You might be surprised to find out the contractor scheduled to paint your new house spends his time barreling down the local drag strips at speeds over 120 miles per hour but we are here to tell you……its true! We had a chance to sit down and find out just what this painter does when he heads to the drag strip.
Garth Tillman, a 54 year old from Yorkton, Canada, owns his own Paint contracting company as well as his own paint store. When he isn’t covering the canvas he spends his free time Drag Racing at the local tracks and as an editor for Grassrootsdragracing.com
1. How did you get started in Drag Racing?
I have always been a car guy but never raced until 2010. I have a background that is tied closely to the Drag Racing Sport. My younger sister has been a racer for 20 years. I have 2 brothers-in-law that drag race. One brother-in-law is also a race engine and race car builder. I have been attending drag races for many years. I would go to the track and spend time in the pit area meeting racers and workers at the track. I enjoyed the smell of race fuel, burning rubber and the thunder of the engines. Cheering on my sister, her husband and friends who race was always a blast. For the last 2 years I have had the opportunity to be a fan of my sister’s daughter who now also drag races.
My desire to become a racer didn’t really start at the quarter mile but at an oval track. I went to Las Vegas with a good friend of mine in 2009 to drive a Nascar around the 1 & 1/2 mile track. Spending an afternoon getting instructions and making 8 laps behind the wheel had me hooked. I needed to feel that kind of rush again. Naturally the Drag Strip was my obvious choice. Things just fell into place after that.
Gearbox: We think falling into place is a little of an understatement Garth!
I had watched a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda run at the drag race track for a number of years and when I started looking for a chassis to race, it happened to be for sale. After a little bargaining I sealed the deal and purchased the car as a rolling chassis only. The only piece of the puzzle left was to acquire the help of my brother-in-law the engine builder and create one hell of a power plant to squeeze between the frame rails. I spent the spring of 2010 installing the engine, transmission, shifter and setting up the suspension the way I wanted it. Sure enough, the Cuda was track ready.
In the afternoon of July 18, 2010 I finished working on the Cuda and I wasted no time finding the staging lane at 7pm that night. First pass the Cuda ran 7.75 seconds @ 86.71 MPH in the 1/8thmile. We made 2 passes that evening and the following day I lost my first race in the Cuda. After 2 dial-in passes, I lined up against my sisters husband and left the line a little early, a red light was all I got. My sister’s Husband went on to win our class that day.
The following weekend we trailered the car to a track for some 1/4 mile races and had a Great time. We made a total of 50 passes last year at 3 different tracks.
3. Best ET & MPH to Date?
Best time the Cuda has run so far is a 11.302 @ 120.23 mph. 1.573 60ft time.
4. What goals do you plan to achieve for this car?
As a first time racer I had my share of highs and lows. The lows being a poorly built transmission that gave me some problems and the torque converter was not what I needed to run well. Some of the highs would be making it twice to the final 8 racers in the Pro Class. We had the opportunity this summer to attend an IHRA event in Edmonton Alberta and a NHRA event in Las Vegas as a fans only, someday I would like to be a participant.
We made a few more changes to the Cuda during the winter months. Now we wait for the season to start. Looking forward to another exciting season and more passes down the track. With any luck we should have the Cuda running in the 10’s this season.
5. Alright, come on, what’s hidden under the hood?
360 block – 408 CI
Eagle 4340 steel 4″ stroke crank
Probe sportsman racing series flat top pistons – 11.0:1
The rods are Scat pro comp series
Comp cams solid flat tappet
Indy 360-1 CNC cylinder Heads
Indy intake manifold
Holley HP 830 CFM
Dyno #’s 611 HP 545 Ft LBS
Fuel 94 Octane
727 Automatic 5000 RPM Stall
6. Now we gotta ask, can we see it in action?
7. What do you enjoy most about putting this Cuda to work?
Feeling the adrenalin rush when you do your burnout and stage the car at the lights is amazing. I look forward to running my car every chance I get. Win or lose its still an experience I want to repeat over and over again.
Gearbox: That is a promising build Garth and we cant wait to see your hard work payoff at the track this season.