The beauty of owning a lightweight, aerodynamic chassis car in this day and age is that there are unlimited options and opportunities to race it. And Iowa native Shane Novak is preparing to illustrate that in 2018 when he presses this sleek 1969 Chevrolet Camaro into action in Top Sportsman, Radial Versus The World, and Pro Modified.
Novak purchased the Camaro, built originally by Larry Jeffers Race Cars and campaigned as a big-block turbo car at one time, three years ago and began the build-up process with the assistance of Brandon Hess and his team at Brandospeed in Iowa. Novak commissioned a ProLine Racing 548 cubic-inch Hemi for power and opted for a combination that’s become increasingly popular in Top Dragster and Top Sportsman racing: a ProCharger.
The difference in this scenario though, is that Novak has gone with a potent F3-143 and paired it with a Hemi topped with Alan Johnson billet heads, meaning he’ll be making power capable of running well beyond the 6.00 limit for Top Sportsman. Instead, he’ll slow the car for fast bracket racing — where he’ll be able to compete at divisional and national events with daughter, Emilee, who races in Top Dragster — but then really let it hang out on drag radials and potentially in Pro Modified.
The Hemi is backed by an original Rossler Turbo 400 that’s been massaged more recently by Mark Micke at M&M Transmissions, and is also paired with an M&M converter. A FuelTech FT600 system will manage the power and vehicle systems. The car has Lamb struts and brakes and Penske shocks in the rear; Novak has a full compliment of Menscer shocks and struts for the radial setup.
Hess, who has been friends with Novak for years and has completed a range of jobs on his family’s racecars, built the headers for the Camaro and performaned other various fabrication tasks to see the car to the finish line, including converting it from an under-slung car and reinforcing everything to give them the shock separation they’d need for radial racing.
Novak, who has a lengthy background in the sport, will shake the car down in Bradenton, Florida in early January and the team will then swap the shocks and tires over to a radial combination for Lights Out 9 at South Georgia. If all goes well there, Novak may enter the $101,000-to-win Sweet Sixteen Radial Versus The World event in Georgia in March, as well.
Novak is no stranger to radial racing, having run a ’75 Camaro with a ProLine conventional head big-block in Outlaw Drag Radial down in Georgia. After his radial outings, Novak will transition back to NHRA Top Sportsman competition. With the support of Eric Dillard of ProLine and others, Novak and Hess are hopeful to lobby the NHRA to include the centrifugal supercharger combination into the Pro Modified rulebook in the future, thus allowing him to contest the car on the big stage. NMCA Xtreme Pro Mod is also a potential venue.
“We had been taking to ProLine and this deal with ProCharger came though and that’s why we decided to go with that combination,” Hess commented on the power adder route they opted for. “They wanted us to work with them on that.” Novak may switch to smaller ProCharger head units for Top Sportsman racing to reign the power in.