Back in the ’60s, and even on up into the ’70s, it was the NHRA drag guys who took advantage of the affordability, and more importantly the weight benefits, of racing an unlikely candidate down the quarter-mile in the Stock Eliminator class—a station wagon.
Drag racing a smaller coupe or sedan proved challenging to transfer a bunch of power and get off the line without spinning the tires, especially when that tire is a measly 7-inch M&H slick. But the early drag racers were a crafty bunch and realized the extra weight of all that sheetmetal, and more importantly, the window glass in a “grocery getter” over the rearend offered a huge advantage in their ability to launch harder off the line with minimal tire spin. It put them at the top of their weight class and oftentimes it launched them into the winner’s circle.
That’s all fine for drag racing, but the additional weight in a Pro Touring ride doesn’t offer nearly the same benefit. Fortunately, it’s in our nature to root for the underdog, and if it means having a vintage wagon compete on the same road course or autocross as the more nimble coupes, then we want to see it, and we want to see it do well.
It’s that very thought process that got Chuck Church Jr. to invest in this corner-carving ’64 Chevy II wagon. His company, Church Boys Racing Components, of Bristolville, Ohio, specializes in performance suspension components for classic Novas, so he knew this wagon would make a great calling card for his up-and-coming business. On top of that, the wagon provides big room for his wife and four kids to do the daily school drop-off-and-pick-up dance.
“I have four kids, and I think it’s way cooler to cruise around town in a classic Nova wagon than the same old SUV thing that everyone else drives,” Chuck quips. “It also makes a great daily driver, and it gets plenty of use as a shop car.”
Vintage, no-rust cars of any kind are an unlikely site in the state of Ohio, so it’s good to have friends in various parts of the country when you get your feelers out for a classic piece of muscle—especially a wagon.
“I have some friends who also happens to be one of our dealers out in Northern California, who told me about this particular Nova wagon. After seeing pictures of the car, I just had to have it,” Chuck says. “I was heading out to Pleasanton to attend the NorCal Nova Mini Nationals show anyway, and figured I’d just go out there and enjoy the show and tow the car home at the end of the weekend. Then I thought it would be a good idea to send out one of our front suspension systems and have them bolt it on so I could drive the car while I was out there. Well, after further discussion with the guys at the shop, the decision was made to go ahead and paint the suspension components so it would at least look good in the car. Everything just took off from there. Brian Beatie, Joe and Denise Rea, Duane Freeman, Jose Mitchell, and Patric Rea did a great job in the installation, and I want to thank them for getting it done so quickly.”
Driving the car home wasn’t part of the initial plan, but once the upgrades were done, the car drove so great that Chuck took the opportunity to enjoy the car for about 2,000 miles all the way back to the Church Boys headquarters.