Following a three-year hiatus, Eric Gullett has returned to drag racing in a brand new ride that might appear to be under-powered for its class. The 45-year-old is confident, however, his engine and drivetrain are strong enough to put him in Victory Lane.
“We finally have got a nice competitive package,” the Pennsylvania resident says of his team, which is comprised of himself and wife Amber.
Gullett’s Pontiac Firebird is stuffed with a 598c.i. engine featuring a COMP Cams valve train, Lunati crankshaft and Zex Nitrous. The big block is backed by a TCI Automotive PRO-X transmission with 180 planetary gears and complementary nine-inch PRO-X torque converter. Shifting duties are handled by an Outlaw Shifter, also from TCI.
“The interesting thing about the combo on this 598 is I’ve got one nitrous oxide kit, run one carb and have conventional heads,” he says. “Most of my competitors have 700-plus cubic inches and multiple nitrous. I don’t have anything that’s not off the shelf.”
So, how is Gullett competitive in the 4.5 index class? He says it comes down to the right components and weight savings in the Firebird built by GPS Race Cars in Tennessee.
“Anything that’s got reciprocating mass is lightweight,” he says, referencing gun-drilled axles as an example.
The Firebird’s fiberglass body, carbon fiber components and 25.1E-certified chromoly double rail frame also help keep the car’s weight to 1,950 pounds.
“Since it’s a lighter car, it makes enough power,” Gullett says. “The clock doesn’t know the difference. I don’t have to run super high RPM to get the times I need. I just use creativity with lightweight components in a different engine to get where I want.”
During testing of the Firebird at Captiol Raceway in Maryland in October 2016, Gullett ran his personal best ET of 4.459 at 156.34 mph. He had hoped to make his official return to the drag strip the following day, but the event was rained out.
“It was a long winter,” he says of the Firebird’s race debut being delayed.
Gullett returned to Capitol Raceway during Easter weekend and made a perfect 4.50 ET pass in Friday testing. He later qualified with a 4.496 ET to face reigning Bad Boys 4.50 champion Vonnie Davis in the first round. The match-up ended with a hundredth of a second separating the two, Davis advancing.
“In hindsight, I make a last minute tuning change that probably cost us the race,” Gullett says of the performance. “However, we’re very encouraged by our first weekend back racing in three years, and I feel like we will definitely be a championship series contender.”
In his previous ride, a 1969 Camaro, Gullett was series runner-up in the 2010 ORSCA Outlaw 5.30 Class, earned a 5.00 class championship and recorded four various class wins.
To follow Gullett, like the Gullett Racing Facebook page.