How This 1970 Buick GS 455 Pulled it Together During Drag Week Despite Scepticism
We participated in Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week this year, racing at 5 tracks in 5 days. Logged over 1000 official miles and about 1300 overall miles on the trip. No support vehicles or trailering the car is allowed during the event.
We towed a small 4x6 enclosed trailer to carry extra fuel, spare parts and tools.
10.86 average over 5 days on Drag Week in 100 temps with a best on Drag Week of 10.77. Car has run 10.69 since the event in the same configuration.
Week before Drag Week. Our 1970 Buick has been running for a couple weeks with some testing at an 1/8 mile track that showed a way too tight converter. Day before Drag Week we swapped in a different converter and fixed a bad oil leak just before we had to leave. Drove all night and arrived at track at like 11:30 am on check-in day, and man it was hot! We didn't even get the car off trailer and some guy walked up, said “Huh, think that things gonna make it?” and walked off. We asked ourselves, what was that all about, does he know something we don't?
1st day. We make the first 1/4 mile pass our Buick GS has made in 13 years with an unproven combination and an unknown converter. The car goes 10.86 on the rev limiter at 1000 feet. Close enough, let’s hit the road! We hooked up the trailer and started to drive out of the track when one of our airlift bags popped. Weight of trailer now makes tires rub, limp car at 10MPH out of track and to nearby Autozone, rubbing all the lettering off the side of tire. Buy crappy bolt in coil spring spacers that we install, find they are missing some nuts, buy more nuts and finish putting them it. Good news is they fix tire rub, bad news is we will have to remove and re-install them every day of Drag Week. Leaving Bowling Green as we got on the highway in 100 degree heat towing a trailer for the first time we had overheating problems, stopped and made air box/blockoff for radiator out of Subway tomato boxes and duct tape, noticed oil pressure very high at highway cruising RPM.
2nd day. We went to check ignition timing at track before pass, found it was way off, pulled distributor to find destroyed cam gear and cam gear knife edged. Dug through spares, found an extra, put it in made a pass and hit the road. We ordered 2 extras overnight to the track in St. Louis. Still having the high oil pressure issue, figuring since oil pump is driven off distributor/cam that might be what”s killing it. We went on search for oil pump pressure relief spring (it’s in the front cover on a Buick) Finally found one at Speedway auto parts in Indianapolis. They had to go to pick it up at a warehouse an hour away which they did at no charge and we waited at parts store. Part arrives and they offer to let us pull in to the back of the store to change it since it”s 102 degrees outside, we happily agree!
Get back on road, pressure not fixed, 2 on the road spring changes later fixed! We drive to St. Louis, arrive about 9:30 PM.
Still day 2. We decided to change the gear that night since we were still on the limiter at 1000 feet, looked everywhere for a 4.10 12 bolt gear and could find one, ended up fining one on Craigslist, go and meet the guy at 10PM, buy the gear. Get everything torn down, start pulling the ring gear bolts and the threads come off along with the bolts!! Crap, it’s midnight where are we going to find ring gear bolts? End up texting the guy from Craigslist again out of desperation, he actually texts back that he has some but to hurry up he’s going to bed. Can’t wake up our friends who are letting us stay at their house (Jon Huber) so we make the decision to steal his truck and go get the bolts. We arrive at Craigslist guy’s house, he’s got some crusty old differential that looks like it’s been sitting in his yard, we pull the bolts out, give him $20 and head back to the car. Re-assembly finishes up without further incident, we finish around 4am. (the next morning John tells us his wife woke him that night up and said “I think your truck just started” to which he replied “they must have needed more parts” and went back to sleep)
Day 3. Drive to track, wait for overnighted distributor gear to arrive, once it does we change it and make a pass. Our Buick GS 455 runs almost exactly same ET with different gear, now not on limiter till 1200 feel (sigh). We decide to take out the new distributor gear and run the one we have been driving on for the drive to Memphis which was mostly uneventful. We were having trouble finding E85, sweating it a bit. Make it to hotel around 9:30pm, notice as we pull in car has pretty good exhaust leak. Decide to fix it in the morning.
Day 4, get up around 5:30 to work on car. Change header gasket, run the valves, load up our stuff and start the car. Exhaust leak is still there, crap. Pull gasket out and notice it has not compressed it at all where it is leaking. We (mostly Sean Fling) spend 45 minutes with a flat file trying to get flange face straight (headers won’t come out of the car without pulling the motor). Replace gasket and it’s fixed. Drive to track, do another distributor gear swap and oil change, make a pass, then swap gear back again and hit the road.
Still a little panicked we are going to run out of E85 we end up finding a Buick dealer in northern Kentucky that has an E85 gas pump, crisis averted. Drive to Bowling Green uneventful.
Day 5. We made it to Bowling Green! Drive to track, change distributor gear, change oil and change plugs. Make a pass and car runs good. So we have a timeslip to turn in, now we start trying stuff. Put on carb spacer and now car has horrible bog, try several things to fix it to no avail. Turn in time slip and soak in the glory of finishing Drag Week.
Our team ended up as fastest Buick. We were just .05 out of 3rd in our class and 2 tenths out of second place, we couldn't be happier. We would have finished 3rd or better in the 2 higher classes of Big Block, even power adder.
- 1970 Buick GS 455
- 3940 pounds with driver and full of fuel
- 464 cu. in. Buick (455 bored over) with stage 2 TA aluminum heads, approx.650 HP
- Turbo 400 3 speed transmission, YANK 4000 torque converter
- C&S aerosol carburetor set up for E-85 (car runs exclusively on E-85 flex fuel)
- 4.10 gears
- Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials 295/65/15
- Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers and 3” exhaust