Sammy Bonner is the name, and if you're the least bit interested in racing your street machine, you'll need to read his story. Ya see, in the late '90s Southern California still had dragstrips to handle racers from the Los Angeles area. Sammy and his friends raced a 10-second '83 Camaro out of Compton up until Terminal Island in Long Beach closed in 1997. Then he turned to Carlsbad raceway in San Diego until that shut down last year. But track closures didn't stop him from racing. No way. Even with family obligations and working full-time at an auto repair shop, he still managed to score this Nova as a $300 roller and build it to run in the 8s. He has plans to compete in the entire Pacific Street Car Association (PSCA) '05 season.
How does a 31-year-old with three young sons race an entire campaign? For one, the PSCA has only eight events that take place at three tracks in the desert Southwest. Where Carlsbad and Terminal Island left a gap, the California Speedway in Fontana took over and built a strip next to the NASCAR oval. The PSCA visits Fontana twice between the opener at Speedworld MotorPlex in Phoenix and the finals at The Strip in Las Vegas. All the tracks are less than a day's travel from L.A. For two, he has a lot of help from local shops like Hot Rod Performance in Torrance, which was started by owner Mark Millhollin as a place to hang out, bench race, and build fast cars. Mark assembled the Sonny Leonard mill, and with the help of Sammy and his friends, got the car prepped for a few Open Comp blasts at 8.84 at 152 mph at Fontana.
Starting this spring, Sammy and the crew are going to step up to a larger tire and campaign in either Hot Street or Extreme Street, so watch for him. Or better yet, learn from his example and start building your own car and go racing. If Sammy can do it, so can you. Check out the racing series at pscaracing.com.
Car: '70 Chevrolet Nova
Owner: Sammy Bonner
Crew: Sammond, Sammonte, Semaje Bonner and friends
Engine: Merlin II 548-inch big-block kit from Sonny Leonard, 16.1:1 compression ratio
Heads: Sonny's Big Chief CNC-ported 14.5-degree oval port
Ignition: MSD crank trigger with 7AL-2 ignition box
Induction: Brodix 1x4 intake with Holley HP series 1,250-cfm carburetor
Exhaust: Lemons headers and 6-inch collector mufflers
Camshaft: Mark's secret duration Crane Cams custom-grind roller with 0.825-inch lift
Transmission: Mike's Transmission Vasco Powerglide with a Continental 5,500-stall converter and transbrake
Rearend: Strange spool and centersection with 4.30:1 gears and Tom's Differential axles
Front suspension: Rack-and-pinion with a modified crossmember to accept a dry-sump oil pan
Rear suspension: Square-tube ladder-bar rear clip from Chris Alston's Chassisworks
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes front and rear
Wheels and tires: Weld Aluma-Star 2.0 15x4, front; 15x10 with Mickey Thompson 13.5x30-15, rear
Assembly: Dave Ward at Precision Engineering, Mark Washington at Washington Motorsports, and PMR Racecars
Paint: Aztec Gold painted by Nacho at Coach Works in Long Beach, CA
Upholstery: Stock vinyl restored by Rudy at Modern Performance, Orange, CA