The combination of a Jerry Bickel Race Cars chassis and a big honkin’ Pat Musi nitrous engine is a recipe for world-class success in Pro Modified racing. But small-block, small-tire grudge racing? The bread-and-butter of those two parties and that racing arena couldn’t be much further apart.
Texas oil fracking magnate Josh Webb, whose competitive spirit was sparked though his racing affiliation with close friend Chad Argoe, took Bickel and Musi out of their comfort zones and into an entire new space in the drag racing landscape, building what is by most standards the most trick and capable small-block nitrous, 275-radial grudge car on the planet.
As the story goes, Webb was racing with Argoe and his grudge Chevy Malibu, named “Heidi Fleiss,” and together with former no-time and current radial-tire racer Ryan McCain consulting on the program, ironed out the chassis and driveline to make it competitive. Webb, motivated by their newfound success, decided to go all-in and build a top-flight chassis and engine and secure the services of an accomplished nitrous tuner (McCain).
“After a few short text back and forth I realized that this guy wasn’t like many other people in this world we live in,” McCain shares. “He wanted the best money could buy for his best friend and didn’t want anyone to have what it had. Josh said, ‘you must have a badass chassis, engine, tuner and driver ,so for our next car we’re going to use the best in the business.’ ”
McCain continues. “the only thought in my head was ‘this is going to be interesting.’ I kid you not, a day later Webb tells Chad and I, ‘boys, I spoke with Pat Musi and Jerry Bickel on doing us an engine and chassis for our new car!’ In the moment I told Webb if this is true then we’re about to make history, because for one, Jerry Bickel doesn’t build small-tire grudge cars on the fly, and Pat Musi specializes in 900-plus cubic-inch motors, not small-blocks like you’re wanting done. His response was, ‘trust me, I got it handled and you’re going to coordinate it all, with Chad being the pilot.’ ”
In short order, Webb, Argoe, and McCain were on a private jet headed to Bickel’s shop in Missouri and Musi’s horsepower factory in North Carolina to iron out the details, and the project, dubbed “Black Gold,” was underway.
Tragically, Webb passed away in early 2020 and never had the opportunity to see the finished product, nor take a lap behind the wheel as he had hoped. Bickel and Musi, however, soldiered on with the build as Webb’s family coped with the loss and decided what to do with this masterpiece.
Now, “Black Gold” is listed for sale, for the asking price of…hold your breathe here….$336,597.
‘Black Gold” features a 1968 Camaro steel roof and quarters, paired with a carbon-fiber Tim McAmis body atop a Pro Modified-style chassis. Bickel utilized Smith Racecraft bolt-in A-arm front suspension components to keep the car class-legal for a variety of venues, and virtually no expense was spared anywhere in its construction to produce the quickest and fastest small-block nitrous car on the planet.
As a grudge car — and a one-off secret by Musi — details on the engine have been kept close to the hip, but we do know the car is powered by a huge 565 cubic-inch, 4.600-inch bore-spacing small-block, using a Visner billet block and heads, a Bryant crank, custom Musi intake, and Jesel valvetrain, with three stages of nitrous. The power is backed up by a lock-up M&M Turbo 400 and Neal Chance converter.
The entire package, painted and rolling, tips the scales at just 1,997-pounds (!), and while horsepower numbers are left to the imagination for all but Musi and the buyer, we reckon this thing will fly in the right hands. And ‘fly’ is precisely what Webb wanted…specifically, he aimed to knock undisputed small-block grudge king J.R. Gray and his “Jason X” Mustang down to size.
Said Gray, ‘Will someone please buy this car and hire Ryan McCain so we can cut his head off one more time?”
Regardless of who would win this epic battle, the world needs to see what this one-of-a-kind ride can do, so someone dig waaaaay down in the piggybank and make it happen.