Drag racing has a rich history when it comes to factory support from Detroit that spans decades. The phrase “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” helped drive the big three’s thirst to be elbow deep in the happenings at the track during the golden age of drag racing. Stephen Yantus from Charleston, South Carolina is lucky enough to pilot one of the rarest factory-built Mopar racecars from the iconic days of factory supported drag racing: an original B029 1968 Hemi Barracuda.
Yantus has been into drag racing for over 15 years, racing all kinds of Mopar machines. He originally started with an old Dodge pickup, and then progressed to quicker cars over his career. Yantus’ racing picked up some serious speed when he was paired with Anthony Rhodes, the owner of his current ride. “At first, we started running a Top Sportsman car that was pretty quick, but then decided that we wanted to try putting together a Hemi car for Super Stock racing,” Yantus states.
After some searching, the duo found a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda that fit their needs, but had no idea of the car’s true history. After some research they found that the Mopar was a B029 coded car and was one of the original 50 Hemi Super Stock cars built by Chrysler for the 1968 season.
“The car was originally given to Harold Dutton, who worked for Chrysler, and he campaigned the car back in the 60s. After that, it went through several owners before it got to the individual that we purchased it from, Wayne Hutton. He paired up with Gary Jennings, who built the chassis of the car. They campaigned the car for several years and then it sat until we purchased it in 2014. We acquired the car to restore it and because we wanted an all-original car. Now we’re trying to get it setup to run in the Hemi Shootout and other big races,” Yantus explains.
Jumping into the world of Super Stock racing is never easy, let alone at the top level where these Hemi-powered beasts roam. “The car is run in SS/AH, where the rules are extremely tight as far as what you can do. The motor must use cast iron cylinder heads, factory settings on the stroke, factory valve size that have to be stainless steel, factory 680 Holley carburetors. You do have a little bit of leeway with your camshaft and intake as far as what you can do. You’re allowed to go 60 over on the bore, so the motor is 438 total cubic inches. The motor makes over 1,000 horsepower and we spin it over 9,500 rpm,” Yantus says.
The challenges of the class haven’t deterred Yantus and Rhodes, as they’ve done everything they can to build one fast hot rod. The Barracuda currently has a Ray Barton-built motor with most of the parts and compression ratio being top secret. The engine is backed by a G-Force transmission and RAM clutch. It also has a Mark Williams rearend, center section, and axles with a 5.67 gear ratio. The team uses an MSD grid system and RacePak V300 to get all the data possible to stay competitive in the class.
Even with the best driveline possible, the car still needed some help to make the jump to the next level in Super Stock racing. “The suspension and chassis have been totally redone since we got it. After we got it running the car would not rotate, leave, or 60 foot at all, so that needed fixed. We called up John Holt Race Cars and they spent eight months making it right,” Yantus says.
“Holt added a funny-car cage, redid the floors, and upgraded the suspension. We took the car after they were done with it and went to Beech Bend Raceway and were competitive right off the trailer. Top to bottom it’s a pretty bulletproof setup, considering this is a car that weighs 3,200 pounds and runs in the 8.80s at over 155 mph,” Yantus explains.
Now that they have the car closer to where they want it, Yantus and Rhodes plan on moving forward with their program at a faster pace. “Our goals have been simple: get the car to go down the track, then win a round, and finally, win an event. We’re a fun group, we love racing and are here to enjoy the car while being as competitive as possible,” Yantus says
Yantus and Rhodes are both Mopar fans that get to re-live the amazing history of factory supported drag racing with their immaculate machine, one pass at time!