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Bonded by Racing—The Slone brothers bring a family racing tradition full circle with their pair of Camaros

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Written By Steve Baur

Photography by Kevin DiOssi and the FSC Staff

When you have three sons, there’s a good chance that at least one of them might be interested in your hobby. For the Slone family, it was all three boys, Tim, Rodney, and Jackie Jr., who followed their father and jumped into drag racing. As Jackie Jr.’s VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod Camaro shows just how far the family has gone with its racing exploits, it is Rodney’s Nostalgia Pro Stock 1969 Camaro that takes them back to their roots.

The first thing you need to know about the Slone family is that it is a true Motor City clan. Jack Slone retired from GM, as did his son Tim, while brothers Jackie Jr. and Rodney work for the company currently as team and group leaders, respectively. Their uncle and nephew work for GM, as does Rodney’s wife, Dawn. Rodney and his mother, Jeanette, both previously worked at the same Ford plant.

Growing up in that environment, it’s not surprising that Jack grew up drag racing, and started bringing his boys to help out at the track. Tim, being the oldest, began racing first, and Jackie Jr. started going to the track at around eight years of age. As his boys began their racing exploits, Jack stepped out of the driver’s seat to help his boys and parted ways with his 1969 Camaro to concentrate on their efforts.

“I started racing when I was 13,” Jackie Jr. said. “I knew the owner of the track (Milan Dragway) by then, and my dad bought a brand-new ’83 Z28 and that was the first car I raced. They let me race for two years without a driver’s license, and in ’85, they gave me Rookie of the Year and my dad Crew Chief of the year. We would race one track on Friday night and another on Saturday night — my poor mother, all three of us boys were gone all of the time,” Jackie explained.

When the Slones weren’t racing, they were often earning money working on cars at home to go racing, and by the age of 16, Jackie had a 1968 Camaro that was a street and strip machine. Over the years, he progressed and eventually competed in the Super Gas and Top Sportsman ranks before making the jump to Pro Modified.

“The first time I ran NMCA, I had a Chevy Cobalt back in 2012,” Jackie told us. “Then I went full time and ran a Jerry Haas Grand Am that was Harold Martin’s old AC Delco car.”

Jackie eventually moved to a black 1969 Camaro with a chassis built by David Janes Race Cars, but after campaigning it for a while, he decided a newer chassis was necessary to keep up with the class-leading elapsed times.

After the 2019 NMCA Atlanta race, Jackie purchased the Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built Camaro pictured here from Richard Freeman. As it turned out, he was able to sell the old car back to David Janes right after that race.

Another change to Jackie’s racing was a switch to Pat Musi Racing Engines. Despite the big changes with a new car and a new engine, Jackie and his team made quick work of assembling the parts and had the new car up and running in about a month’s time.

“We ran pretty good at Indy at the end of the year, and right now, we’re planning for Atlanta in 2020,” Jackie said. “I think I’m in good shape.” In Indy, Jackie qualified third with a 3.73 at 202 mph, and made it to the second round where he lost an extremely tight race against Mike Recchia.

As drag racing binds the Slone family together, it also became a great side business and retirement plan for Jackie, who along with business partner David Fallon, started Pro Hose Connection, which provides racing hose, nitrous lines, fuel and oil lines, and more to races and enthusiasts. It’ll also keep Jackie busy when he decides to follow in his family’s footsteps and eventually retire from General Motors.

While Jackie was busy blazing his path in drag racing, brothers Tim and Rodney continued to race their own programs, with Rodney bracket racing a ’67 Camaro and competing in Super Gas with a dragster he bought from Tim.

With five children at home, Rodney couldn’t afford to be racing all the time, but he made up for that by watching quite a bit of old Pro Stock and old Pro Mod videos.

“Jackie and I love the old stuff, including the gassers,” Rodney told us. “The more Jackie and I watched that stuff, the more we thought we had to build Dad’s old car. We always wanted to get the car back. It’s the car that started it all for us—it planted the disease.”

Rodney eventually purchased a Camaro in February of 2016 to bring the idea from a nostalgic thought to a reality.

“A buddy of mine used to own the car and it came up on sale on Facebook. I called Jackie at work at 2 am and he said he knew the guy and called him up right then. I Paypal’d the guy at 3 a.m., and then had to explain to my wife shortly after that that I had bought a ‘69 Camaro.”

The Camaro was a gutted out roller that was missing the firewall and dashboard, but considering the plan ahead, it didn’t make sense to start with a restored car anyway. Rodney welded the necessary components in and handled the bodywork and paint to get the chassis squared away.

He spent the next few years collecting the right parts to recreate their father’s old Camaro, and putting the car back together with period-correct parts required quite a bit of effort, as many of the vintage racing components had long been forgotten.

