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, it’s all about Wendell Dunaway of North Richland Hills, TX and his 1956 Chevy Bel Air.
How did you get into drag racing?
In 1972, my dad had me going to a local track “Green Valley,” in the city that I live in now when I was only eight years old. I grew up watching Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme & Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen and it was all I wanted to do.
In 1990 my good friend Jerry Smith also had a ’56 Chevy and took me to a race at the Texas Motorplex since Green Valley had closed down. He ran the Super Pro class and ended up winning that day. I knew then my “street car” was going to be a “race car”.
When and where was your first race?
My first race was at Texas Raceway in Kennedale, Texas. I remember that I raced a great friend and competitor, Paula Young. That race was in March 1992, and Paula welcomed me to the sport with a .005 reaction time and a dead on the dial with a zero in her ’67 Camaro. It was a thrill of a lifetime that stays with me today.
What model/year do you race now?
I have a 1956 Chevy Bel Air 2-door hardtop. I have been racing it now for over 24 years. Originally going 7.50’s, it now runs 5.50’s in the 1/8th mile.
Does your car have a nickname?
Spanky. The car was originally called “Our Gang” and I thought it was fitting for a heavy Chevy.
What's under the hood?
All aluminum 582ci Big Block Chevy making 1060HP built by Morgan and Son Racing Engines, Ron’s Fuel Injection Terminator System, Brodix 2XX CNC 23 degree heads with Brodix Aluminum Block & Brodix intake
Which BTE products do you use in your vehicle?
Thanks to the help of Mr. Bryan Robinson (AKA $50K): a complete BTE Top Sportsman Powerglide using the BTE 1.80 Straight Cut gear set, BTE 7 bolt pump, BTE ringless input shaft & BTE case, plus a BTE 10” torque converter custom built for my application with the direction of Bryan.
Why do you use BTE?
The legendary Luke Bogacki turned me on to BTE in 1998, I instantly started winning with their products and in 1999 with the help of Mr. Bill Taylor & Paul Barrentine I became a dealer and a builder.
Someone you look up to in racing?
Without a doubt it is Luke Bogacki. I claimed Luke as my little brother, since I have known him back when he ran the fuel station at Texas Raceway at age 14 in the mid 90s. I always have fun telling everyone that I knew Luke before he was Kool Hand Luke. I have had the opportunity to watch him grow into the best bracket racer in the nation. I learn from Luke every day. He amazes me with his knowledge and strategy. If you don’t subscribe to his website www.thisisbracketracing.com you are really missing out on some great information. Great family man, great friend and incredible racer.
If money were no object, what would you drive?
I would love to get my hands on a Jerry Bickel car. Late 60s Camaro.
What is your pre-race ritual (if you have one)?
I never wear anything red, and eat a McDonald’s bacon egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast.