Young at Heart – Octogenarian Ollie Frazier and His 70 Nova

The interest in the car hobby and car culture is rooted in different sources for each of us. It may be the influence of a family member, or a particular event that shapes our love of cars. Sometimes our passion for cars, and performance comes as a result from our environment. For Ollie Frazier, growing up in southern California during the dawn of car culture shaped his love of cars, and created for him a life long hobby. Frazier says, “Growing up in Southern California, hot rods were the thing, so I’ve always had a love for cars.”

A Fast History

Frazier began racing like so many did during that era on the street. By 1950 though he’d taken things to the track. Racing all around southern California in one type of car or another. “It seems like I’ve owned hundreds of cars,” the eighty year old tells us. Frazier started out with a flat head powered 1940 Mercury, racing at places such as Santa Ana, Pomona, San Fernando, San Diego, Colton, San Gabriel, and anywhere else there was a drag strip.

Frazier has been as fast as 174 MPH behind the wheel of a dragster, and run elapsed times in the low nine second range, “That was the last meet at Freemont, and there was a tail wind blowing that day,” he tells us with a chuckle.

Frazier has raced nearly his entire life, coming up on 63 years of time behind the wheel this year. “I took a little time off to get married, and raise a family,” he says. He also took some time away from the strip to race go-karts, and vintage spring cars. “Drag racing is my roots and I really enjoy it the most,”Frazier tells us.

Growing up in Southern California, hot rods were the thing, so I’ve always had a love for cars

We recently caught up with him during the PSCA event at The Strip in Las Vegas, NV. We found Frazier competing behind the wheel of his 1970 Nova in the Street Muscle class.

Lucky Bidder

Frazier’s Nova is his latest ride in a long list of memorable cars. He had been racing a ’57 Chevy two door hardtop, which he decided to sell. Frazier missed the car, and the thrill of making passes down the quarter mile. So he began considering what to buy next. He had noticed a ’70 Nova at an NHRA event and had made a mental note that he’d like to have one. “I always wanted a Nova, so I figured it was time to get one,” he said.

Scouring the internet, Frazier one day stumbled upon an eBay listing for a ’70 Nova project car that was incomplete. The car was located on the opposite side of the country in North Carolina. He placed a bid, and to his delight came up as the high bidder at the end of the auction. The car was shipped via covered transport to Frazier’s home in Lake Havasu, AZ where he began work finishing it up.

Elbow Grease Required

Frazier soon found that he had his work cut out for him. There was nothing that he considered a major issue with the car, just mostly small details that added up to a larger than anticipated amount of work. The roll bar was not installed properly and would not pass a safety inspection. The car was also in need of many additional upgrades.

He found the engine’s flex-plate was installed backwards. Chuckling again he tells us, “I don’t know how they build cars in North Carolina, but there were a few things that needed attention on this car.”

Frazier repaired and completed the car’s wiring, adding an Odyssey battery to it for increased reliability, “Good electronics make all the difference,” he says. He also had to rebuild the rear suspension, completely disassembling it to get things the way he considered correct with the traction bars and leaf springs.

He freshened up the engine to prepare for a season of drag racing competition. That engine is a 406 cubic inch small block Chevy, based on a 400 block. A Lunati cam bumps the valves, the aluminum cylinder heads are from Edelbrock. Compression ratio comes in at 10.5:1, and Frazier runs the car on pump gas. There’s also a plate nitrous system providing an extra kick for those quarter mile passes. The claim was that the engine was assembled by a NASCAR shop in North Carolina, however by whom exactly is not known to Frazier.

The transmission is a powerglide from Art Carr, with a Greg Slack 4,000 RPM stall converter. The rear differential is a Chrysler 8.75 with 3.91 gears, Mark Williams axles, and a spool. It all rides on Weld Racing wheels. Frazier recently made the switch from drag radials to Mickey Thompson slicks and says the car is a much more consistent performer now.

Nearly all of the work to get the car race ready was performed by Frazier himself. Thankfully the car’s body was already in excellent condition. Finished in Honda Element orange, with ’69 Nova silver stripes, the car is striking in it’s appearance. There’s no body filler in the car, the only fiberglass is that of the cowl induction hood.

Won’t Slow Down

At the PSCA event in Las Vegas, Frazier was oconsistently piloting his Nova to 11.40 ET’s taking part in the Street Muscle class, “That’s about as fast as this old man wants to go,” he tells us laughing.

During the off season Frazier is spending time going through the car once again. He has the engine out and disassembled. He will be replacing the bearings, have the cylinder bores honed, and also replace the piston rings. Old school, experienced, and methodical, Frazier is ensuring his car is reliable and up for another season of abuse on the drag strip.

Frazier intends to follow the PSCA events again next year as well as do some racing closer to home. He travels and races with a group from the Lake Havasu area. He also tells us there’s news that a track may be going in at his hometown, something he and many others are very excited about.

That’s about as fast as this old man wants to go

By eighty years old most people are slowing down. Ollie Frazier sets an example for all of us to follow. He keeps going, probably faster than most men a fourth of his age, wrenching on his own car, trailering it to races with his pickup, and driving it in competition, sometimes several hundred miles away from home.

Instead of hanging up his helmet, Frazier keeps putting it back on, we can only hope that at 80 years old, we’ll be able to say the same thing about ourselves.

 

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
Read My Articles

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