When Frank Kimmel first got the idea for his Street Stock Nationals, he knew that he wanted to give the guys and gals who race that division the opportunity to do something special. Something that they wouldn't normally have the opportunity to do, like race their cars at big-league tracks such as Kentucky Speedway, site of the inaugural FKSSN event back in 2007, or Bristol Motor Speedway, arguably the most sought-after ticket in NASCAR. But putting a Street Stock on big, fast racetracks posed several safety concerns, particularly in the area of speed. Kimmel and company solved that with their now trademark wicker bill, that spans the entire width of the roof of the car. Others areas, such as the rigidity of the chassis, driver's compartment integrity, and fuel cell would also be solved through the rule book.
Naturally intrigued by the concept of Kimmel's series, Circle Track has embarked on building a Street Stock with the nine-time ARCA Champ. Our car, which will eventually be raced in that series, is being built specifically for those big, fast racetracks like Kentucky, Rockingham, and others that the Street Stock Nationals might visit in the future. The goal of our build is to create the safest Street Stock possible. Knowing that many of our pockets don't run deep, we'll keep the build to a reasonable budget. However, you may notice that we'll splurge here and there, especially where safety items are concerned. Both Frank and the gang here at CT have the philosophy that the last item in your race car that you should buy off the sale rack is anything related to safety.
Now, there are several areas of the build that will need to be addressed to conform to Kimmel's Street Stock Nats' rule book, including door bars, firewalls, and fuel cells. All of these must be dealt with before we get too far along in the build process. However, just because they are specific to Kimmel's rules doesn't mean that you shouldn't include them in your own car. One of the hopes that we have for this build is that racers who read it will get ideas for their own Saturday night cars to make them safer.
Door Bars First off are the door bars. The last thing any racer wants is to have something come through the left-side door into the driver's compartment. The Kimmel rules read that in addition to the mandatory minimum four-point rollcage of 1 3/4-inch x 0.095 tubing, you must run at least four door bars on left side and three on the right side. You have to have three vertical bars a minimum of a inch in diameter between the dash bar and halo bar in front of the driver. Not out of the ordinary for many Street Stock rule books, but Kimmel also requires a side plate for the driver's door. The plate must be a minimum of 20 inches tall x 48 inches long, and one solid piece at least -inch thick. It must be welded directly to the 'cage. This may seem like overkill to some, but when you consider the potential of debris penetrating the side and impaling the driver, the added weight is worth it.
Firewall Our car came with both a front and rear firewall, which is mandatory according to Frank's rules, but you'd be surprised how many Street/Hobby Stocks out there have poorly constructed firewalls full of gaps, cracks, and holes, especially where the wires, steering shaft, and other components run through the walls. In the event of a fire in the engine compartment, flames can easily pass through gaps or holes in the firewall, causing potentially serious injury. Therefore, you'll want to ensure that your entire firewall is completely sealed. You can do this several ways, but one of the safest is to use a fireproofing kit made specifically for racecars such as those from Unique Fire Stop in Alabama. Once our car nears the completion stage, we'll be fireproofing the firewall to keep the driver as safe as possible.
Street Stocks, or Bombers as they're sometimes called, are one of the most popular oval tr
The frame, including all usable chassis components, like these pictured here, was sandblas
Frank Kimmel has welded every seam on the frame to add strength and rigidity.
Frank levels the chassis before he starts working.This gives a good foundation for every m
Several different sizes of wood blocks and shims help level the chassis.
Leveling the chassis is only part of the game, you have to secure and stabilize it as well
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 ARCA car, the X-member ties the framerails together, providing m
From this angle you can see the seventh bar that is spliced in to create the bottom of the
This is the left side of the framerail behind the driver seat area. The mount is for the r
The completed plating job on one of the other mount ares. This is a necessary step because
While mocking up the locations for the motor mounts using a dummy motor, Frank's crew foun
The finished fuel pump notch complete with plenty of clearance for the new pump.
With step number one complete, we focused our attention on plating the side rails. Again, this is a good step to take on your own Street Stock in order to increase the rigidity and performance of the frame. For example, the area where the stock body bushing mounts are is generally rusted and weak, particularly on cars that are more than 20 years old (ours is 33). If you choose not to plate these areas, you leave your race car open to structural cracks that will eventually lead to failure. Taking a little extra time to strengthen the whole frame will give you a solid foundation on which to build your car.
The next critical step is to install the mounts for the motor and the transmission using a dummy motor and trans. While doing this, we found that we were going to have to notch part of the frame in order to have clearance for the fuel pump.
