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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Super Camaro and Son

1981-83: Perry Jr. Gets Serious

By Perry S. Wyatt, Jr.

Perry Wyatt, Sr., and the Super Camaro. Photo thanks to Perry Wyatt, Jr.
Perry Wyatt, Sr., and the Super Camaro. Photo thanks to Perry Wyatt, Jr.

Perry S. Wyatt, Jr., has put together a great story for his dad, Perry Wyatt, Sr., who owned and tuned the Super Camaro funny car. He kindly consented to share his story with Draglist.com readers. As it spans 40 years, we are running it in installments. Check out the links at the bottom to navigate the entire story. Perry is looking for any info on his dad's old funny car, the Super Camaro. If you know of any info or photos, please drop him a line. bp

1981. Pull the Camaro out of the garage and go to Milan. First pass it goes 13:92, right where it left off. After that we just used the Camaro to cruise.

The past Christmas I had asked Lora to marry me and now we were engaged!

I had been working for a machine shop, driving their delivery truck and I was getting to see places I hadn't before. I purchased some Ten Speed bicycles for Lora and me to ride, plus I bought a Harley Davidson Sportster I had been yearning for. I had too many choices and it was cheaper to cruise on the Sportster, than cruise the Camaro. So the Camaro spent a lot of time in the garage, plus now Lora was planning a wedding!

One time while I was out tooling in the Camaro, I decided that I was going to check out where that guy with the "Showdown" Camaro lived (I pretty much knew where to look). So I tooled up and down the side street next to his house, checking out all the cars in his driveway, plus noticed a lot of guys hanging around. Finally, I just pulled right up in his driveway and introduced myself to him and his Father. His name was Joe Ballog and his father was Joe also. We talked for a while and he showed me the racecar in the garage.

It was a 1970 Camaro that was built by Tom Smith (the same guy that had built my dads funny car, wow we had a lot to talk about). Joe had purchased the car from some guys in Wyandotte, who ran it as the "Moonlighter," he remembered always thinking that it would be great to have a car like that and now he did!

He had a 427 with a tunnel ram and 2 850's on it with a Lenco 4-speed. It was a full tube chassis car with a complete aluminum interior and a 1-piece fiberglass front end. Plus had a chromed straight axle. It had a Dana 60 rear with 14x32 tires.

I started hanging around with him.

1982. I had been going to the drag strip with Joe since last summer; we got to be good friends. I remember the week that I was getting married, we were down at K&D Performance, and Joe was going through Kenny's Lenco. Afterward we went out cruising in my Camaro and Joe got to ask me about what was in the engine. He suggested that I get a better set of heads.

Well Saturday came and Lora and I were married! We moved into our own apartment, but I had to leave the Camaro in my dad's garage along with the Sportster, it made it real hard to use either one.

The first ever "Super Pro Challenge" was going to be run in Stanton ($20,000.00 to winner) and Joe asked if I wanted to go up for the weekend, along with his dad and brothers.

There were over 400 Super Pro cars there some from as far away as Texas and New York. Every big time bracket racer you could imagine. I saw so many cars running in the 8's and 9's that I decided I wanted to get my Camaro to run like that.

1983. After speaking with Tom Smith about back halving my Camaro and installing a cage, plus knowing that I would need a Big Block to be able to run in the nines, I decided that I was going to have to set my sights a little lower (a lot lower)!

BTW, I met Bruce Allen at Tom's shop; he was there checking progress on his Corvette!

Well what could I afford to do? I decided that I could get some better heads, change the ring and pinion, get bigger tires, add some traction bars, and see what happens!

1983. My dad buys a "55" Chevy from a guy that has a factory 302 in it. It is a "DZ" block, but it is cracked! Hey, there's my heads! Dad lets me have the heads and I have K&D freshen them up.

Dad says, "If you're going to drag race a small block, you gotta buzz it," so out comes the 4:11 and in goes a 5:13! Plus I installed the "traction" bars.

Then I make a call to Jim Harlow (of Harlow Tire) and tell him I want the largest slicks that will fit on my car. He says bring it out and we'll put them on. What a great guy, he personally installed different sizes on the car until he got the biggest ones that would fit and still clear the stock wheel wells.

Well the changes have been made; time to go to the track!

1983. First time back at Detroit Dragway in over a year! High anticipation of what it might run. I get it up to the line for the first pass.

Prestaged, staged and I hammer it on the last yellow, buzz it up to 7200rpm, hit second gear, buzz it up to 7200rpm again, hit third gear and BOOM! What Happened? The car is coasting, I give it a little gas and the engine is still running, but it won't go. I coast around the turn off, jump out and look under the car the drive shaft is missing! Thank God, I had installed that drive shaft loop (as per rules).

I got a ride back to the pit from another racer, grabbed my ET slip on the way, 13:22 OH MY GOD! Seven tenths quicker than I had ever gone and I was coasting!

Well my brother and I get the Camaro back to the Trans. shop. (Track personnel had returned both halves of the broken drive shaft). We find that the pinion yoke had broken also. We grab another drive shaft from out of the back, change the yoke on it, plus put another yoke on the pinion. We get it all back together and start it up, it drives ok, but it sounds funny. We discover that a rocker stud had broken off.

Well I pull the heads off and back to K&D they go to have screw in studs installed! We get it all back together and return to Detroit Dragway to try it again!

1983. We take the Camaro back out to Detroit Dragway. We got everything all "tweaked" and hoping it doesn't twist another drive shaft out of it!

First pass, it goes 12.74! A couple of passes later and we get a 12:68! I LOVE IT!

Now I start noticing that it has no fuel pressure going through the lights and all these other "little" things are cropping up. It's becoming clear that I either leave it be and cruise the streets or get serious about drag racing only. The street/strip thing is not working anymore!

My brother and I talk it over and I'm going to get serious about strictly drag racing -- ideas-ideas-ideas!

Up Next: 1984-89
Previous:
1980

Perry S. Wyatt, Jr.
perryswyattjr@aol.com

 

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