Sportsman Drag Racers Grab the Spotlight in the Quarter-Mile

Straight Line Spotlight



Black From the Brink
Michigan’s Ricardo LaCosta displayed true grit and desire prior to the debut of his impressive 1978 Malibu. LaCosta, who works at GM’s Global Service Operations (Lake Orion, Michigan) as a global empowerment manager, was truly tested after he crashed his previous race car: a record-holding, turbocharged Buick Regal. Following that accident and a regrouping period, LaCosta acquired the Malibu from the Philadelphia area after a winning bid on eBay. He took the car to “Lil John” Cross (LJ Race Cars) who did all the car’s tubing and rollcage construction. After experimenting with a couple of engine programs, LaCosta settled on an LS7 by Barry Walker (Airflo Technologies, Fort Lauderdale, Florida), which features a stock crank, rods, and heads; a FAST LSX intake; and a turbocharger. LaCosta races primarily within NMCA and clicks off mid 10-second e.t.’s in the Street King class. LaCosta Motorsports, which features deep family dedication, plans to upgrade the car for next season to a newer and more powerful (1,500+ hp) LSX engine combination.


A Top-Notch S-10
Connecticut’s David Miller scored a career highlight during the summer of 2019 when he won his first ever NHRA national event title racing his Top Sportsman Chevy S-10. For Miller, whose reputation within the northeast U.S. as a race car chassis builder and painter is exemplary, that final outcome during the NHRA New England Nationals was very rewarding. Originally built back in 2011, Miller’s S-10 is 100-percent self-assembled. The S-10 was purpose-built for TS racing—not a converted Pro Stock Truck—and is naturally aspirated, not nitrous injected. David runs a 781ci big-block from Sunset Performance, and the truck tips the scales at 2,385 pounds and is 6.7-second, 200+ mph capable. David reports that while campaigning a truck-bodied machine within the swift TS class may be considered somewhat unorthodox, he likes the visibility advantage that the body style offers. Miller’s involvement in drag racing is deep and multifaceted, and includes racing a Pro Stock car (2018) as well as the involvement of his wife, Becky, and son Brandon, who drive in Top Dragster and Junior Dragster, respectively.


Deep South Dedication
The father-and-son team of Ricky and Richard Pennington race what is truly a showstopping and meticulously prepped 1969 Chevelle owned by Thomas Bills. Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, this Chevelle is an original SS 396 car with a numbers-matching 12-bolt rearend assembly. The team reports the car had originally been built for ISCA circuit racing by Kurt Freeman during the late 1990s before changing hands a few times, then receiving upgrades to eventually become a certified 8.50 drag racing vehicle. The car features a new DR525 sealed LS engine, a changeover that happened with help from Marty Morris at Scoggin Dickey Chevrolet. Initially, the team competed in NMCA Chevrolet Performance Stock (CPS), a heads-up class, amongst a sea of Camaros, but has since evolved to the LME Street King Eliminator (an index class). Ricky’s reputation as a driver is notable, too, which includes winning two NMCA championship titles so far. The team includes valued moral support from wives Tiffany (Ricky) and Lee (Rick) as well as associate backing from Mickey Thompson, VP Fuels, and Chevrolet Performance.


Corvette Collector
When Calvin Starcher shows up at the dragstrip with his 1968 Corvette, race fans are really just seeing part of the story. Starcher, who lives in La Plata, Maryland, along with his wife, is the owner of Capital Air Filter and runs this great-looking Corvette (that features a 15-year-old paintjob by Anassis Auto Body) mostly on the East Coast. From his home racetrack at Maryland International Raceway, Starcher reports this Corvette has a deep history. It’s an original 427 car that’s been a drag racer since 1970 and has seen four previous owners. Starcher runs a 565ci Reher-Morrison engine rated at 1,000 hp and races the car primarily within index classes, either Super Street (10.90) or Super Gas (9.90). This ’68 is one of four Corvettes he owns. He has two Corvette Super Stockers (’68 and ’69 models) as well as a 1967 Corvette roadster within his toy box.