$10K Shootout: Inside Team Boddie’s ’84 Buick Regal

One of the high-profile teams of the Horsepower Wars $10K Shootout is Team Boddie with Russ Wullenwaber heading up the five-man group of talented racers, builders, and fabricators.

Russ is a busy man. Not only has he been away from his diesel performance shop, RPM Motorsports during the Horsepower Wars competition, but upon his return he was shorthanded in the shop as two of his key fabricators, Tony and Malone Arnold are also firefighters who were battling the wildfires in Northern California.

Team Boddie finished third in the initial “Olympics” competition which decided in what order they would select from the six cars made available as a build platform. The two teams who earned their pick of cars first each cited the two Fox-body Mustangs for their choice. That didn’t phase Team Boddie in the slightest, though, as they had their eye on a 1984 Buick Regal within the lineup.

“For our team, we already knew we were going with a big-block, nitrous-fed powerplant,” Wullenwaber explains. “It was no big deal for us that the two Mustangs got picked first. We worked the other teams into thinking that everyone wanted the Mustangs. I’m not sure; Team Stinky Pinky may have had their eye on the Regal, too. We’re just glad we beat them out to choose the Regal first.”

Some teams had the advantage that their car of choice was a “roller.” As the teams rolled their future racecars into their shops to begin the build, team Boddie was at a disadvantage. The Regal was the only car driven into their shop area. This meant that the team of Wullenwaber, Jay Boddie, Ben Boylan Jr., Nick Stewart, and Cole and Cody Dow had a significant teardown ahead of them. To get their car to the same point as many of their competitors, they had to make an engine, transmission, and plush interior disappear.

It was no big deal for us that the two Mustangs got picked first. We worked the other teams into thinking that everyone wanted the Mustangs. – Russ Wullenwaber

The Powerplant

With the Regal coming apart, the powerplant and drivetrain effort were coming together as a form of gearhead scavenger hunt. “We had three different engines to go after — one of them,  the guy wanted way too much money,” Wullenwaber continues. “Another guy had a 505 big-block Chevy drag boat engine for sale online. The engine wasn’t perfect; it was a basket case with missing pistons. With the additional parts we were getting in the deal, we decided to make this engine work.”

The team went to Arrow Machine and had the aluminum rods and crankshaft checked out and given the thumbs-up. The crank was polished and the rods pin-fitted to a new set of MAHLE pistons, rings and performance bearings. “We specified the pistons for 12.8:1 compression and had them add gas ports to help with ring seating.”

A set of ProMaxx cylinder heads were purchased from their Summit Racing Equipment budget. The heads were outfitted with a variety of new and used components for the best strength/budget combination possible. “The heads were pretty awesome, but we wanted to utilize a set of 7/16-inch pushrods we got with the block which means some head reworking,” Wullenwaber added. “We found some used Crane Cams roller lifters and other valvetrain components to keep us within budget.”

One of the unique engine build tales from Team Boddie is the camshaft.

“When we checked out the cam we got with our short-block, it was .007-inch bent!” Wullenwaber continued. “We just didn’t need to spend our limited budget on a new cam, so we went to the shop press, and we bent it back within .0015-inch. The cam problem also forced our decision concerning new cam bearings.

The team's interim driver (left) occupying the seat as the $10K Drag Shootout at Norwalk awaits.

“We need the 505 to live for seven passes in Horsepower Wars competition. If we put new bearings in the block, we stand a chance of spinning one with the bent cam,” Wullenwaber describes his seven-pass theory. “We may lose a little oil pressure, but it’s our best-calculated chance at getting the handful of passes needed out of the engine. ” A Summit brand billet dual roller timing chain and Summit OE-style harmonic damper complete the short-block.

With the hood panel cut to clear the intake and carburetor, the discarded metal was used to log each team member’s prediction of the Regals final weight. Team Boddie’s attention to fabrication was apparent by their logging of each components in their weight savings plan.

Royal Purple are the lubricants of choice for the engine, transmission, differential, and assembly lubes. ARP supplied numerous fasters for each team. In the team Boddie case, they supplied stud kits for the heads, main caps, and valve covers. Bolt kits from ARP are used on the intake, vibration damper, header bolts, and a general engine bolt kit.

The engine will burn the race-spec VP Racing Fuels C16.

