GM engines in Ford, Chrysler, and other bodies are a dime a dozen in drag racing, but the other way around? Not so common.
Illinois native Steve Spiess, a veteran of the Pro Stock drag racing ranks and the 2005 IHRA series champion, ruffled some feathers last year when he rolled out his Chevrolet Nova featuring, of all things, a Ford Hemi-based powerplant nestled between the very not-Ford steel fenders.
Speiss, who most recently competed on the NHRA Pro Stock trail part-time before calling it a career seven seasons ago, decided to take up the family business of farming as a substitute for 200 mph drag racing. For a quarter of a century, he and his son had had a 1969 Nova sitting neglected in his shop, and Steve says he always intended to do something with it, he just didn’t know what. When he got the itch to go racing again four years after his last trip down the ‘strip, Spiess knew this was the Nova’a time to shine.
Spiess partnered with his longtime Pro Stock engine builder, Jon Kaase, a specialist in big-inch Ford engines like those used in mountain motor Pro Stock racing, to outfit the car with the kind of power needed to run in the 6-second zone in full street-legal trim. Kaase assembled one of his Boss Nine engines, a replica of the famed Boss 429, which measures out to 565 cubic-inches and uses his own cylinder head design. The paired it with two Precision 88mm turbochargers to produce what Spiess said, at full song, should be around 3,000 horsepower.
With his chassis man as co-pilot, Speiss entered Drag Week last fall, making a best run of 7.20-seconds at a slowing 176.88 mph at Cecil County Dragway before bowing out of competition with mechanical issues.