Category Archives: Racing

Boss Hoss to Boss Gasser

The following was published in ‘Cars’ magazine in 1969. I am in the process of documenting some of this stuff and am going to use this article as the ‘template’ of how I will present this information on the Web. Clearly I need to get some design chops, captions on the images would be nice as well…

It’s a fun article…enjoy.

Factory engineers Wayne Gapp and Bill Jameson build an out of sight 429 AHRA-style funny.

Here’s how they went…


A 33 percent engine set back improved the traction. AHRA rules permit this, while NHRA rules set a 25 percent limit. Note roll cage.
By Alex Walordy

There are only 24 hours in a day, and just a meager seven days in a week, so Wayne Gapp and Bill Jameson parcel out their time carefully. By day, they work at Ford Engineering in varying engine design functions. From Ford, it’s only a short drive to a little shop called Performance Engineering, also in Dearborn, Michigan. There they build Ford race engines. Then, of course, a man has to relax and that calls for a 429 Boss race car. Gapp and Jameson really wanted a blown fueler, but that looked like too much of a full time business in itself to be successful. Instead, they turned to a gas funny car, AHRA style.

The class rules are very strict; 430 cubic inches maximum, naturally aspirated and no less than 2000 pounds weight. End of rules! Since Gapp and Jameson are both interested in engine design and development, the freedom to make any changes they wanted fell right within their province. Also, the car stood a chance of becoming a winner without encroaching too much on their day and night schedule. The competition is fierce, with cars like Al Joniac’s Mustang, George Weiler’s Camaro, Earl Phillip’s ‘Baltimore Bandit’ and the ‘Banning Dodge Charger’ to cite a few. However, for having a brand new machine, Wayne Gapp hasn’t done badly at all. First run out, he turned 149 mph and posted a 9.2. Since then, there has been a consistent improvement in the car, as the little bugs get shaken out.

While the new Boss 429 is built strictly as an AHRA car with a 33 percent engine set back, moving the engine ahead to the 25 percent mark would make it possible to run in A/funny car under the NHRA banner. Since the current class is quite competitive and operates as a circuit, there is very little time between rounds and no chance to change engines or transmissions. In other words, to win you have to stay in running shape without breakage and the Ford pieces are turning the trick. In fact, Wayne feels that an 8.80 with a top speed of 160 is well within sight.Port design in Boss 429 is highly refined. To avoid losing flow, heads were not changed.

One thing about the Boss 429, it is distinguished by the biggest intake ports in the industry, and this doesn’t necessarily lend itself to high air flow velocity and great fuel distribution in a carbureted car. No matter, says Wayne, so he set up the engine to run with fuel injection at well above 7000 rpm. He leaves at 7500 rpm by dropping the hammer rather abruptly, and doesn’t allow the engine rpm to go much below 6000. In fact, Wayne and Bill Jameson couldn’t care less about what happens below 4000, since the engine never operates that slowly. End of air velocity problems.
The Boss 429 is still a brand new engine and no one was in a position to supply an off-the-shelf fuel injection unit for it. However, there must be a benefit to having a pair of engineers on the job, for they promptly designed their own unit. Eight runners similar to those of the SOHC were cast, after which side and bottom plates were fabricated out of flat stock. The whole thing was shipped to Antieaux’s Welding, and heliarced, using the block and heads as a jig to keep everything in alignment. After some machining, which included rifle drilling the new manifold to accept throttle shafts and also boring the runners out for Hilborn throttle valves, the unit became ready made bolt-on assembly.

Wayne is already thinking, of course, about the next fuel injection unit that he will build, one with even more streamlined air passages. That one will consist of a series of independent intakes joined to a common base plate. It would be a lot easier to machine since all the pieces can be made individually on a jig. One advantage would be to eliminate the difficult rifle drilling of the throttle shafts. A fuel pump drive for the Boss 429 was just as unavailable as the injector manifold, so Wayne made up an aluminum cover which replaces the stock water pump and supports the Hilborn pump instead. A hex head mounted on the timing gear powers the Hilborn pump.

