Drag racing is a sport that’s literally about one thing: going as fast as possible in a straight line, but the path that most follow to the sport is far from straight. Car builds will go in different directions and racing careers will change, but racers stay dedicated no matter what happens. Steve Heill’s journey through the sport of drag racing has been an interesting one and he’s enjoyed the ride.
Steve’s 1964 Dodge 330 is an immaculate example of what a Nostalgia Super Stock (NSS) B-body Mopar should look like. Now, Steve is a Mopar man through and through, so some would find it funny that he’s a GM Parts Consultant, however, he did begin his racing career behind the wheel of GM products, so it does fit his heritage.
“Growing up I had GM cars because they were cheaper and I could afford them. My first two cars were 1969 Camaros followed by a 1966 Chevy II. After the Chevy II, I got a better job so I could afford a Mopar. I’ve always been a fan of the early B-body Mopars…a lot of the guys in my area raced them back in the day. The local fast guys always had those types of cars and I hung out with them at the track…that really turned me on to them even more,” Steve says.
Steve was also influenced by a close friend who had a few Mopar machines they worked on and raced, so that drew him even closer to the brand. The first Mopar Steve purchased was a 1965 Dodge that was raced locally when he was a kid. Steve had been saving his money for another car, so when the opportunity arose to purchase the Dodge he did, and he began the process of restoring. That car is now set up to run the 11.50 index in NSS and comes out of the shop from time to time to make some laps at the track.
The world of drag racing was introduced to Steve by his father when he was very young. Some of Steve’s first memories are from trips to the track with his dad, so it’s no surprise that the sport plays a big part in his life.
“Dad had a racecar for a very short amount of time. I’m the oldest child in my family and when my first sister was born the racecar went away. I remember going to the track with my dad and his friends just hanging out. After he got rid of the racecar he got a 1940 Ford we tinkered with, and then my second sister was born so that went away. My dad and I had a rough a couple of years when I was right around driving age because we had no projects,” Steve explains.
Even after his father had gotten rid of the racecar and the classic Ford Steve still was hooked on cars and racing. This was something that Steve’s father wasn’t super keen on and he tried to persuade him to not waste his time or money on cars, but Steve ignored his father.
“I started going to the track after I got my first car when I was 16. That car taught me a lot of lessons, I broke it a lot, so I learned you can’t race the car you drive to work when you keep breaking it at the track. That’s why I decided to get a dedicated racecar after that. As I got older and kept racing my dad got back into it and even came to races with me,” Steve states.
Steve purchased his Dodge 330 back in 2000 and how the transaction came to fruition is an interesting story by itself. It all began as a trip with fellow NSS racers Bob Rogers and Bob Buntin to the state of Kentucky to look at a 1963 Plymouth for Steve to build. As with most trips to purchase a racecar, things didn’t go as planned.
“The car we originally went to look at didn’t fit my needs so I passed on it. Bob Buntin wanted the wheels off the car, however, the owner did not want to sell them. The owner did tell us about a guy down in Berea, Kentucky that had a set for sale. So we ventured to a holler near Berea to look at the wheels. When we pulled into the driveway I saw the 330 sitting next to the owner’s house. The guys dropped me off to look at it and went to the owner’s barn to look at the wheels,” Steve says.
As his traveling companions worked on finishing the deal for the wheels, Steve began a thorough inspection of the Dodge he had found. Having a lot of experience with these cars Steve knew exactly where to look for rust and other issues, so when the car checked out and didn’t have any major issues his excitement grew. The problem was, it takes two people to make a sale and the owner wasn’t playing ball right away.
“The owner asked me if I liked it and I said yes…I told him I really wanted to buy it. At first, he did not want to sell it. He said he had just gotten it in a trade deal. He also said he thought it was ugly and would trade it for another car. After learning the history of the car I had to own it. So we worked out a cash price and I bought it about a month later,” Steve explains.
Now, the history of the car is ultimately what drove Steve to purchase the Dodge, since he loves old-school B-body racecars. What made it even easier for Steve was the fact the car had been raced locally in the heyday of class racing.
“Jerry Reigns owned the car and I had no idea who he was when I bought the car, so I started doing some research. The guy who I purchased the car from gave me some pictures from the 1960s that showed it running at Edgewater Dragway as a Super Stock/E class Max Wedge car. This car was originally a V6 car that Reigns converted to a Max Wedge car. It had an old-school paint job on it in the pictures and just looked cool. It made rescuing this old racecar even more satisfying for me,” Steve says.
To make the Dodge 330 his own and get it ready for NSS racing, Steve added a 452 cubic-inch Mopar mill built by Specialty Motorwerkes Racing Engines. The stout engine is filled with great parts from Ross, Eagle, COMP Cams, and Milodon. Bringing air into the engine is a pair of Indy Cylinder Heads, intake manifold, and a pair of Edelbrock carburetors. Ignition comes from an MSD 7AL-2 box, Pro Power coil, and distributor. This package has propelled the B-body Mopar to a best pass of 9.73-seconds at 136 mph at the track.
Behind Steve’s engine, you’ll find a 727 torqueflight transmission and a torque converter from Frank Luppo at Dynamic Torque Converters. Power from those parts is transmitted to the Dana 60 rearend that uses a Moser Engineering spool, axles, and gears to rotate the Mickey Thompson tires on the surface of the race track.
Drag racing has so many positive attributes that attract both fans and racers. When you spend enough time at the track you begin to see all of them in one form or another. For Steve, it’s all about the people he’s met and the friendships he’s built over the years.
“I’ve met so many nice people at the track, especially when I started racing the nostalgia stuff. We’re out there to beat each other on the track, but if someone needs help we all jump in to help that racer out, too. It’s the camaraderie of hanging out with the guys at the track that makes racing fun. I also like to challenge myself — when I was younger I drove better, so doing it now is a lot tougher. I like to try and get better at the craft of drag racing while hanging out with my friends…if I go some rounds that’s just a bonus,” Steve explains.
Getting the Dodge 330 ready for the track wasn’t easy, but Steve enjoyed bringing the car to life. Steve did most of the work himself but also got help from a few close friends and shops.
“I really want to thank my chassis builder, George Shiflet, for all of the work he did. Tony Depillo got the engine build going with the team at Parsons and Meyers Machine Shop. Doug Sloan built the transmission for me and it works great. Finally, I can’t thank all of my hardcore Mopar friends who have helped with the car,” Steve says.
Steve Heill turned what could have been a failed trip to look at a racecar into a positive situation. His Dodge 330 takes his obsession with the Mopar brand and mixes it with a big dose of drag racing to create one killer ride.
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