When it comes down to the reason that the majority of us are on this webpage, it is because of the fact that we all have a love of cars. But, how did you get that “spark” that ignited the fire about this hobby? It could be that you got it from your dad, grandfather, an uncle, or maybe it was an aunt that took you for that first musclecar ride, opening up those four barrels to happiness. Whatever the reason, we’re all here because of cars.
For Jeff Harper, it was his impressionable teenage years that lead him to his current path. When he was growing up, one of his buddies had a 1967 Camaro, and another owned a Chevy II. “We hung out and frequented the now-defunked Kansas City International Raceway,” Jeff says. “We worked on cars, and I would listen to their dads talk about the cars they wished they had kept,” he adds.
Way back in 1985, Jeff’s mom and dad bought a 1972 Rally Nova. Jeff’s dad used the Nova as a daily driver, but he actually hated the car (how can someone hate a Nova?!). “He always hit his head getting in the car,” Jeff says with a laugh.
Willing to risk a minor head injury or two, Jeff took ownership of the Nova, and remembering the conversations with his buddies’ dads, he set out to build the Nova into a keeper. The Nova has gone from being a show car, a cruiser, a 12.50-index street car, to its current full-on status as a competitor in the Midwest 8.5 Racers Association and MX235 Racing Series.
Jeff’s Nova recently underwent a round of modifications by Kendall Dean and Travis Miller at Kendall’s Automotive in Wichita, Kansas. Now under the Nova’s hood, is a 421 cubic-inch small-block, utilizing a Dart Little M block, JE pistons, Callies crankshaft and connecting rods, Speier Racing cylinder heads, LGM Racing and Development shaft rockers, an Edelbrock Super Victor intake, and an Induction Solutions plate and fogger nitrous system built by Yancy’s Automotive. The ignition is from MSD, and Jeff’s Nova uses an RPM Performance data-logger.
Out back is a 12-bolt rear filled with Strange Engineering’s best stuff, along with 4.11 gears. The leaf spring suspension has been upgraded with Calvert Racing’s CalTracs and split mono-leaf springs, Menscer Motorsports double-adjustable shocks, and depending on the event, either Hoosier 26×8.5, or Mickey Thompson 235 radial tires wrapped around Cartel Manufacturing bead lock wheels.
Jeff’s best elapsed time in the Nova is 5.45 seconds at 129 mph in 1/8-mile, but he knows he must go quicker to stay competitive in the ever-growing 235/8.5-tire classes.