The McGees have always been a racing family. Sons Rob and Ron McGee grew up with father, Ron McGee, Sr., while competing in the IHRA Top Sportsman class for many years. Racing for the family trio came to a stop when both Rob’s father and brother were lost shortly after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Though Rob took a hiatus from the drag racing for a while, he did actively enjoy quad runners and off-road racing. Ultimately though, he was drawn back to the dragstrip because of another hardship.
A few years ago, Rob’s wife had a stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak. At that point, he thought it was time to get back into automotive racing. This was also the opportunity to bring his son, Devin, into the sport, thus making a McGee team whole again.
“We went back to drag racing, and have been racing for the past five years,” Rob says. “We had a tube-chassis ’96 Monte Carlo for the first couple of years. We tried running the Top Sportsman field at Eddyville Raceway Park and qualified, but we were always on the bump. We knew we needed to build a car that could make the field every time.”
Rob had learned to bend rollcages when racing off-road. Since you need to rebuild them a lot in that sport, he purchased a bender and got pretty good at it. He decided the only way he could afford to build a good car, was to build it himself.
“That’s how this ’81 Chevy Malibu came about,” Rob says. “We found a body style that was something no one else had and was cool. We started building the car in September of 2016. I initially told Devin, it would take about two years to complete the build. We worked in the garage a lot of nights until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. It went smoothly, and we finished early.”
Rob had never built an entire car on his own. He had helped with pieces and parts on the family race cars, but constructing an entire car from scratch was a new experience. Rob did relay that having Devin working beside him was an added incentive.
“Devin is outstanding,” Rob says. “We have always spent time together in the garage. He is computer smart, and figures out and bends pipe well. He has no interest in welding, so he will bend all the pipe, notch it, and help me fit it, but when it comes to welding, he’ll just walk away.”
Devin remained fully involved with working on the car and wanted the best of everything for the project. “His hands were on every inch of this car while we were building it, “Rob says. “I wanted to try to go cheap in a couple of places, but he told me we weren’t just building a race car, we’re building a show car. Everything I wanted to go cheap on, he was dead set against.”
The shell is ’81 Malibu and has all of the stock lights with LED bulbs and grill. The doors, front clip, and 5-inch cowl hood are all Glasstek fiberglass. The trunk lid is from Harwood Industries. All of the Lexan windows were cut and sized by Devin and Rob. They wanted to keep the body clean and stock-looking, so they laid on Dark Gray Metallic paint.
Chassis construction includes 2×3 mild-steel frame rails, strut frontend. The four-link rear suspension was also home-built. There is a 9-inch rearend with 4.56 gears and Moser Engineering 35-spline axles. Weld Wheels’ Magnum 2.0 wheels are wrapped in Mickey Thompson Tire slicks and ET fronts.
There have been two versions of the 632ci big-block Chevy used in the Malibu since originally built. They both used an Edelbrock Performance intake, Air Flow Research heads, Dart Machinery block, Jesel rockers, and COMP Cams pushrods. Power is transferred through a Reid-case-equipped Powerglide, with a TCI Automotive flexplate and Coan Engineering 10-inch torque converter. They shift with a TCI Outlaw Shifter with Shifnoid solenoid.
The driving duties are now passed to Devin, and at a No Prep race, he ran a 5.05 e.t., spraying nitrous for the entire 1/8-mile. “Devin was able to feel the tires slipping while going down the track, but it went straight as an arrow,” Rob says. “He didn’t have to steer it or anything.”
Not only do the McGees compete at No-Prep events in their region, but they also go after the popular Outlaw 632 class that is held at many large heads-up events such as their first time at No Mercy 8 event last year. “We plan to spray a 250hp nitrous shot down the entire track at Eddyville, and we hope to get it into the 4.80s,” Rob says. “We will have to add 100 pounds to the car unless Devin lets me take the wheelie bars off the car. He’s a little gun shy of doing that because I flipped my old Monte Carlo over backward once.”
Driven to qualify higher in the Outlaw 632 category, the pair built a new 632ci big-block Chevy combination that dynoed in at 1,647 horsepower. “With the new engine, we started 2018 by running our best of a 4.82 in the 1/8-mile.” Rob then drops the bomb, “We were just starting to get the bugs worked out at the track when we received a purchase offer for the car that we couldn’t refuse.”
Rob and Devin are incredibly proud of the Malibu they built. What makes the story interesting is that they are primed and ready to dive into another banzai-build right away.
“We still have our new 632ci engine we recently built, as the car left as a roller. We are quickly making a decision about a sleeker body style to continue competing in the Outlaw 632 class,” Rob adds. “We are leaning towards a Cadillac CTS coupe if we can lock down a new body shell. Whatever we decide, the tubing is sitting here, and we are going to move forward quickly. I’m actually looking forward to some more late nights in the shop with my son.”
Whatever body goes on the family chassis jig next, in just a few months you can count on the new ride being as slick as the first venture by the father and son.