Like baseball and fishing, drag racing is a father and son sport, if it’s anything. The love for the sport, the cars, and the tools — both the talents and the hardware — to make it happen are often passed down through the generations as new blood takes to the straight-line world and fathers and sons together enjoy the fruits of their labor. It’s a lot more work than fishing, but it’s well worth it if you ask racers such as Texas natives Bubba and Brandon McGee.
Bubba, as he’s known in Texas racing circles, and his 19-year-old son have bonded over the gorgeous ’69 Chevelle that’s been gaining considerable attention after images and video of it began circulating on social media in recent months.
The McGee’s own a communications company in Houston, and young Brandon runs the office and warehouse full-time, so the Chevelle is by no means their only connection, but it is unquestionably that which they equally share the most passion for.
Some 35 years ago, the elder McGee purchased the Chevelle from his neighbor, the original owner, who had kept in rather excellent condition. The car was driven for a number of years and then raced during Brandon’s younger days before it was parked in the garage nearly a decade ago.
Last year, Brandon backed the car out of the garage, gave it a proper wash and, fully inspired at that point, the pair “got after it,” as they explained, beginning a complete nose-to-tail overhaul to boost its looks and performance.
The 468-inch big-block that had powered it previously was supplanted by a 565-inch mill from engine builder Scott Shafiroff. The bullet is topped with Dart Pro 1 cylinder heads, a Holley intake manifold, and an ADP four-barrel carburetor. On motor alone, the McGee’s registered 1,035 horsepower, and a Nitrous Outlet Stinger plate kit will add extra motivation, with upwards of 600 additional horsepower sprayed into the combustion chambers, controlled by an AMS2000 nitrous controller.
A BTE Top Sportsman Powerglide transmission with a Neal Chance converter send the power back to a Strange Engineering center section and axles with 4.30 gears. The Chevelle rides on stylish Weld Racing V-Series polished wheels front and rear, with Mickey Thompson 275 drag radials neatly tucked into the rear wheel-wells. The stock-style suspension has been full retained, with Menscer Motorsports coilover shocks front and rear.
A 10-point chrome-moly roll cage shrouds a largely factory interior, with only a pair of aftermarket racing-style captain seats up front differentiating it. The full factory bench seat remains in the rear, making this a verifiable driver capable of hauling a couple of flexible souls in a pinch. Chassis builder Rick Stevens did much of the fabrication work, lowering the car 4-inches and also building new stainless headers from scratch.
The factory gauge cluster has been replaced with a Racepak digital dash. Elsewhere, the creature comforts all remain, including the air-conditioning and roll-up windows. For kicks, the McGee’s even added a backup camera.
With only a fiberglass hood on the weight-loss list, the car tips the scales at 3,450-pounds with Brandon in the seat — not light by any stretch, but trim enough, paired with the big-block mill, to have already clocked runs in the 5-second zone without every switching the nitrous oxide on.
Exact numbers and performance goals, however, are being kept close to the hip, as the McGee’s foresee a bit of grudge racing in their future. And perhaps even some street racing, “if called upon,” as Brandon cheekly responds.
“Down here in Houston, we’ve been noticing that a lot of street cars are coming out that look a lot like a racecar. When this started out I told my dad, since the car is just sitting in the garage, that we ought to get an LS or something for it so we can drive it on the weekends. Then it got way out of hand really fast,” Brandon explains.
“It’s actually the first racecar I’ve ever driven,” Brandon goes on to say. “The first time out, it went 6.20s on the first pass and it just got quicker from there. We went 5.80s on motor. We were pretty happy with it, especially considering how heavy it is.”
Kenny Hubbard of X275 fame assisted the McGee’s with getting the car up and running, as has Brandon’s brother-in-law, Tyler Stubbe, also a competitor in the X275 ranks.
“We’ve got some videos out there of it tearing up the streets, and those street adventures got us a lot a lot of attention really fast,” Brandon says.
The Willow Green hue and the as-new polished trim and wheels certainly assist in attracting eyeballs.
“We’re trying to keep it as much of a street car as we can get away with. We’re planning on grudge racing it, but we’re just having fun. We still take it to car shows, we drive it around the neighborhood and to work and back. It’s drivable on the street, for sure, but it’ll probably turn into more of a racecar,” Brandon adds.
The McGee’s won’t rule out participation in drag-and-drive style events, as well, noting the car is equipped for street duty. For now, though, they’re content to enjoy their work and prove its mettle on the streets of Southeast Texas.
“We drive it regularly and it stays cool…we’ve got a really nice radiator in it. We won’t turn away a challenge if someone says we can’t drive it 30 miles — we have a lot of people saying it’s a racecar and it doesn’t need to be on the street, but we’d be happy to prove to anybody that it can do a cruise,” Brandon states in closing.