Sportsman Spotlight: Rickie Sampey And His Vega Rocket Ship

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As we have learned during an untold amount of conversations with readers, more often than not, a project car is many times obtained after a previous owner either lost interest in building the car, or the funds to do so. It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes life gets in the way of the car hobby. Rickie Sampey can attest to that, as he was able to acquire someone else’s project, a Vega race car. Although this particular project was initially completed by the previous owner, he was changing directions, and that meant some serious changes to his racing program. IMG_4337Rickie told us, “I just recently purchased the car as a roller from a guy in Ohio, back in November of 2015. The car was set up to run a big-block Chevy.”

Since Rickie bought the car as a roller, that gave him the opportunity to build whatever he wanted. Rickie continued, “It has a chromoly-tube chassis with an all steel body. The rearend is a 12-bolt with Strange axles and 4.56 gears, while a set of Strange coilovers support all four corners. It was and is going to continue to be a race car, so the funny car-style rollcage and fire suppression system will remain intact.” That actually sounds like a good idea Rickie, as you can never be too safe.

Not long after he got the Vega home, he contacted Phil Guidry of Phil’s Performance and Machine Shop in Robert, Louisiana. Rickie knew he was going to need help making the car race ready, and says that Phil deserves all the credit for the powertrain. Phil started by taking a 350 cubic-inch engine block, and fitted it with an Eagle rotating assembly that stretched those cubes to 383 of them. At the end of the Eagle connecting rods are Mahle pistons, and all told, the compression ratio comes in at 14.0:1 – That is some serious squeeze. 

Slamming the valves open and shut in the Phil’s-ported Brodix 11X cylinder heads is a Cam Motion solid-roller camshaft with .661/.630-inch lift and 273/282 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift. Up top, Phil worked his magic, and converted an out-of-the-box Holley 950 cfm carburetor to enjoy ingesting alcohol that gets to the cylinders via a Brodix HV1000 intake. Rickie is quick to thank High Performance Lubricants for helping keep the small-block in running order. Finally, an MSD unit lights the fire, while a custom-built-by-Phil set of headers send the spend gasses out from under the car. Behind the stroker small-block is a Powerglide transmission that Phil also assembled. Inside is a transbrake, and a BTE torque converter with an engine screaming 5,500 rpm stall.

The alcoholic in Rickie's life.

Rickie is quick to acknowledge that he couldn’t have built the car without the help of Phil Guidry, “Without his help and unlimited expertise and skills, I couldn’t have made it this far this soon.”

Since this is a spotlight on a race car, it wouldn’t be be right to run this article without letting you guys know how the car runs. Rickie has told us that the best 1/8-mile time is 6.02 seconds at 113 mph, and his best 1/4-mile time is 9.42 seconds at 142 mph. Those numbers are sure to get anyone’s adrenaline pumping.

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With a 6.02 dial in on the side window, Rickie launches for another 1/8-mile pass.

Do you want to read about more door-slammer race cars? All you need to do is click here. If you own a Sportsman-Class race car, we want to hear about it. Since we’ve started the Sportsman Spotlight series, we have received more than a few candidates, but we are still in need of more. If you want to see more race cars, send us a few pictures of your car, showing the engine, interior and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and we’ll make you Internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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