THE EVIL TWIN
TWO TIMES THE TERROR
Two Times the Terror
RText and Photos by OCKY PHILLIPS’ DRAG RACING ROOTS BEGAN AT THE RAISIN CITY DRAGSTRIP JUST WEST OF FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, IN THE LATE-’70S. IN 1977, HE PURCHASED RANCE MCDANIEL’S OLD JR. FUEL DRAGSTER AND CAMPAIGNED IT FOR A FEW YEARS. LATER, HE MOVED ON TO RACING DOORSLAMMERS, BUT HIS LOVE FOR FRONT-ENGINE DRAGSTERS NEVER WANED.
For many years Rocky dreamt of creating a twin-engine dragster. In the late-’80s, while at a Super Shop’s grand opening, Rocky had the opportunity to talk with Eddie Hill regarding the old twin-engine dragster he raced in the ’60s. It was the first step in the creation of Rocky’s Evil Twin dragster.
Fast forward to 2009 and the Eagle Field Drags. This traditional-style, flag-start, eighth-mile drag race takes place on an old World War II air base near the town of Firebaugh, California. The drag races are the brainchild of Rocky and a group of his friends. The races allow historic drag cars and hot rods to burn rubber down the dragstrip, instead of sitting in a museum or car show. With the creation of the Eagle Field Drags, Rocky’s desire to build a twinengine dragster was rekindled.
In November of 2010, Rocky sensed the time was right to start building his twin. “With the success of the Eagle Field Drags, I now had a place to run this type of dragster,” he said. He began developing a plan to build the dragster, but his main concerns were how to mate the two engines and how to get the power to the rear wheels. To develop ideas, he followed the restoration build of the Twin Bear dragster on the Jalopy Journal online forum. He also pored over old photos of various twin-engine dragsters to draw inspiration for the build.
Ultimately, Rocky mated the two flywheels together by having the engine on the left run in reverse rotation, similar to Tommy Ivo’s twinBuick-engine dragster. For the Evil Twin, Rocky used a pair of small-block Chevy engines. To get the left engine to run in reverse
rotation, a special cam was ground by Clay Smith Cams. For the intakes on the two engines, a pair of handfabricated, log-style 3x2 intakes was made, each running three Stromberg 97 carburetors. The engines were the first piece of the project to be completed before any other part of the dragster was built.
The chassis came next, with help from his son, Lee, Rocky made a tubing bender to bend the rails for the dragster. They started with the main rails and then moved on to the driver area. The engines served as part of the framework, with the top rails of the dragster bolted to the front of each engine. Many of Rocky’s friends and supporters of Eagle Field donated various parts toward the build. Rocky and Lee also made the dragster’s front axle and the suspension pieces. “I like the way they came out. The driver area sort of resembles a Dragmaster-style chassis,” Rocky said. The car was initially finished in a rough stage, with only tin sheet metal enclosing the driver area. The Evil Twin made its first pass in 2011 at the Eagle Field Drags.
After a couple of years running the dragster around the U.S. at various special drag races and events,
Rocky decided to finish the dragster completely. He added a Model T body and made everything shiny. Rocky heavily modified the fiberglass T-body to fit on
//With the dragster now completely finished, Rocky plans to keep racing and touring with it around the country to any drag strip that will allow him to run.//
the dragster’s chassis. Once the body was fitted to the dragster, Rocky handed it over to Jeff Gangwish at Shinbone Alley in Fresno to finish the bodywork and apply the candy red paint, flames and pinstriping. While the body was being painted, Rocky and Lee painted the chassis gloss black and had all of the suspension parts chromed. Then he sent the two engines to Tim McMaster at Hanford Auto Supply for freshening before going back into the chassis. The dragster was reassembled just in time for the May 2015 Eagle Field race, where it made a full eighthmile smoky pass to the delight of the fans.
With the dragster now completely finished, Rocky plans to keep racing and touring with it around the country to any drag strip that will allow him to run. The dragster is also an excellent promotional tool for the Eagle Field Drags. It always draws a crowd, with everyone trying to figure out how it works. When he attends car shows with the Evil Twin, Rocky’s often asked, “Does it run?” He happily replies “yes” and pulls out a picture of it smoking the tires.
/ Those responsible for this evil deed are three generations of racers (L to R): Rocky, his son, Lee, and Lee’s son, Riley, who races sprint cars. The dilapidated remains of the Raisin City dragstrip timing tower can be seen in the background. / Two motors + skinny slicks = plenty of smoke. The Evil Twin never ceases to entertain.
/ Initially primered and looking similar to a Dragmaster dragster in the driver area, the Evil Twin now wears a T-roadster body and beautiful candy red paint.
/ Here’s Rocky at the old Raisin City dragstrip. The flag starter is Earl Boyajian, who worked at the track in its heyday.