Pointing the nozzles upward against the air stream instead of twoard the valve imporoved the fuel break up, and also allowed more time for the fule to mix with the incoming air. Add to this a set of intake stacks designed to produce just 14 inches of tuned ram length from the valve to the top of the intake. This, plus a set of big 2 1/4-inch diameter header pipes which Bee Line engineering trimmed to a 30-inch length, tune the engine for peak rpm. Then, to fill in the upper end of the midrange and help the car leave harder, there is a seven-inch transition to a collector. Wayne is currently experimenting with optional collector lengths of different designs to see which one puts out the most usable power.BossHoss-Image-7.png

The 429 valve train is built for the steady grind on circle tracks, 500 miles at a clip and is to sturdy and to heavy for straight drag racing. Gapp was able to remove 100 grams at a clip by switching to think wall push rods, aluminum retainers, and thoroughly reworked rocker arms. Any excess material which didn’t add to the rocker’s load bearing capacity was ground off, and this includes a small area around the oil squirt hole. The standard valve latch adjusting screw and its lock nut look big enough for double warranty life on a Mack truck. Wayne Gapp go a hold of some raw rocker arm forgings and machined them for a light-weight 3/8-inch Chrysler adjusting screw. These lightening changes plus the stock tubular valves, and a special cam, brought the rpm limit up to 8000. Quite an achievement considering the kingsized intake valves.
To raise the compression, most people are content to cut the cylinder heads, and it probably works well enough in most engines except the Boss 429. As Gapp points out, there are four “O” rings for the cylinders, and nothing less than 21 “O” rings to seal off the various water passages. Any time you cut the head, all of the “O” ring grooves must be reworked since the Boss 429 is for all practical purposes a dry deck engine. Besides, the combustion chamber has two side sections taken out of the circle so the cutting of the head doesn’t remove as many cc’s as cutting the deck of the cylinder block, where the volume gain is based on full circle area. It is, therefore, no surprise that the heads are left alone, and that decking just .025 inches from the block deck raised the compresson to a comfortable 13-to-1.

Grand National rods may be heavier than the ones made for streeet use, but they’re also designed to go 500 full throttle miles, and at a quarter mile a shot, that makes for quite a few runs. Since they’re made of 4340 steel and fitted with half inch bolts, you can understand why they last. The 429 rod bearings are .860 inches wide, while the ones on the 427 SOHC only measured .740 inches across. At first glance an eighth of an inch may not look like much of a change, but it represents a 17-percent increase in bearing area, more than enough to guarantee good life. The two partners had quite a session using clay to check the piston to cylinder head clearance and then doing a little file work here and there to work out the close spots.BossHoss-Image-8.png

The stock oil pan was deepened two inches and fitted with bustles on each side. This brough the capacity up to ten quarts, including the filter, without cutting to far in on the ground clearance. The neat street type engine oil pan baffle was left unchanged, but the sump pick-up was dropped closer to the new bottom. Moving up from there, you’ll find a race-type two-gear pump selected for its ability to digest metal particles. This pump, incidentally, is different from the more convential Gerotor pump released on the Cobra Jets and Super Cobra Jets. As an added precaution, the pressure relief spring was shimmed to increase the oil pressure.

