CAL-RODS FEATURED CAR FOR JUNE 2019
By Ron Merry
OWNERS: ROGER & IRENE BURCKEL
YEAR: 1957 MAKE AND MODEL: CHEVROLET BEL AIR
ENGINE: 383 CUSTOM BUILT BY RICK KING SPEED ENGINEERING
TRANS: 400 TURBO WITH A 3400 STALL SPEED BY CHINO HILLS TRANSMISSION
REAR END: GM 12 BOLT W/4.71 GEARS BUILT BY HENRY'S MACHINE WORKS
COLOR: 2003 VW METALLIC OFF ROAD GREY W/PINSTRIPE FLAMES
Roger and Irene purchased the ’57 in 2002 with a 350 engine, 350 turbo tranny and a 10 bolt GM rear end. When asked why a 4 door, well they have 8 grand-kids & they all like to ride in Grandpa’s fast car & he didn’t like the idea of getting out of the car to let the kids in.
In 2003, Roger changed the engine & all the running gear deciding on a 383 custom built engine by Rick King’s Speed Engineering & a 700 R4 Trans with a 3200 stall speed converter, built by Toy Shop & a GM 12 bolt with 4.11 gears built by Henry’s Machine Works. Now Grandpa’s car is really fast; estimated 500 hp. After removing 7 colors of paint, they painted her with a 2003 VW metallic off road grey.
In 2015, Roger started drag racing at the Irwindale 1/8th mile track. By changing the trans to a 400 turbo with 3400 stall speed by Chino Hills Transmission & making it lighter by taking the hood & front bumper off & taking out the back seat out thus saving 280 pounds, he started running 7.4s with a best run of 7.43 et @91 mph in March of 2018.
Then Roger’s got a dream “bucket list” chance to run at Pomona’s 1/4 mile track. On November 17, 2018 at the In & Out 70th anniversary party, Roger ran 11.90 et @113 mph, not bad for a 4000 lb car & an engine that was 14 years old & never opened up, except to change the carb. Oh, and he’s 77 years young and drives with a cane (not when racing).
The next month at Irwindale, Roger was running the car & hit a oil slick or something at half track taking out a timing box. He saw both walls twice, didn't hit a thing but scared him enough that he decided it was time to retire from drag racing (this made Irene very happy). So now they're putting things back together & going back to cruising with the rest of the gang. Roger says “it was a blast,” while it lasted. Still gets plenty of thumbs up, & that is what it is all about, ain’t it?