July
FEATURE CAR
Rico Padilla's
1957 Bel Air
Drag Racer
Dallas, Texas

I have had many racecars in my life but in 2004 I decided to copy my Pro-Street blower car because in my opinion a 1957 Bel Air is the most beautiful car ever built, and of course red is my favorite color.  I built that car, but later in 2014 I decided to spend more time with my son and racing was taking too much of my time, so I sold it.  Little did I know how addicted to racing I was.  After I sold it, I got hit with the biggest bout of depression I ever felt!  I felt like I had no meaning in life, I felt I wasnít worth anything, I wondered why I even existed because it seemed like I had no purpose.  That lasted a few months when I finally realized that I was just suffering from lakoracecar disease.  I realized that I have to have a racecar in my life in order to be able to function and work to support my family.  So, by golly I starting happy-dancing and singing IíM GONNA GET A RACECAR Ė IíM GONNA GET A RACECAR.  It may sound childish but when I tell this story to other fellow racers many of them have also been through it, especially when their car breaks and they canít afford to fix it!  I guess itís one of those gearhead things that may be hard for others to understand.  Itís truly a passion for most racers who put their lives on the line every time they get behind the wheel, itís an addicting adrenaline rush. 

Soon I came across the race car I have today.  It has a very nice chassis that was fully constructed and welded well, with the full fiberglass body kit just resting on the chassis.  I negotiated for 3 months with the owner before closing the deal and soon I was on the road to Illinois to pick it up.  I proceeded to finish installing the body, the front end is quick pull-off or easily flips forward, the windows are lexan for less weight, the doors and bumpers are all fiberglass.  I added the full interior enclosure and seat, the motor and transmission along with the electrical, fuel and nitrous systems.  I had it painted by the Plano Senior High School kids then it was off to the races I went!  Free from the lakoracecar disease!  Most people still think this car is the same one I had built in 2004 but in reality, I sold that one to a guy in Houston in 2014 and he is still loving every minute with it.  This second car is inch by inch an exact duplicate of my first one - no one could ever tell any difference!  This one runs a 511 big block 4 bolt main Chevy, 14:1 compression with Dart heads and nitrous.  All this runs through a Powerglide tranny, Ford 9 inch rear spool with 4:30 gears and 35 spline axles.     

My personal quickest elapsed time in the 1/8 mile is a 5.02 and thatís as fast as my old man body is comfortable with.  I found at these speeds when it goes bad it goes bad too fast for my old man reactions.  Besides, if I donít push it to the max all the time it sure lasts a lot longer!  I enjoy watching good racing almost as much as running it myself.  Thatís why most of the time for me is to just run 2 or 3 times and then watch the younger crowd shoot it out till the end!


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