If you like race cars that aren’t what you normally see at the track, then Jim Tietge’s 1958 Chevy Del Ray wagon is your cup of race gas. This car is roughly the size of a battleship, and it has more than enough horsepower to make it a player in the no-prep racing world.
Tietge’s father was a gasser racer back in the 1960s and ’70s, and that’s how he was introduced to the sport. Tietge has been involved in drag racing on and off his entire life, and he decided to come back to the sport after a short stint playing with pulling tractors, where he was successful and even won a championship. Several of Tietge’s friends were into no-prep racing and he wanted to be a part of the fun, so he started looking for a car.
The Del Ray wagon wasn’t even on Tietge’s radar as something he wanted to use as the foundation of his new no-prep car.
“I was looking at RacingJunk one day for something I could build into a race car and found it. At the time, I had a nice 1962 Impala Super Sport, but didn’t want to use that as a race car. I called the guy who owned the wagon, he lived in Arizona, and I met him in Albuquerque, New Mexico with my Impala in the trailer. He liked what he saw, so we traded vehicles and I headed back home. This is a very rare car — it was used by the United States Air Force to deliver medical items in between bases. It had 38,000 original miles when we took it apart to make it a race car, and had a six-cylinder with a three-speed on the column,” Tietge says.
The wagon was debuted with a supercharged 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy originally, but Tietge quickly learned that package wouldn’t be enough to run with the best in no-prep racing. The big rat motor was replaced with a 498 cubic-inch Miner Brothers HEMI. An F3R-136 ProCharger provides the boost, and a Haltech ECU controls the engine.
Tietge is very happy with how the wagon turned out and has enjoyed racing it all over the Midwest at different no-prep events.
“I love that this car is so unique and all the old guys love it. Driving the car is fun, it’s really fast and it’s easy to drive thanks to the long wheelbase. The no-prep racing deal has been a great experience for me. I like the people who do it and how close it is to street racing,” Tietge says.
Jim Tietge’s Del Ray draggin’ wagon might be the only one you have ever seen in your lifetime and it really is one cool car. When most racers are trying to find the smallest and lightest car possible, Tietge decided he needed a car that was just different than what everyone else.