When a racer begins a project there’s a goal that exists in the back of their mind guiding them toward the final product. Five years ago, Michigan native Brian Hennessy decided he wanted to build the killer 1963 Chevy II that he was dreaming of. After a long and winding road, the Nova he envisioned came to life with 632 cubic-inches of nitrous-fed power under the hood.
Brian’s career in racing began like so many others: with shenanigans on the streets with his friends. When he realized how much he enjoyed automobiles and the thrills they can provide, the decision was made to step up what he was racing and where he was doing it.
“I did start out street racing, but that eventually wasn’t enough so I started doing some grudge racing at local tracks. Soon, I was traveling to different events all over the country to race. A friend of mine talked me into trying class racing and after one event I was hooked,” Brian says.
After owning at least 10 Mustang, Brian had the itch to try something different, and he wanted to build a Chevrolet. In 2015, he began the search for his next ride and found the Nova as a bare roller in Ohio and knew that’s exactly what he wanted. Brian made the decision to pull the trigger on the car and kick off a new and exciting project.
“My dad was on vacation and I sent him out with a pocket full of cash and an address to get the car, sight unseen. When he got there and took a look at the car he called and informed me that it was in pretty rough shape overall. I told him that was fine and the car was what I wanted for this build. He paid the man and brought the car home for me,” Brian explains.
To continue his class racing journey in Outlaw 632, Brian wanted to make sure he had plenty of power under the hood. Fulton Competition Race Engines got the call to build a stout engine filled with great parts from Gibtech and GRP. Dart Big Chief heads that got a full massage from Fulton were bolted to the short block. A custom Fulton intake manifold that features a Fulton-plumbed nitrous system work with a pair of CFM carburetors to bring, air, fuel, and nitrous into the engine. The task of sending the nitrous-fed power to the rear tires is handled by a JCR-built turboglide and Cameron’s Torque Converter Services converter.
In the rear, a Fab-9 rearend works with a set of Strange Engineering axles, spool, and gears to rotate the Mickey Thompson 315 radial tires that ride on RC Components wheels. Dampening duties in the rear are handled by a set of AFCO shocks and by Strange units in the front. Bringing the Nova to a stop after each pass is a full set of Strange brakes.
Inside the Nova, you’ll find a full 25.4 chrome-moly roll cage built by EC1 Race Cars that’s highlighted by a very tidy carbon-fiber and tin interior. The stunning looks of the Nova on the outside are courtesy of Chris Robins and his killer Hose Of Kolors tangerine and black paint job.
So far, Brian’s best pass with the Nova has been a respectable 4.49-second blast at 162 mph. Those numbers and how well the car drives are both tied to the chassis work done by Ernie Carraso at EC1 Race Cars.
“The car leaves and drives straight as an arrow on every pass. EC1 Race Cars built a great car and they also set it up in the shop for me. We’ve never had to make any adjustments to the chassis to help the car get down the track. So far, this car has taken everything we can throw at it power-wise and not given us any problems,” Brian explains.
Brian and his team are some dedicated individuals when it comes to racing; their first trip to a Duck X Productions race was nearly cut short due to a mechanical failure. After some hardcore thrashing, they made the call for the first round and were ready for battle.
“We melted the engine down during our first qualifier at Lights Out 10. We got help from a ton of people and my crew got the engine back together in time for the first round. We went into that first race pretty much untested after just putting eight new pistons in the engine. We also had a bent pushrod we couldn’t find, so we kept an eye on the valvetrain and lashed the valves every round. We went three rounds with the motor not at 100-percent, so at No Mercy, we plan to make a statement,” Brian says.
Getting out and racing is a fun hobby that Brian enjoys, and he gets plenty of support at home from his wife, Nicole, and his children, along with many other people.
“Ernie Carraso has helped out so much and this car wouldn’t be what it is without him. I also get help from Joe Gorton, Chad Anselmy, and Tony Lasky. Those guys are my crew that have worked just as hard on this car as me. When I wanted to just load up at Lights Out after we melted the motor, those guys were right there pulling the engine out. We got pistons delivered at 11:00 p.m. at night and those guys had the motor out, fixed, and fired up at 6:00 a.m. ready for first round,” Brian says.
Brian Hennessy’s Nova has a subtle and clean look to it, but packs a 632 cubic-inch punch that’s backed by a whole lot of nitrous. He set out to build a car that fit an idea he had in his mind and found a way to make it happen. His Nova is one of those rare racecars that can pick up a win at the car show on its way to picking up a win at the track.