In every race community, there are groups that form and come to light. The Pro Stock and Pro Mod scene in the ’80s grew into Pro Street, while the current radial tire craze that started with the NSCA and NMCA has spawned multiple new classes of drag racing like no prep and the drag n’ drive community. However, within that world is a special group of dedicated men and women who stand out because of their dedication to one thing, the manual shifted transmission: the Stick Shifters.
These racers are a different breed, often finding the most difficult solution to post big numbers while making their vehicle reliable and street worthy. The Stick Shifters have become a respected part of the drag n’ drive world, with most having heavy, big horsepower machines with challenges unique to their setups. We spoke with some legends of the drag n’ drive stick shift world.
Frank Romano has a beautiful ’55 Chevrolet 210 with a big block and runs in the deep 9-second range. Rich “The Canadian Chuck Norris” Guido has a ’65 Pontiac GTO with a turbocharged 500+ cu in big block that also runs deep 9s. John Pucket has a supercharged Coyote-powered Mercury Capri that clipped off 8-second passes during Drag Week competition. Rounding out the group is “Bang Shift” Billy Armstrong, whose twin turbo small block Ford-powered Fairlane has also managed to get the magical 8-second time slip. We also spoke with Wes Evans of Stick Shift Nation, a group that has pushed the limits of high horsepower street cars with a manual transmission.
All the guys agree that the most difficult task with any manual transmission is the launch. Getting power to the ground with an automatic can be intense. With a manual transmission, it can be downright violent. Getting the car to launch and stay together has been a learning curve for most, and it is a difficult concept to master. There are so many variables involved in getting a high horsepower stick car off the line that nothing short of practice and experience will make it happen. John finds that having an understanding of the level of track prep will change how he has to launch the car…Read more of this article. Just click on the digital feature below this introduction.
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