Texan Turbo Truck Takes On No-Prep

Trucks are practical vehicles, but rarely does that thought apply to drag racing where aerodynamics and weight are at front of mind.

Texan Ronnie Hobbs had different ideas. He has competed in almost every variety of the sport, but his latest preoccupation is no-prep racing. In that arena, wheelbase offers significant dividends and a truck provides wheelbase for days.

“The rules require plus or minus two inches of factory wheelbase,” Hobbs said. “That ruled out my only love, (my 53) Corvette due to its short wheelbase. The 53 was a 115” wheelbase and the Chev S-10 is 124” – factory at that length.

“I decided on a no-prep track that I might gain some advantage with the length of the chassis.”

Enter this Chev S-10, originally built for the Coughlin family by chassis builder Jerry Haas and used in the short-lived NHRA Pro Stock Truck series.

“I purchased it a couple of years ago from up north and took the car to Dallas’ Brink Racecraft where it was completely rebuilt,” Hobbs said.

“They installed a double frame rail, among many things, and stretched the rear quarters up five inches to handle a 36” tire and keep the factory look. It is an all steel quarter and roof 1999 S-10.”

Long gone is the original small block Chev, replaced with a 546ci BAE ProLine Race Engine-prepped Hemi equipped with two Precision 98mm turbos.

Hobbs formerly raced under the supercharged banners, but this truck is aimed at a crowd who value street-appearing vehicles. Hobbs has added personalized tags, and the S-10 even has insurance!

“In the world of no-prep the promoters and fans think anything big sticking out of the hood makes it a Pro Mod. So to keep from being stereotyped I decided to go with the turbos so I could maintain a more factory look.

“Our intentions are to race the Street Outlaws No Prep Kings if we can get an invite.”

Hobbs has found many ways to go fast in straight lines over the past couple of decades, taking turns in boats, street cars, bracket racing and a Pro Mod.

“I grew up in a small West Texas oilfield town called Andrews and I have been racing since I was a kid. There was not much to do but race.

“I got involved in boats shortly after high school and raced a Texas Tunnel Jet Boat for several years in the Southern Drag Boat Association (SDBA) before returning to the race track.

“After several years of bracket racing I gave it up and purchased a street car and just played on the street. I eventually purchased Rod Saboury’s 1957 Corvette, which was the fastest street car in the world in the mid nineties and I played with it at the track and on the street. It is a seven second street car with a Steve Morris 565ci and F-3 ProCharger.

“I purchased a 1958 Corvette for my son to race about three years ago and he was not ready to go that fast so I started racing some 4.70 events we had locally. After the track closed due to a fire, most of my friends turned to no-prep racing. However, at the time I was tied up in some business issues and couldn’t travel.

“By the time I was able to race they had deemed my car a Pro Mod because it was stretched to 110 inches.”

Hobbs has since run the gauntlet of no-prep racing, taking some heat for bringing a full chassis gun to a knife fight.

“I think I was a little upset and just decided I would buy a Pro Mod and race some of the Pro Mod events, so I purchased a Tim McAmis 1953 Corvette. Shortly after I purchased the car I met Steve Wiley, who has a Pro Mod Corvette and runs the Texas Outlaw Pro Mod Association (TOPMA) and some of the no-prep stuff. He helped me convert the clutch in the 53 to an automatic and then talked me in to letting him race in San Antonio at a Dirty South No-Prep (DSNP) event. We won that event and the Cash Days on Friday going 10-0.

“We went to the next DSNP event in my hometown of Odessa, Texas a month later. They tagged us with an extra 100 pounds due to the Hemi. We lost our only race in the first round of Cash Days on Friday night but returned on Saturday to go 5-0 and win our second DSNP event. After that we were pretty much being slammed for racing a Pro Mod in what was supposed to be a street car shootout and had been banned from two other promoters’ races.

“That’s when I decided to take the 53 and do what I originally planned to do (race Pro Mod). However, after driving the 53 for one race at a TOPMA event it was clear that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I determined I would build a new car that would meet all of their (no-prep) rules and I set out to build a street legal S-10.”

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