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Cool school Barracuda back on track

Abbotsford Christian students crowd around the school’s drag car, recently repaired and given a new paint job by local custom car talent. - Neil Corbett
Abbotsford Christian students crowd around the school’s drag car, recently repaired and given a new paint job by local custom car talent.
— image credit: Neil Corbett

It was a paint job worth holding a school assembly to see.

The Abbotsford Christian Knights high school drag racing team had an accident with their 1967 Barracuda last year, and the impact with the wall at Mission Raceway Park left them in need of some body work – a job beyond the scope of their shop program.

The drag team survives and thrives on donations from the community. Brian Anderson, a father of Abby Christian students, originally gave the program the Notchback Barracuda which he had run as a supercharged alcohol drag car. It had a broken engine, and sat for two years. The shop kids rebuilt it, and started racing in 2001.

Then, last year’s mishap sidelined the drag machine.

Rick Francoeur of 360 Fabrication, an Abbotsford custom car builder, came to the ’Cuda’s rescue. He sponsored the car repairs, which included a bent frame, and had a custom paint job put on it that will make it the envy of the high school drag racing circuit.

Shop teacher Gary Verbeek rolled it out of the trailer at Friday morning’s school assembly on the front grounds, with the Barracuda’s namesake song by Heart blaring to an appreciative school.

“I love it, I’ve never seen anything like it – especially in the high school division,” said Schey Notenbomer, a Grade 12 student who will drive the ’Cuda this season.

“We’re pretty excited to see what this car will do this year.”

It’ll do 110 mph, which is the maximum allowed in the high school division. It has been to nationals in 2002, 2004, 2006 and in 2010. Under the hood is a 440 big block Chrysler motor – reined in by a throttle-stopped two-barrel carburetor, so that it doesn’t run quicker than 12 seconds in the quarter-mile.

The new look is the work of Nicholas Boos of Total Control Artworks, who does custom painting with 360 Fabrication. Verbeek explained that Boos painted the car in the Abby Christian shop, where students could learn about his craft.

“The process of him doing it was amazing to watch,” said Verbeek. “And he was great – he talked to the kids, and he kind of got hooked on it. The result is what you see.”

The car features a knight on a charger along the doors, painted in moody blues, with the name “Knight Racing.”

Verbeek said it will be the best-looking car at the raceway – not just on the high school circuit.

Verbeek’s program gives back to the community too. People who need prohibitively expensive car repairs sometimes find themselves the beneficiary of the good work of his shop program. Notenbomer earned his driver’s seat in the Barracuda by offering such services.

But Verbeek wants to make sure the kids in his program feel as blessed as he does.

“Knight Racing is alive and well because of all the great people who give so much to ACS, the community, and of course to the kids...” he said.

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