One of the many things that Woody Pack and his son, Chip, had in common, was racing.
Woody had a Monza, Chip had a Mustang, and together they took part in the bracket program at Elk Creek Dragway in Virginia.
Sometimes, they would drive each other’s car in competition, creating an even stronger bond between the two of them, so it was especially difficult for Woody when Chip passed away in 2004.
Because Chip had always wanted to race in NMRA ARP Open Comp but didn’t get the chance, Woody decided that he would climb into the cockpit of Chip’s Mustang and compete in the category beginning in 2014. Inspired to do well in his son’s memory, Woody has pushed to two top-five finishes and four top-ten finishes in points in the category, and came close to capturing the championship last year, despite dealing with a blown head gasket and cracked cylinder head along the way.
The cherished car runs consistent mid-9s with the help of a 451 cubic-inch Ford built by Albert Machine and Performance on a Dart block and topped with Carl Foltz ten-degree heads and intake and a Holley carburetor massaged by Mark Williams. The engine, which records 850 horsepower, is backed by a Powerglide with Reid Racing internals and maintained by Ray Eller.
“The combination works so well that I have kept it pretty much the same for a long time,” said Woody.
After giving the car, which is set up with 4.88 gearing, new slicks over winter, Woody made the trip from his home in Virginia to the 26th Annual Nitto NMRA Spring Break Shootout, which was Feb. 27-March 1 at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. There, he ripped the tree with a .003 reaction time to qualify in the third spot, and made it all the way to the final round of eliminations, where he recorded a 9.49 on a 9.41 dial to runner-up against William Jones.
“It was a super-close race,” said Woody. “I’ll tell you, Open Comp has some of the best competitors I’ve ever seen.”
He stayed in the Sunshine State for the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines, also at Bradenton Motorsports Park, the following weekend, but didn’t have as much success at that event. Upon returning home, Woody, whose engine has 15:1 compression, added a Powermaster starter to his race program.
Now, he’s ready for the 12th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals, June 25-28 at Atlanta Dragway, where he hopes to earn a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle and move from second to first place in NMRA ARP Open Comp points.
“I got off to a good start this year, and now, I’m really zeroed in on getting my first win in the category since 2014 and a championship,” said Pack, whose wife, Cynthia, helps him at the track while his friend, Kenneth Nester, helps him in the shop. “I know a bunch of tough racers want the same success I want, but I do believe I have a good chance.”
(Photos courtesy of NMRA)