As far as Wayne Gapp is concerned, the name of the game is getting out of the gate, and there isn’t enough power available on gasoline to turn that trick with a torque converter. Instead Wayne and Bill Jameson fell back to an old stand-by, a dual disc 427 drag racing clutch, complete with a 40-pound flywheel, which they had salvaged out of their old ’66 AFX Comet. It worked then and it still does now. Now, a clutch may be great, but both Wayne and Bill are still sold on the fast consistent shifts of an automatic. However, adapting the C-6 automatic to the 429 engine proved to be something of a problem because, for one thing, the starter had to be moved to clear the flywheel. Then, some of the bolt holes and dowels no longer fit. Now, both the engine and the transmission are fastened to the quarter-inch supporting bulkhead. Helicoils (small coiled steel wire inserts) were threaded into the bulkhead so that frequent disassembly wouldn’t strip the aluminum. Three of the original bolts go straight through from the transmission to the engine while the rest tie in via the adapter. The C-6 has been thoroughly reworked to beef it up and also convert it to a full manual shift. Topping all of this is a logghe ratchet-type shifter. A 14 5/8-inch drive shaft will never win any prizes for length and even this space had to be carved out the hard way by converting the trans to use a short tail shaft. A brand new cross member, retained by just two bolts, cuts down on the amount of work it takes to remove the transmission.BossHoss-Image-9.png

Since Wayne’s machine is not straining at 150 mph, even with 4.57 gears, you can see that the engine’s rpm capability is not neglected. Logghe supplied the narrowed rear, the shortened axles and teh set of drum brakes out of a 1968 Fairlane station wagon. The drums proved more than adequate in stopping the car, have less drag than discs and also offer a good holding power on the starting line when preloading the clutch. Rubber includes a set of 12.00 x 16 M7H’s mounted on 10-inch Cragars and, so far, the best tire pressures have been between six and eight pounds. To cut down on rolling resistance up front, Wayne picked a set of radial ply 5.60 x 15 Pirellis mounted on four-inch Halibrand rims and pumped up to rock hardness.

Wayne and Bill operate on a tight budget, and instead of going all out for a brand new frame they picked up a used Logghe frame in good running shape from a well-known Ford racer. It offers 120-inch wheel base, plenty of stability and ample room for the big engine set-back–it’s nice to play the percentages but you still need a certain amount of inches to accomodate the driver.Scan20006.png

Everyone is entitled to their little secret and Wayne has been doing a lot of experimenting with frame wedging and suspension units to get the most powerful gate job. After campaigning what amounted to a wheelie machine for a couple of years, Wayne now feels that picking up the front end too much just hurts the et. “You want to go forward, not up” Mind you he doesn’t mind carrying the front wheels and putting most of the load on the rear ones, but he still wants to handle well and goin in a straight line.The wheelie casters have been brought down close to the ground and steadided with a cross-piece. This gains quick contact with the ground as soon as the nose begins to lift, and avoids the sudden changes in loading. For instance, if the front end rears up hard enough, it can then jerk the rear wheels off the ground as well, while limiting the rise gains top traction.

Right now the Boss Mustang is around 70 pounds over its 2000-pound liit, but since 780 lbs of the weight is taken up by the engine and flywheel alone, there isn’t too much more lightening that can be done. One step in the right direction was to use a lightweight 125-pound Shedlik body out of Shedlik Engineering in Inkster, Michigan.
Also, Tom Smith of Wolverine Diesel contributed some very light aluminum work with cleverly formed cut-outs that are flanged over to retain stiffness while doing away with extra metal. A thirty-pound battery, complete supporting brackets will be eliminated from the rear of the car as soon as Wayne converts to an outside 24-volt battery for starting purposes. Neither partner is very happy with that because when you travel alone to a strip, that outside battery can be a nuisance. Wayne and Bill are even less happy with the prospect of chucking the cooling system, especially since a gasser usually runs hotter than the fuelers they have had in the past.BossHoss-Image-3.png

Of course, we left the best for last, an unreal paint job by Paul Shedlik, complete with a wild Cobra baring his fangs from the tail end of Gapp’s machine. In a tight race, when the competition is in hot pursuit, that Cobra has been known to hiss, breathe fire, turn on the steam and flat streak through the lights.



What could this be?

The new Taxi

How unfortunate it’s not the original Taxi. Be nice to see it on the track.

UPDATE (11-11-2009):
A member of the Maverick forums located here stated the following:

It’s funny to see the taxi in your pic, Jeff. The brown four door that was used in that project, built by Holzman Race Cars, was sitting for sale on my way to work in someone’s yard. I saw most of the build up at Holzman’s. It’s neat to see it in your photo.

