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Legendary 1955 NASCAR Chevrolet Race Car Re-Created

General Motors Builds Replica to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Small-Block V8

It was 50 years ago last September when Herb Thomas won the Southern 500 at Darlington driving a 1955 Chevrolet prepared by Smokey Yunick. It was Chevy's first superspeedway victory and the beginning of a legend.

The GM small-block V8 became, arguably, the most successful production and racing engine ever made. In fact, the small-block V8 design is still raced today in NASCAR, ALMS, NHRA and many other series. Refined versions of the same proven design also powers many 2006 GM trucks, sport utilities, sedans and the Chevrolet Corvette

Late last year a "new" 1955 Chevrolet NASCAR race car took shape at GM's Performance Division Garage - a special project between GM Performance Division and the GM Heritage Center. Carrying Thomas' famous number 92, it replicated Yunick's original preparation and race specification as closely as possible .

"The re-creation of the 1955 Chevrolet NASCAR race car symbolizes the past, present and future success of the GM small-block V8," said Mark Reuss, executive director of GM's Performance Division. "Fifty years later this engine design continues to deliver success on the race track while bringing real benefits to millions of GM owners in their personal and work vehicles."

The racer is based on a 1955 Chevrolet ·one-fifty,·" utility sedan which was inexpensive, lightweight and had no back seat. The replica has a standard bench seat, "three on the tree" manual transmission, manual drum brakes, bias-ply tires with tubes and a small-block V8 hopped up the way it's believed Smokey would have done it. The engine of the original racer is currently in the Don Garlits Museum 111 Ocala, Florida, while the car itself has disapperaed . Modern concessions to safety include a full roll cage, five-point safety harnesses, a fire suppression system and a dual circuit brake system. The current popularity of the Classic 1955 Chevrolet made the parts and services necessary for the race car re-creationreadily available.

Junior Johnson, winner of 50 NASCAR races and six Winston Cup championships as a team owner, acted as a consultant on the car build and specification NASCAR also provided research. reference photography and a copy of their 1955 rule book to help make the replica race car "pretty close" to the actual Chevrolets raced in 1955.

Johnson drove the number 92 Chevy in its debut at the 2005 Goodwood Festival of Speed in England,June 24-26. Thereafter the car took on a full program of appearances throughout 2005, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the small-block V8. Those included the Woodward Dream Cruise, the Concours d'Elegance at Cranbrook, the CCI 50th Anniversary Event and demonstration runs at individual NASCAR races.

The small block V8 found under the hood of a current NASCAR Monte Carlo is a direct descendant of the engine found in Herh Thomas' 1955 racer. In the 50 years since that first victory, this small-block V8 has captured more NASCAR wins than any other power plant in the sport.