3 years into return, Conaway eyes Class II dividend this year


January 22, 1995|By STAN DILLON

Robert Conaway of Woodbine is looking forward to March, when the 1995 racing season begins at 75-80 Dragway.

He has been looking forward to it since he returned to racing three years ago. After rebuilding his 1962 Chevrolet Nova from the ground up, Conaway says he is ready to be a consistent top runner in Class II competition.

Conaway started racing as a teen-ager at 75-80 in a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle. He raced for three years before stopping to start a family. But he never gave up the idea of one day returning to the sport he loved.

While he and his wife, Dottie, raised two daughters, Conaway continued to follow the sport as a spectator. He attended National Hot Rod Association events whenever he could and kept abreast of racing by reading several trade publications.

In addition to drag racing, Conaway became interested in restoring cars. He has spent countless hours working on a 1948 British Austin Model A40 roadster.

stumbled onto the car," said Conaway. "When I first saw it I really liked it. It was set up for a race car, then a street rod. It has become quite a project."

Conaway has done extensive work on the car's chassis and plans on enjoying the car when it is completed, displaying it in car shows.

Although Conaway had been contemplating returning to racing, the decision to race again wasn't made until he turned 40. And then it was a sudden decision.

"I always planned on returning to racing when the children were grown and do it again as a hobby," said the 43-year-old. "The car was available at the right time, I guess, and I just made the decision to get into it right there."

He started racing in Class I, but switched to Class II last year when rules were changed. Class II is for cars with elapsed times of 11 seconds or more with no electronics allowed.

The Nova can run the quarter-mile in 10.70 seconds, but $H Conaway backs off to keep it in the 11.05-second range when racing. The car is powered by a 350-cubic-inch motor bored out to 357 cubic inches Brodix heads.

The car has been completely overhauled since Conaway purchased it.

A certified welder who works as a maintenance supervisor for the Carroll County Board of Education, Conaway prefers to do all of his own work.

When the crank in the engine broke two years ago and destroyed the block, he replaced the motor with one he rebuilt. It was the same story with the transmission. When it exploded, he rebuilt it.

Each time he experienced trouble, Conaway was out for three months. Now after three years of hard work, he knows the car is ready.

Conaway plans on running for the points this season. That's why he is so excited about getting started. He has been busy during the off-season rebuilding a spare transmission and motor.

He realizes that he can't miss any races if he is going to be serious about it, but he feels confident that his car is working well enough to make the commitment.

Conaway hopes some day to move into Super Gas competition, but right now he is ready to chase the point championship and catch a couple of Super Chevy Shows.

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