Walter Doyle is a drag-and-drive racer that does body work on vehicles for a living, but that doesn’t mean what he drives is all show and no go. The 8-second capable, twin-turbo Chevelle that Doyle debuted at Sick Week in 2022 is a project he and his wife had been working on for a while. Don’t let the rough look of Doyle’s 1966 Chevelle fool you for a second, though, as this is a well put together machine.
Doyle grew up in a small town where he spent plenty of time cruising in his Chevelle. When you hang out with enough teenage car fanatics, street racing will inevitably happen, and Doyle may or may not have partaken in these activities.
“I started working on cars before I had a driver’s license. I rebuilt the 327 in my Chevelle while I was still in high school. I also swapped in a turbo 400 transmission, which eventually led to some nitrous being used, as well. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, of course, because that’s how you learn on your own. My first real mechanic job was at a shop that swapped out junkyard motors and transmissions. I stayed on the mechanical side of the industry for a few years, but I just never really liked working on stock cars. I jumped around to several different jobs after that first gig, but eventually ended up in the paint and body industry,” Doyle says.
The original plan was for Doyle to take the car to Rocky Mountain Race Week 2.0 in 2021. Doyle and his wife tore the Chevelle apart but fell just short of getting it finalized for the event. The Chevelle sat for a few months in an unfinished state so Doyle could get caught up at work, but then Sick Week was announced, and he scored a spot and got back to work. Doyle got enough of the car finished so it could have its chassis certified, and he began to chip away at the rest of the outstanding items. Scott Law, Doyle’s best friend, even came to Florida to assist with getting the car ready.
The last big hurdle was bodywork, and after a few adult beverages, a plan was concocted to throw a matte clear over the original paint. Well, after what seemed like an eternity of sanding, Doyle discovered plenty of sins committed by others who had attempted to repair the Chevelle’s body at different points during its lifetime. While 70 percent of the body was going to look awesome with the original paint, the other 30 percent was just too rough to really make look right.
“The car had too many bad small repairs from over the years to make it look cool. At this point, the car was not close to done, we had no plan, so we had to figure something out fast. My wife Kathryn and I decided we would try to duplicate a patina-style paint job on the car in a limited amount of time. I had never done a patina paint job, and I sure as hell had never painted over rust holes and dents. Kathryn and I got it to the paint booth at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night and started masking the car. We spent over 30 hours in the paint booth and had the body in matte clear by 1:30 a.m. Sunday. We grabbed a couple of hours of sleep on Sunday, then went back in to do something with the door jambs. We now had less than a week to complete the car. Not one mile was put on the car before tech day for Sick Week. I still have no idea how we made it and finished the event,” Doyle says.
When Doyle got the Chevelle, it was powered by your typical small-block Chevy, but that mouse motor wouldn’t do. Doyle swapped in a 376 cubic-inch GM LSX engine from GM Performance that’s filled with quality forged parts. A Holley Low Ram intake was added to the engine to assist the Precision Turbo Gen 2 62/66 turbos in bringing boosted air into the engine. Doyle’s engine management system of choice is a Holley Dominator ECU that he tunes himself.
Behind the engine is a Powerglide that was built by Transmission Specialties, and a Neal Chance bolt-together torque converter. A Moser M9 rearend is the foundation of the rear suspension, and has been paired with TRZ control arms, along with a set of AFCO shocks.
Sick Week 2022 was Doyle’s first real test of the Chevelle after he thrashed to get it finished. Doyle started out the week running an 11.03 at 124 mph on the first day trying to get the car sorted out. At Gainsville, Doyle played it safe and laid down a 12.21 at 111 so he could continue the event. Doyle was able to lean on the Chevelle a bit more at South Georgia Motorsports Park and ran an 11.92 at 118 MPH. The final day at Bradenton Motorsports Park was when Doyle finally turned the Chevelle up and ripped off a 9.85 at 135 MPH.
“I need to thank my wife for putting up with me and all the late nights and weekends at the shop. She helped in any way she could and was a huge part of the build. Honestly, she did as much work on the car as I did. I also need to thank my friend, Scott Laws. There’s no way I would have made Sick Week if he didn’t surprise us by flying down from Indiana to Florida to help us with the car for a week. We had no idea he was coming to help and it really means a lot to us, because I never ask anyone for anything. Sergio Rojas was a big help, too…he figured out some drivability issues I was having with the car,” Doyle states.
Walter Doyle has come a long way since his days as a street racing teenager from Indiana. Doyle’s 1966 Chevelle build is the perfect example of the drag and driver racer’s spirit, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.