Peter ‘Ducky’ Kelly’s LS1-swapped HQ

We had a chat with Peter 'Ducky' Kelly about his LS1-swapped HQ, a proven streeter with Drag Challenge credentials

Photographers: Shaun Tanner, Chris Thorogood

Peter ‘Ducky’ Kelly’s LS1-swapped HQ sedan is a quintessential street-strip toughie with 10s on the horizon. The machinist and panel beater crewed with OG racer Steve Reimann on several Drag Challenges before racing his own car at DC 2022-’23 earlier this year, as well as completing DC ’23 in October. Running in the Carnage 235 Radial Aspirated class, the HQ clocked a best of 11.29, successfully completing what was one of our hardest Drag Challenges to date.

First published in the November 2023 issue of Street Machine

Tell us about the car, mate!

I’ve had it for 15 years. It was a Bash car, so it had lights and stickers – the whole nine yards. Aside from all the bulldust, it was really clean underneath, but nobody wanted to touch it because they probably thought it had been ruined.

I fully restored it and turned it back into a basic streeter at first, and then with a hot 202 and five-speed, like an HQ race car on steroids. I’ve still got that motor tucked in the shed!

What’s the combo now?

It’s a built LS1, but it’s fairly simple – just pistons and rods.They’re home-ported factory heads – my mate Justin helped with the ports and I did the chambers and throats myself. It’s got an early Wilson FAST manifold and a good-sized hydraulic cam, manual standard-pattern Turbo 350, and a nine-inch with 3.89s and a Truetrac; just your standard, tried-and-tested hot street car combo.

I build all my motors. Being a machinist with a dad who was an engine builder, it comes with the territory, and it’s nice to say it’s all your own handiwork.

I see you like changing up the rolling stock!

I used to collect 14-inch wheels and turn the faces, so I’d pop a set on the car and drive around. People would tell me they liked them and I’d sell them a set of wheels! It’s probably had eight sets of wheels.

It’s had jellybeans, wide 14s, Billet Specialties, Center Lines, my current 15-inch three-piece jellybeans, and the current street combo, which is staggered 15- and 14-inch steelies again.

Do you do any racing aside from Drag Challenge?

It’s a weekend warrior car, and you can’t have a car that makes some mumbo without running a number! I’ve always loved drag racing; I just didn’t do it until I felt I had a car worthy to take down the strip. Its PB is 11.1@121mph.

Sounds like it sees a fair bit of street driving.

It barely ever makes it a week that it’s not driven for some reason, even just a run up to the shops. Other times I take it to work. I don’t see the point of having a car that just lives in a shed.

Was it a big jump going from DC crew to driver?

There’s not much maintenance on my combo, so you just get to enjoy what I think are the best aspects: the road trips, hanging out with your mates and bench racing.

Street Machine and all the associated crew do an amazing job to let us enjoy ourselves. It’s always more enjoyable in your own car, but helping other people out was still an amazing time.

Any future plans for it?

I’m about to throw some 4.11s in it and try to run a 10. Last time at the drags, I had some detonation issues and hurt the pistons, so it’s kind of toned down for now. Now DC is done, I’ll pull the engine and give it a freshen-up; it’ll probably need new pistons, and maybe I’ll give it a set of heads. Then there should be nothing stopping it from being a genuine 10-second street car that I can drive to the track, run a 10 and drive home!