WHAT MOVES YOU – courtesy of QC – a publication of the Regina Leader Post and Bridges – a publication of The Star Phoenix – published October 18, 2012.
#1965 PLYMOUTH BARRACUDA

JANUARY 7, 2013

Racing can be a real drag

By Andrew Matte

George Knight bought his 1965 Plymouth Barracuda with plans to spruce it up and drive it on the streets of Regina. However, given his penchant for drag racing, things changed. The car has been modified more than once to perform whenever he and his wife are able to attend weekend races in Western Canada and the northern United States. The car is fast – its highest speed of 200 km/h was recorded in South Dakota a year ago.

Q: Let’s start with the most important question first. Does this car belong to you or your wife Diane?

A: It’s our car but she drives it.

Q When did you buy it?

A: I bought this car in 1987. It was a tired old street car. It was driveable at the time, but barely.

Q: Why did you but it?

A: My original intention was to swap a 340 into it and add an automatic transmission. I just wanted to fix it up and drive it on the street. But things got a little carried away and over time, the more potential it had to become a race-only car. So in 1987 we started out to build a fast street car but it turned out to be a race car. It was completed in May of 1988, which was the first year we ran it.

Q: How has the car changed since 1987?

A: Over the years, until about 1991, we added parts. We gave it a bigger compression and we added a bigger camshaft. In 1991, we got carried away with it.; At the time, it had a stock chassis and I decided I wanted to go faster. So the car had what we call its back half done. The original frame was removed. The car was narrowed and the original wheel tubs were changed, which allowed us to put on a bigger tire. We also switched over the suspension, which had the leaf spring configuration. We added a ladder bar with a coil over shocks.

Q: Is anything about the car the same?

A: The front suspension stayed primarily stock. We did everything we could do to the motor to speed it up.

Q: Did you drive the car all this time?

A: I raced it until 1995 in that configuration. And in 1995 I quit driving. But in the meantime, my wife was driving another 1965 Barracuda that we had. In 1994 she had won a championship in her car. I asked her if she wanted to drive my car. She was quite capable of driving a faster car. And she had proved it. So we ran it until 2004. The car was getting tired. It needed a new motor. The suspension was getting tired.

Q: What happened in 2004?

A: We parked it in 2004 with the intention of rebuilding it over the winter. Somehow that stretched out until 2010. When I was 60 I told Diane that I was giving myself a birthday present of a Super Street Barracuda. And I asked her if she willing to back to driving. And she said yes.

Q: Does that mean you upgraded your car again?

A: We rebuilt the car. It now has a 415 cubic inch Chrysler small block and a new 904 transmission. And it has new technology. The car was built in 1991 and over the years the technology changed so we basically installed a new motor and a new transmission. We updated a lot of the suspension components as well. We had been running a 13-inch-wide tire and we went to a 14-inch wide tire just for a little more traction.

Q: When did Diane return to racing?

A: In 2011 we returned to the track and ran it throughout 2011. We had a lot of old-car, new-car bugs. We replaced all the little things that came up. But the car ran fairly well, and by the end of the year we had most of the bugs out of the car and it was performing well.

Q: What happened this year?

A: In 2012 we went to 16 different races. We stayed fairly local. We raced the majority of our races in Saskatoon. We were in Yorkton once. We were in Estevan, Edmonton twice and we went twice to Medicine Hat. We were effectively racing for 16 weekends. We have all the bugs out of the car and it’s running well.

Q: This sure sounds like an expensive hobby.

A: Once you get the original investment made, it’s not that expensive. If you build the car well in the first place, the maintenance is relatively inexpensive in comparison to what you pay for a new car. But with travel and hotel expenses, things do add up.

Diane Knight and her husband George stand in beside the 1965 Barracuda dragster. Diane is the quarter mile racer in the family.

 

 
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