To make sure they were headed in the right direction, Rodney gathered as many photos of his father’s car as he could.

“Bob Harvey owned the car and sold it to Ken Foust. I remember seeing it on a trailer in his driveway as a kid. One day Dad came home with it,” Rodney recalled. Between Bob Harvey and Rodney’s father’s friend, Billy Bowman, he had the pictures to base the restoration on.

Rodney and Jackie started locating parts and would often send their cousin, Matt, to fetch them. One old-school item that was key to the build was a fiberglass hood that was produced by Moroso back in the day.

“We called the hood the Holy Grail,” Rodney said. “I even talked to Dick Moroso and he hooked me up with the guy who worked for his dad at one point. I found a guy in Pennsylvania who had a Moroso hood, and I told him that I wanted to make a mold from it, but he offered to sell us his spare instead,” Rodney recalled.

Another big score was the A1 industries fiberglass front end components, which were essentially stock parts made in fiberglass, but bolted on the car just as the factory parts did using the factory hardware.

“Jackie knows a guy that has wiring harnesses and stuff and when he went to the guy’s place, those fenders were hanging on the wall. We would up getting a package deal. I could not believe we found those fiberglass parts in one guy’s pole barn.”

While the exterior was coming together, Rodney did have to source a modern fiberglass deck lid for the Camaro, but he struck gold again when he found just the right wheels.

“Cragar doesn’t make the 4-inch wheels any more, but I found a guy in Joliet that had a set and I sent them out to California to have them re-plated. They did a fantastic job.”

Turning to the drivetrain, it had to be a big-block Chevy/four-speed combo just like their dad used to run.

“One of my best friends, Bill Adamski, gave me everything to build the 427 short-block. Our brother Tim works at Huntsville Race Engines part time and did all of the machining. We bought the aluminum Chevy square-port heads off of Facebook and the intake manifold and carb off of Milan Dragway’s By/Sell/Trade,” Rodney explained.

“A friend of ours, Zack Howard, rebuilt the carbs and made them look brand new. Another friend of ours sent us a screen shot of the Moroso valve covers for sale on Facebook and we got those from a guy in Maine.”

Those competing in Pro Stock back in the day often tried a variety of transmissions to see what would stay together under the high-rpm powershifts and torque of big-block engines, so it’s not surprising that Jack Slone ran a Chrysler manual transmission in his Camaro.

“One of my dad’s close friends, Billy Bowman, called me up and said he had a Chrysler four-speed that had been slick-shifted by Liberty, and he wanted us to have it so we had what they had back in the day,” Rodney said. “It was fun hunting for the parts, finding the Moroso cool can, the intake with the carbs like my dad ran. Dad still had a cam card from his General Kinetics cam that he used, and I called Lunati and they stocked that same 332B flat-tappet, solid camshaft. We tried to keep it as close to what it was back in the day.”

For the interior, the car was brought largely back to stock with several period-correct exceptions. While Jack’s original Camaro had a three-point roll bar, that just won’t cut it in today’s tech inspection line — and, in particular, the class rules for Nostalgia Pro Stock — so Rodney put an eight-point roll bar in. They also added some vintage racing seats and a Hurst shifter.

“We hunted for a Moroso cable-driven tachometer. We used to just pitch them in the trash and now they often go for $700,” Rodney told us. “A guy called the Cincinnati Picker had posted one at 4:30 in the morning for $99—I couldn’t hit Buy Now fast enough.”

Maybe the crazy thing about this build is that the whole time, Rodney and Jackie didn’t really fill their father in on what their plan was.

“When I first started building the car, I would ask him how he did this or that, but I didn’t really tell him what I was doing. He just wanted to go fast and would get mad because I didn’t put better stuff on.”

Perhaps the final touch on the car was what finally clued Jack Slone in on the project.

“My good friend Brian said his buddy Kirby could pinstripe the car. That guy put the crew members on the car just like dad had it. I don’t think he realized what was happening until the pinstripe guy put the names on the car. The day we started it up, I thought we were both going to cry. He said it sounded just like the old engine,” Rodney said of the day the car was finally firing on all cylinders.

Now that the car is finished, Rodney has done some street driving with it and he also brought it to the NMCA World Street Finals Presented by Chevrolet Performance at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indy where it turned a lot of heads in the pits. However, he plans to put the car on track at some Nostalgia Pro Stock events in 2020.

“The car should run between 9.90 and 10-flat. I love the old dry hops and would love to go out and put on a show, maybe even buy the clothes they had back then,” Rodney said. “I want to play the part.” He also would like to see his dad behind the wheel, too.

“He enjoys being the crew chief, but I’m going to try to get my dad to drive it. If he gets to make a pass in it, I think Jackie and I would cry like little girls. He still has the drive like a crazy person — he’s 76 years old and still out in the garage helping us build cars.”

