A Tale of Two Cars

If you were one of the thousands of people who watched Gear Vendor’s HOT ROD Drag Week, powered by Dodge, in 2015 or 2016, you may remember the slowest car of the entire event: a 1969 Rambler American. The mid-22-second car ran the week without issue and provided its owner and driver, Daniel Ashlock, with good memories and (funnily enough) a trophy for fastest AMC.

The Rambler at a check point in 2015.
The Rambler at a check point in 2015.

So why the Rambler? David Freiburger joked about how if Daniel just broke the beam and backed out of the box he would have finished with a 2 second faster average over the week — so why take the slowest car of Drag Week, twice?

In the staging lanes.In the staging lanes.

Well the story starts in 2006 when Daniel, who reigns from Northeast Oklahoma, actually bought his 1986 Buick Grand National. That car started off with a basic rebuild. Using JE pistons, ARP fasteners, ported iron heads, small roller cam, front mount intercooler and a 62/62 turbo the car ran low 11s; and after some tuning and massaging, the car was pushed into the 10.70’s on the same combination.

Daniel actually brought the GN to Drag Week in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He was always learning the car and pushing it to find every ounce of speed he could, and for 2014 he had upgraded to a forged bottom end, Holley Dominator ECU, and an even bigger 66/68 turbo from Work Turbochargers, which got the car into the 10.30’s — but all that work came at a price.

He’d thrashed hard those years and was worn out, both physically and emotionally. This brings us to 2015, when Daniel purposely left the Grand National at home. Having owned the Rambler since 2002 he pulled it from the weeds and got it ready to compete at Drag Week.

Swapping the tires from track to street on Daniels 86 Grand NationalSwapping the tires from track to street on Daniels 86 Grand National

Addressing the car was fairly simple since the Rambler is essentially stock and only required new fluids and fresh tires and Daniel was off to the races. This was a refreshing year for Daniel, as not only did he finish without the thrash of the previous year, but he also went solo without a co-driver.

For 2016 Daniel wanted to bring the GN back, but after trying to get it together he threw in the towel and decided to once again bring the Rambler, which was pretty much exactly as it was the year prior for fun Daniel entered it into the Ultimate Iron category. The trusty Rambler managed to get Daniel the Fastest AMC award this year, which doesn’t say much for you AMC guys.

004-daniel-ashlock

Over the years Daniel has some great memories. In 2012 he won the fastest Buick and fastest six-cylinder awards, which was an incredible accomplishment to pull off on his first year. Getting to know fellow racers, the camaraderie that exists, and the feeling you get from actually being on the road is irreplaceable and no amount of coverage able to capture the feeling of actually being there.

Bringing the slowest car of Drag Week two years in a row shows how incredible the event really is. Not wanting to miss out, Daniel left his race car and packed up the Rambler just to be there. In the future, he wants to run nine second ETs with the GN when it returns next. Daniel wants to thank his parents, his very understanding wife, and last but not least, his friend Alan Reinken who not only helps wrench and tune the car, but also acts as co-pilot when Dan isn’t solo.

The Grand National ready to leave for Drag Week 2014.
The Grand National ready to leave for Drag Week 2014.

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