American Pie: What Better Name For A ’37 Chevy Gasser Passion

Dave Mullin, with his ’37 Chevy nostalgia race car, is a poster child for drag racing’s current explosion of gasser enthusiasts. From the “American Pie” door logo to other Chevrolet lettering adorning the car, it’s pretty evident he is a true gasser competitor of the Chevy persuasion.

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The Lemont, Illinois, gearhead gained his enthusiasm as a lucky teenager. When he was 15 years old, he joined a model-car club. Eventually, that evolved into a Scout Explorer post. That evolution ultimately led to a love affair with gassers because of one influential man in his youth.

How It All Began

“When I was a kid, Dave Howell, our Scout and club leader, was a great guy who became a ‘big brother’ to a lot of kids,” Dave remembers. “He had a street/strip ’66 Barracuda. The first time he took our group to Oswego Dragway was in 1967. We saw what was called Gasser Wars. All the big names were there: ‘Big John’ Mazmanian, Stone Woods and Cook, and KS Pittman. Our troop volunteered to help ‘Ohio George’ Montgomery load his car onto his open trailer. That started my love of blown gassers right then and there.”

Ray Romito built the 427-cubic-inch small-block Chevy. It sports a polished Mooneyham 6-71 supercharger and dual Quick Fuel Technology 850cfm methanol carburetors.

Howell again fueled the flame by offering a 16-year-old Mullin the opportunity to make a pass in his Barracuda at Great Lakes Dragaway. Soon after, the Scout troop turned car club and purchased a 1961 Valiant. They then pooled their money to buy speed parts. The group rebuilt the engine, had it painted red with black stripes, and had Mullin living his teenage dream.

“I turned a street Nova into a Modified Production drag car and got my first taste of racing on a regular basis,” Dave says. “Following marriage to my wife Donna, having kids, coaching little league, and dealing with life resulted in a 27-year hiatus from drag racing — but it never left my mind.”

A Passion Reignited

Fast forward again to 1995, when Mullin attended a Goodguys show at Indianapolis Raceway Park. “I watched the Geezer Gassers group,” he described. “I immediately went home and asked Donna, if I could find a gasser-style race car.”

Mullin doesn't keep it a secret that he has a thing for all-Chevy Gassers. A deep-cycle battery from Optima Batteries , RCI Racing fuel cell, and Magna Fuel Pro Star fuel pump and filter combo fill the extensive aluminum work in the trunk area.

He began racing at various gasser events with a 1940 Chevy business coupe. However, he soon found a barn find that became his pinnacle hot rod. The ’37 Chevrolet Master Deluxe business coupe had been turned into a race car but had never seen the ‘strip.

We struck gold when we found the coupe as a rolling gasser that had been sitting in a barn for decades. Nobody had ever finished it. – Dave Mullin

“When we pulled the coupe from the barn, we saw it was nicely done. But, we did do some upgrades in my shop,” Dave says. “We added a fabricated-steel firewall and a 12-point Chromoly rollcage to meet NHRA 8.50 e.t safety regulations. Jason Borowski fabricated the 60-inch wheelie bars.”

The coupe has an all-original-steel body shell, doors, deck, and rear fenders that are radiused and molded into the quarter-panels with old-school lead-work. It’s all covered with a lacquer paintjob. Mullin wanted to keep it as stock-appearing as possible.

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“Once we passed 150 mph in the quarter-mile, it became extremely unstable,” Mullin explains. “We installed a removable, but effective, aluminum deck spoiler to create downforce. We’re now able to top 165 mph, and it drives like a Caddy at the big end.”

Dave utilized stock-appearing Superior Glass Works fiberglass front fenders, grille shell and headlight buckets, a VFN Fiberglass hood, and a stainless-steel grille insert. The windows are old-school Gasser-esque with a 3/16-inch Lexan split windshield and blue-tinted plexiglass side and back window.

Power To Burn

This big-cube small-block configuration uses a Dart Machinery Iron Eagle block with widened pan rails, raised deck, and a big-block-Chevy diameter cam bore. There is a custom ground COMP Cams roller cam, Crower 1/4-inch stroker crankshaft, and Howards Cams & Racing Components billet-steel rods.

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Dave’s engine combo also uses forged-2618 Arias pistons and Air Flow Research 227-heads ported by Mullin. Other components include Cometic gaskets, offset Crane Cams roller lifters, Jesel shaft-mounted rocker arm system, Meziere Enterprises electric water pump, and a Powermaster Performance racing alternator.

Hoosier Racing Tires front runners are on ten-spoke Gasser E-T wheels by Team III Wheels. On the rear, we find Hoosier 33x16x15 slicks mounted on 15-inch wide Mickey Thompson forged-billet slot wheels. Stopping power is provided by Mustang II front brakes combined with JFZ four-piston brakes on the rear.

Inside is a pair of poly bucket seats with rolled and pleated covers and a pair of down-to-business aluminum panels. The fabricated dash hosts a bevy of Autometer gauges. A B&M Pro Ratchet shifter and onboard Halon fire-suppression system are accessible with his right hand.

A Moser Engineering 9-inch housing retains 40-spline axles, a Moser aluminum bolt-thru center section, spool, and 4.10 gears. A ladder bar rear suspension and tubular independent front suspension is set up with a Flaming River rack-and-pinion. Strange Engineering coilover shocks are used on all four corners.

A TCI Auto flexplate shield, Allstar Performance transmission blanket, Bell Racing helmet, RJS Racing Equipment safety harness, and an Andy McCoy Race Cars drag chute keeps Mullin safe.

Tearing Up The Strip

Beginning this coupe project in 1997, Mullin made his first race in the car at the 2004 Goodguys event in Indy. “We put a lot of work into American Pie and have been having a ball ever since,” he says with a huge grin on his face.

Mullin will be stepping out of the driver's seat this year, and his oldest grandson, Alex, will take his place. What better way to get hooked on gasser racing than with a supercharged '37 Chevy that keeps the front tires elevated to the 300-foot mark.

The coupe runs a consistent Nostalgia Drag Racing League (NDRL) Pro/Gas index time of 8.50 seconds at 160 mph. His best time with the supercharged coupe is an 8.29 at 165.9 mph. That occurred at Route 66 Raceway with only 3 1/2-percent overdrive on the blower.

Mullin confides that he will be taking a hiatus from driving to recover from back surgery. “What happens in the future, happens in the future. We’re building a ’52 Chevy gasser for my grandson, Alex, right now, and I’d love to drive that car. So, you never know what may come.”

Supercharged horsepower is transferred through a Turbo 400 built by Trans Pro. Inside are Coan Engineering internals and a Midwest Converters 4,500 stall, spragless torque converter. Finally, a 3-inch Chromoly driveshaft with 1350 u-joints was built by Surge Friction.

“We greatly enjoy competition in the NDRL with all of the friends we have made there,” Mullen finished. “This coupe has made racing fun for our entire family. I know with the Gasser bug now spreading across our generations, I am content to be racing gassers for the rest of my life.”

About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
Read My Articles

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