Mike Chenoweth bought his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner when he was just 15 years old. He was originally looking at a different car when his father said he saw something they should go and check out just over the Mississippi River in Iowa.
Pulling up in front of the Iowa home Mike and his father immediately saw a Limelight Green 1970 Road Runner, FJ5, with stand-out wheels and tires. Mike was immediately sold on the car.
Over the years, there have been a few different drivetrains on Mike’s Road Runner. The car originally came with a 383-cubic-inch engine, a 4-speed transmission, and a Dana 60 rear-end unit. Now there is a 540-cubic-inch engine with World Products Diamond pistons, Edelbrock Victor Series heads, Oliver connecting rods, a Holley EFI Dominator fuel system, and Precision 76 mm twin turbos.
The 727 transmission, with the popular Pistol Grip shifter, has been reworked to handle the bigger power plant, complete with a Gear Vendor overdrive unit. The original Dana 60 still puts the power to the pavement.
When Mike was building the engine, he decided to go with a serpentine belt setup. When the parts came, he realized that it came with an A/C unit, so this Road Runner has air conditioning, designed by Mike to fit.
Still an all-steel car, Mike says he repainted it in the same factory color. It was at this time he also replaced the trunk pan. The only body damage Mike’s had to his car was when he was racing at Midwest Drags (a Drag and Drive event), at The Edgewater Raceway Park in Cleves, Ohio. Halfway down the track, a deer decided to cross. Mike was uninjured, but the deer wasn’t as lucky.
Mike says he has installed a Chrome Molly Cert Cage and new Kirkey bucket seats were added and upholstered to match the rest of the interior. The dash has been upgraded with a Holley 7-inch digital gauge unit. Aftermarket power windows were also installed, and an aftermarket Hellcat console was put in.
Mike has been taking his car to the racetrack for many years. He started going to Drag Week (Drag and Drive events) in 2006, the second year of the event. The Drag and Drive events allow you to drive to the event, pulling a trailer with your race tires, tools, and any other parts you might need, drop your trailer, race, load up, and head to the next track.
Just as it should be, Mike drives his Road Runner more than most people drive their everyday vehicles! He likes to take his car to Friday Night Lights and Cars and Coffee. Although he admits his first choice will always be the racetrack.
Mike says he is very proud of the engineering aspect of how he worked the engine in under the hood and how he plumbed in the twin turbos behind the front bumper. What he likes most about his ‘70 Road Runner is the way people receive it. “It looks basically stock – you don’t see many ‘70 Road Runners anymore.”
Mike works as a district manager for DM Air Gas. At one time, he had his own engine shop, Chenoweth Speed Machine, in Morton, Illinois. He says he has another project under construction, a Superbird with twin turbos. Stay Tuned!
If you have a car you would like to see featured in Classic Wheels, contact Rudy Host, Jr. at Classic.Wheels.Rudy@gmail.com.