NHRA Stock Eliminator class racing is one of the most challenging categories in the sport; as a competitor, you’re limited on the parts you can use, and the modifications you can make to your vehicle. There are plenty of cars or trucks that you can race in Stock, and Bill Owen’s 2000 Pontiac Grand Am might not be the fastest in the class, but it’s one of the most unique you’ll see.
During the early days of hot rodding, the local service station was the place you went to meet up with your fellow gearheads. Owen spent plenty of time at his local car hangouts growing up, and even took a job at a local gas station so he could learn more about cars. That was time well spent for Owen — he worked at a Dodge dealership to help put himself through college, and eventually became a Senior Design Engineer for General Motors in the high-performance division.
Owen’s career path in the high-performance world was spurred on by more than just spending time working on cars, it came from the time he spent at the track. Before he was even old enough to legally drive, Owen was making passes at local drag strips in his home state of Michigan. Over the years he’s owned many different muscle and racecars that have seen their fair share of track time.
Now, the story behind Owen’s Grand Am is an interesting one: he never actually went out looking to purchase an AF/S car, it just ended up happening.
“This was actually a test car for GM’s front-wheel drive racing program. MPR Race Cars had the contract to work with GM and used it as the development car. It sat outside the shop for a few years and I was contacted to get it running so it could be sold. After I got it running we took it to the track for some testing. The car started to do pretty well, so we looked at improving the suspension. This car has now held the national record in AF, BF, and CF/S at different times since I’ve owned it,” Owen says.
To say that Owen has extracted a lot of horsepower out of the Quad Four engine under the hood of his Grand Am is an understatement. He’s tuned the car to a best 60-foot time of 1.67, and run .75-seconds under his class index with a 14.39 e.t. Those numbers were laid down with a fully class-legal engine, and Owen has been torn down five times over the years to prove it. Owen built the heads for the engine himself and thinks there’s even more power available if he works with the valvetrain to optimize it.
Just like every other racer, Owen comes to every event with the intention to win. His big goal is to eventually earn a Wally at an NHRA event and maybe even win an overall Stock Eliminator class title someday, as well. Owen’s Pontiac Grand Am is proof that in drag racing it doesn’t matter how much horsepower you make, you just need to know how to use it on race day.