Jezebel. The name conjures images of a temptress who is both dangerous and seductive. The Urban Dictionary defines Jezebel as “… beautiful and knows it, she uses her looks to her advantage to ‘lure in’ her next victim.”
So, what does Jezebel have to do with racing?
Scott Gemignani of El Dorado Hills, California owns one wicked big-tire ‘55 Chevy Bel Air, and her name is Jezebel. We wanted to know if there was a specific reason for the unusual name he chose for his car. “My wife is pretty good about understanding and tolerating the amount of time and money that I put into my car. But she has often commented about the amount of attention that my car gets over her. She sometimes refers to my ’55 as the ‘other woman’… that’s why we named it Jezebel. One word seemed to say it all.”
Now here is how it all started.
Scott has owned many other classic Chevrolets: a ’72 Chevelle, three 1965 Nova’s, a ’70 Vega, a ’69/’70 Nova, and even another ‘55 Bel Air before this one. While Scott is no stranger to owning a Chevrolet muscle car, it was owing a ‘55 Bel Air that was a childhood dream.
“I got the itch for hot rods when I was young, around 12 years old. It was watching my older brothers friend Danny help his dad restore their ’55 Chevy that fueled a passion to have a ’55 of my own someday. I would go over their house every day just to watch them work on the car. I will never forget the day Danny got it running. His dad wasn’t home and he decided it was the perfect opportunity to take the car out for a test drive. The car wasn’t anywhere near being complete but Danny and I improvised. Danny sat on a milk crate and I sat on the floorboard and we drove around the neighborhood doing a few burnouts. We made sure everyone saw us and we thought we were the coolest kids on the block.”
That would be the first of many trips for the old Bel Air, as it saw some street action on a weekly basis. Milk crate and all, that was the car that got Scott hooked on the ’55s.
” I have always wanted a ’55, but when you’re young and broke what you want and what you get are two different things,” Scott says. “My first cars were fun and I learned a lot, but I never lost my passion for the ’55. Finally, in 2011 I started my search. In 2015 I found and bought a beautiful ’55, but it was just to tide me over until I found ‘the one’. I knew what I wanted and wasn’t going to settle. It was hard trying to find a mostly all-steel Bel Air with a 6.0 certification. I was only finding full-blown fiberglass-bodied cars or cars that were only certified to 7.50.”
After years of searching, and decades of waiting, mid-way through 2016 Jezebel was found, purchased, and hauled down to Northern California. Once the ’55 arrived in California, the long nights of work began to make the car what she is today.
Scott’s ’55 is certified to 6.0 while still utilizing an all-steel body, minus the hood and deck lid. Nonetheless, it’s registered and insured with all functioning street equipment, just the way he wanted it. Since the purchase in 2016, Jezebel has had several nitrous engine combinations, beginning with a big-inch, nitrous-assisted engine require a lot of time and maintenance after each pass. That led to today’s configuration.
“It started to become more work than fun. I wasn’t enjoying the car as much as I was hoping to,” Scott explains. As a business owner and grudge racer, he wanted something with a little less maintenance but more tunable power. For the 2018 season, he installed a fresh F-1X ProCharger with a 540 cubic-inch crate motor from Scoggin Dickey Performance Center. Scott choose the steel block version loaded up with Diamond pistons, GRP aluminum rods, Callies Magnum crank. T&D shaft rockers, a COMP camshaft, and Brodix aluminum cylinder heads. For induction, it utilizes an Edlebrock intake with an APD blow-through alcohol carburetor and an MSD ignition system. This combination has been tuned by both Scott and Theo Deck of Wizard Racing and has seen north of the 2,500 horsepower range. Harnessed to the engine is a Lenco three-speed transmission with Bruno-drive and FTI torque converter.
With a car as heavy as the ’55 Bel Air, Scott needed some pretty stout drivetrain components in order to handle the amount of power the blown 540 was putting out. Mating the transmission to the Fab-9 rear end is a custom chromoly driveshaft. The rearend is housed with Strange 40-spline, gun-drilled axles and 4.10 gears. Rounding out the suspension are Strange front springs/struts with Santhuffs out back. When you’re trucking over 170 miles per hour in the 1/8-mile at over 3,2oo pounds, good stopping power is a must. Along with the dual parachutes, Scott installed a set of brand new Strange Pro Series brakes.
“This car takes me back to my childhood days working on my friends ’55 Chevy — but now I get to share those same memories with my two boys who are my number one fans. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to live out my dream and to do so with the support of my family and friends. Of course, I would like to thank my wife for putting up with this obsession and for not rolling her eyes (or hiding the checkbook) when I tell her I’m making a modification. I would like to thank my sons, Anthony and Jacob, who have been my pit crew and fan club from the start. I also have to thank Theo from Wizard Racing, the Dow Brothers, and all my track buddies that are always willing to lend a helping hand.”
You can catch Scott and Jezebel running big-tire grudge and no-time races throughout the West coast.