It could be a stretch to find anyone else that has ventured further into Canadian drag racing’s outer limits….

While the notion of “thinking outside the box” in drag racing may be common — be assured that Ontario’s Wes Goddard is taking that to an extremity.  Over a span of many seasons Wes’s reputation in drag racing is not only as a thinker and premier craftsman but also as an entertaining racer himself.

Goddard’s current machine and project (dubbed “Hell Billy”) is the sum total of an impressive career progression and has evolved into unquestionably one of Canada’s most fan favourite machines.   To say that this ’58 Nash replica creation is unique in drag racing — is an understatement — to put it mildly.

“Back in 2000, Doug Hearsum spotted a very lonely ’58 Nash Metropolitan sitting in a barn and mentioned it to me,” Wes revealed.  “I was looking for another street car project at the time but after seeing it we decided instead to concentrate on our own racing program for it —  and in retrospect that seems to have set things into motion.”

After a few years of rushing his paychecks down to K&K Racing & Performance (Stratford ON) pretty much on a weekly basis,  in order to grab the next key piece for his racing puzzle,  Wes managed to complete his original Nash build in 2003 at 26-yrs old.  That was a mild steel 7.50 car with an alcohol injected 632 CID.  He raced that version (Nash #666) for 6 years in total and during that period wore many different masks, as he would try out something new almost every weekend while playing with different combinations and searching for the slightest advantage.  At the end of 2009 that car had run a best of 7.91 secs at 173 mph before a decision was made for it to be retired.

Wes then began to formulate his next step putting re-envisioned ideas on the table — enter Nash #777!

“In 2010 we first built the current chassis in order to try to step up to a twin turbo program,” he continued.  “I had high hopes and a personal  objective for breaking into the 200-mph club. The build ended up immediately surpassing our expectations — because our first test weekend it did exactly that.”

The current Nash is a completely new build from the original — with only the original doors being reused.  It is another 100% home built creation which he (Hell Billy Racecars) oversaw completely — from the design, bending & welding each bar,  plumbing, wiring, tin work, body design through  assembly. 

“The original plug for the body alone took over a year and a half to complete — there were several thousand labour hours involved,” he revealed.

In its present form the Nash features an gasoline-burning 510 CID Chevrolet engine. For last year  (2020) that program was re-plumbed to fit the current set up of 88 mm Precision turbos. With only some limited race appearances this past season (due to COVID and weather) Hell Billy #777 still carded a Canadian soil career best 6.71 secs at over 224 mph.  (Editor’s Note:  Wes was credited with a quicker 6.68 secs at Norwalk Ohio in 2019).

One of the most impressive aspects of Wes’s Nash is its stability at speed.  Despite it’s very short wheelbase it’s tendency is to go very straight – which is something naysayers had deemed unlikely.  That reality reflects both some serious drag racing “street smarts” as well as aerodynamic intuition.

“As far as the car going straight — I think for that the main thing for any racer is power management,” he continued.  “We test a lot and we take baby steps – while figuring out what does and doesn’t work.  As a driver you need to get to know your car by learning it’s limits.  I remember clearly being told by two different professional chassis builder’s that this car — would never work!  But in my mind a very important aspect is —  this sport was built on cool cars and one of a kind applications.  I just couldn’t see myself building another cookie cutter.  So I think for everything I have ever done — I’m proud of being able to prove some of them wrong.”

Wes’s career drag racing is pretty much a homegrown Ontario grassroots story.  Within that journey he also drove an outrageous ’74 Mini Cooper and also a more conventional Pro Mod Camaro (a ’70 Camaro owned by Fred DeJonge).  Highlight accomplishments include putting his Nash into the Top Sportsman winners circle for the first time during the 2018 Canadian Nitro Nationals (at Cayuga).  In 2019 he had two wins in four final rounds to win the PSDS Top Sportsman points title championship.   

Wes Goddard did record career quick math on Canadian soil with his “Nash” during the just past abbreviated 2020 racing season.

“But the most meaningful thing to me personally however — would have to be earning the respect of fellow racers and being honoured with the Ultimate Showdowns Sportsman of the Year award — in 2017.” he beamed.

Wes’s racing career has a very deep background which began as a young teenager and included the influence of his dad Jim and brother Frank Goddard.  Together they first transformed an old Vega into the original “Bat Out of Hell” which was a wheel-standing Ontario fan favourite Super Pro car for many years.  After a few seasons of learning the ropes with his family —  Wes (at 18 years old) worked with Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame member Al Billes on his then Alcohol Funny Car team.  To this day, Wes credits much of his success to the vast amount of knowledge he gained during that time, both from Al and the talented crew he worked with.

During his career Wes Goddard drove an outrageous Mini Cooper as well as a Pro Mod Camaro (owned by Fred DeJonge).

Wes is now a full time auto mechanic at JMH Auto (in Guelph ON) and he also highly credits the influence of Canadian veteran racers Gary Irving and Doug Hearsum.

“The biggest lesson I learned from Al, Gary and Doug is that if you want to succeed you have to have the drive, commitment and above all else to be willing to work hard. That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do.”

“A huge thanks to my family for their endless backing,” Wes also emphasized.  “My crew – Dad (Jim Goddard), Frank Goddard, Mike Collins & Rob Currie who have been with me since the beginning & never skip a beat. To our fellow racers for both their friendships and the tight competition we can find locally and to the fans for all of their overwhelming support. There are so many people who have helped to make any of my crazy projects possible, to name a few,  Tim Hodgins (Cynergy Composites), Dan (Sauble Beach Motorsports), Kevin Zimmer (Bears Automotive),  K&K Racing & Performance, Hutch’s Transmission, Hyde Racing and Marcel Gervais (Racetek) — thank you all.”

“Version 1.0” Hell Billy Nash was run from 2003-2009.  (Mark Ackert photo)

A “fun fact” too is that Wes was heavily involved in the creative aspects and helping to build the plugs for both the ’68 Firebird and ’70 Camaro bodies produced by Cynergy Composites (Strathroy ON) — which remain wildly popular and effective within worldwide Pro Mod and Top Sportsman class racing.

The original Goddard Family “Bat of our Hell” vaults off the starting line at London Motorsports Park!

Posted with files by Bruce Biegler and Sandi Clark

Photos by Bruce Biegler