Dallas Area Classic Chevys


The Story of 'Old Stewball'

Tom Hurley – St Paul, Texas

The name Stewball comes from a song performed by Peter, Paul and Mary in the 60’s.  It was about a race horse that never drank water, it always drank wine.

This Stewball has been a race car since 1960.  It has raced on tracks such as Caddo Mills, Green Valley Raceway and Dallas International Motor Speedway.  It was an AHRA Record Holder and a NHRA Gas Class car in the 60’s and 70’s.  Its last drag race was in 1978 by Joe Nelson. 

After that is sat under a car port until 2000 when the transformation began to make a Bonneville Land Speed racer out of it.  In 2013 Stewball made its debut at the Bonneville Speedweek for its first runs.  In 2015 Stewball ran at the El Mirage Dry Lake for licensing runs where it ran 174 MPH.  At the 2016 Speedweeks, it ran 194 MPH in a licensing run where the front end hit on a rough track surface and was damaged.  In the 2018 Speedweeks, this ’57 Chevy had a top speed of 217 MPH and averaged 209 MPH over a timed mile.

Power comes from a Hans Feustel prepped 632 DART big block with a pair of 1150 cfm Holley Dominators on a Dart Tunnel Ram, Dart Aluminum heads just to hit the high lights!  It produces 1150 HP and 903 lbs of torque at 7200 rpm. 


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 Tom Hurley’s ‘Stewball’

Reprinted from Driving Line
August 2016 



 “The stupidest thing I ever said,” exclaims Tom Hurley, “was, ‘I bet we could put a motor in this and get it going real cheap for Bonneville.’”

Land speed racing, or racing of any sort for that matter, isn’t known to be a penny-pinching pastime; but that doesn’t mean there aren’t grassroots and shoestring teams aplenty out at any given raceway, including the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.

While Tom had clearly made a large investment in his 1957 Chevy “Old Stewball,” his trip to Speedweek 2016 had all the makings of a grassroots racing endeavor… and I mean that in the best way possible.

At an event that had an epic over-400mph showdown of George Poteet versus Danny Thompson, Speedweek racers and fans respect the technological innovation that funding brings but overwhelmingly will root for the team with the most heart. In Poteet vs Thompson it was a highly funded professional crew versus the son of the late, great Mickey Thompson out to finally fulfill his father’s aims. Poteet went faster, but Thompson was who we were cheering for.
Tom, like all the other racers, had waited since 2013 for a Speedweek, with weather/salt conditions cancelling the past two August events. 

“I haven’t even given it gas yet,” he quips. Having first brought the Chevy out in 2013, Tom had dreamed about the build since ’98 and started it eight years ago.

“Everything I did was wrong,” he notes, explaining that he finally coughed up the cash and sent the Chevy off to Ed Stuck to build it right. The car itself, however, has been with Tom since 1966 when he bought it with a friend to drag race; the dash still bears the plaque of the first car meet they attended.

The Chevy stopped racing in ’74, but, as a ‘57 Chevy should, it looks more drag race than land speed. With the salt flats though, none of that matters, because it isn't just about building the right car – it’s about building a car with heart. And I’d say a 50 year relationship with a car gives it a little more heart than the next. It’s name, “Old Stewball,” references an old country song telling a story of an underdog race horse that won, which is just what this 632 Big Block-powered Chevy did this Speedweek.

No, it didn’t break records, but what it did do is largely what Speedweek is all about. Tom showed up alone to the salt flats. His crew, back in Texas, dropped out for one emergency or the other, but Tom came anyway, the salt was calling. Requiring at least a 1-2 person crew to do everything that needs to be done once the driver is at the wheel, Tom posted a note calling for crew volunteers on the bulletin board near sign-in. He soon had dozens of calls and texts pouring in with offers to help.

Over the course of the long weekend he had numerous hands helping out “Ol’ Stewball” in the pits. There was the couple who’d traveled from France, his pit neighbors who brought body working skills when the car needed them, and then there were Randy and Pat who stuck with him like they had been teammates all along. While Randy Minton had attended Speedweek a handful of times and was “3 years into a 12-month project” to build his own land speed racer, Pat Plemel had just finished riding his motorcycle over 2,000 miles from the Yukon to catch his first Speedweek.

“I’ll have stories to tell for a lifetime,” says Pat, as the hodgepodge team of three laugh and banter like old friends.