At first glance, it looks like just your average street rod with a fairly non-average paint job, but look just a tad closer and you can see the big tires on the back, and realize that they ain’t street tires, they’re big Goodyear drag slicks on Center Line Convo Pros. An even closer inspection reveals a full rollcage and a big header collector, sans muffler, nearly scraping the ground. When the driver fires the thing up, it all becomes crystal clear that is a lot more than just a pretty rod.
The exhaust note is deep and loud as the slicks do their dance in the burnout box, and when the driver releases the trans brake at the green light and the front tires go airborne, then drives it out the back door to a mid-9-second pass, you’re compelled to go check the thing out.
That’s what we did at the 2012 March Meet at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California, after watching Derrol Hubbard’s bad ass ’32 Ford sedan make a pass. Derrol was running in the March Meet’s C/Gas class among all sorts of cars, street rods, muscle cars, and full-on race cars.
Derrol lives in Palm Springs, California now, but used to live in Kansas, near hot rodder Jay Schmidt. 47 year-old Jay, a farmer/rancher by trade, has been building cars since right out of his teens, and when Derrol got a Jones for a hot rod, he called his old neighbor and persuaded him to build him one. Jay said, “It took about two to three years to build the car, and another year to get it to go straight after that.” That’s because from day one, Derrol wanted to race it, with Jay handling the driving duties.
Jay tried to convince Derrol that a Ford should have a Ford motor, but the owner was stuck on the reliability and parts availability of a big-block Chevy, so that’s what they used. Originally, they were aiming to make the car run 10.60s but decided that wasn’t quick enough, so the goal became 9.60s and to run that number, they went with a Reher-Morrison 509 crate motor with Brodix heads and a big Dominator carb. It makes 840 horsepower and has been dead-reliable for the nine years they’ve had it.
“We’ve had really, really good luck with it. It’s a strongly built motor that’s been dependable, and we’re really happy with it. I freshened it up once with a bottom end and valve springs and everything looked perfect. I’ve never even had the heads off,” said Jay. Behind the rat motor is a Mike’s Transmissions Powerglide with a ‘brake.
The frame is a stock ’32 Ford that was fully boxed and narrowed in the rear to fit the big tires, and a 9-inch rearend rear is hung with a conventional 4-link and QA1 adjustable coil-overs. A traditional Mustang II front suspension with adjustable VariShock coil-overs is about as simple as it gets, but is obviously effective.
The color on the mildly chopped steel body is a custom mix of purple to match Jay and Derrol’s Kansas State Wildcats colors, and it looks damn good for a 12 year-old paint job.
The interior is fully race-oriented, but still has a right-side seat to scare the bejeezus out of anyone foolish enough to ride along, which is possible since the ’32 is licensed and insured for street use. Though its 5-gallon fuel cell limits the range to local cruise nights, so the terror is brief.
How did it do in C/Gas at Famoso? Too well, actually. On Friday’s qualifying pass, they had the wrong torque converter in the car and it stalled at 6,000 rpm while Jay launched the car at 4,000, which resulted in a big wheelstand that nearly yanked the rear tires off the ground. The landing required new shocks and a different converter, which made the car run too quick. In this class, you can’t run quicker than 9.60, and the ’32 refused to run that slow.
Jay explained, “I’m from Kansas where the density altitude is 4,000 to 5,000 feet, but this weekend at Bakersfield we’re almost at sea level, which is quite a change for me.” In the first round of eliminations, he ran a 9.47 and was eliminated from competition.