The true essence of heads-up, small tire, stock suspension racing has been stretched and skewed in so many different ways that its almost become, in a sense, hypocritical to call them that. But there are still a handful of racers that take the road less traveled and make the best of what they have without looking back. And one of those racers is California’s Al Jimenez.
Jimenez’s Extreme Drag Radial 1973 Chevrolet Camaro sports a set of Caltrac split mono leaf springs and bars and is the quickest and fastest leaf spring drag racing vehicle in the world, at 7.32 seconds and 197 MPH. The speed is also the national record in the category. The video that was shared with us was filmed at the California Nationals at Fontana, CA the weekend of May 21-23 during qualifying. This particular run netted a 7.33 at 196 MPH, while the quicker 7.32 pass was made the following day.
Jimenez commented “We’re keeping the stock suspension just because that’s what we’ve got and it’s working. When it comes to traction issue; it’s a power application thing but not really the suspensions fault. If we had a four-link or something like that, I think we’d be in the same situation, just with some added adjustability. The Caltracs are really consistent and if we don’t change anything, it’ll turn the same 60-foot and eight mile.”
Extreme Drag Radial is one of the Pacific Street Car Association’s popular categories and despite the name, slick tires were recently allowed to compete in order to boost the car counts. Jimenez however, chose to stay with the radial tires that he knows. Under the rear fenders resides a set of 295 Drag Radials – the largest tire size that will fit under the Camaro outfitted with leaf springs. Jimenez and his Camaro previously campaigned in the PSCA Wild Street class before having his often-dominant combination outlawed. “We could actually run a 315, but because of the leaf springs, I didn’t want to cut the car up. So we went with the smaller tire. It’s pretty tight, but it fits,” Al said.
He continued “We’re pretty competitive. We’re probably in the top two qualifiers at every event, so it’s not like we’re at the back of the pack with what we have. It can get frustrating knowing that we could’ve gone a different route, it just wasn’t planned out to run this class.”
The second-gen Camaro is motivated by a 525 cubic inch Big Block Chevy utilizing a Brodix aluminum block, AFR conventional-style ported cylinder heads, and receiving its monstrous power from an F3 135 Procharger. The big brute is backed by a Mike’s Transmission Powerglide. Jimenez may be doing it by what most us would consider the hard way, but his on-track performance sure doesn’t indicate it, and it certainly does entertain those of us who enjoy seeing unconventional cars kick some ass.