All eyes were on Dave Theisen and his ’69 Firebird when he rolled it out of his trailer at the NMCA/NMRA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois, last summer, and it was for good reason.
The Highland, Michigan-based driver, after all, is known for keeping his majestic machine looking as good as it runs, and he went on to lay down an 8.22 and 173 mph in Quick Lane at Downs Ford NA 10.5 qualifying and to lap up the top speed of the session.
But a thrown rod in his engine relegated him and his car to the trailer before the first round of eliminations, and after talking with curious and concerned fellow drivers and fans, he and his crew members, Kevin Wright and Steve Mastalier, climbed into their tow vehicle and began the five-hour trip home.
After repairing his masterpiece of an engine, Chris Uratchko of Uratchko Racing Engines deemed the 611 cubic-inch Chevy good to go for the final Heads-Up Drag Racing Series event of the season at Milan Dragway in Michigan last fall, where Theisen drove to a remarkable personal best of 7.73 at 175 mph on his way to a runner-up finish in the All Motor category. In addition to showcasing the strength of his engine built around a Dart block and wearing Slick Rick Racing Heads’ SR20 heads and a Marcella Manifolds’ sheetmetal intake, it showcased the strength of the rest of his combination, including a Proformance Racing Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and Neal Chance converter, and his car, which features a 25.5 cage updated by Jim Filipowski, Ford nine-inch rear-end also done by Filipowski and AFCO suspension components massaged by Mark Menscer.
Over winter, Theisen replaced his previous carburetor with a Book Racing carburetor, his previous driveshaft with a Precision Shaft Technologies carbon fiber driveshaft and his previous wheels with Weld V Series wheels wrapped by a fresh set of Mickey Thompson 29.5X10.5 slicks, and then he rolled into the Heads-Up Drag Racing Series event at Milan Dragway on May 6, 2016. There, after tracking down and taking care of some electrical issues at what was his first race of the season, he ripped off a 7.87 and 175 mph to earn the third qualified spot in the extremely competitive field, and later picked up to a 7.73 at 177 in his semifinal solo run before finishing as runner-up to reigning class champion Brian Wolfe after a 7.86 at 176 mph to 7.77 at 172 mph match-up.
“We had put a little too much power in and the car shook the tires in first gear,” said
Theisen, whose car was featured across four pages in Fastest Street Car’s October 2015 issue. “We should have left it alone, but it still felt good to get to the final at the first race of the season, and I really want to thank Chris Uratchko, Jim Filipowski, Kevin Wright, Steve Mastalier, Scott McMullen, my wife, Anna, and the rest of Team Theisen Racing for all of the help.”
Now, in addition to heading south for the 15th Annual Quick Fuel Technology NMCA Bluegrass Nationals, featuring the Dave Duell Nostalgia Super Stock Classic, May 12-15, 2016, at Beech Bend Raceway, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Theisen plans to hit the rest of the NMCA races on this year’s tour as well as the rest of the Heads-Up Drag Racing Series events at Milan Dragway in 2016.
“I’m having good luck right now,” said Theisen, who’s supported in his efforts by Central Truck and Trailer and V&J, Inc. “I really want to do well.”