Sick Week’s Sickest: Richard Guido’s Gear-Banging 1965 Pontiac GTO

Hailing from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, Richard Guido has truly redefined what it means to drag and drive a vehicle. Whereas many competitors trailer their car (and sometimes their drag-and-drive trailer as well), Guido drives his 1965 Pontiac GTO all the way to the event in Florida — from western Canada!

Pontiac GTO

Sick Week 2024 wasn’t the only part of their vacation plans as Guido and his 81-year-old father, Mike, also added a stop in Amarillo, Texas, on the way down to check out a car for a friend, and rather than head northwest towards home, they went south towards Bradenton again to meet up with Cooper Bogetti for a podcast. All told the Guidos covered around 8,000 miles — including the 1,000 or so for Sick Week.

“You know you’re going for a ride when Google Maps pulls up the entire globe,” Guido tells us.

Last year, Guido logged some 25,000 miles on the road driving the classic Poncho to Sick Week, Death Week, Rocky Mountain Race Week, and Miles of Mayhem, which is a Canadian drag-and-drive event.

That alone is enough to impress anyone, but there is way more to Guido, his GTO, and their driving adventures. Motivation for the Goat comes from a 521 cubic-inch Pontiac engine that burns C16 racing gasoline and is boosted by a BorgWarner 95mm turbocharger from Work Turbochargers making 17 psi of air-to-water intercooled boost.

Keeping the GTO Pontiac-powered and competitive in an age where LS swaps are all the rage is cool enough, but Guido’s GTO is also one of the quickest stick-shifted drag-and-drive machines anywhere. With 8-second elapsed times, Guido’s GTO claimed the manual class win at both previous Sick Week events. His transmission of choice is a G-Force Racing Transmissions-upgraded T-56 Magnum, and he uses a Black Magic single-disc adjustable clutch that he tweaks per track conditions to get the power back to a Ford 9-inch rearend.

Guido has been competing in drag-and-drive events since he entered Hot Rod’s Drag Week in 2013, and he and his father Mike have been driving the Pontiac to events ever since. According to Guido’s father, his son has owned the Pontiac GTO for about 20 years and has logged around 100,000 miles of racing and driving with it.

In the off-season, Guido yanked the power steering and brakes to reduce its curb weight, as it checks in at just under 4,000 pounds of Pontiac goodness, and he also dry-decked the Indian Adventures block.

“I’ve been sideways at 145 mph on the dragstrip and the power steering assists you in situations like that. With the manual steering, there are so many turns lock-to-lock that I think it’s better safety-wise to have the power steering, so I think that’s going back on.”

Pontiac GTO

“I dry-decked it, but didn’t have a chance to test it. It has a mechanical water pump up front. When I left it was -15 Celsius and it’s going to cool good there, so I was nervous about Florida in the heat, but there were no issues. I could give it more boost without worrying about pushing water, so I added a couple more pounds. I can only run 8.50, and it went 8.51. The last day I tried to crank it up, but ran out of time to get a good pass in.”

The 8.51 is a personal best 1/4-mile time for Guido, and he also decreased his five-day average at Sick Week from last year’s 8.85 to 8.71, which was good enough to nab second place in the Stick Shift class, right behind Chad Fegley’s Corvette.

Granted eights are the new 11s these days, the fact that Guido has built a vehicle that is reliable enough to traverse across countries and interstates, through inclement weather of all types, go drag racing with, and his Pontiac-powered as well is a remarkable achievement.

Having to traverse North America during the wintertime is a notable feat in and of itself, and we talked to Guido about the challenges that come up as a result of that.

“The first year I got really lucky,” Guido begins to explain. “There was a big storm coming and I booked my vacation to allow leaving earlier or later. I didn’t really have to drive through any snow, though. The second year, I tried to beat a storm on the way home and ran right into it. From midnight to 4 a.m,. I was using the rumble strip to stay on the road.

The week before I left [this year] it was -45 degrees, but it warmed up to about 5 degrees when I left. It was pretty bad when we left, with ice on the roads for the first three hours. On the way back, we hit some freezing fog in Great Falls, Montana.”

Obviously, Guido runs snow tires for this sort of weather.

“I drove my snow tires and left the mud flaps on for all of the street driving,” Guido notes while mentioning that his track wheels and tires rode in the back seat of the Goat.

Something else to consider is the trailer that rolls behind the GTO.

“The trailer doesn’t have brakes and it’s pretty loaded and tends to push you a bit in the snow,” Guido says. “I might be upgrading to some trailer brakes to help in those situations.” With the GTO weighing in at 3,950 pounds — without the trunk loaded for the road — and the trailer coming in at an additional 800, there is a lot of mass to bring to a halt.

Pontiac GTO

“Considering it’s like 1,500 horsepower and has a spool in it, it handles pretty good,” Guido says of his pavement-pounding Pontiac GTO. “As long as you are experienced in driving in that kind of weather, it’s not too bad. Last year, when I was coming home and driving through Wyoming, there were lots of people in the ditch and I just drove through it. With the manual transmission, you always have control over the engine as compared to an automatic that might try to do something goofy to you in inclement weather.”

Said manual transmission is also a key part in ensuring that the engine stays alive for the drive.

“With a manual like I have, the overdrive options are a lot better. I can have a 3.50 rear gear in the car and a .5 overdrive, which splits the 3.50 in half. It cruises at 1,700 rpm at 80 mph. The engine is 521 cubic inches and has a big lift, solid roller cam. The low RPM cruising keeps it alive.”

Pontiac GTO

Guido has definitely sorted out his Pontiac, but he did encounter one issue during this year’s trip while driving through Alabama.

“We had one issue on the way down with the main power wire on the starter,” Guido recalls. “The nut had come loose and every time I hit a bump, the stereo would shut off and the lights would flicker. I was stopped at an intersection and it was making an awful noise. I thought it was coming from under a valve cover and turned the key off. The car tried to start itself with the key off. The main power was trying to hit the small terminal and tried to start the car. I just tightened the nut up and got back on our way. It’s always nice when your car tells you exactly what is wrong with it!”

What might be the most valuable performance addition to Guido’s Pontiac GTO might also be the least expensive one.

I have the taxi beads and they seem to help,” Guido explains. “In the heat, they give you some air around you, but it also seems to help on the long drives. It doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable on those long drives.”

After 42 hours and over 3,200 miles of driving towards home, Guido still had plenty of gas in his tank. To make sure his GTO doesn’t go the way of many other muscle cars from the 60s, his last stop was an RV wash right by his house. There, he laid down on his back and sprayed the underside of the car to get everything out of the nooks and crannies. How many drag-and-drive competitors do you know who have to do that!

For more information on Guido’s Pontiac GTO, you can read Dragzine’s full feature article HERE.

About the author

Steve Baur

A lifelong automotive enthusiast, Steve Baur attended the University of South Florida for journalism and has worked as a technical editor and editor for numerous automotive publications for over 20 years.
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