Pro Street is a hot topic in the world of car crafting right now. The dialogue continues in the debate over its resurgence or demise. Any way you cut it, Pro Street appears to be here to stay. Kelly Painter's '69 Road Runner is a prime example of the new direction of Pro Street down to its big drag radials, stock hood, and solid color. He drives it, beats the hell out of it, and runs it hard. It is what Pro Street needs to be-pure functionality plus the undeniable look.
Kelly lives in Mesa, Arizona, and he bought this '69 B-body for the paltry sum of $800 back in 1993. The car had seen better days for sure, but that didn't deter Kelly. Neighborhood kids had used the roof of the battered Road Runner as a trampoline, and the quarters were so wavy you could surf on them. Kelly and good friend Clarence Furnell spent countless hours prepping the sheetmetal for paint and adding tubs for big rubber. Kelly chose Chevy Lumina Torch Red to spotlight their meticulous bodywork.
Despite the rough exterior, the Road Runner was not devoid of charm, since it sported a 440 under the hood, a Dana 60 out back, and an 833 four-speed in between. Kelly felt that a big-inch big-block would be the only way to go and still maintain its street manners, so he assembled a 496-inch pump-gas-compatible combination. A 727 TorqueFlite screwed together by Jim Sanford of Mesa, Arizona, found its way behind the engine coupled with a mild 2,500-stall converter. The big Dana turns 4.10 gears and Mark Williams 35-spline axles. Kelly wanted to make sure that his Road Runner would not only fly, but do so without breaking parts.
Kelly feels that his Road Runner has not reached its full potential from a performance standpoint, but he's not eager to explore its ultimate limits as he doesn't want to add a rollbar. After all, it's a car that's as comfortable in bumper-to-bumper traffic as it is in the staging lanes. Why mess with success?
Car Craft Q&ACar Craft: The Pro Street debate is at full song in our offices. We're beginning to see a new version of Pro Street that's more streamlined and practical. It looks like you were striving for that with your Road Runner. When did you decide to build it the way you did?
Kelly Painter: You're not going to believe this, but I started on this back in 1994! Was it foresight? Nah, I just knew what I wanted the car to look like, and I knew how I wanted it to run. I had to be able to drive it on the street, run 12-flat, and stop at In-N-Out Burger on the way home.
CC: It's hard to believe that your car was as rough as you say it was when you bought it. What possessed you to take on such a daunting task?KP: I found this Road Runner about a mile from my house. It had been sitting in a backyard for about 10 years rotting away. The neighborhood kids used it as a playground. It really should have gone to the bone yard, but that's why I had no qualms about cutting it up.
CC: How does your family like your "hobby"?KP: My family is pretty involved. My wife is cool and lets me work on it. My three daughters really like the car. My oldest is just waiting to get her license so she can use it. When my daughter Monica was five years old, she would tell me to "run it to six, Dad!" on our way to get a Slurpee at the local 7-11. I wouldn't do it on the way home so she wouldn't spill her Slurpee. I'm lucky as my family is very supportive.