As Rodney and his father Jack are often helping Jackie Jr. out with his racing, Jackie played a big part in bringing the Camaro back as well.

“Do you know how hard it is to think 1970 all the time,” Rodney exclaimed. “Jackie kept me focused on the project. It was our goal to make sure it was right. Drag racing itself has kept our family as tight as it is.”

There’s no doubt that drag racing has been a strong part of the Slone family’s history, and Tim, Jackie, and Rodney have brought the tradition full circle now.

The Details

Owner/Driver

Owner: Jackie Slone, Jr.

Driver: Jackie Slone, Jr.

Hometown: Belleville, Michigan

Occupation: General Motors Team Leader

Class: VP Racing Lubricants Xtreme Pro Mod

Crew: Crew Chief Justin Carey, Father Jack, Uncle Larry, brother Rodney, fiancée Lindsey Taylor, daughters Tori and Ashley, Business Partner David Fallon

Powertrain

Engine: Chevrolet

Engine builder: Pat Musi Racing Engines

Displacement: 959 cubic inches

Block: CN

Bore: 5.045 inches

Stroke: 6.0 inches

Crank: Bryant Racing

Rods: GRP

Pistons: Bill Miller

Cylinder heads: Dart

Valvetrain: Jesel

Camshaft—Brand: Pat Musi Racing Engines custom Type: Roller

Carburetor or EFI system: EFI Technology

Power-adder: SpeedTech Nitrous, six systems

Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels C25

Spark plug brand: Autolite

Headers and exhaust: ProFabrication zoomies

Transmission: Turbo 400

Transmission Builder: M&M Transmissions

Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Converter M&M

Rearend: Jerry Bickel 10-inch

Differential: Strange 10-inch spool, 4.10 gears

Chassis

Body and/or chassis builder: 1969 Camaro, Jerry Bickel Race Cars

Suspension (Front): Lamb Components

Suspension (Rear): Penske shocks

Brakes (Front) Brand: Lamb Components Disc/Drum: Disc

Brakes (Rear) Brand: Lamb Components Disc/Drum: Disc

Wheels (front) Brand: Weld Wheels Size: 15/4 inches

Wheels (Rear) Brand: Weld Wheels Size: 16/16 inches

Tires (Front) Brand:            Hoosier Size: 25.0/4.5-15 inches

Tires (Rear) Brand: Hoosier Size: 17.0/36.0-16 inches

Fiberglass/Carbon body components: 1969 Camaro, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, carbon fiber

Safety equipment: Simpson

Estimated or Verified Engine Horsepower and Torque: 3,000

Vehicle weight: 2,400 pounds

Quickest ET: 3.73 seconds

Best 60-foot: .95 seconds

Fastest mph: 202.70

The Details

Owner/Driver

Owner: Rodney Slone

Driver: Rodney Slone

Hometown: Mount Pleasant, Tennessee

Occupation: Group Leader General Motors

Class: Nostalgia Pro Stock

Crew: Jack Slone (Dad), Dawn Slone (Wife)

Powertrain

Engine:

Engine builder:

Displacement: 427 cubic inches

Block: Stock GM

Bore: 4.25 inches

Stroke: 3.76 inches

Crank: GM steel crank

Rods: GM 7/16

Pistons: Diamond

Cylinder heads: GM square port

Valvetrain: Harland Sharp rockers /Jomar stud girdle

Camshaft—Brand: General Kinetics Type: Solid flat-tappet

Carburetor or EFI system: Dual Holley 660 center squirters with Moroso cool can

Power-adder: None

Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels 110

Spark plug brand: AC Delco spark plugs

Headers and exhaust: Hooker Super Competition headers

Transmission: Aluminum Chrysler four-speed with Hurst Ram Rod Shifter

Transmission Builder: Liberty Gears

Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Hays clutch/pressure plate

Rearend: Oldsmobile

Differential: 5.13 gears

Chassis

Body and/or chassis builder: Stock 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Suspension (Front): GM stock

Suspension (Rear): GM single leaf spring moved inboard, Lakewood traction bars

Brakes (Front) Brand: GM Disc/Drum: Disc

Brakes (Rear) Brand: GM Disc/Drum: Drum

Wheels (front) Brand: Cragar Size: 15×4 inches

Wheels (Rear) Brand: Cragar Size: 15×12 inches

Tires (Front) Brand: Moroso Drag Special Size: 28×7.1×15 inches

Tires (Rear) Brand: Mickey Thompson Size: 31×12.5×15 inches

Fiberglass/Carbon body components: Anderson Industries fiberglass fenders and Moroso fiberglass Hood

Safety equipment: Eight-point roll cage with RJS five-point harness

Vehicle weight: 3,100 pounds

 

 

 


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