Grass Roots Grid:  Preying Mantas Mopar!

By:  Bruce Biegler

The 2010 racing season included the emergence of a very significant new machine to the Canadian Super Stock class racing scene.  Toronto’s Gus Mantas debuted a spectacular new and all Canadian-built SS/AH ’68 Hemi Barracuda….

For Mantas, who owns and operates a very successful auto repair shop right downtown Toronto (Vortech Auto), the 2010 racing season was a coming of age one.   The racer/businessman managed to full fill a life long dream when, during July, he finally unveiled his awesome new Plymouth Barracuda creation.  That marked the end of a project that first began in 2003.

Canada's newest SS/AH car is 100% Canadian built

“I had been watching all the hype around the “Super A” class for a while and I really wanted to be part of it,” explained Mantas, a long time Mopar brand proponent.  “I acquired this car (an original Hemi Barracuda) and then spent a few years collecting parts for it.   Eventually I hooked up with Andre Mallioux (Mallioux Chassis – Belle River ON).  I wanted to build a car in Canada and I saw the fine quality of Andrea’s work.  We looked at a few cars and fabricators and developed our own ideas.  This car is the end result of all that.”

Using a rather mild 426 Hemi engine program, Mantas has coaxed a best run of 8.78 secs at 151+ mph already.  While that may be not quite yet up to higher end NHRA Mopar Hemi Challenge contention, it does show that the car has strong potential for the future.

Andre Maillioux and Gus Mantas

“Our engine this year is the same one we ran in our previous 1968 Dodge Dart SS/AA car,” Mantas continued.  “That motor has some MacCallum, some Claoke and some of my own work in it.  The short block is very modern however the engine’s top end is older style technology.  Our focus this year was to learn more about the car itself and the chassis.  We will step up the motor program next year – we have been in conversation with Charlie Westcott.”

Prior to building the Barracuda, Mantas did race his very cool 1968 Dodge Dart for a number of years, primarily on the Nostalgia Super Stock racing scene.  He admitted that in the end, because that car was equipped with leaf springs, it had reached it’s performance limitations.  It has since been mothballed.

“We did go about as far as we could with that car,” Gus added.  “It felt like I was beginning to push something beyond it’s limits – so that was part of the reason I took the next step up.”

Mantas was also quick to cite the ongoing influence of Canada’s Don Cloake as part of his Hemi Barracuda racing program.  Cloake is a well known and long time racer who currently campaigns his own SS/AH Barracuda, the former record holding Miller & MacCallum car.

“Don Cloake is a Canadian legend – he truly is!” Gus reiterated.  “Not only do we have a friendly competition now going – I have learned an awful lot from him.”

Mantas, whose focus has been racing within the Eastern Canadian Super Stock circuits, hopes to expand that horizon to some possible NHRA Mopar Hemi Challenge events in the not to distant future.

Gus Mantas formally raced a very cool '68 Dart SS/AA Nostalgia car

(Bruce Biegler Photos)