Words and photos by Ian Tocher (Senior Editor)

It’s probably safe to say the engineers and workers over in Stuttgart, Germany never envisioned this particular outcome when they assembled Randy “Toolman” Petet’s Porsche 944 back in 1984. Now motivated by a blown small-block Chevy, Petet’s red beauty does battle in the local Outlaw 10.5 wars near his home at Ringgold, GA.

Petet, a Mac Tools distributor, purchased the car from a customer early in 1998, and paid just $500 for it since it was the subject of a stolen-and-recovered insurance job. The car was missing its radio and rear transaxle, Petet says, but other than some damage to the driver’s door, the sheet metal was all there and intact. “I bought it with the intention right from the start to turn it into a drag car,” he says. “We just wanted something different and I’ve always liked Porsches; I have a 1988 944 on the street, too.”

Randy Petet is in his 25th year of drag racing competition after starting in 1979 as a crewmember for former IHRA Pro Stock champion Floyd Cheek back in Cheek’s bracket-racing days.

With the help of friend and long-time crewmember Steve Pack, Petet back-halved the car, and it still carries the floorboards, transmission hump, and complete front suspension it left the Porsche factory with. Despite its Teutonic heritage, Petet says he encountered no unusual problems in creating the rear frame and roll cage for the Porsche, calling it, “just a basic back-half job.” He’s obviously proud, however, to add the car is almost entirely homebuilt; “something unique as of today’s standards.” Once the mechanicals were done, Petet had Cloud Springs Collision, in Ringgold, GA, cover the car’s original black finish with a few coats of Porsche Guard’s red, a color correct to its model year.

Installing a small-block Chevy motor was in the plan right from the start, Petet says, and the car began its life on the strip motivated by a supercharged 350 backed up by a two-speed Powerglide. Its inaugural 5.65-second pass at Brainerd Optimist Dragway, told Petet he was on the right track, but the north-Georgia strip was just getting a new Outlaw 10.5 program started and the Toolman knew he’d have to go faster to compete effectively.


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