Angelo Belosi’s Chevy Nova Is His Self-Built Keeper

Angelo Belosi has owned several drag cars throughout his life, but his Candy Red 1967 Chevy Nova is one he will always keep. “They come, and they go. They’re just race cars,” he says. “But, my Nova has a hold on me. I’ll always own this car.”

Angelo scored the Nova back in 1986 when he was just 21-years old. “A kid I knew down the street had it,” he says. “He was a body guy and had painted the car yellow with stripes. It looked good on the outside, but it needed some mechanical work. He drove it on the street at the time, but the old, smoking 283ci small block was a struggle to keep running well.”

The 406ci small-block Chevy is filled with high-end components, and propels the docile-appearing Chevy II Nova to solid 6.20s in the eighth-mile at the area tracks near his Ladue, Missouri, home.

For the first couple of years he owned the Chevy Nova, this was a street machine for Angelo. “I narrowed the rearend, and drove it to DuQuoin,” he says. “That was during the ‘80s Pro Street movement, and I wanted to be a part of those well-known events like the Street Machine Nationals.”

He did take it to the track a few times during the latter part of the 1980s, but in 1989, the drag racing bug hit him hard. That’s when he took the Nova off the streets. “At first, I did it all myself,” Angelo says. “It was a lot of fun to mess with it and keep upgrading things on my own. It’s a complete race car, though the wipers, lights, and even the horn still work.”

The current configuration of the Nova was put into operation in 1999. “It has been painted the same color, and everything is the same as it was back then,” he says. “I’ve kept it up to date and made some tweaks here and there, but nothing major. I do enjoy fabricating additional little details on the car.”

Chevy Nova

The Nova is all-steel, except for a Harwood fiberglass cowl-induction hood. It is Candy Apple Red Metallic, and was painted in 1999 by Mark Poole, a longtime friend of Angelo’s. “It has held up very well considering the car is raced every weekend,” Angelo says. “I saw the color on a 1997 Chrysler Sebring, and liked it.”

Angelo originally built the chassis at home with help from some friends. “Now, the cage is NHRA-certified to 8.50,” he says. “R&R Chassis, Randy Douthitt, and Rob Mathis Race Cars all put work into the car as well over the years.”

The front suspension has Church Boys Racing upper and lower control arms, and is converted to rack-and-pinion steering. Angelo and R&R Chassis built the upper and lower shock mounts that utilize double-adjustable front shocks. Randy Douthitt fabricated the narrowed 9-inch rearend housing.

Belosi has detailed the Chevy Nova with many interesting features. In contrast to the state-of-the-art rollcage and racing electronics, the pristine dashboard is stock-appearing with race switches carefully fabricated on the steering wheel or windshield pillar. Other stock-appearing switches on the dash have hidden racing controls.

There are Mark Williams Enterprises axles, spool, and third member in place, along with 4.88 Richmond Gears. Belosi used Chassis Engineering ladder bars and AFCO Racing and Performance Parts double-adjustable shocks in the rear. The wheelie bar kit came from S&W Race Cars, and was assembled and installed by Dan Bohler.

In the front, Bogart Racing Wheels are surrounded by 25 x 15 Mickey Thompson Tire front runners. Weld Racing wheels are used with Mickey Thompson 13.5 x 31-15 slicks on the rear. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood front disc-brakes and Aerospace Components rear disc-brakes. The master cylinder comes from Strange Engineering. Angelo even built a unique, trick heat-shield under the master cylinder himself.

Inside the cockpit, the tinwork was fabricated with the help of Randy Douthitt. Angelo retained the stock dash and door panels, but installed Autometer gauges. The matched seats are from Kirkey Racing, and a pair of safety harnesses from JRC1 Performance Parts keeps passengers secure. He wears a Sparco USA fire suit and Racequip helmet. “The steering wheel is a vintage Camaro unit,” he says. “I use a Holley Performance/Hurst Quarter Stick shifter which utilizes an air cylinder to make the one-two shift. Launching and shifting controls are assisted by a K&R Performance Engineering Pro Cube.”

Power is provided by a 406ci small block with a Dart Machinery block, JE Pistons forged pistons, Callies Precision Engine Components forged crankshaft, and Oliver Racing Parts steel rods. The block is topped with Air Flow Research 220 aluminum heads, T&D Machine Products shaft rockers, and a Dart Machinery intake manifold. Jim Evans from Rolla Competition Engines built the 950 cfm alcohol-fed carburetor. All engine machine work was performed between Rolla Competition Engines and Phase 2 Machine.

You can spend quite a bit of time checking out the detail work, like the fabricated heat shield dividing the headers and the lightweight master cylinder. During late nights at the drag strip, the cleanly mounted light built into the trunk lid is a handy accessory for any refueling or maintenance duties.

The Powerglide transmission was built by Greg Cullum at Transmissions To Go, using components from Transmission Specialties inside of a Dedenbear Racing transmission case. Mating with the transmission is a spragless 5,000-rpm stall converter, also from Transmission Specialties. Drive Shafts Unlimited built the driveshaft. The best time for the car in its current configuration is 9.73 seconds in the quarter-mile, and 6.14 in the eighth-mile.

“I ran the car at all the greater St. Louis tracks throughout the ’90s,” Angelo remembers. “I used to compete mainly at Pevely, Mid-America Raceway, and Gateway Motorsports Park. I would also enjoy occasional trips to Sikeston and I-57 Dragstrips. I still like racing at many different tracks nowadays.”

“When I first went down the track at Gateway, the car ran 12.50s in the quarter-mile,” Angelo remembers. “I started racing at Pevely (I-55 Dragstrip), and it was a solid 7.20 car in the eighth-mile. Then I switched over to alcohol fuel and slowly got it to the consistent 6.20s it runs now.

Angelo likes to continue to upgrade the car with little tweaks here and there. The pristine 1967 dashboard utilizes race car switches hidden within the OE switches and radio control locations. “I like to do little stuff like that,” he says. “When you stand back and look at the overall car, it’s going to look the same as it did as a first time race car following its first major overhaul. I’m proud it still looks as good as it does today.”

It’s a winner as well as a looker. Angelo has won two points championships with his Nova. “I won the 2016 Super Pro points at Jeffers Motorsports Park,” he says. “Last year, I won the 2018 Super Pro points at Gateway Motorsports Park. I am also proud that I won the 2018 NHRA King of the Track event at Gateway.”

Under the clean and simple outer skin lies the best in racing drivetrain components, including a 406ci small block, Powerglide racing transmission, and a 9-inch rearend with a ladder-bar suspension.

Angelo is currently constructing a 2014 Camaro for faster e.t.s at the dragstrip as well. He knows it will only be an addition to the Nova, never a replacement. “I’ve always said that I would never get rid of this car,” he says. “I can tell you, if push comes to shove, I’d sell that Camaro and quite a few other things before I would sell this Chevy Nova.”

“Ever since I was 16-years old, I wanted a ’67 Chevy Nova, but couldn’t afford one until I was 21. I love this car, and it will be my keeper as long as I am around,” he finishes with a smile.

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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