Just because everybody else does something doesn’t mean you need to — that’s how you can approach life, or that’s how you can approach building a racecar.
Gary and Bryon Rusich definitely weren’t interested in building your typical Pro Modified car…instead, they had Jason and Michael Wood from Wizard Race Cars create a one-off supercharged 1939 Lincoln Zephyr.
The Rusich brothers have been in the automotive business since 1979 when they opened Rusich Collision in New Orleans. Originally, their racing career took place on two wheels, back in the late 1970s when they raced motorcycles; but they eventually decided to do some Super Gas racing in the NHRA. Like so many others the thirst for speed motivated them to step up to a faster class and that led them to the Pro Mod.
When it came time to build another car, Gary and Byron went to Wizard Race Cars with the desire to have something very nice built. Since the team at Wizard loves to crank out unique cars, they took on that challenge and pitched the idea of building a wild car using a Zephyr body from Deco Rides as the inspiration.
“We bought a fiberglass body and basically cut it to pieces. They narrowed the car, raised the rear quarter panels, modified the front cap, and gave the body a rake that it didn’t originally have. It is essentially a one-off car. The chassis is a 25.1 certified double framerail made from chrome-moly with a 4-link rearend and strut front end. The rearend has 40-spline gun-drilled axles and a Strange Engineering Ultra Case third member. The full carbon-fiber interior was all built at Wizard Race Cars,” Gary explains.
Powering the Zephyr is a 540 cubic-inch big-block Chevy with a 12:71 supercharger as a power adder. Behind the engine is a two-speed Lenco transmission that Gary will man as the car makes each pass. The electronics for the Zephyr consist of an MSD Power Grid and Computech data recording system that works with the ARC overhead control module.
Wizard Race Cars takes the time on each of its builds to make sure the car fits the customer perfectly — this goes for how they sit in the car, as well as how the car looks. Since the Rusich brothers are from New Orleans the car had to have a loud look to it, so that allowed the Zephyr body to really set the tone with the mobster theme.
“The paint scheme was a collaboration between Wizard Race Cars, Rusich Collision, and Kal Smith Paint. Jason Wood designed the paint scheme and did most of the airbrush work. It’s partially a wrap with airbrush and paintwork mixed in. Since Gary owns a paint and body shop they handled the bodywork and main colors of the car. Kal Smith did some airbrush on it, as well,” explains Michael Wood from Wizard Race Cars.
Now, just because this Zephyr looks like a rolling work of art doesn’t mean the Rusich brothers are just going to let it sit in the lounge of the body shop — they plan on putting some laps in on this car and having a lot of fun with it very soon.
“The plan right now is to stay local with the car and maybe head to some of the outlaw Pro Mod events in our region. We would like to get to the track soon to do some testing but we’re not sure when that will be. As for goals, we’re just like any other racers, we always want to go faster,” Gary says.
When Gary and Bryon Rusich gave Wizard Race Cars the green light to build their Zephyr they had no idea what the final product would look like. It’s safe to say this eye-catching ride exceeded their expectations and is going to be a crowd favorite when it debuts at the track.