Eight cylinders, four speeds, and one seat. What more do you need? Maybe a few NACA ducts for good measure?
This former NASCAR racer has all that, plus a roll cage and fire suppression system for track-day safety. Surplus race cars can be a much less expensive way to get a track-capable car than building one from scratch yourself. So what’s stopping you from heading to San Diego and coming home with this Pontiac Grand Prix as your new track-day toy?
The car, a 1996 Winston Cup competitor built by Laughlin Racing, was campaigned by Bahari Racing in Johnny Benson’s rookie season. Benson made the move to the big league after winning the Busch Series championship the previous year and piloted various yellow-and-black-liveried Pennzoil cars in 1996 wearing the number 30—this car is well on its way to duplicating that look.
Since its retirement from NASCAR, the car has reportedly made a few trips to Willow Springs—a fantastic track that, unless the driver takes a remarkably unique racing line, requires the car to turn left and right—so put those NASCAR prejudices to bed this instant. The seller claims the car is set up for “short to mid-length road courses” and we’d love to test it out. Particularly at Willow Springs.
Although it’s a Pontiac Grand Prix body, we all know that under the skin there’s nothing that makes this racer any different than a Chevrolet of the same era; as such, it is powered by a 358-cubic-inch Chevy small-block. The car is said to have 23-degree cylinder heads—the conventional production style for a small-block, as opposed to the 18-degree heads used in NASCAR at the time, just before the transition to SB2 heads and intakes began in 1998. That means that whoever picks up this rowdy V-8 will have a wide selection of affordable aftermarket parts to choose from. The engine does have a 13:1 compression ratio, however, so make sure to budget some money for race fuel.
Any changes you’d like to make in the final drive ratio to alter the top speed can be done by dropping a new center section into the Ford nine-inch rear axle. It’s located by the traditional NASCAR truck arm suspension adapted from ’60s Chevy C10 pickups. Hey, it works. Don’t knock it.