Having an addiction to racing is nothing new … it seems to infect many in the drag racing world at various levels. Joe New is a self-proclaimed racing addict that has a serious love for classic GM A-body cars; specifically anything produced by Oldsmobile. Over the years, Joe has built some impressive rides that have made big power, but nothing compared to his current street legal, boosted 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that combines his love of the Olds brand and drag racing.
Because Joe is a machinist by trade, it’s no real shock that he’s into cars, racing, and everything mechanical. The list of slick rides he’s wheeled in the past include a 1987 Buick Turbo T Limited, a 2005 Pontiac GTO, and a 1987 Buick Grand National that he and his wife still own. All of these have been fun cars, but the A-body has always been Joe’s Kryptonite.
One of Joe’s first Oldsmobile builds was a stout combination that ran into some unfortunate mechanical failure he had no control over. “In 1987, I built a 1976 Olds 442 that I put a 455 cubic-inch engine in from a 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont 88. The car ran pretty well, dipping into the 13.50s on regular street tires. I broke a ringland in it, so I went ahead and bought forged pistons and rebuilt it, plus added a bigger camshaft and carburetor,” Joe explains.
After Joe finished the motor build, he decided to transplant that bullet into a new car that he had — a 1977 Cutlass — and in the new chassis, the motor was able to produce some stellar passes into the low 12-second range. But Joe soon found an issue with his new combination. “I realized that the 1977 was a fat pig. My search for a lighter car brought me to a G-body chassis. I purchased a 1982 Cutlass that I put everything in, and the lighter and better-balanced car was able to run 11.60s,” he said.
After the success enjoyed with his 1982 Cutlass, Joe had to make some changes in his life. “In 1993, I took a break from racing to buy a house and sold the ’82 as a rolling chassis” explains Joe. After a few years of homeownership, he purchased a 1965 Cutlass that served as his daily driver, but couldn’t resist the urge to hot rod that car just like the others preceding it. “I took the motor and transmission from the ‘82 and put it in the ’65. I swapped the camshaft and got the car to run 11.60s, but I still wasn’t happy it,” he says. Soon, Joe was back on the prowl for something he had always wanted: a 1972 Olds Cutlass Supreme.
In 1999, Joe happened to come across just the car he was looking for in the local paper, a 1972 Cutlass Supreme, that was listed for $900 as a restoration project. Because he was working third shift at the time, Joe had his wife make the call about the car.
“My wife immediately called and left a message on the owner’s answering machine. He returned the call around 5 p.m. that evening and I went to look at it. The whole time I was at his place, his phone was ringing off the hook, and he told me his voicemail was completely full. My wife was the first message on his machine, so we got first crack at it. Needless to say, I bought the car and have been working on it ever since,” Joe shared of his A-bodies origins.
Joe immediately went to work on his new project car, making it his own and preparing it for track duty. The first powerplant to go under the hood was a 455 cubic-inch Oldsmobile engine that ran 11.50s naturally aspirated. That motor saw action for a few years until he decided it was time for a change, opting to go the diesel block route, and went on the hunt for parts that would fit his needs and goals.
With his new setup, Joe wasn’t going to cut any corners and set out to make some serious power to motivate his big-bodied ride. “I put together a 427 cubic-inch Oldsmobile diesel block-based build that ended up running 10.30s on motor and 9.90s with a 100-horsepower shot of nitrous” he says. After eight years of punishment at the track, the motor finally succumbed to a camshaft failure, which prompted Joe to put some serious thought into his next combo that would power his race car.
With the popularity and power potential of the LSX-based engines, Joe decided that would be the best route to go. And so, his quest began for the right engine. “I went with a 6.0-liter long-block that I found on Craigslist at first to get my feet wet with the fuel injection and the Holley system. After a year and a half of racing it like that, I added the turbocharger and upgraded the rods and pistons to bring it to where it is today,” he says.
