The weekend started out perfectly for the race debut of Charles “Tommy” Youmans’ beautiful new 1970 GTO at No Mercy 10 in the Pro 275 class. The car performed well in front of fans and photographers who immediately fell in love with the bright orange Judge. The good times ended abruptly, however, hard against the right-side wall of South Georgia Motorsports Park.
Youmans stepped up from 20th to sixth in the third-and-final qualifying session with a 4.17 at 181.91 mph on the SGMP eighth mile, then made it past Nigel Alexander in the opening round of racing. The McIntyre, GA-based driver faced a bye run in round two, which turned out to be fortuitous.
Lined up on the left side, Youmans launched hard, but almost immediately lost traction and made a hard turn into the right lane shortly past the starting tree. His car slid sideways down the track until its nose made contact with the wall shortly past the 330-foot halfway marker, immediately spinning its driver’s side hard into the concrete wall where it quickly ground to a halt.
After a couple of anxious minutes, Youmans emerged uninjured from the wreck, but it took some time for track workers to wrestle the battered Poncho from the wall and carry it back to the pits on a rollback wrecker.
“I’m okay, I don’t hurt at all,” Youmans confirmed Saturday morning at the start of a rainout for the day’s scheduled racing. “I was strapped in tight, had my HANS device on, all the right stuff, didn’t even scratch my helmet on the cage.”
Yeomans then explained he added more power to his tuneup for the bye run, which may have been his undoing.
“When the power started ramping in, right at 1.96 seconds, it just broke the tires loose and they just got out from under it real quick,” he recalled. “Nobody’s fault, just a racing deal, you know? And the car’s not hurt bad at all, mostly sheet metal stuff. My chassis builder was actually here, Todd Dobson from Mod Rods out of Macon, Georgia, and the chassis is good, everything’s straight.”
As a lifelong Pontiac man, Youmans retained stock GTO dimensions as much as possible, not only for originality, but to satisfy as many sanctioning body and track series rules as possible. For instance, Extreme 28 (X28 No Time) rules typically limit wheelbase variations to one- or two-inch variables, but his new ride retains factory stock wheelbase specs.
“That way there can be no arguments,” he reasoned.
He also purchased steel quarter panels, a steel roof, steel rockers, and steel A pillars from collector car parts supplier Classic Industries.
“It’s all the same stuff you’d be doing if you were restoring your GTO for the street,” Youmans said. “It’s even got the same stock headlight bezels and stock headlight buckets, stock headlights, stock taillights, and all of them work! I mean, we wanted to try to stay as true to the GTO as we possibly could. The car is heavy.”
And though the roof may appear chopped, Youmans insists only the windshield was raked, necessitating a slight, half-inch lowering of the roof at its most forward point. “I wanted a clean look, you know? I wanted everything on the engine to be under the hood. So we had to build the hood up and that raised up the center and kind of gives the optical illusion that the top’s been chopped. But it hasn’t.”
That dedication to stock doesn’t quite extend to what resides under that elevated hood, though Youmans did turn to Pontiac engine specialists Kauffman Racing Equipment in Glenmont, OH, to build a billet block 505 with cast aluminum heads and boosted by twin 98-millimeter Garrett Turbos from Forced Induction.
“The guys at Kauffman, they’re not assemblers; they’re designers; they’re builders. The heads that are on there are from their own design, the block is their block that they CNC machined,” Youmans stressed. “And this is the first turbo motor that they’ve built of this caliber.”
Backing up the Kauffman package is a Mark Micke two-speed Turbo 400 transmission leading to an 11-inch Mark Williams rearend with Menscer shocks on all four corners. Mark Bunton of MJB Performance handled all the wiring and a FuelTech FT600 manages engine control and monitoring.
“We took it to FuelTech and put it on their dyno and it made 33-hundred and 55 horsepower,” Youmans revealed. “And that was on low boost, you know? I was at 50 pounds of boost and the FuelTech guys said they see no problem going up as high as 70 pounds.”
That may be bad news for Youmans’ opponents once repairs are made, which could be as soon as early December for the annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals in Bradenton, FL. Regardless of when the Goat returns, though, it’s certain Youmans will enjoy the ride in its purest sense.
“My first car was a Pontiac, you know, and if it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. And I’m not one of these guys that wants to crossbreed and put a Chevrolet motor in there,” he said. “I want to stay traditional Pontiac and you know, from the reaction here I think it’s the right choice.”