If you’ve ever taken a good look inside and underneath a hardcore, six-second, 200 MPH race car, you’re fully aware that most of the components on these cars aren’t just parts you can flip open a catalog and order. With their lightweight, finely-tuned suspension systems, such cars typically feature one-off setups custom crafted by any number of chassis builders. But when your family has over thirty-five years in the racing industry manufacturing components for street and race car chassis, you’re sure to take an approach that your customers can relate to. And that’s exactly what Chris Alston Jr., the heir to the Chris Alston’s Chassisworks business, has done with his wicked-quick 1964 Chevrolet Nova.
This started out as nothing more than a street car that we’d mess around with and street race.
“This started out as nothing more than a street car that we’d mess around with and street race,” said Alston Jr. “We started building a better front suspension system and then built a round tube, back-half setup in the late 1990′s and that’s when this whole process really started. We modified the car with the new components and ran it in a D.O.T. street car type of class originally. Eventually, we got into running True 10.5 with it before we stepped up to Outlaw 10.5. It’s just kind of evolved into what you see over the years.”
In Outlaw 10.5 competition across the country, it’s been both the uniqueness of the cars and the engine combinations – lest we forget the incredible elapsed times and speeds – that have made the category so popular and such a mainstay. And while the single and twin turbochargers and screw-blown Hemi’s have reigned supreme, Alston Jr. opted to go the road less traveled in 2008 with the combination that resides within the engine compartment of his beautiful Nova, and as evidenced by his personal best performance, the results have been nothing short of impressive.
“We went with this all-billet, HEMI configuration for the durability,” says Alston. “The standard Chevrolet stuff we were using was just really getting beat up, and we needed something that could hold up.”
Powering the Nova is a 526 cubic inch, Chrysler HEMI-based bullet built by Miner Brothers Racing Engines in Stockton, California, which specializes in engines utilized by supercharged Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car competitors. The powerplant is based around a custom billet aluminum engine block and billet cylinder heads.
At the heart of this thunderous engine combination is Vortech’s V-28 123A-Trim centrifugal supercharger, which at 40-plus pounds of boost and spinning more than 60,000 RPM, delivers the power needed to run well into the six-second zone. The Hemi-headed bullet is topped with a FAST XFI electronic fuel injection system burning methanol and mated with the supercharger. The ignition system is comprised of MSD’s Pro Mag 44 magento and Power Grid system controller. Data acquisition, meanwhile, is all performed through a Racepak unit.
The V-28 supercharger is one of Vortech’s race-intended behemoths, capable of producing 45-plus PSI and some 2,800 horsepower with 83-percent efficiency, and lower discharge temperatures, creating improved trap speed potential. And the extreme durability of the head unit allowed Alston Jr. to press more than twenty passes from his unit at over 40 pounds of boost…without fault.
A Hughes 10.5-inch Powerglide transmission is mated to a Hughes 10.5-inch Pro Mod-style torque converter, and transfers through a lightweight 4130 aluminum driveshaft to a Chassisworks factory-welded FAB9 drag race rear end housing with a Strange Engineering 40-spline Ultra center section and 40-spline Strange drag race axles.
For Alston Jr., the chassis and suspension system under his Nova is a key part of this high-profile race car to not only showcase the Chassisworks components and their potential and capabilities in such a demanding application, but to serve as a testbed for the latest improvements in design for the ’62-67 Nova/Chevy II. Per NHRA and SFI regulations, the car is built around a 25.5-spec round-tube chassis based on Chassisworks own 3/4 kit chassis, with components from Chassisworks comprising the suspension system. The Nova body itself is all original, classic Chevrolet iron mated with fiberglass front end, hood, trunk, and doors.
“All of the first generation Nova suspension components that we designed and manufactured were derived from our experience with the sloppy OEM stuff, so everything on the car and in our catalog has evolved from there,” says Alston.
At the front of the car, you’ll find Chassisworks’ bolt-on Chevy II Drag Race Strut System, made of 4130 tubular chromoly which weighs in at just 124 pounds. Among the features of the upgraded unit include scalloped lightweight firewall mounts, ride height-adjustable upper shock mounts, a quick release, extended travel steering rack, engine mounts for small or big block engines, and a host of other elements. Likewise in the rear, the FAB9 housing is mated with Chassisworks’ Scalloped Avenger 4-link system for 1-5/8-inch clips and chassis. The front suspension sports the Alston brand Varishock’s 6-inch travel, double-adjustable shocks and struts, while a pair of seven-inch units reside in the rear.
“The car has been modified a couple of different times, but it’s essentially a modern Outlaw 10.5 car with a custom, round-tube chassis from the firewall on back.”
We caught up with the younger Alston at the recently completed Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas to take a closer look at his ride, and it was there that this wicked Nova carded it’s quickest lap ever at 6.653-seconds at 210.57 MPH to qualify third in Outlaw 10.5 and was right there with NMCA and NMRA champion Mike Murillo in the semifinals before slowing to just a 6.89 at 167 MPH. Anyone who says you can’t go fast n commonly-available chassis components from a catalog needs only to take a look at Chris Alston Jr.’s awesome Nova to reconsider that notion.