Ford Motor Company is a global operation with manufacturing plants all over the world, either right next door or as far-flung as South Africa and Australia. Ford UK is a big part of the Blue Oval family, and with its famous Anglia model, it has a long-standing connection to drag racing enthusiasts around the world. Essentially a fat-fendered Ford in 5/8 scale, it weighs in at around 2,200-pounds, accepts a V8 motor with relative ease, and has been a popular base for a drag car for years. Ford produced roughly 1.5 million examples of the Anglia from 1938 to 1967, when it was replaced by the Escort model.
Fast forward to today and we bring you the “Wicked 1,” a 1948 Anglia two-door sedan owned by Gerard Milidantri from Suffern, New York. He’s married to wife Andrea, and they have two children, Nicholas and Ava. By day, Gerard is a general manager of an aerospace company that overhauls turbine engines. On the weekends, he runs the old Anglia at Southeast Gassers Association (SEGA) events that reincarnates old drag racing from the late sixties.
All SEGA cars must comply with the event rules; no ECMs, data loggers, or fuel injection, and must have straight front axles and four-speed manual gearboxes. Retro racing is the order of the day and if you want to add some flair to the event, like wearing red, white, and blue overall shorts (more on that later) it’s okay to fly your retro freak flag.
This Anglia was hand-built in Pennsylvania in the late sixties by a fellow named GK Bernard. It was later purchased by SEGA emcee Quain Stott and rumor has it was this very Anglia was the impetus for him to start SEGA, his retro racing series. Quain later sold the Anglia to his nephew Donovan Stott, who christened the car “White Trash.” Together with his uncle, they sorted out the old British brute and not only got it back on the strip, but Donovan won two SEGA A/Gas class Championships in 2015 and 2017 piloting the Anglia, with much fanfare.
Gerard comes from a racing family and grew up building and racing cars with his Dad, with whom he shares his first name. In fact, he tells us, “I have been involved in racing since I was in my mom’s womb. Before I was born, my parents would go racing on the weekends and when Dad revved the motor on his 1961 Corvette race car, I would kick and fuss and Mom would have to move away from the commotion to calm me down.”
He started building Camaros, Corvettes, and Nova’s before he had his driver’s license. He worked alongside his Dad, and building and racing cars has been a father and son collaboration for decades. Gerard’s Dad is still racing at the ripe old age of 70, with a 1956 Chevy dubbed “The Northeast Assassin.”
Since then, Gerard has either owned or built a 1969 Camaro, a 1963 tube frame Corvette, a 2007 GTO Rick Jones pro stock-style car, and a 245-inch Top Dragster. In 2009, the senior Milidantri wanted to retire, but both father and son realized they didn’t want to race without each other. In the meantime, Gerard built a 1939 Ford and went racing anyway, and that proved too enticing to his old man who couldn’t keep away. Gerard sold the ’39 and bought back the tube-frame 1963 Corvette in a strange twist of fate.
The Milidantri’s entered this Anglia saga around 2019 when dad saw a clip of SEGA racing on YouTube. The father and son headed down to a SEGA event at Shadyside Dragway and fell head over heels in love with the retro racing series. It was also the first time Gerard had laid eyes on the Anglia, and it made such an impression that he sold the Corvette and went all-in to pursue SEGA racing.
For Gerard, the Anglia was hard to forget. He pitched the Stotts on selling the car to him — that proved easier said than done, and it took a year of pestering.
Gerard explains, “It took several rounds of negotiation, but in 2021 we struck a deal with one caveat: Donovan wanted to keep the doors with the old name painted on them. That involved more negotiation, but I happened to find a pair of never-used fiberglass doors on eBay and had them shipped to the Stotts place, and we finalized the sale.”
Currently, the car is spec’d out as follows.
It has a 3-inch chopped steel body with a fiberglass tilt nose, doors, and trunk lid, The hybrid steel and plastic body rides on a custom-built box frame with a straight axle and leaf springs up front and a solid axle with a 9-inch Ford and SEGA-spec 5-inch coil springs in the rear.
This British Ford rolls on Ansen kidney bean wheels, 15×4.5 and 15×10 wrapped in Moroso and Hoosier rubber, respectively. Motivation is provided via a 378 cubic-inch Chevy small-block fed by two Holley 660 center squirters. Gerard estimates it’s pumping out approximately 650 horsepower. The mill is hooked up to a Jerico four-speed and exhales through custom headers built by Donovan Stott.
Gerard can’t say enough about the Stotts. “They really worked closely with me and the car. In fact, Donovan chopped the new doors and installed them so the car would be complete when I took delivery. Donovan tutored me on the quirks of the car, as well, and brought me (literally) up to speed pulling runs.” Speaking of quirks — the car can be quite a handful and is a bear to keep it pointed straight down the strip.
Gerard recounts a crazy story about when ownership of the car was transferred to him. Gerard met Donovan at the dragstrip to take delivery and mentioned the tires were brand new and needed to be scuffed up. Donovan jumped in the car and ripped an arrow straight run at 5.75 at 120 mph. When he came back around, he got out of the car and said, ‘Here’s your car, it will never do that again…”
To make the car his own, Gerard renamed the car “Wicked 1” and hire artist Charlie Trye to paint the logo and the red, white, and blue numeral one. Gerard tells us the origin of the name.
“It was a nod to Evel Knievel and Harley Davidson and really resonates with fans. I found a pair of red, white, and blue overall shorts to wear at events. About 75-percent of the fans think it’s funny with the other 25 not sure what to make of it. I say life is too short and so are these shorts, so who cares?”
Gerard learned the hard way about the finicky nature 0f Anglia — he has put the car up against the wall, been on two wheels, taken out a bunch of cones, and is having the time of his life.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had in a car,” he says, and that’s saying something from a guy who has spent his whole life racing.
While the car isn’t the fastest in the SEGA series, it’s won the hearts of fans around the East Coast and wherever it makes an appearance. For now, Gerard, his family, and his dad are enjoying the car and the camaraderie of the SEGA events. Gerard has echoed sentiments from other SEGA racers we’ve talked to. “The crowds are relatively huge, the people are like family and I feel like not only a drag racer but an entertainer, as well.”
If you’re at a SEGA event be sure and keep your eyes peeled for the “Wicked 1” and the guy in the old glory overall shorts.