We don’t make it a habit of posting cars for sale, but there is a soft spot in the RPD staff members’ hearts for Jarod Wenrick’s beautiful 1966 Chevy Nova II. Ever since the car made its NMCA debut at the Norwalk race in 2015, the car set a new standard for coolness when it comes to race cars. Just today, the car’s owner, Jarod Wenrick posted the car on Facebook for sale, so we called the Tipp City, Ohio, resident up to see what his plans were going forward.
“My daughter is competitive in soccer and it looks like she’s going to be playing college, and want to be able to follow that,” Wenrick explained. “The car is too nice and too good to shelve, so i’m going to sell it and maybe build something else later on.”
And he does have some other hotrods in the garage at home, including a Buick Grand National, a 1969 Camaro, a Ford Bronco, and another ’66 Nova body that he had thought about making into a Hot Rod Drag Week contender. Another option that he is open to is selling the drivetrain out of it and just letting the body sit, or dropping in a mild drivetrain to where he could put it back on the street. That said, he also shares out sentiment about the car, too.
“I want to see it out racing and I know Tim [Lyons] does, too. He did a lot of work on it and invested a lot of time in it on his nickel,” Wenrick told us.
While the Nova was originally set up for NMCA Street Outlaw with a small-block ProCharger combo, it underwent more upgrades to enable Wenrick to compete in Limited Drag Radial. This included switching over to a ProLine Racing-built, all-billet, 5-inch-bore-space big-block Chevy engine and F-3 ProCharger blower. Steve Petty handled tuning of the new powerplant and Lyon’s Custom Motorsports made further upgrades to the chassis to support the changes as well.
According to Wenrick, Ryan Milliken, whose bright green, diesel-powered Chevy II Nova has seen it’s own fair share of media coverage, is very interested in purchasing the car. Whoever buys it, is going to have one badass machine, that’s for sure. If you’re interested in buying the car, contact Wenrick Motorsports LLC on Facebook.
For your viewing pleasure, we decided to include the feature article on the car that was run in the January 2016 issue of Fastest Street Car magazine shortly after it made its NMCA Street Outlaw debut.
Never Retreat, Never Surrender, Never Give Up: Jarod Wenrick’s 1966 Nova Is A Comeback Story For The Ages
Written By Brian Lohnes
Photography by Michael Galimi and the FSC Staff
Nothing good comes easy. Everything happens for a reason. To appreciate the thrill of victory, you have to know the agony of defeat. All of these tired sayings are typically uttered to someone who has suffered some sort of bad luck, rough stretch, or an unfortunate turn of events that makes them question themselves or what they are doing. In the case of Tipp City, Ohio’s Jarod Wenrick, it was three simple words scrawled on a sticky note that birthed this amazing 1966 Chevy Nova. Those words? “Never Give Up”. But we’re already ahead of ourselves here because a lot leads to that moment, and what many have called the finest piece of equipment ever to turn a wheel in the Stainless Works Street Outlaw category.
The story starts in 2013. Coming back off of a hiatus from the sport while he worked on his business, Value Added Packaging, Inc, Jarod purchased the Nova you see here as a rolling chassis.
“The car was a nitrous big-block Chevy combination back then,” Wenrick said. “I had never run a car with a turbo on it at that point, and we decided to set it up for the X275 class.” After making a rear suspension change from leaf springs to ladder bars and plugging in a Garrett turbocharged, small-block Chevy engine, it was time to go testing. This is where things took a turn for the ugly. On the very first test pass on the car, with a soft tune up, it left the starting line, made an immediate left and buried itself into the wall hard.
“I was trying to get it stopped within 1.1 seconds and it got into the wall,” Wenrick said. “It was a hard impact, but I was able to walk away from the crash. The damage was really bad. The front left side of the car was heavily damaged, the firewall was pushed back several inches, and worse than that I was very angry with myself.” Keep in mind that Jarod is a former NSCA Pro Street champion, and a guy who had raced for 20 years and never so much as scratched a car before. The damage to the car was cosmetic, but the damage to Wenrick’s psyche was deeper than that.
“I kept telling myself that the accident happened way too easily and I was nervous to start racing again,” Wenrick said. “After the car sat in the trailer, wrecked, for a couple of weeks, I woke up one morning and walked into the kitchen. On the table was a note written by my youngest daughter that said, ‘Never Give Up’. I took a picture of the note and thought that this was not the way I wanted my kids to remember their dad racing.”
From that point, forward progress began and it started in the simplest of ways. “I picked up the phone and called Patrick Barnhill and asked him what I should do,” Wenrick said. “We talked about getting rid of the Nova and going back to a big-tire-style car, but the one thing I kept thinking was that I wanted to run a class that my son and I could handle ourselves. Patrick told me to rebuild the Nova and go NMCA racing. He told me how professional the series was and how we’d always be on well prepped tracks.”
