Reprint from Super Rod Magazine, February 2007
Photography by: Scott Killeen and Plant R/Randy Lorentzen
Machines and Rods, but George Poteet Pushed Them To Build an All-Out Race Car. Boy,
Did They Deliver.
ur Ol’ Dad, the late Gray Baskerville, lived for Bonneville Speed Week. With salt between his toes, standing somewhere near the three-mile mark, maniacally rubbing his hands together as a streamliner thundered by at 350-plus, Gray was in heaven. He’s probably standing there right now in an endless running of Speed Week somewhere in the afterlife. “It’s soooooo bitchin’!”
For years Gray tried to persuade his pal and fellow hot rodder George Poteet to experience life on the salt. Eventually, George relented, and his life was never the same.
“Twelve years ago, I went to Bonneville as a spectator. After a while, I built a Modified Roadster with a flathead just so I could see the other end of the course as a participant,” George said.
That roadster only ran 129 mph, but it more firmly squirted Bonneville blood through George’s veins. A couple of roadsters later, George was running 210 mph, but it wasn’t enough for a record and therefore not enough to get into the prestigious Bonneville 200 mph Club. So that was his next goal. He experienced the speed, for sure, and had
been 280 mph behind the wheel of Ron Main’s EcoFire steamliner (he later ran 340-plus in it), but the red hat was an elusive thing, and George wanted it. “We all wanted to be remembered for something in history, whether it’s building cars or whatever,” George said.
At the ’05 Detroit Autorama, George was hanging out with Troy Trepanier (Rad Rides by Troy, builder of several of George’s hot rods) and fuel-injection guru John Meaney (BigStuff3). The bench racing turned to George’s desire to enter the Two Club and eventually have the fastest door-slammer in the world. Meaney brought up the new Mopar Performance four-cylinder midget race block, which he considers a sleeping monster; it accepts a P5 Hemi cylinder head. They started talking about what kind of car it would be cool to put the motor in, and Troy and George agreed on a ’69 Barracuda, just because it’s different. You can see where this if going, right? By the time they were finished talking, the plan was hatched to build a full-on Bonneville car, and George had his historical ride under way. On Sunday afternoon of the show, on his way home, George called Troy and said he found a car, and it would be at Rad Rides’ shop in a week.
Continued on p.6
“I’ve gone 129 mph in a flathead roadster and 340 mph in the streamliner, so I know when a car drives good and when a car drives bad. Blowfish drove like a bullet.”â€”George Poteet
“I picked the body, Chrysler picked the engine, and Troy did the rest.”â€”George Poteet
1.This is Blowfish’s humble beginning. George’s buddy had this ’69 Barracuda sitting for 15 years and gave it to him for the project.
2.From that rusty bucket of bolts would emerge something like this Adam Banks rendering.
3.The Barracuda was torn apart and taken down to not much more than a body shell with no floors.
4.After Imperial Blasting stripped the body, it was set on the jib, and the ride height was determined thusly.
5.The windshield posts were chopped 2 inches, and the rear sail panels were cut loose at the fender line and allowed to lie forward then were welded back in place for a bitchin’ (and aerodynamic) rake.
6.The front and rear bumpers are narrowed Camaro parts tucked in tight to the body for minimum aero drag; this stuff is hidden under the nose cone.
7.Before the chassis was even begun, supports were built into the body to add strength that would be necessary at 300 mph. Notice the rear wheeltubs and incredible sheetmetal work.
8.With the body at ride height, the engine, trans, and rearend were mocked into place to begin building the chassis.
9.Here’s how the framerails attach to the body, shown here simply tack-welded during mockup.
10. Adam Banks sketched out the aero nose, then the Rad Rides crew fabricated it out of hand-beaten sheetmetal.
11. Adam Banks sketched out the aero nose, then the Rad Rides crew fabricated it out of hand-beaten sheetmetal.
12.The highlight of the car is the 175ci Chrysler four-cylinder with a Mopar Performance P5 Hemi head. Built by Bob Sweeney at FX Engines, it’s essentially a USAC midget long-block (though MP offers this version with a bellhousing flange) with a big turbo and BigStuff3 sequential engine management.
CLOCKWISE> Rad Rides fabricator Dan Holohan created the intake manifold from sheet aluminum starting with these formed sections that turned into… >…intake runners mounting the injectors. This photo shows a single injector per runner, but the final configuration has two Bosch 130-pounders per cylinder.> The runners were mated to an aluminum plate that formed the base for the plenum.> This would be the plenum.
“We have been asked what Mopar has done for us; how do you put a price on the P5 parts and a chance to fine-tune a race car in a state of the art wind tunnel? What did we do for them? We created the fastest ‘Cuda on the planet.” – Troy Trepanier.
13.The turbo is an oversized Precision Turbo T45, chosen based on performance calculations to make 35-plus pounds of boost at 9,500 rpm. Here you can see just part of the fabricated plumbing.
14.On Power Pete’s dyno, the Little Engine That Could did, making 1,030 hp at 8,000 rpm and 680 lb-ft of torque, also at 8,000, on only 20 psi boost. There’s way more in it when they turn up the wick and run it to 9,500.
