After three long years and a pandemic, it was time to go Limited 235 racing with my 1986 Olds Cutlass 442. A car that has seen it all. From its humble days as my daily driver packing the original 307, the car withstood the abuse any gearhead crazed sixteen year old would give it. From those glorious “one-wheel-peel” burnouts to a multitude of engine swaps throughout the years, my Cutlass has always been there. It’s been at my side for half my life at this point, which is what makes this past weekend so special.
- Team Members Louie Fillippides (C) and Ed Smith (R)
Last Thursday my team, which consisted of myself, my beautiful wife Jenny and my buddy and former NMCA EFI Champion Ed Smith, made its way down to Shady Side Dragway in hopes of making a good first showing in Limited 235 competition. Similar to Ultra Street, Limited 235 is a single power adder or N/A class where parity is established through vehicle weight, engine size, nitrous jetting and power adder limitations. And despite a plethora of combinations across the 16 cars that entered, John Sears has managed to keep competition close and racing tight! After arriving at Shady Side Dragway and setting up, we made our way to the staging lanes for our first test hit of the weekend and popped the passenger side head gasket. We’ll chalk this one up to being new to tuning a turbo car. And so, the work began to swap out the head gasket. All went well and we had the engine back up and running in time for the second qualifying attempt where the car ran a personal best of 5.11 @ 139mph, putting us in the number six spot! We loaded the car up Friday night with a smile. We did well qualifying at the top half of a 16 car field.
- Midway head gasket repair on the Cutlass 442
Upon firing the car up Saturday morning, it started dripping water from the driver's side head gasket, damage that was likely done from the first pass, but didn’t show until now. We attempted to re-torque the cylinder head, but it didn’t fix the issue. After a quick google search, we were fortunate to find a new one at a nearby NAPA Autoparts store and began the process of swapping in another head gasket. With qualifying attempts running out and E1 close, we get the car buttoned up and ready for Q4 where the car runs a 5.17, finishing out qualifying and remaining in the number six position.
Despite the challenges early on and with a little bit of luck, the car performed well through eliminations taking us all the way to the finals where we met fellow competitor Jason Martin and his beautiful Vortec supercharged Fox Body Mustang. Jason had been fast and consistent throughout eliminations running 5.05 and better at 140mph. Knowing that I needed to step things up on the starting line, I uploaded a tune that should have given me a fighting chance, however we spun just before the 60 foot cone, ending our chances at victory.
- Husband & Wife Team Members Louie and Jenny Fillipides
Through all the challenges and adversity, the ARH team fought and did well, which is a win in my book. I had hopes in making a good showing and I think we did just that. To my team, I say thank you and to my sponsors I say We Got A Hotrod! This is just the beginning. Maintenance and upgrades are already in the works and we look forward to the next race one month from now back at Shadyside Dragway!