The blue lines in picture No. 10 represent where the cutting is about to take place. With the fuel-pump notch completed, we moved onto assembling the car by installing new bushings in the A-frames and trailing arms, assembled the front suspension, setting caster/camber and toe and measuring the front tread width. We put our Quick Performance Rear End in and installed front and rear weight jack bolts and shock mounts. We even put the stripped and cleaned Performance Bodies Monte Carlo SS panels on the frame.
Now, many of these steps are going to be covered in separate stories about this build in subsequent issues of Circle Track. However, the purpose for assembling the entire car at this stage is to facilitate critical items like ensuring that the front firewall clears the engine and trans or that we have enough body supports placed in the proper areas. Not to mention the fact that we're building a complete rollcage with the all-important door bars. We'd look pretty silly if we built the 'cage and then tried to put the body on the car only to find that the cage was -inch too tall. So this process is really more about the classic Bob Vila quote, "measure twice, cut once." For a complete list of the steps Frank and his crew took to prep the car for powdercoating, check out the sidebar.
Obviously the car will have to be completely dissembled before taking it to the powdercoater. However, one thing you want to keep in mind is that any personalization of the car, such as extra bars in the rollcage, structural additions in the engine bay, and so on, must be done prior to sending it to the powdercoater. Additionally, you'll want to grind and clean all of the slag and rough areas.
"The slicker the framework, the nicer the powdercoating. Take pride in your work," says Kimmel.
Rightly so, this isn't necessarily a time-consuming step, and it will yield a much nicer finished look that will return you some added money if somewhere down the road you decide to sell the car.
With the frame complete and stripped back to just what is getting powdercoated, it's time to load up and head over to W.M. Kelly Company. We sent CT's Tech Editor, John Gibson, along to chronicle the process which you can read all about in "Takin' A Powder" as we take the next step in Project Bomber.
In addition to notching the frame, metal had to be removed from the area around the bushin
This picture shows the finished and plated modification.
One of the chassis modifications is the addition of round tubing to help tie both front fr
The doorplate, which is mandated by Kimmel's rules, is one solid steel plate that is 48 in
Body mounting supports and their attachment points must be fabricated with the body panels
Notice how Frank completely seals the area of the firewall that is left of the driver's fe
Here's the quick list of everything that Frank and his team did to the '76 Chevelle before shipping her off to be powdercoated.
1.Seperate the frame from the body
2.Disassemble the entire frame
3.Take the frame and all useable parts to be sandblasted
4.Weld all of the seams in frame for added strength
5.Level the frame in work area
6.Stabilize all four corners of the frame
7.Install the X-member inside of the frame
8.Plate the side rails for added strength
9.Install the motor and transmission mounts using dummy motor/trans.
10.Notch the frame for fuel pump clearance
11.Install new bushings in the A-frames and trailing arms
12.Assemble the front suspension
13.Set caster/camber and toe
14.Measure the front tread width
15.Order the rearend from Quick Performance to match the front tread width
16.Install the rearend housing
17.Install the front and rear weight jack bolts and shock mounts
18.Install the stripped and cleaned Performance Bodies Monte Carlo body on the frame
19.Build and install the main hoop, halo, and front support bars of the rollcage
20.Secure the roof to main hoop and halo
21.Secure the body to framerails
22.Double check the engine/trans clearance on the front firewall
23.Mount the front fenders
24.Mount the front and rear bumpers and bumper covers
25.Mount the hood and decklid
26.Trim all wheel openings
27.Fabricate and mount the radiator, again checking for clearance
28.Make the supports to hold body and interior together
29.Complete the rollcage, excluding door bars
30.Install the interior
31.Install the crush panels
32.Make the front radiator airbox
33.Remove the body from the frame
34.Patch all of the holes in the firewall and the floorpan
35.Install the seat brackets and belt mounts
36.Install the window net mounts
37.Install the steering column
38.Install the battery box
39.Fabricate the framework for the fuel cell
40.Install the fuel cell ensuring a good fit
41.Install the gauge panel
42.Install the door bars
43.Install the door plate
44.Install the jacking posts
45.Install the fuel line tube
46.Note: anything of a personal preference needs to be completed before powder coating.
47.Disassemble entire car, removing everything that is not to be powdercoated
48.Finish any remaining welding, top and bottom
49.Grind and clean all slag and rough areas
50.Take to powdercoater!
"The slicker the framework, the nicer the powdercoating. Take pride in your work," says Ki
With Project Bomber's mock assembly complete, it's time to take the car completely apart,