- Thursday 21 February, 2013
NORWALK, Ohio – Dean McIlvain documents work on a dragster handcrafted for a mystery driver who wins a 2013 Super 64 runoff in October at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
This McIlvain Race Cars dragster won’t sit on a shelf in a big box store, unless someone from K-Mart, Wal-Mart or The Home Depot wins it and shows off.
It’s built with McIlvain’s heart and soul, he said.
And the fun part of construction, is enjoying the journey and admiring the progress along the way. You can tell you’ve been there.
A new sponsor at Summit Motorsports Park, McIlvain Race Cars started full time in October.
“So we’re brand new,” said Dean McIlvain, 40, 302 South Church St., New Carlisle, Ohio, north of Dayton. For about 12 years Dean McIlvain built race cars part time.
“I was working for a government contractor at Wright Patterson Air Force Base,” Dean McIlvain said. “I was a welder, fabricator and machinist. We did research and development work.
“They came to us as contractors and they were going to move my job to California,” Dean McIlvain said. “I decided my part time was going to be my full-time deal. Hopefully the rest will be, as they say, history.”
Between the Christmas and New Year holidays, Dean McIlvain dabbled a little bit on the Super 64 dragster.
But this dragster poses an extra challenge.
“Typically we know who the end customer is,” Dean McIlvain said. “It’s exciting because we’re building this one for a mystery customer.”
Usually a customer visits the shop and the race car is built to fit that person, including preferences such as positions of the steering wheel and shifter, among others.
“In the styling and overall design they’re virtually all the same,” Dean McIlvain said.
The Super 64 dragster features a one-piece Fiberglas body, which removes easily for access to power components, Dean McIlvain said.
Many sponsors add their finesse to the Super 64 dragster along the way.
On February 19, McIlvain Race Cars delivered the body to R&R Auto Body, 15620 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio for paint.
“So it’s in process,” Dean McIlvain said. “The chassis is at the powder coater now. We’re trying to get the chassis to complement the body color.”
The McIlvains’ vision for the Super 64 dragster emerged out of personal experience.
“My wife’s car was really the prototype,” Dean McIlvain said. “We raced and tested it for about two years. Once I saw that was OK, and we weren’t having troubles with that, we built others. Then I found out about my day job.”
Dean McIlvain spoke with engineers about ideas and race car concepts, and they steered him in the right path, he said.
“It’s common sense engineering,” Dean McIlvain said. “And my racing experience is where a lot of this stuff comes from, to make a car that looks good and is easy to work on.
“When it’s all said and done, I want the owner of the car to feel proud,” Dean McIlvain said, “because it’s our heart and soul.
“The customer is what this is all about,” Dean McIlvain said. “The end result needs to be above and beyond their expectations. And safety is important. They need to know that has been well thought out. We try to pay a lot of attention to detail.”
The racing journey for Dean and Amber McIlvain hit the track about 16 years ago in Dean’s first car, a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass which ran in the high nine-second range.
“I built that car from the ground up,” Dean McIlvain said. “I got into racing by working for a mechanic who raced. I saw what he did, and I had the mechanical ability.
“We came to the Halloween Classic for the first time we raced, and we brought our car. I think we’ve been to 15 Halloween Classics,” Dean McIlvain said. “It’s something we always try to do.
“My biggest achievement was winning the 2007 Jegs Super Quick Division Championship in the NHRA,” Dean McIlvain said.
About 10 years ago Amber lined up at the tree in the Olds, too.
“We would actually share,” Dean McIlvain said. “Amber raced on Saturday night, and I raced on Sunday. We did that for about a year, then I built a second car, a 27 T Roadster. I had that for three years. We traded it to get a dragster for Amber. It was completely modified into what she has now.
“At that point, 2004, I had my own dragster until this year,” Dean McIlvain said. “Amber let me race her car. I just sold the car I raced the year before last.
“Within the next month I’ll be building a car for myself,” Dean McIlvain said. “I feel it’s important to race what we sell, so I’m going to get that going. I want to show them it’s versatile.”
At first Amber’s motor setup will power the dragster for bracket racing, Dean McIlvain said. Then he will install a faster motor combination he ran in Top Dragster.
“If that goes well, we’ll probably end up selling her car and building her a new one as well,” Dean McIlvain said. He considers the opportunity to sponsor a privilege.
“It’s an honor for us,” Dean McIlvain said. “So I’m excited.
“I think that obviously Summit Motorsports Park is – in my opinion – the best race track in America,” Dean McIlvain said. “Just to be affiliated with that is a dream come true. We’ve been racing since it was Norwalk Raceway Park. I would come in here and see the banners and signs of manufacturers.
“Billy (Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park) and I are visual people,” Dean McIlvain said. “I can definitely relate. And Billy is a friend and I’m excited about our deal growing and that being a positive thing for us as well.”
To compete in the Super 64 race on October 26, 2013 at the 40th Annual K&N Halloween Classic presented by Harland Sharp, enter the local points race, the Mr. Gasket $53,100 Super Series at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
The 16 people who earn the most points in each of four classes -- Mallory Super Pro, Mr. Gasket Pro, Wiseco/Cycle Tech Super Bike, and Accel Sportsman delivered on time by TFC Transportation – qualify to race in the Super 64.
The total of more than $100,000 in Super 64 prizes include these for the top four winners:
• The McIlvain Race Cars 2013 Swing Arm Monoshock dragster.
• A V’s House of Horsepower 562 cu. in. Big Block Chevy engine.
• A Vintage Trailer 28-foot 2013 Crystal SS trailer.
• From J&J Sales your choice of a powersport machine.
For a complete list of prizes and sponsors, click on Super 64.
The challenge of racers in the Mr. Gasket $53,100 Super Series journey to the Super 64 in October includes stringing along a multitude of quarter mile bursts of power, speed and win lights all season.
Not to mention the gas-mashing, furious fun at the end.
Enjoy the journey!