Sweet Sleeper: Ray Gardocki’s 9-Second 1968 Boosted “Sweet Pea” Nova

Where you pour the money into your build really depends on what the ultimate goal of the car is. There are builders who want bodywork that’s immaculate and are willing to sacrifice some performance for this, and then there are guys like Ray Gardocki who aren’t concerned with looks at all. Gardocki’s four-door 1968 Nova known as “Sweet Pea” has just the right amount of crust on its flanks that goes well with the nasty boosted LS engine under the hood.

Sweet Pea came into Gardocki’s life as just a fun car to play with as he finished another project car, but like so many project cars things quickly spiraled out of control. After digging into the car Gardocki found several issues and eventually discovered the engine had no oil pressure. Soon, with help from Dynospeed Racing the Nova was issued a new 4.8-liter LS engine for a heart along with a few other upgrades to get it going. That engine served Gardocki well until he decided to start making some more upgrades to go faster, and a 6.0-liter mill found its way between the fenders, leading to some respectable 10-second passes.

What makes Gardocki’s Nova so cool is just how unassuming it really looks. If the car didn’t’ have the 15-inch drag-style rear wheels it would just look like a very average streetcar from a distance. When you walk up to the Nova and look inside its true intentions become apparent as you see the full roll cage on display; but even that is tucked away nicely. If you happen to miss the roll cage when Gardocki stages the car and leaves off the transbrake any sleeper notions are wiped away quickly when the Nova lights the boards with nine-second runs.

Check out this video from blown64vette that shows Gardocki’s Nova ripping off a stout 9.10-second pass at over 145 mph during LS Fest 2018.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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