Date published: July 12, 2013
Bill Mullís is a drag racing legend in the Southeast, where for years he built race-winning dragsters out of his Florida-based shop, including the ones in which his partner and son-in-law Ed Richardson won NHRA season championships in 1997 and 2000.
Mullis, who himself won a national event Wally ^ in Super Gas in 1993 in Houston, sold Mullis Race ΓΥ Cars to his employees in 2004, but they retained his good name on the establishment as a tribute to the man who built the empire.
Today, Mullis is retired from race car building and carrying on with a legend of his own, campaigning the '55 Chevy Bel Air pictured on these pages that was owned by good friend Doug Mark, with whom he was partners on a staff-leasing business before Mark passed away from cancer in 1994 at age 50.
"He told me he wanted me to have the car and to race it," recalls Mullis, who sold his event-winning Corvette and his other race car, a Monte Carlo, to focus on the '55, which mostly competes in Super Street due to its weight - about 3,000 pounds - but was in Super Gas competition at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers in Bristol because Super Street is not contested at that event.
"It originally was an old gasser - small-block with a four-speed - but we reworked it into a Super-class car," he said. "We put a fiberglass front end and fiberglass doors on it, but the rest is all steel, which is why it weighs so much. I've redone the car two or three times over the 20 years I've run it, but it's been a great car."
Motivation for the "too fat to fly" Chevy comes from a 632-cid Chevy powerplant topped by Brodix cylinder heads that was built by Florida-based Nelson Bros, and is mated to an FTI Powerglide and torque converter. The power is then funneled to a Strange Engineering Ford 9-inch rear end and onto Hoosier tires.
Mullis gets a lot of help on the car from Curtis Stinson, Chuck Joerin, Lyle Albritton, and Richardson, who won in Super Comp at the Bristol event. Mullis wasn't so fortunate, falling in round one of Super Gas.
"It's awful heavy to be competing against those 2,220- pound cars, but I haven't run it a lot in Super Gas, so I don't have as good of a handle on it, but the car works well," he said.
Win or lose, for the last 20 years Mullis, now 66, has honored his friend and partner. He and Richardson sat out for about seven years to support the sporting efforts of Richardson's son but returned to racing three years ago.
"I wanted to keep racing as long as I could," Mullis said. "I enjoy the people, and I missed racing while we sat out a spell a few years ago, so here we are." AD