Barra-powered P-plater XB Falcon ute

Chevy Barnes-Librio is no longer watching from the sidelines in his cool survivor Falcon

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic, Shaun Tanner

Chevy Barnes-Librio has been part of the Drag Challenge faithful years before taking part in his first event as an entrant on Drag Challenge Weekend 2022.

The Castlemaine P-plater has followed along in his farm-find XB ute since DC 2018, even stopping at each photo checkpoint with dad Paul to get as close to the action as possible.

“We bought the ute before I got my Ls four or five years ago,” Chevy recounts. “It was a one-owner car that was used to cart wood. It was always garaged, so it was pretty much rust free, but the tub was pretty dinged up.”

They soon got to work tidying up the 250-powered stocker, leaving the original paint intact but sorting out the mangled rear tubs. “They were all inside-out,” Chevy laughs, “but the fabricated mini-tubs solved that problem, giving the Mickey Thompson ET Street 275/60/15s a bit more room.”

The ute’s original plates were another aspect Chevy was keen to preserve: “When we bought it, it was two days before it ran out of rego, so we had to pay for three months of rego in advance to keep that going!”

Chevy chose to pull the ute off the road for a mechanical makeover shortly after following along on Drag Challenge 2019. Those pesky probationary plates meant a bent-eight or turbo six were out of the equation, so Chevy and Paul settled on a tough, aspirated Barra with potential for future boost.

It’s built on a BF LPG bottom end, topped by a BA head screwed together by Dyno-Mite Performance in Footscray. Goodies inside include Crow cams and valve springs, and factory Ford turbo-spec valves. The oil pump gears have been replaced, and fuel delivery duties are handled by a Plazmaman intake and 60psi injectors. Ignition comes from FG coils on a matching rocker cover and a Tremaniac CNC-machined coil cover. Speedflow fittings, braided line and other components were sourced from Speed Pro in Dandenong. There’s also a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, communicating with an iC-7 dash inside. “That was his 21st-birthday present,” says dad Paul.

Chevy and Paul fabbed the stylish polished stainless-steel extractors themselves from mandrel bends supplied by Motion Performance Exhaust, which are paired to a CNC flange of their own design from Bendigo’s NS Engineering. Unlike many hi-po naturally aspirated Barras, an underdrive kit was omitted. “Chevy wants a nice street car that he can race,” Paul explains. “I’d prefer a race car you can drive on the street, but he’s slowly coming around!”

Power is sent to the wheels via a built C10 auto with a Shotgun Performance-supplied 3500rpm converter, and a 31-spline nine-inch with a Strange full spool, pillaged from Paul’s dormant F100. The rear end copped a raised transmission tunnel and triangulated four-link with Viking double-adjustable coil-overs, also built by Chevy and Paul. At Dyno-Mite performance, Dion tuned the combo to a healthy 207rwkW@6800rpm.

There’s also a smattering of Rod Shop parts throughout the car, including engine mounts. Chevy has wrangled cameras for CRS in the past: “The Rod Shop has given us a lot of help and support over the years,” he says.

“It’s been back on the road less than a month,” Chevy says. “We did a few test-and-tunes at Heathcote with the 3.5 diff ratio in it, and I was shifting into third about 20 metres from the line. So we put 4.8s in it and cut off 1.1 seconds on the first pass.”

Such short gears weren’t suitable for DCW 2022’s 900km of road travel, so the duo swapped centres before each day of racing. “We did the Mildura change in the Chemist Warehouse car park on Friday night at 11 o’clock,” Chevy says. Aside from a broken U-bolt and the diff changes, he and Paul were happy with its performance over the weekend. “This thing should be a seven-second car with the amount of prep we’ve been doing,” Paul laughs.

Racing in the Vibrant Performance Dial Your Own class, Chevy submitted a 14.170-second pass on Day One. Though it was far from the quickest in class, the ute was ultra-consistent at the Mildura eighth-mile on Day Two, recording a quarter-mile-adjusted time of 14.173 and placing Chevy at the top of the leaderboard. A 14.35 pass on Sunday put him out of podium contention but was enough for a mid-pack finish.

“This has been an unforgettable experience for me and Chevy – the whole father-son thing, he’s my best mate,” Paul enthuses. “The opportunity to spend time like this with him is irreplaceable. We’ve had a great time, and that’s why we’ll keep doing it again and again and going faster and faster.

“We’ve had a lot of help along the way,” Paul continues. “A good friend of ours, Tim Rhone, put the motor together. He’s done diff centres for us, transmissions for us – just about everything. He’s a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

Next on the list for the Falcon is a nitrous kit, which Chevy says is ready to go. “Everything we need to do to the driveline is done; it’s just putting it on now,” he says.

Looking further into the future, a turbo conversion is likely to materialise. “It’s got a good fuel and ignition system,” Paul points out. “So when Chevy’s off his P-plates, we should pretty much be able to bolt a turbo straight on it.”

With plans like this, Chevy’s Ford is only going to get quicker, so watch this space!