On the Throttle with … Don Bales
Bales, a 53-year-old sportsman racer from Indiana, recently sold the famous Silver Bullet Barracuda and joined the Drag Pak Team in his Drag Pak Challenger for 2017. NHRA race fans have known Don Bales over the years for the Silver Bullet, a 1968 SS/AH HEMI® engine-powered Barracuda.
MOPAR® MAGAZINE: How’s the Drag Pak Challenger coming along?
Don Bales: It’s great! It’s got a 392 HEMI engine, 727 TorqueFlite 3-speed transmission built by Rick Allison, the engine is done by Tony Bishoff at BES in Indiana, and the computer and rewiring was done by Carey Bales. It’s a beautiful car. By press time the car should have debut at an April NHRA Division 3 points race.
MM: But you sold the Silver Bullet AH car!
DB: Yeah, that was such a beautiful car. I sold it to build the Drag Pak, it’s the third one ever produced, the only one made in black, it originally went to Randy Warford. They campaigned it a year or two and parked it. I bought it about a year ago. The Silver Bullet went to Brent Jones for his son, who will reconfi gure it some and race it in Super Stock GT. Mike Roth built the Silver Bullet and he’s doing the work for them.
MM: What made you decide to switch from the older classic to this newer drag racing classic?
DB: The AH (Barracuda) car. Those things are so exotic. The time it takes to test them, and they run on the razor’s edge. Every time you get in, it’s like a hand grenade with the pin pulled, you’re just waiting. You’re leaning so hard, you’re spinning 10,000 rpm across the finish line. It’s intense. And there’s only a few AH races around like the HEMI Challenge and a few others. I want to race more than that. I want to go to points races, go rounds. More racing. The Drag Pak car allows me to do that.
MM: Compare the ride between the two cars.
DB: The AH car is an intense launch and intense ride. Every bone shakes ‘cuz there’s so much power there. But, with the Drag Pak car, it’s actually quite comfortable, because it’s so smooth. The technology, the chassis and the suspension are just top shelf. And the car is consistent. It rarely gets out of the groove.
MM: What do you expect this first year?
DB: We’ll run in factory SS/H, we’ve got about 650 horsepower and I’d like to think we’ll get in the 9.60s with it, I would be very pleased if we do that. But it’s a new combination so we’ll see.
MM: Any thoughts of any other car?
DB: Nope! I won’t drive anything but a Mopar. Been a Mopar guy since I was a little kid going to the track with my older brothers. The HEMI engine cars got our attention back then. The way those cars launch, I thought they were such fantastic cars, everyone gathers around them and they’re so rare. Give me a Mopar any day