It’s going on 20 years now that Nick Strohbeen has had the same hot rod, thus giving credence to the homily that such projects are never really finished. On the face of it you could argue that the status of Nick’s keeper is purely controlled by natural progression. In 1993, Nick began with a ’72 Chevelle, brought it to several distinct levels of improvement, and just yesterday it seems he wound up with something quite different. Rather than flit from one car to another, he gave his old friend a warm embrace and the promise that the journey would continue for the foreseeable future. In a word, he loves this car.
Nick did it right. He made his changes. He developed his changes until they would yield no more then continued to move beyond. And to that end, he’s lavished the chosen one with textbook accumulation of goods and services necessary and appropriate for a low 8-second kidney disturber. Heady stuff this.
The Chevelle was first painted in 1994 and has hosted fat-block combinations ranging from a stock 454 to the current 565-incher. The latest paintjob was applied a little over a year ago. On the surface, the Chevelle doesn’t appear bloodthirsty; no, it comes on more like a schizoid wannabe, decked out in bright, clean livery and race wheels but there’s very little else to give it away—until you glimpse that rollcage. Wait a minute. Skinnies and fat Hoosier drag radials? An exhaust that booms like a street car racer’s dream? A smiling 37-year-old behind the wheel? A Real Street Unlimited champion? All of it is true.
But Nick’s stingy with his car, advancing the odometer by maybe 200 miles a year and visiting the quarter-mile three or four times. “I attend the three yearly Brainerd International Raceway events,” Nick says. “Now I’m trying to do more Cedar Falls Raceway 10.5 events as well as the annual Midway Shootout there.”
Our protagonist was a hapless victim of circumstance, of learned behavior. “I’ve grown up with a passion for cars. Working in the family business [www.normstiresales.com] with my grandfather, Norm, father, uncle, and aunt since I was roughly 8, I have been around numerous street rods and muscle cars, which I gravitated to.” His mentor, Dan Larson, was the father of a friend. Larson introduced him to drag racing and under his tutelage transformed the Chevelle from a street cruiser to a serious street racing entity.
He built an obnoxious 540 juice motor that blew 750 hp on pump gas. He got married, had a son, and soon reasoned that the street race vibe was becoming more dangerous than ever. He shelved everything and that’s how it stayed for 10 years. When his marriage decayed irrevocably, what he still had in his heart would not let him rest. He spent the next five years becoming intimate with the technology and tuning changes that had evolved since.
Then, acquaintance with a customer more or less changed his life. Dan Hennum was the man. His car-building experience, knowledge of racing, and inside connections spurred the combination. His tuning prowess helped Nick win races and got his 3,600-pound pig to run its best. Nick’s extended racing family also includes the tire shop’s irreplaceable brake tech Greg (aka Hippy), the team’s de facto crew chief. On a 300-shot, the 565 produced a best 60-foot of 1.25 seconds and collective 8.35 seconds at 166 mph. Yeah. See you at the drive-in too, bro.