Growing up, I remember seeing a Corvette Stingray in a magazine and thinking it was the craziest car design ever. I was probably around seven or eight years old at the time, and to this day I still think of the Corvette as one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
At Central Circuit’s recent Drag Festival series round, I spent some time looking over a very cool example run by Rod Motors. The ‘Dragvette’ currently holds a Japan Drag Race Driver Association (JDDA) Pro Stock title.
I was told that the chassis and body are all original, although I’m pretty sure the front end uses a tube frame and of course the rear end has been tubbed so it can accomodate those massive 33x15x15-inch Hoosier drag slicks. Then there’s the hood and iconic rear split-window roof, which are fiberglass.
As I found out on the day, there’s a brilliant history behind the car and its owner, Mr. Makoto Katsuragi.
Back in the mid-1970s, Katsuragi-san emigrated to and opened a garage in San Francisco, where he developed a taste for drag racing. Soon after, and during the same year his son Ryo was born, Katsuragi-san started racing a red 1963 Corvette Stingray – the very same car you see today.
It’s been raced for nearly five decades, and today competes in Japan in a completely evolved state with Ryo behind the wheel. Up front, a 440ci SBC V8 with nitrous oxide provides the power, while a Powerglide transmission helps get it to the ground.
It’s amazing to see this 60-year-old car go down the quarter mile in 8.50-seconds at 246km/h – a Japanese drag racing class record.
The journey that drag cars and their drivers take to gain split seconds of speed is really something special. It shows that perseverance, dedication, hard work and a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears will allow a few select people to achieve greatness.
Drag racers like Makoto and Ryo Katsuragi are my new heroes.