“Everybody’s got a Camaro, but nobody really has a Firebird," says Jamie Hancock. Check out this full feature on his 959ci radial vs. the world racer.
“We’ve always really liked this body – it’s really slick, laid back, chopped and raked,” says Jamie Hancock. “Everybody’s got a Camaro, but nobody really has a Firebird, so it was just something to kind of be different.” Of course with a tube chassis and 959 cubic-inch big block Chevy cackling underneath the bodywork, there’s admittedly not a whole lot of Poncho hardware on hand here, but that doesn’t stop the Firebird’s hunkered-down silhouette and eye-catching paintwork from turning heads.
“It’s basically a Pro Mod car, built by Precision Racecraft,” he explains. “The motor is a Pat Musi 959ci big block Chevy with five stages of nitrous, and we’re running a FuelTech EFI system. The Radial Versus the World classes are what we’re racing in right now, so right now it’s being campaigned under the specifications for that series, but it was originally built as a Pro Nitrous car. There’s no power limitations on the RVW class at all – you can run basically any power combination you want – but there’s a minimum weight per your power. The class is basically who can go the fastest on a 315 drag radial.”
Hancock estimates the Musi big block is dishing out anywhere between 2,900 to 3,100 horsepower, putting the minimum weight for the car at 2,325 pounds. With eighth mile passes regularly dipping into the sub four-second range at over 200 mph in RVW racing, these mills see their fair share of abuse, so a stout bottom end is crucial. “I’ve been running Diamond Pistons for years,” Hancock tells us. “When I bought the Musi motor I yanked out the pistons that were in there and swapped in a set of Diamonds because I know how durable they are.”
Early on in a given season is usually when most teams iron out the kinks in their setup, and this year’s Lights Out 9 event was no different in that regard. “It’s the first race of the year – everybody’s been cooped up all winter doing their upgrades, so the anticipation leading up to it is big for both fans and racers,” Hancock says. “When Lights Out 9 comes around, some people from up north haven’t been to a track in months. A lot people come to the event untested – maybe they’re got a new car, new everything – maybe they haven’t even made a pass yet with what they’re running.”
Hancock’s team was part of that group. “We didn’t have time to really test beforehand – we showed up Lights Out 9 with no passes since last year,” he adds. And while the team made a solid showing in qualifying, snagging the #4 spot with a 3.84 @ 196 mph and winning the subsequent matchup, an ignition system gremlin befell the car in moments before Round 2. “We had a parts failure,” he explains. “The car just wouldn’t start.”
While undoubtedly a frustrating way to go out, early season events like these allow teams to identify and resolve just this sort of thing to ensure the car is consistent later on in the year, as the events start coming in quick succession and the stakes get higher.
“Over the winter I feel like we found some power with this new setup, and I’m excited to have it dialed in,” Hancock says. “We’ve got another race this weekend [the Sweet 16] – I’m headed out the door for South Georgia Motorsports Park in the morning. This new event is just for Radial Versus the World, and it’s a winner-takes-all purse of $101,000. Of course everybody comes to the track to win, but in this particular event, there’s really no second place.”