Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page

Pro Modder Sonny Tindal
still strong at 68

Words by Dale Wilson
Photos courtsey sonnytindalracing.net

umbers play an important part in Sonny Tindal’s drag racing history --- numbers like “1957,” “68,” “4.04” and “184,” and those in between and beyond.

The explanations of what those numbers stand for are easy. “Nineteen-fifty-seven” is the first year that Tindal, of Cayce, South Carolina, began racing, in -- it just HAD to be -- a brand-spankin’-new ’57 Chevy. “Sixty-eight” is his present age. And “4.04” and “184” are his best elapsed times and mph to date. Those times came in his Tommy Mauney-built ’02 Grand Am Pro Modified that is powered by a four-stages-of-nitrous-assisted 738-inch Gene Fulton big block backed by a four-speed Lenco. His towing rig is a new Kodiak 53-footer.

Retirement? You gotta be kiddin’. “I’ll give it this year and the next, and maybe by then I’ll slow down,” Theodore “Sonny” Tindal, Jr., says. Oh, and here’s another Tindal number to throw at you: 20-plus, the number of races he and wife Debbie, daughter Robin Price, brother Phil, crew chief Mike Ray and sponsor Buddy Boozer have penciled in on the kitchen calendar for 2006. Slow down, indeed.

Tindal, who owns his own electrical company, Tindal Electric Service, in business since 1970, has been racing Pro Mod since the eliminator changed its name and racing direction from IHRA’s Top Sportsman class. Fact is, Tindal was one of the founding members of a southeast Pro Mod circuit called the Quick 8 Racers Association, a group of guys now about 20 strong who since 1990 or so have shown up at Farmington, Mooresville, Piedmont, Dunn-Benson and Coastal Plains drag strips (some now defunct) all across the Carolinas and even into Tennessee and beyond. Tindal has even raced eliminator at some IHRA national events at Rockingham and Darlington, but he says he prefers the no-holds-barred match-race, Quick 8 and all-out Outlaw Pro Modified kind of shows.

That 4.04/184-mph charge is no fluke. “That was all-out, no blower, just nitrous,” Sonny says. The 4.04 elapsed time would win a good Outlaw Pro Modified race anywhere from Alabama to Tennessee to the Carolinas and Georgia on any Saturday night, blower or not. Most of the “big guys” with superchargers run only a tick quicker, say, high 3.90s or so.

All that out of an updated-and-well-kept Grand Am driven by a man who will turn 69 later on this spring. “I may slow down next year some, but I’ll slow down with my (electrical) business at the same time. Right now, we’re committed to 20 to 25 races for this year,” Tindal says. 

He began drag racing in a brand-spanking-new ’57 Chevy, at Batesburg, Carolina Drag Strip and the old Blaney track, in Stock Eliminator. Back then, everybody raced by car lengths for handicaps, with the cars factored via factory horsepower. “Some of them would be way out in front of you when you started. I won just about everything with that car until 1960, when the (newer) cars got more horsepower,” Sonny says. He went out and bought a new ’60 Chevrolet with a 348 engine. With it, he and his family won a lot more races, and at the then-new Pelion Drag Strip Tindal captured the track championship three times.

A modified ’64 Corvair with a small-block Chevy engine out of a new ’65 Chevrolet followed, but that turned out to not be a real great car. “We rigged it up ourselves, but we never won any races with it,” Sonny said. The “we” in his case was himself and his brother Phil, who still works with Sonny on the new Pro Mod car. Phil is his clutch man, while daughter Robin Price is his safety equipment and PR person. Mike Ray, who works at Tindal’s electric company, is the crew chief, and wife Debbie tends to her husband’s racing needs.  

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