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Big Wheelies, Big Win and Big Changes Coming for Frankie Radake

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by NMCA Staff
More than twenty years have passed since Frankie Radake joined the NMCA family.
He competed in Erson Cams Nostalgia Muscle for a while before moving over to MagnaFuel Open Comp.
He has been in the same 1968 Camaro from day one. He professes to never sell it, and that makes his fans happy. After all, Radake is famous for raucous wheelies and round wins.
He is also known for his passion, and staying the course even when something is challenging him, and he has proven that in his Camaro with a big-block Chevrolet built by Vinny Budano at Shafiroff Racing Engines and Components and paired with an ATI Turbo 400 and converter.
Over winter, Radake, who relies on oil and methanol from Extreme Racing Fuels, delivered his car to Tim Gaunt of G&S Racing in Illinois, to be inspected from top to bottom. 

“Tim took care of some weld cracks which happened from the car repeatedly going into wheelies,” said Radake. “He also put a parachute on the back of the car because we are nearing 150 mph, made some chassis upgrades and put a Funny Car-style cage in the car. Basically, he did everything that makes me feel safe.”
When the work was done, Radake headed to a test session at I-57 Dragstrip in Illinois, and discovered he had some trouble to track down.
“I made two passes and almost hit the wall both times because my car was pulling to the right so hard,” said Radake. “I put it on the trailer, took it home and started trying different parts to see what would help, but I’m no chassis guy, so after the third test session, I swallowed my pride and called Tim Gaunt, who drove 100 miles to show up to my test session the very next day. He discovered that one of my tires had an inch and a half more rollout, and my wheelie bars needed an adjustment, and together, those things were causing my car to go right.”
With just a week to go before the 18th Annual NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in early May at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, Radake ordered and installed new tires. Then, he headed to the race, with Gaunt there to support him every step of the way. He qualified in the twelfth spot out of 20 racers with an .027 reaction time, advanced through several tough rounds and arrived at the NMCA Winner’s Circle after an .015 reaction time and a 9.14 on a 9.11 against Gordon Harlow.

“The car was going into wheelies and we had to settle the front end of it in the beginning of the weekend, but Tim Gaunt got the car set up so well that all I had to do was let go of the button and hit my shift,” said Radake, who also competed in Bracket Mayhem and exited in the first round of eliminations on a red light in that category. “I couldn’t believe it. Tim Gaunt took time out of his weekend, took time off work and spent his own gas money to be there to help me. He and G&S Racing helped me go straight to the winner’s circle, and I have to tell you that winning at the Super Bowl was a very big deal to me.”
Radake, an accomplished racer, is preparing to take another big step, as he is having a car built to race in NMCA VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod.
“I’m having a 2020 Camaro built at Larry Jeffers Race Cars, and I’m very excited about that,” said Radake. “I have always gone to the stands to watch Pro Mod, and I have always been a huge fan of the category. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to race a Pro Mod myself, and now I have the opportunity, and I can’t wait.”
Radake hopes to begin getting seat time in the 2020 Camaro by the end of 2023, and he will proudly fly banners for Eagle Specialty Products.
“Because I’m the same guy I was twenty years ago, I’m going to want to continue to race in MagnaFuel Open Comp while also racing in VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod,” said Radake. “And my biggest fan and supporter will be my daughter, Abigail Corder.”


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