Michigan’s Jim Klimp has found the perfect all-purpose car — it can be a family sedan, taking he, his wife, and kids to the movies. It can haul the groceries home, and take the trash to the dump. But the best part is that it can do all that and also run the 1/4-mile in under 12 seconds.
Klimp is the owner of a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon called “Radio Flyer.” The bright red paint and blacked-out trim make this car stand out in a crowd, but it’s an unusual choice for a drag racer to begin with.
Klimp has been a drag racing fan since an early age.
“One of my brothers brought me up here to US 131 to the Popular Hot Rodding Championships when I was about eight years old. I caught the disease and was hooked from then on. As soon as I turned 16 I had a car and was coming up here and racing it — always Oldsmobiles. I actually worked here at the track for quite a few years as the announcer, but now we just race,” Klimp states
As a long-time fan of the products of Ransom E. Olds, Klimp was immediately drawn to this particular car as soon as he saw it. “An acquaintance actually bought this car in Georgia and he started tinkering with it. I saw it and told him if he ever wanted to sell it that I would be the buyer. He kept it for about a year and came to me and said he was ready to sell it, so I purchased the car in 1992 for $2,500,” Klimp says.
Factory-equipped with an Olds 455, it didn’t take much for Klimp to turn the longroof into a dependable contender in the Street Class at his home track of US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI. “At that time the car ran 13.80s. It had just a basic mild 455 in it with 3.08 gears, so since ’92 it’s kind of transgressed. I painted it red with a Radio Flyer theme in 1994 it’s been that way ever since,” Klimp says.
Klimp has made some upgrades to the drivetrain and suspension, but nothing too drastic. The motor is a 455 bored .30-inches over, to 461 cubic inches, with ported Edelbrock heads. Klimp reports that it made 540 horsepower on the dyno.
“It’s a stock crank and JP Pistons. The transmission is a Johnny Halloran Ballistic Motorsports-built with a 3500 Coan converter. The suspension upgrades include “QA1 adjustables all the way around, tubular A-arms upper and lower in the front, a BMR anti-roll bar in the back with airbags. It’s a pretty simple setup,” Klimp states.
All of that keeps the two-ton Olds comfortably within the specs for the Street Class at US 131. “An 11.50 is the quickest e.t., at 115 mph; it does well for a fairly mild build. We built it to go basically 12-flat to stay in the Street Class, so we are happy that it went 11.50. I slow the car down to stay in the Street Class. I use ballast and short shift it to run 12.00s. I shift it at 5,000, so very easy on the motor and drivetrain parts. It’s the third year on the motor from Irwin Racing Engines, so she’s been a good car.” In fact, Klimp finished fourth in the points in Street for the 2021 season.
“This car gets a lot of attention for just being different…I enjoy that. Obviously winning with it is very enjoyable, but by no means can I go out and win every week. It’s still a struggle to hit the tree. The car’s pretty deadly; it’s mainly the driver making the mistakes. My son has already spoken up that the car can’t go anywhere, so when I pass he gets the car,” Klimp explains.
Klimp also enjoys driving this behemoth on the street.
“It’s completely street legal so I drive it on the street and take it to the grocery store and take it to work. I drove it to a car show this past weekend, so it’s just a multi-purpose vehicle.”