What do you get when you mix a little bit of dirt in with a little bit of salt?
For 56-year-old Ed Gromer, from Centerville, Ohio, you get a whole lot of fun wrapped in a wheelbase of only 96 inches.
After years of working as an engineer at GM's Moraine, Ohio, facility (where he worked on the dyno testing of vehicles), Ed knew his time with the company was coming to a close, and he began looking for a suitable project to build. Having worked on Sprint and Champ Cars back in the '80s, Ed was already clued in on what could be done with a small (and efficient) engine in a light car, but it was only when he took some time to cruise the Internet and started to check out photos of vintage salt and dirt track race cars that it finally dawned on him what his next car should be.
Looking like it would be at...
Looking like it would be at home on both the dirt oval as well as the dry lake, Ed Gromer's modified keeps the spirit and feeling of vintage race cars alive and well.
From the get-go Ed knew what he wanted would be his interpretation of what those cars were all about. His "want list" would soon include a track nose, block tires, a quick-change, and, if he could find one, an injected Offy motor.
But you have to start somewhere and, for Ed, square one in the build was the chassis and body. Old Dog Street Rods in Maryland Heights, Missouri, offers a '27 Lakester kit, which is comprised of a 'glass '27 Ford roadster body (with two opening doors) and a pinched frame with a radical kick in the rear to accommodate suspending a quickie rear. Ed used this kit as a base to work from, and modified nearly everything on it to get the car the way he wanted it. He added 2 inches in the body at the quarters (for a little more legroom), changed over to Model A crossmembers, changed the existing pinch, Z'd the front 5 inches, and added more kick in the rear (for a total of 12 inches).
Both Ed Gromer and Chris Staneck...
Both Ed Gromer and Chris Staneck formed the aluminum bench seat, hand-bucking the rivets themselves.
The list of parts used on the front and rear suspension includes most of the "usual suspects" for a build of this type: a drilled Super Bell 5-inch-drop I-beam axle and spindles, and a Posies reverse-eye spring. The hairpins, both front and rear, were made by Chris Staneck and the owner. (With a smile, Ed says he looks up to Staneck like an older brother-a much older brother). Out back a '27 Ford reverse-eye spring works with a set of Speedway Motors friction shocks and Panhard bar, which all pivots off a rearend featuring a Rodsville aluminum quick-change (4.11:1) and 11-inch drum brakes. Up front '40 Ford brakes were used and the backing plates drilled out. Ford wire wheels, 16-inchers on each corner, are wrapped in Coker rubber: 5.00 up front and 8.90 in the rear.
The powertrain in Ed's car initially came from a Ford Ranger. He turned the 2.3L engine over to Performance Clinic Company in Beavercreek, Ohio, along with a bunch of performance parts from Esslinger Engineering in El Monte, California. Esslinger, which has been around for 30 years, specializes in 2.0 and 2.3L Ford SOHC engines (and making them go really fast!). The inline was assembled by Performance Clinic Company using stock rods and pistons and an Esslinger cam (PN 2267). An Esslinger head was also used (equipped with Crane valves and heavy-duty springs) and is fed by a pair of 40 DCOE Weber side-draft carbs mounted to an Esslinger manifold while exhaust exits through headers made by Staneck. Esslinger also provided the pulleys and harmonic balancer, and the aluminum radiator was custom-made at Spyke Radiator in Brownsburg, Indiana. Ed used a SPAL fan for the radiator, an MSD distributor and ignition box, plus an ACCEL wire kit. The whole shebang bolts to the Ranger's five-speed transmission, which is topped with shifter that features a shift knob from a tractor.
The engine is covered by a custom hood made by the owner, and under the car is an aluminum bellypan fabbed up at Staneck's shop. The 'glass track nose, narrowed 3 inches by Ed, came from Superior Glass Works, and is protected by a single nerf bar/guard created by Josh Shaw (the quick-change rear features a Staneck pushbar).
A LimeWorks steering wheel...
A LimeWorks steering wheel is attached to an owner-made column, and a trio of Stewart Warner gauges let Ed know what's going on.
Not finding the injected Offenhauser...
Not finding the injected Offenhauser that he wanted for his modified, Ed went with a 2.3L Ford Ranger motor assembled by Performance Clinic Company using a bunch of go-fast parts from Esslinger Engineering. A pair of Weber 40 DCOE carbs feed the head, with exhaust exiting down the side of the car via an elongated lakes pipe. The inline is mated to a Ford Ranger five-speed trans.
The track nose, from Superior...
The track nose, from Superior Glass Works, was narrowed 3 inches by Ed while Josh Shaw created the simple bumper/nerf bar.