Merging a free, vintage kit car body with an unlikely donor to create a $2000 Challenge champion

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 26, 2021 | $2000 Challenge

Dave Green photos

The price sounded fair: “Free but I wouldn't turn down a bottle of a good whiskey.”

Stampie, a longtime GRM forum member, had landed a Bradley GT kit car body. But it was time for a new owner, so he offered it to the rest of the GRM community.

gumby, another cornerstone member of the group, took advantage of the offer.

The goal: the Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge presented by CRC Industries and TITAN Fuel Tanks, held October 22-23, 2021, at Central Florida’s Gainesville Raceway.

But how to turn a bare body into a contender?

gumby explains:

I tend to follow the "simplify and add lightness" mentality, but when factoring for the budget aspect our starting points aren't always ideal. There is another quote lost to the annals of racing history something to the effect of, "a race car chassis should be sturdy and simple; and so should the driver." I have no idea where I heard that and surely butchered the paraphrasing, but mix in "cheap" and these objectives play heavily into my program. A proven inexpensive route to working suspension involves grabbing and modifying production based stuff vs. designing 100% from scratch. My autoX Ranger and Datsaniti are solid proofs of concept, even the LMP 360 is using production uprights.

An unlikely donor supplies those necessary production car parts: a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis–basically, a fancy Crown Vic.

The build itself filled some 20 pages of the GRM forum. Not only did the car make the event–hopes and dreams can only go so far–but the final creation took top honors at the $2000 Challenge while also posting the event’s fastest autocross time.

More highlights from the weekend:

Calvin Nelson pedaled the family’s Pontiac Sunbird down the dragstrip in 9.064 seconds at 150.1 mph. The team kept finding speed but, at the same time, faced deteriorating track conditions as dew rolled in that evening.

We had rookies. Lots of them.

We had students. Lots of them–teens still in grade school plus multiple college teams.

Georgia Tech has been sending teams to the Challenge for nearly 20 years. This year's crew debuted a new vehicle–a mid-engine Chevy S-10 pickup–but it broke at the starting line on their first run.

In 2019, nocones announced an ambitious build: some kind of prototype-influenced racer based on a Subaru 360 shell purchased for $1. It was there and, yes, it was as cool as expected.

Laura Harbour recently finished third in F Street Prepared Ladies at the Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals in a Toyota Celica GT-S that ran at last year’s $2000 Challenge. Her codriver, Lauren Keach, took second in the same car. The car still meets $2000 Challenge eligibility, so Laura brought it to Gainesville and collected the Editors’ Choice trophy while running with much more modified vehicles.

More photos and stories to come very soon; the GRM staff is just returning home from the event. Full results at the $2000 Challenge site, and full coverage scheduled for the pages of Grassroots Motorsports magazine. Watch our YouTube for $2000 Challenge videos. 

Thanks, everyone, for joining us in Gainesville.

 

 

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
surfshibby07
surfshibby07 HalfDork
10/23/21 8:30 p.m.

Great Job on that Bradley, yall deserve the win, the work and effort that went into that car is incredible. So many awesome cars this year too.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/23/21 8:39 p.m.

I'm so happy to have been included in this with the chance to redeem myself from my... poor... 2019 presentation. Amazing guys with ridiculous skills that humbled me every time we worked on it. 
 

now... where are my sprinkles? I was promised sprinkles. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
10/23/21 8:49 p.m.

I do kinda wonder if Stampie looked at it and thought "yeah, that's what I had planned"

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/23/21 8:51 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:

I do kinda wonder if Stampie looked at it and thought "yeah, that's what I had planned"

He does have a "master planner" vibe going on doesn't he?

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress HalfDork
10/24/21 6:56 a.m.

Nocones build looks every bit as cool as the first digital mockup I saw. Amazing execution.

Also, I for one welcome our "drop a shell on a mostly custom tube frame chassis" overlords!

