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Wright to Start Defending His 2019 Title at First Two Great Lakes Stock/SS Races

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    As a Nostalgia Super Stocker under NMCA rules, Doug Wright's 1964 Plymouth runs in A/FX on a 9.25 index. He is shown at an NMCA race at Norwalk. / Photo by Bryan Epps of BME Photography provided by NMCA
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    Look closely below the tachometer to see the original push-button shifter in the dash still used by Doug Wright to change gears in his Torqueflite 727 transmission. / Photo provided by Doug Wright
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    This 572-inch Chrysler wedge engine built by Doug Wright puts out 900 horsepower. On top of the engine is a cross-ram manifold even though the two AFBs are in line. / Photo provided by Doug Wright
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    Doug Wright

SUPER STOCK and STOCK - Great Lakes Stock/Super Stock Association racers will open their season with a doubleheader of competition Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14 at Mid-Michigan Motorplex near Stanton, Mich.

The group was supposed to start its season May 2-3 at the track, but the event was postponed due to governmental restrictions resulting from the CoViD-19 pandemic that broke out in mid-March. The association rented the track May 21 for a non-points event open to only 24 racers.

This weekend will have no limit on the number of racers. They may arrive until 11 p.m., Friday for parking. The Saturday schedule has the pits opening at noon, time runs at 1 p.m., and eliminations at 6 p.m. On Sunday the pits open at 9 a.m., and time runs begin an hour later. Eliminations start at 1 p.m.

The entry fee is $125 each day. The daily purse pays $2,000 to the winner, who also receives a $500 Auto Meter product bonus. The runner-up receives $1,000, and the semifinalists $200 and quarterfinalists $150. In addition, the racer with the most round wins both days will be presented with a toolbox that was donated by Jeg’s.

At this point the other events on the association schedule are July 11 and Aug. 15 at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park and Sept. 20 at Milan Dragway.

At the events this season the racers will attempt to score enough points to win the season championship, which was won last year by Doug Wright of Waterford, Mich., in his 1964 Plymouth Belvedere A/FX. The top three were rounded out by Brad Zaskowksi of Grand Rapids, Mich., in his 1987 Camaro GT/K and Dan Olding of Hartland, Mich., in his 1999 Monte Carlo GT/OA.

Winning Rounds Leads to Title for Wright

Wright, 65, earned the ’19 title on the basis of winning the opening race, also at Mid-Michigan Motorplex, and then going rounds at other races. One of them was the second in the Motorplex doubleheader in which he went two rounds before rain halted the action.

Only one round was run July 20 at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park before the race was washed out by rain and not rescheduled. The Sept. 15 race at Milan Dragway had to be postponed due to weather conditions, but the event was finished Oct. 6 to conclude the season. Wright went four rounds there.

The championship was Wright’s first in the association, with which he began racing in 2017 and won one event. For the ’19 title he won $1,000 and a drum of VP gasoline, putting his total GLSSSA winnings last year at $3,500.

“Winning the title was pretty neat. There are some real hitters in the series,” Wright said. “The bad part is we did not run the complete season, so it was a little jaded. Still, we did better than everybody else. It’s all about being consistent and being in the right place at the right time. I enjoy beating the guys with transbrakes and big tires.”

He made that last statement because his car has neither. It runs under NMCA Nostalgia Super Stock rules that prohibit electronics of any kind and mandate a 10.5-wide slick. He footbrakes the car, watches the tach due to no RPM chip, and pushes buttons on the original in-dash shifter.

Wright Focuses on Reaction Times and 60-Foot Times

During the season Wright concentrated on driving better, which included backing off on trying to cut .00 lights. “I’m trying to bunch all my reaction times together very tightly in a .015 to .020 grouping,” he said. “The last two years my reaction-time average has been .027, and I’m trying to eliminate the 40s, 50s, and 60s. I’m a relentless practicer on my practice tree.”

Wright’s strategy also included improving the 60-foot times of his car. “I’ve done work on the suspension and shocks so it won’t turn a tire,” he said. “If I can have a .020 light and get it to 60-foot, I’m in a real good position.

“The carbs are my next area to work on,” he said. “They are box-stock Edelbrock carbs, and I think there’s something to be had there.”

Wright had to do work on his engine early last season after a Motorplex test session. With water coming out of the headers, he discovered a pinhole leak in No. 6 cylinder. He had to pull the piston and rod for the repair. “Other than that, the car has been very good. It’s broken very little in the eight years I’ve been running it,” he said. “I probably have 650 passes on it.”

Doing everything but the paint job, Wright built the car in his spare time in 2008-12. In the front he installed Afco double-adjustable shocks as part of the torsion-bar suspension.

The rear suspension consists of S&W ladder bars anchoring a Dana 60 housing with Strange axles and spool with a U.S. Gear 4.30 ring and pinion. Koni coil-over shocks are used. The 31x10.5-15 M/T slicks are on American Racing 200S wheels.

