Despite all of the advancements in power adders over the years, naturally-aspirated engines are still a popular approach for many racers out there. In the heads-up world there aren’t too many all-motor racers, but Danny Nicely still carries the NA flag with pride and does well in the DXP235 category.
Nicely’s 2000 Corvette sounds dead sexy as it streaks down the track at blistering RPM levels. The combination of the car and engine package flat out works for Nicely, and he makes the most out of the nearly 1,000 horsepower his 418 cubic-inch engine can produce. Nicely came to the heads-up world on a slightly different path than most, but he did bring with him that spirit of trying to go faster every time he heads to the track.
“I started out in boats which is kind of backward from most people. I raced Pro Gas Jet and Comp Jet, they’re similar to NHRA Pro Stock. I crashed in 1995 and ended up on life support for a few days so that was the end of boat racing. I got the Corvette and I just couldn’t help but start trying to make it faster. It started with heads and cam, then drag radials, and it just escalated from there. I would drive for five or six hours to race with the slicks in the back. Soon, the car was just too radical for the street but I still wanted to keep it NA because I’ve always loved the naturally-aspirated stuff,” Nicely explains.
Nicely’s Corvette is powered by a Von Eric Performance-built LS engine that uses Mozez heads and cast aluminum intake. Making the power possible is a Callies crankshaft, GRP connecting rods, and Diamond pistons. The valvetrain features a camshaft from COMP Cams and parts from Jesel. The car runs off a FAST EFI system and transfers power to The Driveshaft Shop axles via an RPM Transmissions TH400 and Ultimate torque converter. Nicely added a set of Menscer Motorsports shocks that work with the rollcage and chassis from NRC.
The Corvette’s powerplant generates nearly 1,000 horsepower and that’s good enough to lay down a best ET of 5.13 at 135 mph — a pretty stout number for a modern small-block pushing power to an IRS suspension. Those numbers are also good enough to make Nicely one of the best racers in the DXP 235 class.
“I tried racing Ultra Street for a while but the car just was never competitive enough. When DXP 235 came around I realized my car would fit in perfectly so I looked into making some changes. I had to switch to a single throttle body and smaller tire to fit the rules so that was easy enough. My main goal with the car is to be competitive and have a chance to win at any race I go to,” Nicely says.
So far Nicely has met and exceeded his goal of being competitive with the Corvette. He has been able to win multiple rounds in the class and was crowned DXP 235 Champion at Lights Out 10 in 2019. He’s also looking at trying to lock up the DXP 235 points championship this season.
Danny Nicely has demonstrated that you don’t need a power adder to do well in heads-up drag racing. His Corvette continues to give the other DXP 235 racers headaches and delights fans with its hypnotic all-motor song it sings.