In 1961 the National Hot Rod Association held their National meet in my home city of Indianapolis. At the time I owned a 1951 Commander convertible, "The Teachers Pet" , so named because I was a teacher at the time. We entered the car in the 61 Nationals and lost the final round by 3 feet to a 1950 303 cu in. Oldsmobile. That fall we went on a hunt for a lighter Starlight coupe since the convertible was 300 pounds heavier than needed in it's class. When we found one we named her the Chicken Hawk since there were so many Studebakers using the Hawk name at the time.
During the next ten years the Chicken Hawk won seven National Class Championship. In the 11th year NHRA dropped the class for older cars and if we were to run, it would have to be against cars in the next higher class. We decided to go ahead and enter, and this had to be the sweetest of all---winning the eighth National title against cars a class above where we should have been. The best the little 232 cu.in. did in stock form was a 15.40 at a little over 87 MPH. The next year the NHRA dropped even more classes, so we were done running in stock form.
The Chicken Hawk became pretty much much a daily driver for the next several years, and than about 1984 we found a totaled '63 R 2 Super Lark. We bought the engine and by this time ET bracket racing had become popular so we dropped the R 2 into the Chicken Hawk and starting racing her again. With the stock R 2 engine running 9 lbs of boost we were running in the 12's and 113 MPH. We than added a second supercharger and slowed them down a bit for reliability and picked up the boost to 14 PSI. (7 pounds from each blower running them in series). With the two Paxtons we were able to run a best of in the 11.50's at over 116 MPH.
We soon realized that we were at about the limit with the twin Paxtons and decided to experiment with twin turbos. Along with the turbos came R 3 valves and a home made dual quad tunnel ram with two R 2 Carter AFB's and an intercooler to cool the incoming air from the turbos. The best time to date is a 10.43 at 132.55 with 20 pounds of boost. The speed at the end of the quarter mile is getting a little scary in a 50 year old car with stock suspension and steering, etc., even though it handles beautifully at this speed. We did add large disk brakes on the front to aid in stopping from high speed.
© Copyright Dick Datson 2002,
P.O. Box 49614, Sarasota, FL 34230
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