Pretty cool.

If you’re into Maverick’s and Comet’s point your browser at the web site ( and take a look at the place. Lots of good info.

The story of the Tijuana Taxi

Dad at work. I’m not sure why the headline is “The checkered history of Pro Stock’s most unique factory hot rod”. Nothing checkered about the ride…just taking advantage of the rules.

This is a great write-up not only about the ‘Taxi’ but it catches my Dad’s personality quite well. If you are reading closely you can catch some other interesting tidbits.

The Checkered History of Pro Stock’s Most Unique Factory Hot Rod

Sudden Death

I’ve been trying to find the original source for this article. I think that it might have been published in Hot Rod but not sure.

UPDATE: Another article about this car here.



By Gray Baskerville

The vicarious pleasure of hammering along behind the wheel of Joe Ruggirello’s Mustang II quickly brings to mind the fact that you are indulging in 50% of a car nut’s true valhaulla. The balance of this fantasy would be having the lovely Linda riding shotgun. But it’s no daydream. We’ve got racing’s earth mother “covered” elsewhere, and as for driving the world’s fastest/quickest street-legal Mustang II – pardner, you’re looking at it. I know there isn’t a 6-71 peeking through the hood, nor is there a montage of decals spread along the rocker panels, signifying that what’s inside is mean, nasty and sable to boogie buns at the drop of the spoon. But there at throttle’s touch is instang launch, guarantedd to snap tunm-tums around spinal columns while causing a very real brain-draining case of the vertigos. Ruggirello’s racer is so fast that it does two things: manages to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper and remains undefeated on those secluded freeways and byways located in and around the suburbs of Detroit.

Any lover of ultimate high-performance machinery knows that “Sudden Deaths” don’t just happen; they are man-made. This one is a pure personification of oneupmanship, a sort of mechanical fastest-gun-in-the-West, the absolute toy of the serious big boy, or in the words of its chassis builder, Wayne Gapp, “one wild piece.” Obviously, “SD” had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was Detroit, when Joe Ruggirello was but a beardless youth. For kicks he and his friends would street-race their breathed-on Fords, Chevys and Mopars. During the ensuing 20 years, Joe and his coterie went their respective ways. Some became doctors, some became lawyers, some became captains of industry, some became deeply involved in the automotive industry, and some, like Joe, ended up as wealthy developers. But they continued their kicks and would meet once a week at one of the local coffee houses to lie to one another, bench race, and then, when the kiddies had all gone home, fly off into the night to stage 3 a.m. clandestine quarter-mile adventures. As they grew older and more financially secure, their toys took on a more substantial look. Those friends who worked for Chevrolet soon had 427-inch Vettes with glass so thin that a 100-watt light bulb would cast an X-ray shadow on the front suspension. Those occupying similar positions at Chrysler soon sported hemi-powered play toys that they managed to sneak out of engineering.

And then there was Joe. He stayed away from the fun-and-games, making his fortune so he too could return to the fray with something a little different – a Ford. As you can imagine, with hoots and jeers of “who wants a Ford” ringing in his ears, Joe pieced together a very storing Torino. However, 429-augered Torinos are heavy, and its 75% win/loss record wasn’t up to Ruggirello’s liking. So Joe made a dirctional shift, in the form of a brand-new Mustang II, registered it in his mother’s name (driving your mother’s car is not a put-down here), then proceeded on a straight line to that nirvana called Gapp & Roush – a place of oval shields, where script names and Ford blue flows thicker than water, where 351 is spoken and Chevy is a five-letter word. They, as you would say, got Ruggirello’s new act together.

