RJ RACE CARS BUILDS THE QUICKEST & FAST DRAG CAR IN SPAIN
Drag racing is a universal language spoken worldwide.
For Spaniard Angel Romero, he’s glad the folks at RJ Race Cars speak fluent drag racing.
Romero’s story dates back to more than a year ago when he reached out to the Joneses, Rick, and son Rickie, regarding the feasibility of building a doorslammer to race in a country where drag racing is not commonplace.
Team Centauro, led by Romero, were into high-horsepower cars, and on occasion, had attended drag races in the United States. The objective for Romero and his team was to build a fast car and the fastest in his country.
Romero was no stranger to fast cars, having driven fast cars throughout European racetracks. But to get a fast car of the likes Romero desired, he had to go to America.
“[Angel] didn’t have much experience with drag racing — I think the fastest thing he’d ever driven was a sports car on the highway,” said Rickie Jones. “In Spain, they don’t have any dedicated drag strips, so when they want to hold an event, they actually rent the airport runway, and several cars come out. I think the national record there is 8.5- or 9-seconds, and so these guys wanted to jump in with both feet and didn’t really know where to start. They got ahold of us, and we told them we could build them a car. We asked how fast they wanted to go, and they told us they wanted to be the fastest car in Spain. They wanted a ’68 Camaro … they had been to some races here in the states and really liked the look of the Camaro.”
Romero made the long journey to Galesburg, Ill., home base for RJ Race Cars, to not only purchase but to get fitted for the new car. He likewise headed over to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School for a course in fast doorslammer racing.
“We told him if he’d never driven anything like this before, we really recommend he go through Frank’s program, earn his license, learn how to drive the car,” Jones added.
The RJ Race Cars team went to work in assembling a low-seven-second 1968 Camaro destined for Top Sportsman. The car will be powered by a naturally-aspirated, 632-inch engine from Reher-Morrison coupled with an M&M Turbo 400 transmission.
Jones accompanied Romero and his team with the new car. While Romero was busy in classroom time with Hawley, the veteran chassis builder was in a neighboring garage preparing the crew through maintenance aspects.
“While they were having driving school up front, we were basically having mechanics school out back,” Jones explained.
Romero worked his way up to the Camaro, first completing a course with the 10-second Super Gas car. He then moved over to his new Camaro and began making incremental passes, eventually graduating with mid-seven-second runs and an NHRA Advanced ET license.
“He got right out of Frank’s car, and I had this thing complete and turn-key waiting in the staging lanes — everybody in the class was drooling over it — and he jumped right in this thing,” Jones explained. “The next day, he went a string of 7.50s, and on the last day, we tried to de-tune and slow the car down to get it to run safely on the overseas runways they were going to be racing it’s on. It could obviously run in the sevens, but on the surfaces, they have over there, you might crash, so we wanted to make it safely run eight, nine, even 10-seconds, and we wanted to give them different tune-ups that they could load for the different conditions.
“These guys were thrilled with the car and with Frank and with our service. It was a really neat experience because someone from across the world, who really didn’t know where to start, wanted to get involved in drag racing. We felt like this might inspire other people — even people here in the states — who want to get involved and don’t know where to start. If this guy from Spain, who didn’t know what to do, had never driven a racecar, basically did all of this with our help and left the states with the quickest sportsman license you can get, anyone can do it.”
Romero now has the car home and has made some runs on a local airport runway. He’s planning to compete in the European Drag Challenge in England, Germany, and Sweden. He’s also starting the movement to bring more organized drag racing to his native homeland.
He’s not worried about language barriers. After all, speed and horsepower are spoken fluently in any land with an appreciation for fast cars.
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