’s goal was to beat their GTO’s previous best at Norwalk—a 10.18 at 131.30, which they recorded in 2010. “Since then but prior to the Shootout, the car has remained basically the same,” Wayne says.

For his first pass, Tyler launched at 3,400 rpm, shifted at 6,000 rpm, and set a baseline. However, his 10.42/129.19-mph timeslip was 0.3 second off from their expectation. Wayne says, “Our crew member Mike Voycey said he heard overlap between the 2-3 shift. After the pass, we discovered the Turbo 400 was a pint low.”

The team wanted to evaluate the effect valve-lash adjustment had on the GTO’s performance (they hadn’t adjusted it in 70 passes, according to Wayne), and dialed in 0.020-inch on the intake and 0.022-inch on the exhaust. The result was a 10.30 e.t. at 129.27 mph. Tyler’s best time of the day came after he installed a 3,600-rpm launch chip—a 10.21 at 130.82.

“It took us until our last pass to get close to what we ran at Norwalk last year, thanks to Tyler performing spot-on,” Wayne says. “When we reviewed our timeslips, we discovered our rear tires were failing. Two days after the Shootout, we installed new tires at the track, and saw an immediate improvement in our 60-foot times.”

When asked about the track conditions, Tyler said, “Typical Norwalk starting line—lots of hook.” He says the GTO “hooked well, but pulled to the right twice.”

Howard Botting

Howard wanted to see if his street-trim LeMans performed better at Norwalk than on his local quarter-mile track. For his first run, he retained street tuning and tire pressure, and recorded a 15.02 e.t. at 97.82 mph. “I launched 500 to 1,000 rpm higher than I usually do at the track, and it spun bad at the line,” he says.

Throughout the Shootout, he incrementally dialed in more advance and decreased tire pressure. On his tenth pass, he closed the dumps, launched at 3,000 rpm, shifted at 5,400 rpm, and earned his best time of the day—14.12 at 97.66.

“I didn’t beat my previous best, but I’m having a great time finding my LeMans’ sweet spot,” he says. “The Shootout helped me test timing and tire pressure, I concluded that the LeMans likes 36 degree advance, and I’m pretty sure I can run less than 20 psi in my drag radials—but I’ll have to test that in the future.”


This month’s Shootout participants came to the track to beat their previous best e.t.’s and hit new plateaus—Wayne and Tyler wanted to get into the 9s and Howard wanted to get into the 13s. Unfortunately, both had to settle for slightly less than their previous benchmarks. Regardless, both called the event a “learning experience” and they’ll use the data from the day to help them improve their e.t.’s down the road. We’re sure the cars and combos detailed in this story will give you plenty of ideas for your project.

HPP would like to thank the management and crew at Summit Motorsports Park for their assistance in making this Shootout possible, and John Labuda and Arnie Brewer, who helped make the day go more smoothly.