The Jezebel: Scott Gemignani’s Supercharged Big-Tire ’55 Bel Air

Jezebel. The name conjures images of a temptress who is both dangerous and seductive. The Urban Dictionary defines Jezebel as “… beautiful and knows it, she uses her looks to her advantage to ‘lure in’ her next victim.”

So, what does Jezebel have to do with racing?

Scott Gemignani of El Dorado Hills, California owns one wicked big-tire ‘55 Chevy Bel Air, and her name is Jezebel. We wanted to know if there was a specific reason for the unusual name he chose for his car. “My wife is pretty good about understanding and tolerating the amount of time and money that I put into my car. But she has often commented about the amount of attention that my car gets over her. She sometimes refers to my ’55 as the ‘other woman’… that’s why we named it Jezebel. One word seemed to say it all.”

Now here is how it all started.

Scott has owned many other classic Chevrolets: a ’72 Chevelle, three 1965 Nova’s, a ’70 Vega, a ’69/’70 Nova, and even another ‘55 Bel Air before this one. While Scott is no stranger to owning a Chevrolet muscle car, it was owing a ‘55 Bel Air that was a childhood dream.

“I got the itch for hot rods when I was young, around 12 years old. It was watching my older brothers friend Danny help his dad restore their ’55 Chevy that fueled a passion to have a ’55 of my own someday. I would go over their house every day just to watch them work on the car. I will never forget the day Danny got it running. His dad wasn’t home and he decided it was the perfect opportunity to take the car out for a test drive. The car wasn’t anywhere near being complete but Danny and I improvised. Danny sat on a milk crate and I sat on the floorboard and we drove around the neighborhood doing a few burnouts. We made sure everyone saw us and we thought we were the coolest kids on the block.”

Many are immediately drawn to the classic lines of the '55 Chevrolet Bel Air. Scott tells us Jezebel drives as straight as it looks on the street and at the track. No corners were cut with this build, including the custom-built headers and down-pipe fabricated by Dow Brothers Race Cars. Scott installed a 20-pound halon fire system and dual parachutes out back. Stopping this 3,200-plus-pound behemoth isn't easy! Topping off the appearance is a set of Weld V series wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires.

That would be the first of many trips for the old Bel Air, as it saw some street action on a weekly basis. Milk crate and all, that was the car that got Scott hooked on the ’55s.

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” I have always wanted a ’55, but when you’re young and broke what you want and what you get are two different things,” Scott says. “My first cars were fun and I learned a lot, but I never lost my passion for the ’55. Finally, in 2011 I started my search. In 2015 I found and bought a beautiful ’55, but it was just to tide me over until I found ‘the one’. I knew what I wanted and wasn’t going to settle. It was hard trying to find a mostly all-steel Bel Air with a 6.0 certification. I was only finding full-blown fiberglass-bodied cars or cars that were only certified to 7.50.”

After years of searching, and decades of waiting, mid-way through 2016 Jezebel was found, purchased, and hauled down to Northern California. Once the ’55 arrived in California, the long nights of work began to make the car what she is today.

Scott’s ’55 is certified to 6.0 while still utilizing an all-steel body, minus the hood and deck lid. Nonetheless, it’s registered and insured with all functioning street equipment, just the way he wanted it. Since the purchase in 2016, Jezebel has had several nitrous engine combinations, beginning with a big-inch, nitrous-assisted engine require a lot of time and maintenance after each pass. That led to today’s configuration.

Scott regularly enters big-tire grudge races throughout the West coast. Scott mentions his goals are to keep improving his elapsed times and get a little bit quicker on each run. "I try to only compete with myself because there's always going to be someone that's faster and willing to spend more money than me." Scott has already made great strides with the '55 -- Jezebel has seen sub 4.30 E.T.s in the 1/8-mile at over 170 miles per hour.

“It started to become more work than fun. I wasn’t enjoying the car as much as I was hoping to,” Scott explains. As a business owner and grudge racer, he wanted something with a little less maintenance but more tunable power. For the 2018 season, he installed a fresh F-1X ProCharger with a 540 cubic-inch crate motor from Scoggin Dickey Performance Center. Scott choose the steel block version loaded up with Diamond pistons, GRP aluminum rods, Callies Magnum crank. T&D shaft rockers, a COMP camshaft, and Brodix aluminum cylinder heads. For induction, it utilizes an Edlebrock intake with an APD blow-through alcohol carburetor and an MSD ignition system. This combination has been tuned by both Scott and Theo Deck of Wizard Racing and has seen north of the 2,500 horsepower range. Harnessed to the engine is a Lenco three-speed transmission with Bruno-drive and FTI torque converter.

The Scoggins Dickey ProCharger-boosted crate 540 is powerful, producing over 2,100 horsepower but still conventional and most importantly, reliable. It sports a deep sump Moroso oil pan and a Moroso wet sump oil system for added cooling and protection. Scott has really enjoyed this combination over his previous nitrous applications since its virtually "maintenance-free."

With a car as heavy as the ’55 Bel Air, Scott needed some pretty stout drivetrain components in order to handle the amount of power the blown 540 was putting out. Mating the transmission to the Fab-9 rear end is a custom chromoly driveshaft. The rearend is housed with Strange 40-spline, gun-drilled axles and 4.10 gears. Rounding out the suspension are Strange front springs/struts with Santhuffs out back. When you’re trucking over 170 miles per hour in the 1/8-mile at over 3,2oo pounds, good stopping power is a must. Along with the dual parachutes, Scott installed a set of brand new Strange Pro Series brakes.

Despite the carbon fiber transmission tunnel cover and a few other upgrades, this 55 mostly appears as it originally did from the factory: this includes the factory dash, door panels, headliner and carpet.

“This car takes me back to my childhood days working on my friends ’55 Chevy — but now I get to share those same memories with my two boys who are my number one fans. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to live out my dream and to do so with the support of my family and friends. Of course, I would like to thank my wife for putting up with this obsession and for not rolling her eyes (or hiding the checkbook) when I tell her I’m making a modification. I would like to thank my sons, Anthony and Jacob, who have been my pit crew and fan club from the start. I also have to thank Theo from Wizard Racing, the Dow Brothers, and all my track buddies that are always willing to lend a helping hand.”

You can catch Scott and Jezebel running big-tire grudge and no-time races throughout the West coast.

About the author

Eddie Maloney

A resident of Las Vegas, Eddie has been involved in drag racing most of his life. Currently an NHRA tech and photographer, he has served 17 years in the military.
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