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Driver and Crew Interviews

Factory Stock Driver John Leslie Jr.

May 21, 2010 by Chad Houghton

Many get bitten by the racing bug.  They start to dump money into there car making them faster and less streetable. Factory stock is a class that you can race your car and still be street legal, pass emissions and drive over 400 miles with out any worries.  But don't think this class is for the weak and slow.  These cars are turning low 11's and high 10's right now with stock or 93 cobra parts!  We ask Factory stock veteran John leslie Jr. what the class is all about.  This is the most in depth interview you will read from one of the heavy hitters.  John tells you everything you need to show up and start racing heads up.  Without further adieu heres John Leslie Jr!


 What Does a factory stock car consist of?

The factory stock class is really a glorified bolt on class.  A lot of what you see in an everyday street car that has a lot of mods done to it is a factory stock car.  The key to a factory stock car is the tuning and being able to work the suspension. We of course are allowed some after market parts, most of it being light weight internals.  For the most part we have to run a GT40 iron head or E7 stock head for the push rod, with no porting or power adders allowed.  We are allowed 160lb seat pressure thats really about all you can do, no light weight components in the heads, you are allowed to go to a certain cc in the heads but there is no porting what so ever.  No bowl porting, no porting inside the chamber.  Intakes consist of stock or Cobra.  We are very  limited in the class on the parts we can run.  Alot of the sizes and dimensions are stock but again we are allowed to run light weight components.  The most important part of the race in this class is really first 330, being able get your car to hook on a drag radial.  We are only allowed to run on a drag radial, Nitto, BFG or any street tire, we can not run slicks.  Almost everybody in the class runs a 5 speed or 4 speed with 5th gear removed.  Alot of the guys run the G-Force T5 or the Tremecs.  We can run long tubes or short tubes, most guys run long tubes with an off road X pipe.  The key in my opinion is being about to slip the clutch enough to get the car to 60 ft., of course it's nice to have the horse power to back it up but we are on a fine line in this class with not having slicks. It's really tough to get these cars to hook on a drag radial tire with stick shifts.  A lot of guys are launching anywhere between  5000 or 6500 at that high rpm its really hard to get the tires to work.  We have been having problems all year which we usually don't in that dept., but so far this year we have gone through 5 clutches in 3 races, so its alot of work. Our combo consists  GT40 iron heads, a boss 302 block provided by Ford Racing , Cobra intake,  Harland Sharp roller rockers, Stainless Works exhaust front to back, just to name a few people that helped with our program.  This class is fun but tough it's very tough, any heads up class is.

How streetable is a factory stock car?

Factory stock cars are very streetable mine for the first 2 years I did run around on the street with it. The only reason I don't now is that I have so much money wrapped up in it, if I break something I can't afford to replace it.  The tranmission is a TKO Tremec pro shifted.  Now they are able to  make pro shifted trans streetable, mine is more of a race conversion so, every time you shift it at a lower rpm it sounds like its going to fall out.  My suspension, complete suspension all the way around is from TRZ Motorsports and its what you would see on any modified street car running around.  With Eibach drag springs there are no problems with the car.  The way the suspension sits now is the way i used to run around the street with it street racing back in the day, thats a no no.  The car doesn't over heat I still have the fans and thermostat.  The high gear, we have a 430 gear I wouldn't recommend that for highway driving but for the most part i still have tags on my car they are from 2000 though.  Some of the other guys in the class do drive there cars around on the streets.  In the area we live in order for it to be streetable you have to have emissions testing,  so the only way we would get away with that is if we had a show car waiver.  The only drawback to driving these cars on the street is that when you get hot and heavy in the class your stuff does get more expensive and you get reluctant to drive it around.

What rpm's do you actually spin up to when you are leaving between 5500 6000 rpms?

On a good day when we have the 60 ft working and the suspension working we'll launch our car at 6500rpms we'll shift anywhere from 65-68 and we come across to about 7000.



These cars are flying in factory stock how hard is it to find power in these combinations?

In these combos every bit of horse power is for something.  We will tweak things left and right even the minor things one horse power means the world of difference.  This class with tuning every bit of horsepower counts, 2 horsepower or 5 it all matters.

Do these cars eat up alot of parts?

We have been in this class for 10 years now, the first 3-4 years we had our own little section in Race Pages it was called the  "John Leslie Jr. parts breakage corner", because we would break anything and everything under the sun.  The last few years knock on wood, we have had a lot of luck not breaking anything.  We have broke some off the wall stuff through the years 3-4 engines, 5 drive shafts, 4 sets of axles from 31-33 spline.  The thing you will eat up most are tires.  You will go through 2-3 sets of tires, you always want a good set of broke in radials and clutches.  Maybe the only other big thing is transmissions.  As long as you have a good set up and good combo you will have no problems we have had nothing but clutch issues so far this year we're piecing together combinations trying to make it work so we are still testing so far this year but really as long as you have a good rear end and trans set up you really won't eat up to many parts.

You have been racing in Factory Stock for 10 years have you ever considered moving up to a different class?

Well everyone keeps asking me year after year when I'm going to move up.  About 4-5 years ago after being in asked that so many times I decided once I win a race.  We won our first race last year in Michigan and of course eveyone asked when are you going to move up.  I told them not til I win a championship, I would feel it was all for nothing so once we get a chamionship under the belt we'll move right up.

If someone wanted to get into Factory Stock what advice would you have for them?

If your going to get in try to be serious about it.  The class has come so far from where it used to be, when i first started there was 20+ cars at every race in this class and now it's come down to 8-10 cars maybe 12+ and I hate to say it but you have to be hard core into if you are seriuos about the class.  You don't have to spend alot of money.  |I have seen guys put together modular engines for half of what a push rod engine would cost.  Dedication of course have your car if you are going to start from scratch suspension, cage brace it up. Find a knowledgable engine builder thats familiar with the class If you want to be ral competitive out of the gate find somebody thats familiar with the class to help out I give respect to the guys that try to do it themselves.  We do alot of the stuff ourselves but we also have alot of professional help.  Just because thats how far the class has come.  When the class started it was a 14 sec class now we are in the 10s.  Seek professional help when picking out a cam or getting machine work done.  Go to a professional place thats familiar with the rules.