WARDELL'S BEASTLY BEAUTY

THE WARDELL'S RIGHT­EOUS RIDE

Drag Racer - - Front Page - Text by Stephen Jus­tice Photos by Wayne Led­erer and Stephen Jus­tice

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

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