After establishing a path, the next thing was figuring out who would fix the car. The decision also came with guidance from Barnhill.
“He told me to call Tim Lyons at Lyons Custom Motorsports in Rossville, Georgia, because he knew how detail-oriented I am,” Wenrick told us. “After talking to Tim, I went and visited his shop. The first thing I saw was that I could have eaten off the floor, and I knew he was the right guy.”
The car was going to be a turbo combination until Wenrick decided to go with the power adder he knew best throughout his career, a ProCharger.
“I really like ProChargers and the main reason is that beyond the power is the ease of racing,” Wenrick said. “There’s no bumping, no switches to flip, no complication. You stage, press the transbrake button, put the gas pedal on the floor, and cut a light.”
Turning the 434ci Chevy from a turbo to an Alston gear-driven ProCharger F1x-12 blower-friendly motor fell to Tony Bischoff and the crew at BES, while Tim Lyons cut literally everything out of the Nova. Not a micro-manager for the build, Wenrick gave the normally Mustang-centric Lyons carte blanche on the build and he used it. From the Weld V-series wheels to the Strange brakes on the corners, to the custom-fabricated Lyons front suspension with Santuff struts and the four link out back with Ness brackets and Menscer shocks, this thing was built to go. Lyons also modified the font end to be one piece with a stock grill, headlights, and a hand made chin spoiler. The factory dash is removable, but looks right at home in the car and Lyons made the rear wing from scratch. The car crosses the scales at 3,250 lbs and rolls on Mickey Thompson tires with 275s in the back taking the majority of the punishment.
The best parts and pieces went into the car and when it came time to choose the colors, red and black were the natural choice as those are the hues for Wenrick’s business logo. The red was easy, but the black? That was more complicated as Wenrick decided to put a vinyl roof on the car to give it a unique look. The results speak for themselves; the thing looks awesome.
With work going full steam ahead, the goal was to make the Atlanta NMCA race. That did not happen after a stay in paint jail, so the guys set their sights on the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl race in Joliet, Illinois. They could have made the race with no testing, but they decided to lay low.
Attending a test session in Norwalk a couple weeks later, there was a lot of nervous anticipation before the first runs on the car. After working down the track over several passes, Wenrick ripped off a 4.56 at 159 mph and actually went a 4.53 by the end of the day. This gave them the confidence to return to competition at the NMCA finals at Summit Motorsports Park. In a near Cinderella story, Wenrick made it to the final round by running 4.50s all day long. It was his cool 1966 Nova and Eric Gustafson in his Mustang making up the final. Both cars flying the PTP and ProCharger banners, with Gustafson getting the win and the season championship.
This is the type of story that really makes you smile. Overcoming adversity, overcoming trepidation, overcoming self doubt, and ultimately achieving levels of performance right off the bat that they didn’t expect to come so quickly. When the right people get together, great things happen. Jarod Wenrick, Tim Lyons, and Patrick Barnhill are the right people and great things are already happening for this car and the father/son team of Jarod and Jaran Wenrick. We’re pretty sure that the other members of the Street Outlaw category have already seen enough of this “feel good hit of the summer.” Wenrick plans on starting the 2016 season on time in Bradenton, Florida, this Spring. We’ll see if he can write another chapter in an already inspiring story.
Owner: Jarod Wenrick
Occupation: Owner, Value Added Packaging
Class: Mickey Thompson Street Outlaw
Engine: Chevrolet small-block
Engine Builder: Bischoff Engine Service
Displacement: 434 ci
Heads: M&M Revolution
Camshaft: Custom by BES
EFI: Big Stuff 3
Power adder: ProCharger F1X-12, Alston gear drive
Headers/exhaust: Lyons Custom Motorsports stainless
Transmission: Rossler Turbo-Glide
Torque converter: M&M
Rear end: Lyons Custom Motorsports–built full floater with Strange center section
Body/Chassis builder: Lyons Custom Motorsports
Suspension (front): Lyons Custom Motorsports with Santuff struts
Suspension (rear): Lyons Custom Motorsports 4-link with Ness brackets and Menscer shocks
Brakes (front): Strange disc
Brakes (rear): Strange disc
Wheels (front): Weld V-series
Wheels (rear): Weld V-series with Mac-Fab bead locks
Tires (front): Mickey Thompson
Tires (rear): Mickey Thompson 275 radials
Weight: 3,250 lbs
Quickest ET: 4.53 seconds
Best 60’ time: 1.13 seconds
Fastest MPH: 159 mph
Crew: Jaran Wenrick
Family: Wife, Mari – Daughters, Makara (17) and Darani (12)