The Power Adder

The Team Boddie effort to use large doses of nitrous oxide as their power adder was the next budget battle. “We first wanted to use a nitrous plate and fogger system. We could only afford one really big plate once we crunched the budget numbers,” Wullenwaber then told us of their lucky break. “During midpoint of the build, we won a taco eating contest. This earned us a Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) big shot system, so we returned the plate nitrous system we originally purchased and rolled that money into a NOS Pro Shot Fogger system.”

This powerplant is sealed with a variety of MAHLE gaskets. With the nitrous-fed cylinder pressures anticipated, they ordered an additional set of SCE copper head gaskets. Wullenwaber explained one of the demands of building a car within a week timeframe, “The head gaskets were slightly too small for the bore size and the gaskets we needed were on back order. We had to make due, so we ground the sh*t out of those gaskets to open the bore. Once again, they just need to survive the seven passes theory.”

Electronics & Ignition

Other critical components related to the nitrous application is the ignition system. They used components provided by E3 Spark plugs. This includes their E3 ignition box, racing ignition coil, spark plug wires, and plugs. They mated this system to an MSD Performance Power Grid controller for precise adjustability with the ignition system. Wheeling and dealing helped keep the team within their limited $10,000 budget. They returned a Summit-purchased crank trigger for credit in lieu of a used unit the team found later during the build.

To supply 12-volts to the entire car, a Ron Francis Wiring switch panel and wiring kit was routed to each electrical component. Ron Francis Wiring stepped in to supply our teams with the switch panels and wiring necessary to complete their builds without having to source sketchy used wiring and parts from various places. The basis for the electronics on the G-Boddie is Ron Francis’ Bare Bonz wiring kit, which is intended for race-only vehicles and sports three relay and eight fused circuits. Team Boddie also used their switch panel, grounding terminal strip, insulated power stud, ground junction block, and firewall stud insulator cap.

For power and safety, Moroso also provided their battery boxes, on/off power switches, and battery cable kits. E3 Spark Plugs then gave each team a complete set of spark plugs for their engine combination, along with plug wires, distributors, coils, and ignition boxes. Team Boddie used E3’s plugs, wires, and coils in their build.

When we checked out cam we got with our short-block, it was .007-inch bent! We just didn’t need to spend our limited budget on a new cam, so we went to the shop press, and we bent it back within .0015-inch.

Fuel System & Cooling

The engine is topped with a Pro Systems 1,200 cfm carburetor purchased from the $3,000 in cash monies. A Professional Products Power+Plus Hurricane intake was purchased through their $7,000 Summit Racing budget. A used plastic fuel cell was found and fed to a MagnaFuel ProStar 500 fuel pump and Holley Performance regulator. Fragola Performance Systems contributed the fuel plumbing from rear to front.

The Drivetrain

One of the most significant ticket items taking up almost 20-percent of their total budget is a performance Turbo 400 transmission from Summit Racing. The team did find a used 8-inch torque converter, transmission safety blanket, and a used 3-speed race shifter on the cheap that matched their combination. Wullenwaber related, “A broken transmission is not going to cost us this event. We may find deals on other parts to stay within budget, but not the transmission. This race will not only be about the fastest car, but it will also be a survivors game.”

The driveshaft and rearend were scrounged from a junkyard trip. The shaft was sent to Inland Empire Drivetrain, resized and built to fit between the TH400 and a Ford 8.8-inch differential from a Ford Explorer. The differential spider gears are converted into what Wullenwaber called a “Miller locker” (gears welded solid with a Miller welder).

Suspension & Rubber

The rear suspension is a perfect example of the team showing off their fabricating skills. Wullenwaber says, “fabricating our rear suspension was the most fun part of the overall build. We cut out the front crash support bumper bracing and used that as material to relocate the suspension links. We also turned the front suspension sway bar into an anti-roll bar in the rear suspension using other metals removed from the Buick. We proudly spent none of our budget on metal for fabricating.”

The front suspension and steering remain as OEM G-body components. Even the high-mileage front shocks stay in place. The only additions are adjustable threaded studs welded into the upper control arm as a suspension limiter. Shocks for the rear suspension are a set of QA1 springs, and shocks found used and available for cheap.  All four teams received a chrome-moly roll cage kit provided by Rhodes Race Cars.

