’80s IMSA racer proves everything looks better with flares
A former NASCAR racer turned IMSA road-racer is up for grabs on Bring a Trailer. Initially bodied as a Pontiac Ventura and driven by Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Sr., this tube-chassis racer was given Oldsmobile Cutlass bodywork and converted to IMSA specifications by Tex Enterprises in the early ’80s. Sports Illustrated writer Sam Moses purchased the car and campaigned it for several years, putting the experiences behind the wheel into his 1987 book, Fast Guys, Rich Guys, and Idiots: A Racing Odyssey on the Border of Obsession.
The car was restored to is early ’80s glory and is powered by a 358-cubic-inch small-block Chevy V-8 fitted with all of the NASCAR goodies you’d expect, including a single-plane intake, dry-sump oiling system, and Jesel valvetrain components. Backing the V-8 is a four-speed manual trans and a live axle located by the NASCAR standby truck-arm suspension.
Purpose-built GM G-bodies are most commonly seen on the drag strip, where their four-link rear suspensions and relatively lightweight construction make them a natural choice for quarter-mile shenanigans, even if they are known for being a little squirrely. Although this racer has nothing in common with a factory G-body, it’s good to know that they can look this good lowered over big tires and radiused wheel openings. Of course, the flared fenders don’t hurt either.
If you’re on the fence and need an excuse not to add a high-winding small-block road racer to your stable, you’d best not watch the following video. The scream of the engine, the quick-shifting four-speed manual, and the effortless passing of the sports cars on the track prove just how capable this vintage Olds racer really is.