When his father, Bern, and uncle Ron took a teenaged Kevin Guthrie and his cousins out for lessons in how to street race – knowing the boys were going to do it regardless so they might as well do it safely and without getting into too much trouble – it was a given that the man, now 58, would keep cars in his life for years to come. Guthrie’s lifelong passion for racing has produced many eye-catching builds, one of his latest being a 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air for Outlaw 10.5 competition.
Growing up around the Phoenix, Arizona area, Guthrie was always into some sort of hot rodding, as both his father and uncle raced in the early ‘60s. Guthrie’s first car, a 1968 Chevy Chevelle, went through many different engine combinations over the years and he even had a full-size Chevy Blazer that ran 11-second quarter-mile elapsed times and helped him win a load of cash.
Inspired by a feature he saw in Hot Rod magazine many years ago about another enthusiast who had done up a 1962 Bel Air in Pro Street-style, Guthrie fell in love and appreciated the uniqueness of the classic car. “I started on my ’62 Bel Air in the late ‘90s in my home garage. It’s all original steel and glass and even still has the factory windshield,” shared Guthrie of the build he began after seeing the story and after he had relocated to Parker, Colorado.
Over the years, Guthrie’s “Beluga” progressed and gained notoriety as a street car with serious speed. The pair made an appearance on one of the early seasons of Discovery’s “Street Outlaw” series and even ran a personal best of 7.52 at 192 mph in the thin Denver air that was followed by a leisurely cruise to a car show that same afternoon.
Eventually, though, Guthrie realized the Bel Air was too quick for being 3,700-plus pounds and he realized he could either halt his progress or step up his game – and he chose the latter.
“I found this bubble-top that a friend of a friend had, and it was literally falling apart. It was rusted out, there really wasn’t left of it except the roof and the top of the quarters,” Guthrie noted of how he acquired his second ‘60s-era Bel Air around 2008.
He quickly got to work stripping the car down and replacing all of the components that were too far gone to salvage. A one-of-a-kind carbon-fiber rear deck lid from Royce Payton along with a one-piece fiberglass front end were fitted, and Guthrie even took the time to acquire a donor Bel Air so that he could replace all of the original emblems, polished drip rails, and side moldings with pristine parts to keep its “real car” look intact. “It even has a rearview mirror so when I do my burnout and back up and my wife is telling me on the radio which way to go, I can look at my tire marks if I don’t believe her,” he added with a laugh.
Guthrie took the time to trim the new car – christened “Bullet” by his wife, Joan – to get it as slim as possible. Next, he sent it off to Greg Orr Race Cars to have the 6.0-second certified double framerail chassis done to perfection, with finishing work handled by Precision Designs in Denver.
After the chassis work was complete, Guthrie placed a 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy engine with a four-speed JEFFco Transmissions By Gear Vendors planetary-style manual and ProCharger supercharger between the framerails. “We tested and ran 4.33 at 170 mph in Las Vegas with that combination but the writing was on the wall. We knew it wouldn’t go any faster,” Guthrie shared of the early days with his new car.
As fate would have it, the perfect replacement fell into his lap one day while he was sitting in the cockpit of one of the commercial airplanes that he pilots for a living. “Someone called to buy my motor and literally five minutes later another guy called and said he was selling a Hemi,” shared the man of how he wound up with a wicked Brad Anderson Enterprises-built 472-inch bullet for his “Bullet” in late 2020. “I freshened it up myself thanks to help and knowledge from my friend and Top Alcohol Funny Car crew chief, Tony Eben.”
Brad Anderson also supplied the intake manifold, while Guthrie chose to stick with his longtime power adder of choice for over 20 years thanks to the support he’s received from Walt Sipp and Sergio Shifman at ProCharger. A new mounting system was needed to bolt the F-3R-136 blower on, and Mike Glickman from Blacktop Hobbies handled converting the pre-existing full exhaust system (with mufflers) to a set of racy side-exit exhausts instead. Glickman also managed fitting the oil and fuel tanks, as well as some other items.
Also new with the Hemi swap was a Holley Dominator EFI system, which Guthrie is enjoying for all its bells and whistles and features and functions. “I figured I’d make the investment to do this right the first time. My wallet hates me,” joked the man, who trusts his friend and four-time PSCA Xtreme Drag Radial champion Joey Kenville to handle the Holley’s tune up as he learns the ropes himself.
Out back, Guthrie installed a Mittler Brothers-fabricated full floater 9-inch rearend with Strange Engineering disc brakes and more. Double-adjustable rear shocks from Kinetic were also added, along with wheels from Mickey Thompson, and the suspension was configured to accommodate either a traditional 10.5 tire or a 33×17-inch big tire slick.
With the wrench work wrapped up, Guthrie’s bubble top Bel Air tipped the scales at roughly 2,700-pounds (without driver) – about 800-pounds lighter than its predecessor.
“At first, we had a two-speed Jeffco in it but that wound up not being enough so now it’s got a three-speed Jeffco. I’ve always been a clutch guy and this was the last thing I could do to hold on to a stick shift-type car,” explained Guthrie, who raced the car at the Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas in November of 2020 in Outlaw 10.5 trim and enjoys the “cool factor” of pulling the levers on a manual. “It was only the third run on the new engine and we were completely lost!”
Guthrie has made good progress on getting the Hemi-powered Bel Air’s performance dialed in since then, despite having only run 4.40-seconds in the eighth-mile with a “roughly” sub-one-second 60-foot time at “only” 165 mph. [Editor’s note: for those readers wanting to do the math on the performance specs and weight of the car, you can guesstimate what it is capable of running, because while Guthrie isn’t spilling the beans, he did hint that he’s got the parts to make “close to 4,000-horsepower”.]
For him, running a “non-Mustang, non-Camaro” in Outlaw 10.5 is something that he takes pride in. “Twenty years ago, I couldn’t afford to run Pro Street, but the next step down was Outlaw 10.5 and we’ve been relatively competitive since then,” said Guthrie, who has accumulated a host of wins and championships over the years with his collection of cars – including the PSCA Outlaw 10.5 title and another in the Rocky Mountain Series – as well as a “Best Engineered” award in 2004. “We built ‘Bullet’ to be able to put a big tire on and have the power to back that up, but we’re sticking with Outlaw 10.5 because that’s our home. Thanks to Mel Roth at the PSCA for giving us a place to race!”
The biggest thrill he gets from racing, though, isn’t necessarily turning on win lights – it’s spending time at the track with his family and friends just having fun and making memories. “I’ve got kids and grandkids and horses and if I can’t be with my family, I don’t want to do this,” asserted the man whose outlook on life is a predominately positive one and has been blessed with a 30+ year marriage to his beautiful beloved.
In a world dominated by familiar Fords and common Chevys, Guthrie isn’t afraid to do something that’s a little different but a lot of cool. His favorite part about his lightweight Outlaw 10.5 Bel Air is that it’s still “somewhat a street car” with a classic and clean appearance for an unassuming look with monster power.
He plans to keep racing both of his 1962 Chevy Bel Airs for as long as he possibly can; the original Beluga is currently under the knife getting its chassis updated to be competitive in either Hot Rod Drag Week or Rocky Mountain Race Week, and the PSCA series has been indelibly inked on Bullet’s calendar. Guthrie also plans to race at events like Outlaw Armageddon, and has his passport up to date so he can attend some unofficial gatherings in “Mexico.”