(Words and photos by Doug Gregory) – Success can be measured many different ways. In the gearhead world winning any kind of event can certainly illustrate the culmination of effort and resources. One of the best aspects of gearhead life is that success is not confined to podium finishes. For many the journey can be a ‘win’. Simply making it to an event or getting a car running can be a ‘win’. Truthfully, it is one of the few endeavors that just participating in the modern era is worthy of mention. I believe, per capita, true, capable motorheads are not as numerous as they once were.
The story of this subtle-looking Nova wagon is one of more than simple participation. Danny Allen exemplifies the gearhead mantra and determination as he turned his talents and vision into this unassuming grocery-getter. Setting realistic goals and pushing yourself to do more goes a long way.
What you see here is the car looking nearly as it was when purchased in 2014. The louvers manually punched into the hood skin then blended and rough painted to match is the biggest deviation in appearance since he got it.
We are particularly fond of the aero package on this car which includes this awesome piece of equipment we hope provides downforce. Danny states the car is super stable nearing 180mph.
On the street the rolling stock consists of innocent-looking rally wheels and Cooper Cobra radials. For land speed events and drag racing it rolls on Billet Specialties Street Lites that were bead-blasted then coated with satin clear. These are wrapped in Mickey Thompson 27×10.5 ET Streets and Goodyear 25×5.50 Front Runners.
We took these photos at the last ECTA Ohio Mile event in late September 2016. The car was still wearing all its grime and glory after successfully completing Drag Week earlier in that month.
The suspension up front consists of a TCI Pro-Touring front clip and Air-Ride coilovers with Wilwood 4-piston braking. Out back features a 4-link, Air-Ride coilovers, and the same Wilwood brake setup. Straight-forward and no-nonsense. The rear wheel wells were given a 1.5” mini-tub job to clear the tires. The frame rails were not moved.
Once you get past the home-built (his first ever), 8.50-certified cage work – the interior appears largely stock and functional. The gauges, a couple switches, and the Kirkey seat (only used when racing)are the only easily-seen deviations from what the General originally gave it. What you can’t see is the hidden 10lb fire bottle and a serious sound system used mostly for long-distance trips. Tunes come by way of Re Audio in the form of a Bluetooth amp, 6” speakers in the kick panels and 4×6” speakers in the toolbox. A JL Audio 12” subwoofer in the fake spare tire is powered by a JL 500w amp hidden in the quarter panel.
Now the part which makes this a wolf in sheep’s clothing. After the failure of his previous Livernois-sourced LS Pro Series 404ci after only 3 track passes and 2,200 street miles – Danny had to cut his losses and come up with a new plan. A rusty 70,000-mile, 2007 Trailblazer LS2 was purchased and disassembled. It was ball-honed, new rings were filed for boost, and ARP bolts and studs replaced the originals. LS9 head gaskets are squeezed between the block and ported LS2 heads from the fore-mentioned Livernois package. A Holley mid-rise intake, stock LS2 throttle body, and Fuel Injector Clinic 1650cc injectors top it off. Junkyard coils were thrown on and a CompCams trunion upgrade spiffed up some used, stock rockers. Pushing huge amounts of air during Drag Week were a pair of Garrett 60-1 turbos. Following Drag Week this was upgraded to Garrett ball-bearing GTW3884R 67mm units. Cooling that pressurized air is a Treadstone 1000hp intercooler. Danny and a friend made the 1 7/8 primary headers which terminate on T4 flanges. 3.5 inch full-length exhaust utilizing 4 Vibrant bullet mufflers keep the sounds near neighbor-friendly levels.
Backing up the home-built mill is a 4L80E by Turner Transmissions. It features 300m shafts, 36-element promod drum, Jakes transbrake, and a Trans Specialties torque converter. The rotational force is sent back to the Currie-built 9” via a Driveshaft Shop carbon-fiber, one-piece shaft. The differential is filled with 3.50 gears spinning on a Detroit TrueTrac. A Holley Dominator PCM controls the engine, trans, boost, and traction control with configuration talent provided by Eric Sgambellone at Crucial Performance. The car runs best on E85, but will run using most any unleaded gas with input from its GM flex-fuel sensor.
So what kind of performance did this 29-year-old get out of the 2-car garage build…?
Besides surviving Drag Week 2016, it ran a best of 9.53 at 151mph on 16.5 psi (with the old turbos).
At the Ohio Mile it was certified to run 175mph and no quicker. Being a rookie, Danny had to progress through the 125 and then 150mph stages to reach the 175mph goal his first weekend out. With the car blowing through the converter and at only part-throttle through the lights (verified with the data logger) it ran a tick over 178mph.
We were there and once he reached his max the race tires switched to streets and the parachute swapped to a trailer hitch for the drive back home. He has put about 5,000 miles on his self-built motor, 30+ track passes and three runs at the Ohio Mile. The car can make more boost and certainly once the last few safety items are completed this car should eclipse the 200mph mark. I’d say all of this is sums up to a huge win even without a trophy presentation.
Success can be reached even without deep pockets. Danny thanks many friends and family for helping him along with this project. That is one component few can reach success without.