The current BES Racing Engines-built mill under the hood of Joe’s Oldsmobile measures 364 cubic-inches with a boost-friendly 10:1 compression ratio and has a 4.000/3.622 bore and stroke combination. Joe was able to re-use the stock crankshaft while adding Probe pistons and a set of Ohio Crankshaft connecting rods to round out the rotating assembly.
For the top end of the engine, Joe kept things simple by using a GM LS9 camshaft, which helps the car keep its street manners for those 30-mile True Street cruises at LS Fest. To keep the boosted air flowing, BES took the stock 317 GM casting heads and gave them a liberal CNC porting at its shop. The ported heads have been upgraded with a full set of Ferrara intake and exhaust valves, along with a Comp Cams trunion kit for the stock 1.7 ratio rocker arms. This unassuming combination has pushed Joe’s Olds to a best pass of 8.93 at over 152 mph.
Because the Oldsmobile Cutlass didn’t come with an LSX-based engine from the factory, some provisions needed to be made with the motor for it to fit correctly. Joe went with a stock CTS-V oil pan to get the fit he wanted, and a Melling oil pump keeps all of the oil flowing through the engine each pass down the track.
Moving the air into the engine is an Edelbrock Super Victor intake and 90 mm throttle body. Feeding the fuel to the 120cc Holley injectors is a MagnaFuel pump that is monitored by an Aeromotive fuel regulator. Providing spark to the LSX engine is a Holley ignition box, stock LSX truck coils, and Taylor wires. S&M Motorsports from Cincinnati, Ohio assists Joe in the tuning of the Holley Dominator computer system.
Continuing with the theme of keeping things simple, Joe used a set of stock truck manifolds as the start of his turbo system by flipping them forward. The backbone and 20 pounds of boost for the turbo system comes from a single S484 turbocharger from Midwest Turbo. A ProCharger blow-off valve and Twin Precision 46 mm wastegates round out the critical parts of the system. For piping on the hot side, Joe went with 2.5-inch tubing, and on the cold side, used three-inch tubes. The down pipe reduces from 5 inches to 4 inches to mate with the rest of the full exhaust that keeps the Oldsmobile legal for True Street class racing.
Joe’s transmission of choice for his Cutlass is the always-popular GM Turbo 400 that’s filled with a TCI manual valve body and transbrake. The B&M flexplate transfers power from the LSX engine to the PTC 9.5-inch converter each time Joe bangs a gear via a Cheetah shifter.
The stock 8.5-inch rearend has been upgraded with a Moser Engineering spool, axles, and a 3.23 gear set. Attached to the rearend, and aiding in the power application is a set of chromoly lower control arms that Joe made himself, and are attached to the rearend by a set of Strange Engineering shocks. Joe added a heavy duty anti-roll bar to replace the weaker stock unit.
Up front, he replaced the stock steering system with a TRZ manual rack and pinion unit to cut weight out and aid in power transfer to the rear. The upper and lower control arms were also upgraded with parts from TRZ, and coupled with Menscer AFCO shocks. Aerospace Components disc brakes help shave even more weight off the car and bring it to a stop during Joe’s numerous blasts down the drag strip.
Inside the car, Joe has kept things pretty stock with the original back seat still intact, along with the stock dash, but modified to fit the Holley display so he can monitor the car’s vitals. A 10-point chromoly roll cage keeps Joe legal and safe for his eight second passes, as does a single Stroud parachute.
Besides running in, and being a past class winner in the ultra-competitive True Street category at the LS Fest, Joe puts some serious laps on his hot rod all over the Midwest. He’s a regular in several series, including Friday Night Lightz and the Nsane Outlaw Series. Joe runs the King Of The Streets class in the Friday Night Lightz series, where he has won three times, and then bolts up some 10.5-inch shoes to the Olds for the Nsane Outlaw Series.
Joe may have gone down a few different routes with his cars, but his return to the Oldsmobile family netted a boosted street car unlike any other. Over the past 16 years his hard work has allowed him to build on his vision and learn some new tricks along the way. Joe’s Cutlass may look like a land yacht, but it has more than enough rip to make any hardcore drag racer take notice.