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/24/21 7:07 a.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

That would apply if we didn't use most of the panther chassis, including the entire front suspension, frame rails and even the lower rear arms. 

gumby
gumby GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/24/21 9:19 a.m.

David, it was awesome having you in our pit spot, spending some time chatting and gathering intel. Thank you for banging this article out same-day so I can easily share without formulating my own words!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/24/21 9:34 a.m.

When we first conceived the Challenge back in 1999, we figured people would take a low-buck car and maybe add some springs and a few bolt-ons--maybe tweak the boost a bit. Never ever thought we'd see anything even close to this year's field. Absolutely stunning work. 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
10/24/21 9:36 a.m.

best Bradley ever !

preach (fs)
preach (fs) GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/24/21 9:44 a.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

I concur.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/24/21 9:45 a.m.

I should add, stunning creativity, too. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/24/21 9:47 a.m.

First it was the Beetle, then it was the Fiero; is the Crown Vic, Panther chassis the new darling of the kit car world? devil

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/24/21 6:12 p.m.

There's a lot left on the bone with this one.  I'm amazed talking to them and realizing how much they can improve it for the future.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/25/21 7:17 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Mr Wallens, would here be a higher res of this magnficent photo we could use for our work desk top back grounds?

gumby
gumby GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/25/21 7:40 a.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/25/21 7:44 a.m.

In reply to gumby :

Not sure "impressed" will be the right word. But definitely in the garage/shop

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/25/21 10:26 a.m.
gumby said:

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

Make a full size ceiling poster. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
10/25/21 11:18 a.m.
gumby said:

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

Challenge winner posters would be cool to see in the store.  Probably not worth the printing cost though.

Maybe there should be a GRM wall calendar.  October of each year being the previous winner's car.  Rest of the pics could be from the Challenge or from build threads of popular cars?

Danny Shields (Forum Supporter)
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/25/21 11:30 a.m.

Very impressive win!  Imagine how much time, and skill, went into working out all the details of that build! 

Plenty of new faces, cool cars, and enthusiasm all around this year!

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/25/21 12:16 p.m.
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:
gumby said:

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

Make a full size ceiling poster. 

That might interrupt other ... um ... activities seeing me in your old racecar above your bed. It could get awkward 

evildky
evildky SuperDork
10/25/21 12:24 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:
gumby said:

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

Challenge winner posters would be cool to see in the store.  Probably not worth the printing cost though.

Maybe there should be a GRM wall calendar.  October of each year being the previous winner's car.  Rest of the pics could be from the Challenge or from build threads of popular cars?

I think they stopped giving out the annual wall calendar a couple years back. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule but challenge cars have regularly appeared in the GRM wall calender for months around the challenge. I never won a challenge but my cars were feature in August of 2013 and October of 2014.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/25/21 5:58 p.m.
bobzilla said:
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:
gumby said:

In reply to bobzilla :

I want a poster to hang on the wall in my bedroom; above the headboard. Mrs. gumby would be so impressed when she gets home!

Make a full size ceiling poster. 

That might interrupt other ... um ... activities seeing me in your old racecar above your bed. It could get awkward 

You just need to get one of those racecar beds & paint it to match the X71. It basically has the same profile. 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/25/21 8:58 p.m.

You mean you guys don't have king size race car beds? I would have never expected that I was the only one. My significant others are always are jealous because I'm better than them and finish first. 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/25/21 8:59 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Clearly I need to read through the entire thread before entering with my .02 as otherwise I'll merely be reiterating someone else's idea laugh

bOttOmfeeder
bOttOmfeeder New Reader
11/1/21 7:28 p.m.

Gotta be the ONLY Bradley GT that ever won anything.....

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
11/2/21 8:33 a.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

You mean you guys don't have king size race car beds? I would have never expected that I was the only one. My significant others are always are jealous because I'm better than them and finish first. 

It's also a great table too for lunch:

 

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