Nerd’s Eye View: The Cars of PRI


These days it isn’t possible to talk Pro Mods without mentioning the show “Street Outlaws.”  Ok, it’s been mentioned, let’s ignore the dumb show and focus on the cars instead (which would be a million times cooler if they weren’t a part of an incredibly fake reality show that encourages a dangerous and illegal activity).  By far the most popular car was The Crow II, Justin Shearer’s 1970 Pontiac LeMans GTO.  It was so packed we couldn’t score a decent shot of it, instead only snapping the engine bay.  The engine is a 482 ci Pontiac block built by Butler Motorsports, making at least 2,500 hp.  The original Crow was destroyed during a filming session of Street Outlaws.  It was replaced with a Pro Mod car (aka the Crowmod), but Shearer has returned to a steel body car for 2018.  This car has also been seen on Fast N Loud when it ran against Gas Monkey Garage’s Challenger.  I don’t watch either of these shows, so I have no idea of the premise, but allegedly the Crow II was built in 8 days (using the drivetrain from the Crowmod and an already ‘caged LeMans body Shearer sourced before the build).  Yeah there’s a lot of reality show BS in there, but the car is still pretty sweet.

There were quite a few Street Outlaws cars (many of which currently do, or have participated in Drag Week in the past).  One of my particular favorites is Jeffrey Lutz’s 1989 Honda Civic hatchback.  Already you can tell this is no ordinary Civic, with the massive rear meats seen here.  The Lutz family has competed in Drag Week for about a decade and are regular fixtures on Street Outlaws.  Jeffrey’s Civic is an original body car, heavily modified for drag racing, though still street legal (having an emissions certification shop I suppose makes it really easy to get registered in PA).
Power from the EF comes not from a D16, but from a 434ci small block Chevy V8, twin turbocharged of course.  In 2017, Jeff Jr ran a best of 8.309 at Drag Week in the Civic.  In 2018, he hopes to break into the 7s.
Inside, a full NHRA spec cage wraps around the original dash and door panels.  Dig how a digital dash has been frenched into the original gauge shroud.  While he had a lot of help from his dad, Jeff Jr built a lot of this car himself.  Millennials don’t like cars?  Jeffrey begs to differ.
Jeff Sr drives a 1957 Chevy Coupe.  This is actually the third ‘57 he has built.   The motor is a 540ci Chevy with a pair of 98mm Precision turbos bolted to the sides.  With the boost turned up and running on methanol, this combination makes over 3,500 hp.  You will notice the car doesn’t have a cooling system.  At PRI, the car was set up in race mode.  You see, the advantage of running methanol is that Jeff doesn’t need a cooling system on the drag strip.  So his radiator and lines are on a modular subframe.  On the street the car runs a radiator and fans, but at the track, the entire front is removed and replaced with a methanol tank, with the coolant fittings capped off.  This gives him a weight and aero advantage.  Between the big power and trick setup, Jeff has run 5-second passes in the half steel bodied car.  While the chassis is all tube frame, most of the 57’s body is still steel (the upper half all original, the quarters reproduction, and the doors, front, and trunk all carbon fiber).  Between Big Chief and Jeff, maybe the world of street legal racecars will move away from Pro Mods and back to actual OEM cars?  Or maybe it doesn’t matter and it’s just cool to see big power cars on the track.

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