In this author’s eyes, there aren’t many cars with body styles that that look better than a ’68 through ’72 Nova, especially when converted into a racecar. With the classic long hood/short deck accompanied with a menacing stance accomplished with the right wheels and tires, and the fact a small- or big-block Chevy is right at home under that long hood, you can see why so many enthusiasts choose a Nova to build their racecar.
Pete Llamas, has owned this 1972 Nova for about 10 years. He bought it from Nick Rinehart, who used to campaign the car in the NMCA’s Extreme Street class. That being said, the Nova has lived the life of a racecar for more than 20 years.
Since Pete has taken over the wheel, he has raced the Nova in X275, NMCA Street Outlaw, and the Midwest Outlaw Racing series. Before Pete purchased the Nova, it used to use nitrous as a power adder, but Pete recently made the switch from giggle juice to using a hair dryer. As one would expect, the change to using a Forced Inductions-prepped Garrett single turbocharger necessitated many other changes as well.
The Nova’s powerplant is a Steve Morris Engines-built 400 cubic-inch small-block with All Pro 245 heads, and a custom, turbo-spec camshaft. Pete chose to use a Holley EFI system from Redline Motorsports, and depending on class rules, will either use an 88 or a 94mm turbo. Hambone Fabrications’ Anthony Hammock performed his magic to create the plumbing for the turbo, while Lake County Hose and Equipment’s Bill Fuesting made sure Pete had all the correct fittings and hoses for the Nova. Behind the small-block is a Proformance Racing Transmissions’ 400 Turbo Glide.
At the moment, the Nova still uses a 12-bolt rearend, but a planned off-season addition includes a 9-inch unit. Launching a car with all this power is tough, so the Nova features a ladder bar suspension fortified by a TA Racecars 25.5-certified chassis and rollcage. Wilwood brakes reside inside Weld Racing wheels at each corner, because traveling at almost 150 mph requires good brakes.
With the old nitrous combo, Pete’s best time was a 4.83 second e.t. in the 1/8-mile at 147 mph. With the turbocharged combo, he’s hoping for at least a 4.60 e.t. once everything is sorted out. Pete knows the Nova will need to run quicker than 4.60s to be at the top of the heap, but that’s his initial goal. From there, the sky’s the limit.