Grudge Secrets Revealed!


Grudge and no-prep drag racing is perhaps one of the most exciting forms of motorsports to come down the pike in quite a while. The closed-hood mystery of some of the rides, variable track prep, and a no-rules mentality leads to wild, exciting, and unpredictable racing, much like the Fuel Altereds of yesteryear.

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On the West Coast, one of the biggest names in grudge racing is Jermaine “Jay” Boddie, famous not only for his 1963 Nova but for the packed-house grudge races he hosts at Sacramento Raceway a number of times a year. We were fortunate enough to attend his No Excuses 3 race to check out some of the best grudge cars the West Coast had to offer. The Pro Mods (round-tube chassis, full fiberglass body) were thankfully separated into a different class to make things fair, although if any steel-body, big-tire cars thought they could run with them, they were encouraged to enter.

With an extreme variety of cars, walking around the pits was quite a treat. We talked to owners and drivers about the specifications and strategies involved in this type of racing and how they thought their cars might perform that given day. Unfortunately, the secretive nature of grudge racing means that prying exact specs out of racers can be quite a task. Still, we were able to weasel basic information out of many competitors, including times. To paraphrase one racer: It’s not what you can run on your best pass, it’s what you can run on the next pass. Oddly enough, the fastest cars seemed the most likely to give out specifics, as many of their quickest passes were known.

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When the action got started, big-tire, small-tire, and Pro Mods all started putting down fast times. If you couldn’t run in the 4s in the eighth-mile (even in Small Tire), this probably wasn’t a race you should expect to win. Not all cars were in these shootouts, however, as there was plenty of no-time grudge racing to go around that involved everything from new muscle to pickup trucks.

Unfortunately, Big Tire was the only class to finish out its race, as a bad crash by Rob Cacioppo’s Pro Mod cut the action short. With the night getting late and quite a bit of moisture in the air, Boddie made the tough choice to call the race, and the pot was split in the Pro Mod and Small Tire classes. Even with the shortened action, there were still plenty of chills, thrills, and spills, and we came away with enough knowledge to make our head spin as we dove headfirst into the world of grudge racing.


Jermaine Boddie

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The man of the hour was Jermaine Boddie, who had just reintroduced his 1963 Nova to the world after a complete rebuild. After running a previous best quarter-mile time of 6.35 on drag radials, the Chevy now featured a weight reduction, a brand-new Miner Brothers Hemi with twin turbos, and a beautiful paint job from Doug Reed. Having perhaps more power than anyone actually worked against Boddie in his first outing, as he spun right before the eighth-mile and had to lift. This allowed Troy Baugh to sneak past and take the win by half a bumper.

Who: Jermaine Boddie
What: 1963 Chevy Nova
Engine: 526ci Miner Bros. Hemi
Aspiration: Twin 98mm Precision turbochargers
Boost: 40–60 psi
Power: 4,000+ hp
Best quarter: High-5s (Car Craft estimate)


Roger Holder

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If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Roger is one of the few racers who runs back east with the radial guys in his 2000 Camaro. He also held the quarter-mile drag-radial record with a 6.07, so his timeslips aren’t a secret to anyone, either. “I can’t really hide how fast the car is these days at grudge races,” Roger says. “Of course, getting down the track is always another matter.” In Sacramento, Roger entered the Big Tire and Pro Mod classes, as he felt the power of his Proline Racing engine could run with the fiberglass-body cars. Unfortunately, Roger had nothing but problems after a blazing 4.0-second qualifying pass; a reminder that no-one is guaranteed a win. When a last-minute converter swap between rounds didn’t fix the issue, Roger was taken out by Rod Burbage.

Who: Roger Holder
What: 2000 Camaro
Engine: 525ci Proline
Aspiration: Twin 94mm Precision turbochargers
Boost: 57 psi
Power: 3,500–4,000 hp (est.)
Best eighth: 4.03 at 198 mph
Best quarter: 6.07 at 226 mph (245-mph best speed)


Troy Baugh

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A crowd favorite with wild burnouts, wild paint, and substantial amounts of methanol-fueled exhaust flame, Troy Baugh’s Camaro is one of those rides where it’s hard to tell an exact elapsed time, and he sure wasn’t telling. What we do know is the car has trapped nearly 150 mph in the eighth-mile, which means 4s aren’t out of the question. It’s also a pretty solid A to B car, as evidenced by him taking out Boddie in eliminations. One thing is clear: When he stuffed an electronically controlled, 585ci big-block with an F3 Procharger into his Camaro, he wasn’t playing to lose.

Who: Troy Baugh
What: 1968 Camaro
Engine: 585ci Brodix
Aspiration: 136mm F3 Procharger
Boost: “At least 30 psi.”
Power: 2,500–3,000 hp (est.)
Best eighth: Mid-4s (CC est.)