15.Dan Holohan also fabricated the exhaust in 5-inch 321 stainless. The headers were HPC-coated, and out of the turbo, the exhaust comes through the firwall and routes next to the trans and driveshaft with a 5-inch Flowmaster Outlaw Series muffler. The entire exhaust system was covered with header wrap to keep heat under control. Notice the Jerico four-speed transmission with a Gear Vendors overdrive.
17. The underside of the car got a full bellypan that actually added downforce to the front end.
18/19. Due to the complexity of the chassis and rollcage tubing, rather than paint it, Rad Rides had Bob Buckley at Coating Specialties powdercoat it all with high-metallic powder and clearcoat.
20. Warren Lewis, Ryan Kircher, and Rich Milton of Rad Rides sprayed the car with Glasurit Golden Rod (how appropriate) paint.
21. Bob Thrash created the custom two-tone and gold-leaf lettering on the car. He did the cartoon Blowfish, too.
22. The chassis was modeled after a modern Jerry Bickel Pro Stock car but uses Air Ride Technologies air springs for minute adjustability on the salt. Adam Banks at Rad Rides built the control arms around the Air Ride bags and Bickel-sourced struts. Steering is from Bickel slow-ratio rack-and-pinion, and there’s a ton of caster in it to keep the car straight at speed.
23. The air springs are controlled by Air Ride solenoids and pump plumbed to this air tank, which was mounted in the nose of the car.
24. A powermaster 80-amp alternation is driven off the 2.91-geared Strange 9-inch rearend.
25. Terry DeKoninck, DaimlerChrysler’s aerodynamicist, uses a smoke wand to evaluate airflow on Blowfish during aerodynamic tuning at the DCX wind tunnel in Detroit. The car did 22 “blows” in the tunnel over two sessions and was slippery as 0.20 Cd. With the downforce needed at Bonneville, the car still slips through the air at a sleek 0.21.
26. Michael “Sparky” Browne of Wires & Pliers wired Blowfish. Here, he’s creating the injector harness.
Rad Rides built the tube chassis using Jerry Bickel chassis parts, including custom struts in front and a Pro Stockâ€”style four-link in the back. Air Ride Technologies air springs support it and allow quick, incremental changes in ride height. Chassis stops
“Bob the Builder” Sweeny of FX Engines got the job of building the 1,000-horse engineâ€”no easy task when you’re only talking four cylinders and 175ci of displacement. With a big turbo and Meaney’s BigStuff3 EFI tuning, that power level was accomplished on “only” 20 psi boost, so there’s a lot of growing room left here. The engine was connected to a Jerico four-speed stick with a Tilton four-disk, 5.5-inch clutch. There’s also a Gear Vendors unit bolted to the Jerico that gives a 0.78:1 percent overdrive. The rear is a Strange 9-inch with an open Eaton diff, 31-spline strange axles, and a 2.91:1 ring-and-pinion. With the Gear Vendors
The substantial bodywork was all done in the name of speed. The most obvious modification was the nosepiece, reminiscent of the ’70 Plymouth Superbird/Charger Daytona but completely designed by Troy and Fabricated in-house at Rad Rides. In fact, nearly everything on this car was created at the Rad Rides shop out of sheet steel, billet aluminum, and tubing. There are just way too many other details to tell in words, so we’ve shown as much of the buildup as possible in photos, but even then, we don’t have nearly enough room to show everything the Rad Rides guys did to this car. Scott Killeen is creating one of his Build Books on the car, and even that will probably leave some stuff out. This thing is killer.
> Back-to-back 255-mph passes on the long course got George Poteet the record for F/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe (the designation on the car should actually be F/BFCC). The next goal is put Troy behind the wheel so he can get a red hat.
With the body configured, Bob Thrash conceptualized the two-tone paint scheme, which was sprayed by
When the team first got to Bonneville, most people pegged Blowfish as just another Troy Trepanier show car. But in his
>Above: Painted, plated, and pretty, the little turbo-four fills the fish’s engine bay. >Left: The HKS wastegate is adjustable via a button on the steering wheel. The car leave the line at low boost, and when George wants to go for three bills, the button gives the engine 35-plus pounds pressure.
On the car’s maiden voyage down the five-mile course, George looked at the tach as it went through the three-mile and realized he had hit the 255-mph target speed, so he ended the run and headed for impound with a 255.659-mph timeslip. The next morning, the result was the same: a 255.166-mph time at the three-mile and a new 255.412 record for F/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe (F/BFCC). The car could have gone much faster (George didn’t even shift into overdrive), but all they wanted was the record and a red hat for George, and they got it. On top of that, George also got into the 300 MPH Club at the same event, setting a 325.934-mph record behind the wheel of Ron Main’s EcoFire streamliner.
“When we first arrive [at Bonneville], it was pegged as a Rad Rides show car. After George made his qualifying lap on the short course and became the fastest car ever on it, Blowfish acquired new respect as a true race car.”
George said, “Troy and them did a fantastic job, and they made it too easy. Troy, Meaney, and Bob the Builder gave me a bullet to drive, and I’m still on a high from it.”
His only regret? “I just wish Gray could have been there with us.”
> 1.It’s run an easy 255 mph in only three miles. With boost, rpm, and more distance, 300 shouldn’t be a problem.