Big-Inch Mopar Engine Propels Plymouth to Low 9-Second Passes

The 900-horsepower 572-inch Mopar wedge engine uses a Chrysler Mega block, Molnar crank and rods, and Diamond 15:1 flat-top pistons. The valvetrain is a Comp cam, Ferrea valves, PAC springs, Isky lifters, Trend pushrods, and T&D rockers. The heads from Indy Cylinder Head were ported by Jeff Kobylyski, and the manifold is an Indy 440-25 cross ram with two Edelbrock 750-cfm AFBs.

VP C14 fuel is used, and the spark is provided by an MSD ignition. The exhaust goes out Hooker headers. The wedge hits 2,700-3,200 at the starting, and shifts are made at 6,800-7,100. The RPM is 7,300 at the finish line, where the 3,350-pound car has hit a best of 9.00 at 150.

The transmission is a 1965 push-button Torqueflite 727 that has an ATI or Ultimate 9.5-inch converter with a 6,100 RPM stall speed. The first-gear ratio is 2.45. Other equipment includes a Crew Chief Pro/Altronics weather station and an Eliminator model Portatree practice tree.

The car was painted by Ted Smith, Wright’s neighbor. Flowing through his paint gun was sunburst orange paint, a 2002 Chevy Colorado truck color.

Besides Smith, instrumental in Wright racing venture are his wife Debby, Mike Wagner, who provided the short block, and Jim Flagg. Initially, he and Wright were going to run the car in NHRA Super Stock, but their plans changed when Flagg decided to move from his home state of Michigan to Arizona and gave the car to Wright.

Wright Compiles Outstanding Record in NSS Competition

Instead of running NHRA, Wright built the car for Nostalgia Super Stock at NMCA and independent events, and he has excelled. He stated he has competed in 93 events with the car and gone to the semifinals 38 times and the finals 19 times. In 17 them he was presented the winner’s trophy and check.

Besides the GLSSSA victory last year, Wright won the Southern Mopar Classic at Kentucky Dragway. His highlight of 2018 was winning the Dave Duell Classic at the NMCA Bowling Green event.

In NMCA action he runs in A/FX off a 9.25 index. He dials 9.00-9.10 in GLSSSA competition. “I will bounce my dial around three or four hundredths,” he said. “Sometimes I will carry ET and sometimes set up slightly over. I try to keep my opponents on their toes. They’re good racers, for sure.

“I like the wheelies my car pulls, but I also like the top-end speed and judging the top end and driving the stripe,” Wright said. “It’s challenging. It’s a game I play with myself to do it the best I can and see how close I can get.”

Wright finds the precision required by drag racing the most appealing to him. “You’ve got to be good,” he said. “There’s no room for sloppiness, and you have to be as close to perfect as possible.”

Father Worked for Chrysler Designing Cars

Wright’s interest in cars was influenced by his father Donald’s profession as a car designer for Chrysler. He worked at company headquarters in Highland Park, Mich., and was involved in designing the 1963 Plymouth and the ’64 Dodge.

Through the Chrysler executive lease program, every year Donald Wright drove a new car. In 1969 he allowed his son to choose the next car, and Doug selected a purple 1970 Challenger R/T SE with a Hemi and automatic. His requests for a four-speed and 4.10 gears were nixed by his father.

“I took my driver’s license road test in that car,” Wright said. “I ended up beating on it regularly.”

Even before he had his license, as a high schooler Wright spectated at the now-defunct Detroit Dragway. For his first passes down a track he snuck his father’s 1973 Road Runner out to Milan Dragway.

Wright’s first car of his own was a 1968 Road Runner with a three-deuce 440 engine and four-speed. That was followed by a 1968 Dart GTS convertible with a 383 and four-speed.

Nostalgia Racing Suits Him Better

Flagg introduced Wright to nostalgia racing in the late 1980s and competed with a 1963 Dodge Max Wedge car named “Lickety Split,” the same nickname as his current Plymouth. The Dodge carried him to an NMCA title and two runner-ups.

“Running for points became more of a job than a hobby,” Wright said. “So, I took several years off and decided when I came back that I would not worry about a championship. I like running with the Great Lakes group because all the tracks are within two hours of my house.”

This year Wright is running all the GLSSSA events in addition to approximately 10 others. Next year he may run more races because he may drive one of Mike Wagner’s cars in NHRA competition.

Wright will have the time to do that because he is retiring next spring from his position at Chrysler as a technician who troubleshoots electrical problems in prototypes, a job he has had 11 years. He previously worked as a mechanic at a Chevrolet dealership.

When not racing, Wright enjoys hockey, baseball, traveling, gardening, and spending time with his family, which includes two sons and two grandchildren.

Note: Portrait photo of Doug Wright by Bryan Epps of BME Photography provided by NMCA.

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