Over the years, our view of fast street cars has changed drastically. Remember when you had to have an insanely low gear, lots of carburetion, and 14-inch-wide slicks to go fast? All those things are still cool, but guys like Patrick Henry are getting it done with small tires, stock suspension, and a ridiculously simple setup that proves to be street-friendly. When you combine that with a subdued appearance, it creates quite the conversation piece at the dragstrip, especially when Patrick busts off a 5-second pass in the eighth-mile.
Patrick's journey with this car started about seven years ago, and it began as a simple project with his son, Nick. He bought it as a complete car, so it was a great start, but the first trip to the dragstrip was a major turning point when the car ran a 15-second e.t.—in the eighth-mile. Even at eight years old, Nick was embarrassed by Dad's very slow pass, so it sparked a never-ending fire to go quicker and faster.
With a new engine combination, the car certainly picked up, but Patrick and Nick continued to make changes, while making a point to retain the car's driveability. The car's current setup includes a nitrous-fed small-block that boasts 436 ci, but the car is 100 percent street-legal, which comes in handy for Patrick's weekly trip to his home track, Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip in Ringgold, Georgia.
Patrick admits he needed lots of help during his first few trips to the track, and a man by the name of Johnny Walker, who worked at the track, never hesitated to help him get the hang of it. Johnny watched Patrick make hundreds of passes through the years, always manning his post at the burnout box. Unfortunately, Johnny lost his life in a tragic accident during Brainerd's annual charity race called Draggin' for Toys, so Patrick was very disheartened to lose one of his first drag-racing mentors.
Despite the passing of one of his drag-racing friends, Patrick still thrashes on his Chevelle every chance he gets. He never trailers the car to the track, and he makes a point to keep things simple for the sake of fun. Along with test-and-tune nights, Patrick participates in Brainerd's 275 drag radial class, and holds his own against a field of tough cars. So far, he's run a best of 5.99 at 112 mph, but he's hoping for more once he switches to E85. He also wants to venture out to a quarter-mile track to stretch its legs a bit more, since it's packing 3.42:1 gears and an overdrive transmission. Patrick's Chevelle is proof that you can go fast with a GM 700R-4.
Despite the car's simple setup and tame appearance, it gets a lot of attention because of its great performance on and off the track. Patrick never brags about his success with the car and often gives the credit to the folks who helped him get this combination sorted out. Rainey Horne is one of the folks responsible for the help, as he offers advice for tuning between rounds. Patrick admits he's still learning, but he's teaching his son along the way, so it's a cool deal for both of them. The learning curve for going fast is always a tough one, but Patrick makes it look easy with his street-friendly small-block.
Who: Patrick Henry
What: '67 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Where: Ringgold, Georgia
Engine: It takes a lot of power to run 5s in a 3,350-pound Chevelle, and Patrick gets it done with a small-block. The engine started out as a production 400 ci, but a 4-inch stroke and 4.165-inch (0.040 over) bore create a final displacement of 436 ci. The rotating assembly features an Eagle crankshaft, GM 5.94-inch rods, and a set of JE forged pistons that create an 11.4:1 compression ratio. Carl Henry handled the machine work and short-block assembly. The cylinder heads are AFR 235 units, which have custom porting by AFR's Tony Mamo. With flow numbers approaching the 340-cfm mark at 0.650 lift, these heads are perfectly matched with the custom-grind roller camshaft spec'd by Chris Straub. Up top is an AFR Titon composite intake manifold and a 750-cfm Mighty Demon carburetor, which is fed by an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump. The Dynatek headers feature stepped primaries, which lead to a 3-inch exhaust and Pypes Race Pro mufflers. This thing seems way too quiet to be so fast!
Power-Adder: Although Patrick's stroked small-block is no slouch on its own, it really wakes up with a small shot of nitrous. The Zex plate kit is jetted for a 150 shot, and Patrick generally leaves the line at around 50 percent or less and ramps in the nitrous down track using an Edelbrock progressive nitrous controller.
Transmission: This is where it gets interesting. Patrick relies on one of GM's least favorite performance transmissions—the 700R-4 overdrive automatic—but it has proven to be bulletproof, thanks to a few key modifications. Rainey Horne built the gearbox, using a hardened input shaft, bigger clutch packs, and many other cool tricks to make it strong. The converter stalls to 3,200 rpm, and Patrick selects the gears with a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter.
Chassis: The GM A-body platform works well on the dragstrip, so Patrick didn't get too crazy with chassis or suspension modifications. He added a set of tubular control arms and QA1 coilovers up front, and tossed the original steering box in favor of a rack-and-pinion setup. Out back, a GM 12-bolt rear end features a Moser spool and 35-spline axles with 3.42:1 gears. The rear shocks are QA1 12-way adjustable, while TRZ control arms offer even more adjustability to the rear suspension. A BMR antiroll bar keeps the car level when it leaves the line, while a set of Wilwood disc brakes roll on all four corners. Surprisingly, the Chevelle does not have a rollcage or any chassis modifications, but Patrick plans to upgrade its safety equipment soon.
Exterior: Patrick says he's still working on getting the exterior in good shape, but we think it's slick! It's a completely stock body with Super Sport badges, and a lift-off fiberglass hood—simple and clean.
Interior: You won't find many modifications inside Patrick's Chevelle, but it's practical and comfortable. Procar seats replace the original buckets, and a selection of Auto Meter gauges keeps track of the screaming small-block's vital signs. Everything else is bone-stock.
Wheels/Tires: The Chevelle rolls on a set of Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels, sized at 15x4 inches up front and 15x8 out back. The wheels are wrapped in M&H 185/75R15 drag radial front runners and Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 drag radials, respectively.
Performance: On the motor, Patrick's Chevelle runs solidly in the 6.70 range in the eighth-mile, which is mighty strong when you consider the street-friendly build. On the spray, it has gone a best of 5.99 at 112 mph, with a 1.29 sixty foot. And he drives it to and from the track.