320 cu. in. inline six-cylinder engine, live axle front suspension with transverse leaf spring, rigid rear suspension, two-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.5"

Al Teague’s rail dragster is typical of the ingenuity and competitiveness that characterized American drag racing in its formative years. Its constant evolution and variety of powerplants speaks of the drive, creativity and curiosity which characterized drag racing and the wide variety of individual expression which it encouraged.

Al was raised in the hot rod culture of Southern California. He and his brother Harvey first went racing in the late '50s. That in itself isn’t surprising, but the engine they chose to use is. The car was a classic roadster but up front, instead of the then-standard flathead Ford or modern overhead valve V8 from Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Chrysler or even Buick was a modified GMC inline six cylinder. The Jimmy six is largely forgotten today, yet good design, meticulous assembly and a surprising array of go-fast parts from talented, ingenious experimenters made it successful.

The Jimmy’s success wasn’t just in drag racing. Many enjoyed continuing success in the sprint cars, which could find a race on almost any night on short tracks throughout California. Some even challenged the mighty Offys and Novis in “Big Cars” at Indianapolis.

Many factors made the GMC six successful. Not the least of them was the strong, robust design for demanding commercial hauling that GMC incorporated in the basic engine. It owed its inherent power to its overhead valve cylinder head, pioneered in Chevy’s “Stovebolt” six from its introduction in 1928. In its stock form, however, the Jimmy had inefficient porting with three siamesed intake ports and four exhaust ports on the same side of the engine. One of the first to take advantage of the engine’s potential was Wayne Horning, who in the days just before the outbreak of war designed a 12-port cylinder head for the Chevrolet six with cross-flow breathing. Development continued after the war and eventually culminated in creation of a 12-port head for the bigger postwar Jimmy six. Most were produced by Horning’s former partner, Harry Warner, who had retained the “Wayne Manufacturing Co.” name after the two parted company.

The heads produced by Wayne Manufacturing were masterpieces of engineering and machining, typical of the high standards which prevailed throughout the Southern California speed equipment industry. Many of the pioneers, including Wayne Horning and Harry Warner, were aircraft engineers, designers, machinists and fabricators accustomed to the no-compromise standards of the aircraft industry which had flourished in the Los Angeles area during the war.

The head’s valves were vertical opening into shallow combustion chambers in the head. Compression ratios ran upwards of 12:1 using homebrew fuel and lightweight pistons made by Frank Venolia. Fuel typically was supplied by a Hilborn constant flow fuel injection system.

Running straight alcohol, a well tuned Wayne head Jimmy would deliver better than 1 horsepower per cubic inch displacement, power that tested the engine’s durability but compared favorably with the mega-expensive purpose-built 270 Offenhausers.

Al and Harvey Teague’s 320 cubic inch GMC-Wayne roadster would do mid-120 mph trap speeds in the quarter and turn low 11’s. When they put the Jimmy into an early rail dragster chassis it jumped to 137 mph and high 10’s. Turning to “rocket fuel” raised the trap speed to 152 mph, a startling accomplishment for any unblown 320 cubic inch engine and nothing short of miraculous for an ex-truck engine that was well outside the mainstream of performance development. But when they put a Hilborn injected Chevy in the same dragster chassis, times dropped into the 8’s and trap speeds climbed into the low 170’s. The handwriting was on the wall for the Jimmy, but it had shown its stuff.

Al Teague eventually turned his attention to other racing pursuits but eventually put the GMC-Wayne engine back into the rail chassis in which it had startled opponents in the late 50’s. He restored it to its present sparkling condition, a credit to the design, fabrication, casting, machining and assembly standards for which Southern California was rightfully respected. It was acquired directly from Al Teague by the present owner in 2007 along with other cars from Teague’s important history. Assembled and driven by one of the legendary backyard racers of Southern California with a rare and highly developed example of a nearly forgotten high performance engine, the GMC-Wayne, Al Teague’s rail dragster will always bring curiosity and admiration. Its story deserves to be retold over and over.

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1960 Howards Cams GMC 6 Dragster

 
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  • 1960 Howards Cams GMC 6 Dragster
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Race Car: 1960 Howards Cams GMC 6 Dragster
Item #:
14315
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