While traipsing around the NMCA West Street Car Nationals last week in Fontana, California, we couldn’t walk 50 feet across the pits without running into an epic drag car. Several times a year, drag racing enthusiasts from miles around head to the San Bernardino County venue to compete, and on this occasion, Kevin Stokesberry, brought a ride that was dressed to impress, both on and off the track.
We circled around his pit after watching him make a great pass in the early afternoon, where he blasted a 9.50-second 1/4-mile run. Its cool blue and stylish dual white-striped color scheme shone brilliantly in the bright sun, but looks alone are just one aspect of this musclecar’s appeal.
Stokesberry was on hand to talk with us about his killer Chevy, and what drew him to it in the first place. “Basically, in high school, I had a Nova and couldn’t afford a Chevelle,” he said. “As time went on and I made a little more money, the Chevelle became affordable for me. Ever since I got this car, everything has been about Chevelles. Even my dog is named Chevelle!”
The year was 1997 when Stokesberry picked up the Chevelle. Back then, it was sporting a 350 cubic-inch small-block V8, and it quickly became his daily driver. In the time since he first parked it in his garage, Stokesberry admits he has done just about everything imaginable to the car.
“I had a blower motor in it six years ago, and it was making 1,800 horsepower, but I got tired of all the maintenance that came with high-end motors. The motor I have now,” he said, gesturing toward the 635 cubic-inch Dart big-block V8, “is easier to maintain, in part because it’s just naturally aspirated instead of supercharged.”
Using 12-degree heads, a sheetmetal intake, and other mods and upgrades, the current engine’s output is in the neighborhood of 1,350 horsepower. “In this setup, I’ve ran a best of 8.31 seconds at 171 miles per hour,” said Stokesberry. Running in NMCA’s Nostalgia Street Car (NSC) and Open Comp (OC) classes, it’s a real treat to see man and machine drop the hammer out on the blacktop.
As you might expect, Stokesberry is quite proud of his Chevelle and how it’s evolved. “My car does big wheelies,” he said. “It’s gotten millions of pictures taken of it, and it was featured on the T-shirt at the first NMCA race in Pomona. I’m very proud of it.”
Despite being rather heavy for Stokesberry’s tastes (it currently weighs 3,200 pounds with him sitting inside), the car is still the apple of his eye. With its two-speed Powerglide transmission dialed in, the Chevelle is controllable, but still a blast to drive. Stokesberry has no big plans as far as more modifications, aside from an exhaust system that will help the car run a little quieter.
Chevelles and other Bowtie musclecars were in full force at NMCA that weekend, but Stokesberry and his two-tone ’71 Chevelle had just that right combination of power and style to make us envious. We tip our hats to the man and his ride, and look forward to what’s next for him and his “Big Blue Chevy.”