WARDELL'S BEASTLY BEAUTY
THE WARDELL'S RIGHTEOUS RIDE
THE STEAMY AND SYMMETRICAL LINES OF DANA AND AARON WARDELL’S (FATHER AND SON) SLINGSHOT DRAGSTER ALL DOLLED UP WITH ITS WHITE, MAHOGANY AND GOLD LEAF MAKEUP IS A STUNNING PIECE OF MOTORSPORTS MACHINERY. Found online, Dana and
Aaron transformed a Rob Sterling 225-inch masterpiece into a statuesque beauty with a powerful, though sometimes temperamental, disposition. As a point of reference, its 526-cid Miner Brothers Racing engine has gone as quick as 5.52/259 mph in an NHRA alcohol Funny Car. But, the Wardells had something a little more sedate in mind: NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series 7.0 Pro. Dana clarifies their intent, “We detuned it to about 1,800 horsepower to accommodate the 7.0 Pro class. It has run 6.85, but 6.3s would not be out of the question if we let it gallop.”
The Wardells have been regulars on the NorCal drag racing scene for several decades, but this is their first time with a dragster.
Dana cut his racing teeth at historic Fremont Drag Strip. Bracket racing a 482-cid ’62 Corvette whet his appetite for something faster.
In 1986, when the
Bailey Bros. Speed Shop (Sacramento) circulated a flyer advertising a bank repo sale for a Suncoast
’82 Corvette, Dana drove to Colorado to close the deal. Dana recalls, “I put my 482 in the Corvette and ran it in Super Gas. Later, I partnered with Gary Barnett and we put a Dave Riolo-prepared 548cid Yenko motor in it and raced Super Comp. Barnett and I raced together for four years. Then, Gary wanted to get his kids into racing, so we split up the partnership. I kept the ’82 and put a 510-cid blown Rodeck engine out of Mike Irwin’s Funny Car in it. It was also time to put Aaron in the driver’s seat. We raced in the West Coast Top Sportsman Association, an organization John Campoy and I put together, until we sold the race car in 2005. The ’82 had been with us for 20 years, and now it was time to take a walk on the wild side. We sold the Corvette to Ken Christensen and commissioned Bob Bunker Race Cars to build us a
Step right up, and don’t be shy, because you are not going to believe your eyes. She’s right here, and you’re gonna like her cause she’s got class … —The Tubes
new race car.”
Enter the ’59 Corvette, a Larry Jeffers carbon-fiber body with a stunning purple paint scheme. When the two-year project was completed, Dana and Aaron took a shot at Pro Mod, but soon learned it was beyond their budget. The Wardells then found a home with the Pro Slammers Door Car Association, competing in their 7.0 index class. When Slammers disbanded after 2013, there were few options left for Dana and Aaron. As fate would have it, Jimmy Ray needed a driver for his Top Eliminator West (TEW) dragster. It was Aaron’s first dragster ride and set the hook that turned the fatherson team to center-steer cars. Aaron won the TEW (6.30 index) championship in 2014.
Dana reminisces, “The ’59 Corvette was wildly popular, but there was no class for us.” Aaron agreed to sell it and build a front-engine dragster for 7.0 Pro, a real nostalgic showpiece. While perusing Racing Junk, an online classified ads site, during the summer of 2015, Dana and Aaron found their beauty—and not just any dragster. It was
Kenny Youngblood’s ex-NHRA A/FD, which eventually ended up in North Dakota. Dana says with a chuckle, “Just the most sinister-looking rail ever.” They struck a deal, and upon arrival at Dana’s shop, the beast of the beauty began to take shape. Dana comments, “I bought two 526 Donovan motors from Randy Kay, but really wanted a Miner Brothers’ Racing MBR motor. They’re easy to tune, built for purpose, and make gobs of power.” He soon purchased an MBR long-block, and installed his fuel system, blower and injectors. It debuted at the 2015 California Hot Rod Reunion and has been consistently in the mix wherever it has competed.
The question is whether they’ll be content to remain in 7.0 Pro. Dana tells us, “It is set up so soft it’s ridiculous. I call it the Sunday Cruiser. I’m thinking of running in Top Dragster despite not having any electronics. I would love to see what it would do all out.” There is also that allure of nitromethane, the ultimate drag racing temptress. “I have thought about it,” Dana says.
As lovely as it is, the rear of the chassis from the cage back has been modified from Kenny Youngblood’s original Sterling creation.
This is one of the most beautiful 7.0 Pro dragsters to hit the track.
Woefully underutilized, the MBR engine has the capacity to push the dragster way beyond its 7.0 Pro limitations.
The cockpit is as thoughtfully designed and executed as the rest of the dragster.
The team (L to R): Scott Wojcik, Dana Wardell, Robert Barnard and Aaron Wardell