By Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA and courtesy of Mike Slaviero
Mike Slaviero’s 1976 Grand Prix has been in his family since it was new.
His parents drove it on a daily basis until they turned it over to him in 1987, and then he also drove it on a daily basis until the late 1990s. That’s when he decided to start taking the car to test and tune sessions and bracket races near his home in Illinois. That turned into trying NMCA TorqStorm Superchargers True Street in 2008, followed by NMCA Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle in 2010, where he has been ever since.
With a 461 cubic-inch Pontiac engine which he built with an assist from Butler Performance and topped with Edelbrock heads, he settled into the 11.50 index in the category. Unfortunately, the engine, which had a lot of passes on it, expired while Slaviero was heating up his tires in the waterbox at the NMCA/NMRA race at Route 66 Raceway in Illinois in 2017.
“My block cracked through the mains, and destroyed my rods, pistons, crank and cam,” said Slaviero. “We had to hammer the cam out of the block. I called David Butler at Butler Performance the next day, and we talked about what to do, and when I told David that I would like to make a little more power, he said I would need to step up to the next level for heads.”
After weighing all of the options, Slaviero, with input from Butler, built a 535 cubic-inch Pontiac engine featuring an Indian Adventures block, Scat crank, Oliver rods, Ross pistons and a Comp cam with Butler’s specs.
He topped it with All Pontiac Tiger heads and a BOP Engineering intake, and Tony Bischoff of BES Racing Engines performed machine work on the heads and port-matched them to the intake. Slaviero selected a new Quick Fuel carburetor and Fuelab fuel system to sip VP Racing Fuels’ Q16, and a Turbo 400 by Proformance Racing Transmissions is under this car to help plant power.
“I was making about 500 horsepower with my old engine, and I wanted to make 1,000 horsepower with my new engine, so I’m really happy right now,” said Slaviero, whose car, which weighs 3,900 pounds with him in it, rolls on Mickey Thompson tires wrapped around Weld wheels.
To prepare for the increase in power, Slaviero had his car at Straightline Performance in Illinois to have a chrome moly cage installed. He also swapped his stock seats, which had power, with a set of Kirkey racing seats before heading to a test session last fall at Byron Dragway in Illinois.
“We went 9.58 right off the trailer, and then we picked up to a 9.48 at 144 mph,” said Slaviero, who was making passes for his NHRA competition license that day as well. “That’s exactly what we were hoping for, and we may pick up more with further tuning.”
Slaviero is anxious to compete in NMCA Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car for the first time since 2017 at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance this weekend, May 13-16 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois.
“I really do like the Nostalgia Muscle category, and it will be good to race in it again, “ said Slaviero. “I’m also really looking forward to running the 9.50 index with my new engine.”