Once you’ve assumed the driver’s position, it takes only a couple of seconds to recognize what has been done. No question about it: “SD” is a for-real, pro-built, Santa Ana cheater racer. A flick of the key and you light a whole herd of horses. You feather the throttle, let the Winters 4000-rpm converter ease you onto Schoolcraft – the split street on which Gapp & Roush fronts, a ribbon of bumpy concrete that parallels a still-unfinished freeway that runs east and west into Detroit – and begin to understand what they mean by getting your kicks. First is its exhaust note. By rights, a semi-sleeper should be sneaky fast. But “Smokey” Joe likes to watch the reactions of the curious to his Mustang’s perceptible muscle. It’s not a cacophony of tomato can size slugs lumbering in their respective bores. Nor is it the staccato-like ring of the cam and compression as their harmonics bounce around the almost-gutted interior. It’s more like the feasome fury of a Willys-style gasser, the peculiar sensation associated with a far-out engine/chassis combination, a package that features 505 inches inside 2900 pounds. It vibrates, even at idle.

The steering is light, extremely light, thanks to the fact that the “inches-are-everything” stroker has been slipped a good 10 inches back into the firewall. Visibility is unimpaired, braking adequate, courtesy of the “Stang’s lack of weight and slightly modified stopping system – even though the car was built to go, not whoa. Nor does it have the twinkle-toes agility of a Shelby Cobra – but it sure does jet.

The ride and handling provided by the “Competition Suspension” option was acceptable by today’s standards, but nothing like the IMSA-racer-for-the-street we were hoping for. The Cobra was fairly well controlled over bumps but suffered form a tendency to “float” over freeway undulations. The Cobra cornered flat, and was stable and predictable up to its limit where a moderate amount of understeer would take you wide of your intended path. There was enough power to trick it into a tail-out attitude with a twitch of the wheel and stab at the gas – but this is a maneuver not recommended for novices.

Obviously jetting is what it does best – better than anything around Detroit and better perhaps than any street-driven car in the country. It’s a “grizzly” to Roush, “Jaws” to Joe and, in a macabre sort of way, “Sudden Death” to the competition. It’s your good, old-fashioned shagnasty, and there are two ways to drive it. One is the Baskerville chicken boodie method. What you do here is to saunter along at 45 mph and let the Winters 4000-stall converter slip in the 550-lb.-ft of torque, smooth and subtle. When the snow is on the ground and slippery spots appear here and there, your old dad doesn’t want to be the guy who was responsible for stuffing Ruggirello’s $13,000+ toy into a utility pole.

Then there is the Roush-and-ready way. It’s far more thrilling riding and reading. Jack is from the famed school of “stab and steer,” a noble institution from which he received a magna-cum-leave degree. We slowed to a stop on an almost-deserted freeway, gave the surroundings a full 360 eyeball, then let it happen. Down went thw gasser, lock up went the converter, and there we were in our two bun-hugging buckets making like the proverbial striped fast ape. It was instant tunnel vision, in low, second and partially in third, as we eased off to a scalp tingle when passing 7000 in high and nudging into the 140-mph time zone. The whole heart-hammering, straight-arrow, mind-fogging experience took less than 10 seconds to complete. But I wouldn’t trade one second of that experience for anything less than another have-at-it.

You’re right; street racing isn’t drag racing. It’s more than that. It’s underground recognition in a form that causes strangers to stop and ask if this Mustang II is “that” Mustang II. It’s the fun of not knowing what the other guy has under his hood and blowing him off anyway. It’s the trip of not racing for money because, “I have pockets full of the stuff.” It’s taking your sporty-car friends for a ride they’ll never forget. It’s putting the Chevy and MoPar lovers away. It’s watching the gas station attendants lift the hood and faint dead away. It’s experiencing the gut-ball power in an age of gutless performance. It’s knowing you have a 600-inch all-aluminum Ford Can Am short-block in the wings in case someone gets too close. And it’s having your girlfriend complain after winning a grudge race two straight, that the competition must have broken, and being able to answer, “Broke, hell, that’s the way it ought to be.” Because when you deal with Joe Ruggirello’s musclebound Mustang II, that’s the way it is.