The teams’ fabrication skills are applied to the headers, as well. After a set of Summit Racing header flanges arrived, they cut and welded the Regals’ exhaust tubing into custom headers. As fabricators at heart, the team kept close track of the Regal’s weight balance during construction. Wullenwaber described, “we got the car down pretty light. We removed 538-pounds of overall weight which is awesome since we also added a big-block, nitrous bottles, and a roll cage to the overall build.”

The team’s weight reduction effort put the car exactly where they wanted it as Horsepower Wars ruling specify a 3,200-pound weight minimum. The car finished out at 3,060-pounds with Jay Boddie sitting in the driver’s seat. Cole Dow won the team contest to predict the closest guess to the Regal’s final 2,808-pound weigh-in. Wullenwaber finishes, “taking the nose weight down to about 58-percent plus having the ability to move 140 pounds wherever we want in the car. I think we are good.”

Over the course of the build, Team Boddie was sacked with a 50-pound penalty for their cylinder heads, but then earned a 50-pound weight reduction later in the build, thus negating the penalty and placing them right back at the base 3,200-pounds.

Safety Gear

Driver Jay Boddie will be held tightly in a used Kirkey circle track seat with a Summit racing harness. A Stroud window net will keep him inside the cockpit in the event of a crash, and a Summit transmission blanket will keep him safe in the seat.

The Regal's rolling stock includes 15x10-inch Ultra Wheel Octane wheels with Mickey Thompson 275/60-15 ET Street Radial Pro tires on the rear and Vision 15x4-inch 521 Nitro Series wheels on the front using M/T 26x4-14 ET Front tires.

Team Boddie came in under budget on the cash and Summit side of their build, using $2,862.34 of the $3,000 cash, and $6,918.84 of the Summit Racing allowance, for a total of $9,781.18.

G-Boddie Vehicle Specifications

Vehicle: 1984 Buick Regal
Weight: 3,200lbs
Electrical/Wiring: Ron Francis Switch Panel, Wiring Kits
Battery Box: Moroso Battery Box
Battery: Optima, Used
Roll Cages: Rhodes Race Cars 10-pt Mild Steel
Fasteners: ARP

Fluids: Royal Purple 40-wt Synthetic Racing Oil, ATF, Rear End Fluid


Engine Block: 454 GM
Crankshaft: Used Steel
Pistons/Comp Ratio: MAHLE 12.8:1 Forged PN 929934250
Rings: MAHLE
Rods: GRP
Rod/Main Bearings: MAHLE
Head Bolts/Studs: ARP
Harmonic Balancer: Summit
Cylinder Heads/Porting: ProMaxx CNC Ported Big Block Heads
Camshaft: Isky #396800, Used
Lifters: Crane Cams roller used
Pushrods: Used
Rocker Arms: Crane, Used
Valves: ProMaxx
Valve Springs: Manley, Used
Head Gaskets: MAHLE (oil pan, exhaust, water pump, fuel pump) SCE (head gasket)
Starter: Summit
Flexplate: B&M

Exhaust system: Summit BBC flanges with used exhaust/muffler tubing



Carb/Throttle body: Pro Systems 1,200 cfm used
Fuel Pump: MagnaFuel ProStar 500
Fuel Regulator: Summit & Holley
Distributor: E3 with MSD big cap adapt
Spark Plugs: NGK
Ignition Box: MSD PowerGrid

Coil(s): E3

Wires: E3

Plumbing: Fragola Nylon & Stainless Race Hose & Fragola Fittings.


Power Adder
Nitrous System: (2) Big shot NOS, Fogger NOS


Transmission: Turbo 400, FTI Stage 4 w/Trans Brake
Converter: SpecRite used Trans Specialties
Driveshaft: Inland Empire Driveline modded
Shifter: Hurst
Rear End Gear/Ratio: 3.73:1
Rear End Housing: 2001 Ford Explorer 8.8-inch
Axles: Factory 31-spline
Spool: Miller Welder (stock diff, welded)
Gears: 3.73


Front suspension: stock with limiter
Front shocks: Stock
Rear suspension: Custom 4-link using factory and tractor supply parts
Rear Shocks: Used QA1 single adjustable
Front Brakes: Baer SS4+ Deep Stage
Rear Brakes: Factory Ford Explorer
Front Wheels: Summit clearance 15 x 4
Rear Wheels: Summit clearance 15 x 10
Front tires: M/T 26-inch front runners
Rear tires: M/T 275 Drag Radials


Safety: Summit Racing seat belts, Summit Racing transmission & engine blankets.


About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
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