Fuel Cell The racing fuel cell, with its mandatory foam, will have to be enclosed in a full steel can that has a minimum thickness of 22 gauge. The cell must be surrounded entirely by 1-inch X 1-inch 0.083 tubing with two vertical supports of the same material encasing the cell. We'll also have to run a rear fuel cell bar of at least 1-inch 0.065 tubing.
Time To Build Knowing the major rules to which the car will have to conform is the first step in making this build (or any build for that matter) go smoothly. Now that our note pad is full it's time to go find a victim. . .er. . .car.
We're starting with a 1976 Chevelle from Marshall's Auto Parts in Clarksville, Indiana. "Keith Marshall has supplied me most of my Street Stock cars for years, including my first one," says Kimmel. So it was an obvious choice for this project.
The '76 Chevelle will end up as a Monte Carlo-bodied car that is the standard bearer for Street/Hobby Stock divisions at both dirt and asphalt tracks all over the country. With the car back at Frank's shop, the guys quickly got to work. They begin by separating the frame from the body. Then, they disassembled the entire frame and took it, and any usable parts, to be sandblasted. Sandblasting is a key step in preparing your new frame regardless of whether you paint or powdercoat.
We made the decision to powder-coat the frame since powdercoating is far more durable than paint and looks a whole lot nicer, too. Powdercoating has the stigma of being more expensive, but you can powdercoat a frame like ours for as little as $350.
With the car back from the sandblaster, the guys welded up every seam in the frame. This is a critical step in order to add strength and rigidity to the frame. Now that the seams are welded, we must level the frame in the work area. As you can tell from the pictures, the frame is sitting on the surface plate in Frank's shop. We realize that the number of Street Stock racers in the country that have access to a surface plate, let alone actually have one in their shop, are few and far between. But the point is that before you start cutting or welding, you want your frame sitting on as level as a surface as possible.
"I level the chassis before I start working on it in order to give a good basis for everything we're going to do. It keeps every little thing, every measurement, more consistent," says Kimmel. "I used several sizes of wood blocks and shims to level the chassis. I do this at all four corners of the chassis to help stabilize it."
Everything was checked using a digital level, and with the frame perfectly level it was time to install the X-member. The X-member actually consists of seven braces. The two that run from side to side are 2-inch X 2-inch box tubing that is 0.083-inch thick, with another piece spliced in to form the bottom of the driveshaft loop. The other four braces are 1-inch X 2-inch box tubing with the same 0.083-inch thickness. The whole design serves to tie the framerails together while providing a foundation for the interior including mounting points for the seat and belt brackets. This is important because in many Street Stocks, the right-rear corner of the seat is left without any support underneath it. Frank's design will allow him to completely frame in the seat, making for a very safe cockpit.
In addition, the X-member also provides a mounting point for the exhaust brackets underneath the car as well as serves as the driveshaft loop and transmission mount.
Based on the design of an...
Based on the design of an ARCA car, the X-member ties the framerails together, providing mounting points for the seat, belt brackets, and exhaust brackets. It also serves as the driveshaft loop and transmission mount. There are a total of seven braces in the design.
From this angle you can see...
From this angle you can see the seventh bar that is spliced in to create the bottom of the driveshaft loop.
This is the left side of the...
This is the left side of the framerail behind the driver seat area. The mount is for the rear trailing arm. Note the area where the stock body bushing mounts are, this area needs to get plated in order to add strength.
The completed plating job...
The completed plating job on one of the other mount ares. This is a necessary step because, generally, this spot on a 20-plus-year-old frame can be full of rust and structurally weak.
While mocking up the locations...
While mocking up the locations for the motor mounts using a dummy motor, Frank's crew found that the frame needed to be notched to accommodate the fuel pump.
The finished fuel pump notch...
The finished fuel pump notch complete with plenty of clearance for the new pump.