Car of the Week: Jake Howard's 1976 Pontiac Trans Am

Welcome to the BTE Racing Car of the Week series, where we feature our customers and fans, and the cars (and trucks) they love to race. Today, we're featuring Jake Howard from Lavon, Texas, and his 1976 Pontiac Trans Am.
How did you get into drag racing?
I got into racing at the young age of seven. My dad always enjoyed hot rods and he came across the junior dragsters back in the dial-up internet days. At this point, my dad had a 1970 GTO that was street driven, and he figured racing would be something we would do together. We showed up the first time, and never stopped going. It’s gotten out of control ever since.
When and where was your first race?
My first race was at the Texas Motorplex. I had a cast on my arm from a broken thumb I earned playing baseball, but we'd just bought the car and went out on a Friday night to see if I would enjoy being at the track. We ended up going to our first competitive race a couple weeks later, where I met my now best friend, Max McGlothin. I was drawn to his car because we were the only two cars out there running gas carburetors. My dad still has my first time slip in his log book—I think I killed the tree with about a .850 RT (on a .500 tree).
What model/year do you race now?
I currently drive a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am.
Does your car have a nickname?
I have an uncanny ability to come up with nicknames for cars/people on the fly (usually good). I started calling my car the Fireturd and it’s just kinda stuck over the last couple of years.
What's under the hood?
A 517 CI Pontiac motor, with out of the box Edelbrock heads built by Max Long at Long Racing Engines. I lean on my car a lot, and Max is a guy I trust to build me a bullet I can lean on.
Which BTE products do you use in your vehicle?
I use a Top Sportsman glide and a 4600 stall converter built by one of the best in the business, Bryan at BTE.
Why do you use BTE?
I use BTE because I build my car with products I trust to get me down the track upwards of 400 times a season without having to worry about parts failure. I’m very picky about what I put in my car because I need it to be one of the best cars out there. The competition is tougher than ever, and it takes a car built with great products to gain any edge.
Someone you look up to in racing?
Easy, my dad. He’s taught me how to win and lose and we built this car together. I want him to win more than I do.
If money were no object, what would you drive?
Just an updated version of the Fireturd. Maybe build a back-half/front half ‘69 Firebird with an all-aluminum 540 CI Pontiac. 5.20s would be fun.
What is your pre-race ritual (if you have one)?
I typically don’t eat a lot on race days. I’m not sure if you call that a ritual or being stupid. I also just try to focus on my game plan every round, whether it works or not – when you stage the car you have to believe something.
Posted by Amber Ambrose at 2:30 PM