Renteria Brothers

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Perhaps the most well-known four-door on the West Coast, the Renteria brothers have been racing a 1965 Valiant with two extra doors since the late-1970s. Eventually, the car got pretty fast—then really fast—then they had an all-fiberglass body built and went full Pro Mod. Tipping the scales at a mere 2,650 pounds, the Brad Anderson engine topped off with a C rotor PSI blower generates some serious steam, in the form of a best elapsed time of 5.85 at 253 mph in the quarter-mile. It was the team’s first grudge race with the car, but they were pretty unphased. “We’ve had to get down tracks that weren’t prepped for Pro Mods before; you just fiddle with the clutch to get out of the hole and then pull a little power,” says one-of-three brother Mike. With Moe, Larry, and Curly on the butterflies of their engine, you have to love the Renterias’ attitude!

Who: Mike, Tom, and Sean Renteria
What: 1965 Valiant
Engine: 451ci Brad Anderson
Aspiration: PSI C rotor supercharger
Boost: 52 psi
Power: 3,500–4,000 hp (est.)
Best quarter: 5.85 at 253 mph


Machine Gun Cutty

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We ran into the “Machine Gun Cutty” team right before they were about to make a pass, so we were only able to grab some quick basics. The 1980 Cutlass was more grudge than any other car we ran into, with some questionable paint, beat-up fenders, and a huge big-block with a bunch of nitrous on top. What they would tell us is the engine has more than one stage of spray—with both kits turned on, their total shot is more than 500 hp—and that right now they have a lot more motor than chassis. The Cutlass gets its name by the unique four-pipe collector exhaust, and last time we saw it, the car was headed toward the sky on a launch, typical of a street-type “hook anywhere” chassis tune-up.

Who: Corey Cooper
What: 1980 Cutlass
Engine: 500+ci big-block Chevy
Aspiration: Multi-stage fogger system
Shot: 500+ hp
Power: 1,500 hp (CC est.)
Best eighth: Low-5s (CC est.)


Ray Dupree

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Alternating between a nonexistent hood a and a Pro Stock–style scoop, Ray’s 1966 Nova is nothing but nitrous once the hood is removed. With old-school nitrous systems galore and a 598 big-block Chevy with a Powerglide, Ray was the giant killer of the bunch and could manage his horsepower down the whole eighth-mile. We’d seen the car run a test pass in the 6s in the eighth with no nitrous, and with “more than a 400 shot,” we expect Ray’s ride is at least low-5s or high-4s, no matter the track conditions. With a Big Tire class grudge victory earlier in the year, nobody was going to underestimate Ray or his purple Nova.

Who: Ray Dupree
What: 1966 Nova
Engine: 598ci big-block Chevy
Aspiration: NOS nitrous systems (plate and fogger)
Shot: 400+ hp
Power: 1,500 hp (est.)
Best eighth: High-4s (CC est.)


Rod Burbage/Dave Palmer

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Rod Burbage is no stranger to drag racing, having campaigned a carbon-fiber-bodied, 5-second Pro Mod Chevelle for a number of years, but his latest fun involves Dave Palmer’s killer street car. The 1965 Chevelle is mostly steel and runs a 23-degree-headed big-block, so what explains the high-4-second eighth-mile elapsed times? The key is an enormous 40 pounds of boost, which helps the 477ci big-block generate an estimated 2,000–2,500 hp. With plenty of chassis experience, Dave’s hard-hooking Chevelle is always one to watch at any grudge event.

Who: Dave Palmer (owner) and Rod Burbage (driver)
What: 1965 Chevelle
Engine: 477ci big-block Chevy
Aspiration: 14-71 SSI supercharger
Boost: 40 psi
Power 2,000–2,500 hp (est.)
Best quarter: Mid-4s (CC est.)


Doug Reed

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The man responsible for the beautiful paint on many of the northern California grudge cars, Doug Reed, has his own 1966 El Camino to play with. The street-driven Chevy (complete with high beams) had just been fitted with 94mm turbos before the event and only had a few laps prior to the race. In a Hollywood ending, Doug waded through the field of Big Tire cars all the way to the finals, where he pulled off the win! If the El Camino looks familiar, that’s because Doug raced against the Plan B Corvette driven by “Daddy” Dave in Cash Days. From the West Coast to the East, Doug’s Elky is definitely one to watch.

Who: Doug Reed
What: 1966 El Camino
Engine: 470ci big-block Chevy
Aspiration: Twin 94mm Precision turbochargers
Boost: 30+ psi
Power: 2,500–3,000 hp (est.)
Best eighth: Mid-4s (CC est.)


Nathan Schaldach

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Part of the fun of grudge racing is you may see a certain type of car that’s very popular (in this case, a Mustang Fox-body) and have no idea how fast it is. A flat hood, no turbos, small tires—nitrous? Nate’s ’89 runs pretty well, thanks to a 440ci LSX engine with a healthy dose of nitrous oxide. The low-5-second sleeper is known around the area for being able to hook anywhere, at any time, which makes it a perfect grudge car. We also snagged the last photo of an era for Nate, as he’s reported he’s going to keep the small tires but switch to twin turbos for the car’s next outing.

Who: Nathan Schaldach
What: 1989 Mustang
Engine: 440ci LSX
Aspiration: Starkweather Racing dry nitrous kit
Shot: 400 hp
Power: 1,100 hp
Best eighth: 5.29 at 135 mph



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