It’s continuum for Alberta Sportsman racer Clarence Bidniak who campaigns a very rare and truly classic Mopar….
Based from Edmonton, Bidniak’s Stock eliminator classed 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner is for sure one of the cleanest and meticulously maintained cars of that configuration seen anywhere in drag racing.
The original 440 CID “six pack” car has been in his possession for 35 years and when it’s shows at drag strips in both Canada and the U.S. — it gets noticed!
“I purchased the car from Abe Loewen and his partner Mark Bennett back in late 1979,” Clarence revealed. “Before that the car was owned by John Irving (who still races Stock Eliminator today). I believe the car was a race car from nearly day one of it’s existence.”
After first acquiring the Roadrunner, Clarence spent a good part of 1980 rebuilding the car and repainting it it’s present colour. “This car was born from the factory with “lemon twist” but right now it’s painted Corvette “code 52”, Clarence revealed. “But one day in the future I’d like to return it to it’s original colour. The interior of the car is completely factory original.”
Back in 1981 with his then racing partner Dave White (Tarra Performance Group) Bidniak entered the car in competition for the first time during the NHRA Winterationals at Pomona — where it qualified #17.
After that the car’s activity was on and off the circuit somewhat while Clarence took some years off (1988-1993 and 1996-2009) to both raise his family and develop his very successful business ventures (Alberta Appraisal Services Limited).
Also over the years and while keeping within the parameters for the Stock eliminator class rulebook, his machine has seen a number of upgrades and changes as well as experimentation.
Bidniak revealed some of that tech detail which includes: “Engine is 440 6bbl, bored .050” over, stock carburetors, stock intake, stock 906 iron heads (Don Little prepared), stock crankshaft, Manley connecting rods, NHRA-approved stock pistons (stock compression ratio), General Kinetics “stocker” camshaft (.455/.470 lift), MSD ignition, and Hooker competition headers with Performance Welding merge collectors. Protrans 727/904 transmission. Dana 60 rear axle with 4.56 gears. Torque convertor is still the original B & M 069J ((9″ – about 5,000 rpm stall) that was in the car when I bought it from Abe and Mark. It’s been rebuilt a few times through the years of course. I’ve tried a number of different convertors but none worked as good as the old B & M. I also have an ATI which seems to work as well so I do switch back and forth.”
“The car fits both — the minimum weight is 3,510 in B/SA and 3,707 in C/SA, both including driver.” he added. “However, in B/SA I run it at about 3,650 lbs for traction. With the 9″ tire that we are limited to in Stock, at 3,510 lbs if the track is marginal traction can be an issue.”
To date the best the car has run is a 10.40 secs at 125+ mph.
Through his career Bidniak has collected some impressive wins with the car taking titles at both NHRA Lucas Oil National Open and Divisional events to go with some IHRA event wins. But in more recent times – specifically the years 2014 and 2015 — Clarence has enjoyed arguably his best seasons ever racing.
In 2014 he just missed winning the NHRA’s Lucas Oil Northwest Pacific Stock eliminator Division title by 34 points – finishing season. But that effort helped to propel him to an exclusive invitation to the highly prestigious annual Jegs All Stars event at Chicago last summer. There he competed on the biggest stage yet with his race car.
For 2016 fans can look forward to viewing the car at some NHRA Lucas Oil Pacific Northwest events (Boise and Spokane to start) as well as the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals and Summit Racing Pro-Am events held at Edmonton.
While rare in this day and age, Clarence’s very long time dedication to this classic car racing program remains impressive and revealing.
“I understand it’s a very rare car indeed but it’s also the only real race car that I’ve ever owned,” he added. “The fan reaction to it is always great and I’m having way too much fun in it to ever give it up!”
Post and photos by: Bruce Biegler