The beautiful blue and white ’55 Chevy Pro Mod belonging to Tim Wallace Sr. made its on-track debut at the PDRA race at Summit Motorsports Park last weekend with accomplished doorslammer driver Ken Quartuccio behind the wheel, and according to Wallace, the plan is to enter the car in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series in 2023.
Wallace previously raced in the Pro Modified class 20 years ago, driving a Tim McAmis-built, split-window Corvette and a few Camaros after that. He had to take a hiatus from racing to concentrate on his expanding collision business but has always wanted to return to racing.
More recently, Wallace has planned for a return to racing with a no-prep ride and the ’55 Chevy Pro Mod you see here.
“Kevin Rivenbark drove the no-prep car last year,” Wallace explained. “It ran really, really fast, so I’m excited to heal up from knee surgery and get behind the wheel. It’s one of two Jerry Bickel-built no-prep cars.”
The Meridian, Idaho native had specific requirements when it came to creating a 1955 Chevy body for the Pro Mod car.
“I always wanted to build an NHRA-legal Pro Mod ‘55 Chevy,” Wallace said. “There are lots of subtle things on the body. We spent a lot of time getting it to look like a ‘55 Chevy and still take a 36-inch tire. Everything is proportional.”
The body is also 7/8 the size of an original ’55, and is currently manufactured by Larry Jeffers Race Cars. LJRC bought the plug mold that Wallace and Bob Mandell had originally created, and the company has improved it using current technology. Previously, the hand-laid fiberglass body weighed in a 125 pounds, but vacuum-forming has reduced that, and LJRC also offers it in carbon-fiber at a svelte 75 pounds.
Wallace noted that he had talked with the NHRA, which was keen to have older car bodies come back to the Pro Modified class and offered a slight weight break in recent years to encourage it.
“They gave us a weight break and were determined to get old body styles back in NHRA because they think the crowd will like it. They are doing everything they can to promote that. They have wanted me to get the car out for a few years now and wanted to do it before Covid hit, but people couldn’t get the cars built and on the track.”
Eventually, progress was made and the Jerry Bickel Race Cars chassis was fitted with a Pro Line Racing 525 cubic inch ProCharger Hemi powerplant and FuelTech EFI, then sent to Himier Fabrications and RK Racecraft to make it turn-key. Jeff Hoskins handled the beautiful paintwork on the classic body. Pro Line Racing’s Jamie Miller will handle the tuning, and his son John Miller will be lending a hand, as well.
Originally, Eric Dillard was going to shake down the car, but plans changed and Miller recommended Ken Quartuccio to be the wheelman.
“Ken is driving it and his crew will be talking care of it,” Wallace noted. “I hope it’s very competitive, Ken is lighter and that allows them to move weight around in the car. The car will stay at Ken’s shop in Connecticut, and maybe we will run the whole series next year.”
Quartuccio and his crew will be pulling double-duty this year, as he is sitting in third place in the PDRA series with his own car, and they used the recent race in Norwalk, Ohio, to make some laps in Wallace’s ’55 Chevy by entering it into the PDRA’s Top Sportsman class.
“There was no need to rent a track, and it made sense, as Ken was going to be racing there already. We definitely didn’t want to show up at an NHRA race without data on it. But the front-half numbers are equivalent to what is being run now.”
Wallace said the plan now is to hit the NHRA race in Epping, N.H., followed by the Bristol event.
“If it goes well, we will continue to run and go to Indy and St. Louis. Ken is in contention in the PDRA and I don’t want to ruin his run in that series. But I’m so excited that I’m partnered with those guys, between Ken driving and Jamie tuning, it’s going to be flipping awesome.”