As kids we all dreamed of what we wanted to be when we grew up. For some it was an astronaut, others a professional athlete of some kind, for me and a lot of other gearheads out there we wanted to be a race car driver. Justin “Big Chief” Shearer who stars in the hit street racing TV show, Street Outlaws, had that same dream and this weekend that dream became his reality.
You may remember Big Chief from the nasty wreck he suffered behind the wheel of his beloved car he called “The Crow” that hes’s had since he was 16 years old. It was an absolutely gorgeous Pontiac GTO Judge that was just wicked fast. He had a 482 cubic inch Pontiac engine that had been tuned by Butler as well as two huge turbos. Rumor has it that if he turned it up all the way it could produce in excess of 3,000hp, or possibly even more. Chief was racing a guy by the name of Chucky Davis in an episode that aired this past June when suddenly Davis’ car broke loss and veered over into Chiefs lane. His car clipped The Crow which sent it into a series of fierce barrel rolls before flipping end over end. Luckily Chief survived, but his precious car did not. But there was a little bit of good news when it came to the car, that crazy powerful Butler engine remained intact just minus a few turbos.
Well maybe it was a blessing in disguise because Chief came back stronger than ever. His old car was a full steel bodies car with the exception of his front clip meaning it was still extremely heavy for a drag car. So he opted to get a full tube chassis car that is essentially what they call a Pro Mod and put the motor from the his previous car. The engine got a new turbo system that was redesigned by Jeff Lutz, who is drag racing royalty and a master of the turbo. The new car while it slightly resembles the old one as far as color goes its very obvious this new car means business. The new name, “The Crow-Mod”.
This weekend the NHRA US Nationals are being held in Indianapolis and for the first time in his life Big Chief will live his dream of becoming a race car driver in the NHRA. He was able to qualify to attend the event and although required some extreme expenses, got his car to pass strict rules in the tech inspection which allows him to race. It was reported that he had to purchase a set of carbon fiber brakes which set him back roughly $16,000.
But that purchase paid for itself on one of his first few runs he made. At the end of one of his runs the parachute system malfunctioned and he had to rely on the brakes alone to slow him down. Granted he wasn’t going incredible fast as his first run didn’t go exactly according to plan, he still managed to pull a 7.12 at 160mph over a quarter mile.
If you ever watched the show you’ll know that Big Chief isn’t used to running the full quarter mile. When racing on the streets and what they call No-Prep events, they would only run eighth mile. A really fast run over an eight mile you will probably be going roughly 190mph, but top competing cars in the NHRA Pro-Mod class will easily hit speeds in excess of 240-250mph over the quarter. Now it may not seem like the jump from 190-250mph would seem like much, but its a significant jump and a lot of stuff can happen in a split second at those speeds.
Shearer unfortunately knew that he had very little chance of actually competing to win the event. After all, he was running on a motor that is reported to be over 53 years old, which is something that not a single other competition was doing. Not to mention the Butler tuned motor is about half the size in cubic inches considering its not uncommon for their to be 900+ cubic inch motors.
But there was one other thing that Shearer didn’t have that most other teams did, full semi trucks full of parts and full teams in matching uniforms all scrambling away working on the car. Instead Chief has a few of his buddies all wearing backwards baseball hats with shorts and knee socks jamming to some rap music behind his somewhat standard 32ft enclosed trailer pulled behind a pickup. Its still a nice ass trailer, but its nothing in comparison to the semi-trailers you normally see at NHRA events.
Overall there was one other thing that Shearer and his team had going for them, a line of people said to be more than 8,500 people strong all waiting to get autographs. The NHRA would be crazy not to let him compete just because of the amount of people he brings with him to the events. There were likely to be people there that had never been to an official race that now have seen how badass they can be and could potential be fans for life. That I think is pretty cool. Good for you Chief.
Check out this promo shot for the event