Not everyone wants to build something to take to the track that screams “I’m a racecar” in bright neon lights. Kentucky native Heath Forshee decided he wanted to build a car with an understated look, could be driven on the street, and bring the thunder like Thor when he mashed the gas. Forshee’s 1966 four-door Nova that goes by “Gracie” checks all of his boxes courtesy of the boosted LSX power on tap.
Classic muscle cars have fascinated Forshee since he was a child. He’s always been around them and enjoys the diversity of each era. The drag racing influence over Forshee came from his stepfather and is something he’s now passing on to his own children as they go to the track more and more.
“I started going to Beech Bend Raceway with my stepfather when I was about six years old and haven’t stopped since. There’s something about drag racing that really attracts me to the sport that I can’t shake. I’ve just always been around these old cars and drag racing so it’s a part of my life,” Forshee explains.
The idea to create Gracie came to Forshee when he decided he wanted to start another build and didn’t want anything too flashy. Since the car was going to be driven on the street it had to be reliable and not too over-the-top. If you put a set of steel wheels with hubcaps on Forshee’s Nova it would look like any other Saturday night cruiser.
“I wanted to build a four-door car because it’s something different. The car needed to have a sleeper look to it as much as possible to fit my vision. When you see the car from far away it just looks like a street car with some racing wheels on it,” Forshee says.
The backbone of Gracie starts with an 8.50 certified roll cage that was fabricated by Forshee and Bivins Race Cars. A set of Calvert Racing Caltracs split mono leaf springs, traction bars, and leaf spring sliders work together to keep the Strange Engineering 12-bolt rearend planted to the pavement. At each corner of the car Forshee added Strange brakes, AFCO shocks, and RC Components wheels.
To power the Nova Forshee used an LS3-based 377 cubic-inch engine with Trickflow cylinder heads, Brian Tooley Racing valvetrain parts, a Lil John’s Motorsports Solutions Stage 2 turbo camshaft, and a Holley Sniper intake. Midwest Turbo built the 84mm snail that pumps the boost into the turbo system that was fabricated by Jessie’s Garage and Bivins Race Cars. Jessie Coulter does all of the tuning for the Nova through the Holley Dominator ECU that controls the engine’s functions. A PTC powerglide and torque converter transfer power to the rearend.
Forshee has been trying to get as much track-time as possible with the Nova and has pushed it into the five-second zone already. The ultimate goal is to have the car running in the 4.90s while still being a street car. Forshee would also like to try and run the car the full quarter mile to crack into the seven-second zone.
“What I really enjoy the most about drag racing is all the friendships I’ve made over the years. Going to the track is almost like going to a family reunion and that’s a lot of fun. I also love letting go of that transbrake button and feeling the boost come in as the car flies down the track,” Forshee says.
Heath’s Nova is the perfect example of why you should never look past a car because it doesn’t scream racecar. Using modern engine technology and a healthy dose of boost Forshee has created one wicked sleeper that has enough doors to take the kids to baseball practice, or hurt some feelings in a street car shootout event.