A chance meeting at the Del Taco in Barstow, California introduced me to Denny and Dana Sniff. Both brothers were on their way out to Fun Ford Weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada to assist their friend test his newly built drag car. Dana handed a business card for his shop, Dana Sniff Racing Transmissions through the window of my F350 and started asking questions about the ’65 Fastback on the trailer.
At that point it became obvious that the guy standing next to the truck was a Mustang devotee and racer as well; after a few minutes of chatting, Dana described the ’67 Fastback that he and his brother Dennis race on a regular basis. Of course a ’67 that runs in 10′s tends to grab the attention of any blue oval nut and after a weekend of chatting it was decided that the Sniff brother’s ’67 needed to be shown in action at Irwindale Speedway.
Starting with their first cars, the Sniff brothers were diehard blue oval fans who eventually became diehard drag racers. Currently Dana and Dennis Sniff campaign a 1967 Mustang Fastback at as many events as they can attend. Originally the brothers were searching for a new car, or their case Mustang to turn into a drag strip toy. After spending a little time searching for the right car, Dana found a ’67 S-Code Fastback that needed some TLC. It took some time to retrieve the car from its former home in Riverside County, California, but eventually the car made it to Irvine, California.
Both of the Sniff brothers started making plans for the ’67 and having grown up around racing and cars they were well suited for the task at hand. Dana had been in the transmission business since 1971 and still manages to help out a few racers from his home/shop despite the fact that he claims to be retired. This was not the Sniff’s first experience with building a Mustang for drag racing, after graduating from military school in New Mexico, Dennis Sniff purchased a ’65 Mustang GT Coupe; the red coupe served as the racecar for the brothers from 1970 to 1978, when Dennis sold it to Ted Segerstrom. Anyone familiar with Orange County, California should recall the Segerstrom name along with high-end shopping mall known as South Coast Plaza that is affiliated with the family Segerstrom family. During those eight years, Dana drove the Mustang while Denny served as the car owner.
Some years later the Sniff brothers were unable to get rid of their drag racing and Mustang addiction, which lead to Dana tracking down the ’67 Fastback. Only this time around Dana would serve as the car owner and Denny would perform the driving duties. Dana Sniff wanted to keep the build within reason for the highly desirable Fastback; not wanting to cut up, butcher or take it past the point of no return, the Sniffs kept the full factory steel body, doors with panels, windows and dash intact. Sure, it would have been possible to shave weight off of the car by going the fiberglass route or by gutting the interior, but it would have limited the car’s potential for ever seeing the streets again. During the restoration process the Sniff brothers added a set of Kirkey aluminum seats complete with RJS 5-point harnesses and a safety net. In addition to other safety equipment, the Sniff brothers added a mild steel 10-point roll cage and plenty of padding just in case.
Currently the ’67 has run a best of 10.26 at 130.25 MPH in the quarter-mile at a sweltering day in Fontana with 2,500 DA . Due to the lack of quarter-mile drag strips in southern California the Sniff’s have plenty of experience racing at the various eighth-mile drag strips across region. Their best eight-mile time was a 6.36 at 106 MPH with a 1.32 60-ft time at the Mooneyes event in Irwindale, CA. To achieve those 1.32 60-ft times the Sniffs use a set of Centerline Convo Pro wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle rubber in the front and back. With some sticky tires, QA1 rear coilovers with Alston Pro Ladder Bars, some Competition Engineering 90/10 shocks along with the perfect combination of torque converter and power the end result is a car that pulls the front tires with ease.
All of the power is provided the 351 Cleveland engine that has been massaged to net the Sniff’s a displacement of 379 cubic inches. This combination is based around an Australian XE 9.2 deck that is ¾ hardfilled; according to Dana, this block was used in early SVO applications as well as NASCAR. Stuffed inside the block is a Moldex 3.625 stroke crankshaft, GRP 6” aluminum rods, JE blank pistons that were machined by Diamond Pistons and a Lunati .739 lift roller camshaft. As for the cylinder heads Dana selected a set of Ford Racing B351 hi port’s, but the main power adder is brother Dennis’ “right foot.” After talking to the twins, it seems as though the larger or heavier right foot may be a genetic trait. Of course that heavy right foot and the car’s taste for Sunoco 114 octane results in an expensive fuel bill, but that is the nature of the sport. A Sean Murphy Inductions Stage 3 1050 cfm Dominator and a Holley 250 Dominator pump deliver the Sunoco fuel to the hungry engine.
Transferring the power created by the 379 CID engine is the responsibility of Dana Sniff. Dana and Dennis have been involved in building transmissions years, but Dana started his own transmission shop back in 1971. Currently, the Sniff brother’s ’67 Fastback utilizes a Dana Sniff Racing Transmissions custom rollerized and lightened C4 that features a plethora custom machined parts along with serious stall converter. Dana wanted to make sure thank Andre from Edge Racing Converters for the 5,600 stall converter with a billet front half and anti-ballooning plates. A rugged Ford 9” rear differential transfers the power to the rear tires. Of course this is not stock Lincoln Versailles swap, this 9” features a Winter’s main housing, Summers Bros 35-spline axles and a Strange Engineering housing. Rex Buxton at Buxton Motorsports handled the fabrication of the rear differential along with the back brace along with the brackets, shock mounts and some of the rear suspension components.
In comparison to the beauty of the launch the Sniff’s roars like a beast; the ’67 is loud, not just obnoxiously loud, but a volume that stems from the depth of sound created by compression, cam and some serious horsepower. However, both Dana and Denny enjoy entertaining those in the stands and their exhaust system was designed with just that in mind. Again, Buxton Motorsports assisted the Sniffs with the car when it came time to install and fabricate the exhaust system; Buxton fabricated a set of custom headers that feature 2” primaries and 3.5” collectors. Due to the noise complaints that shut down Fontana, Dana and Dennis decided to aim the exhaust tips on the mufflers toward the passenger side and away from the complaining parties that live along the drag strip. One of the consequences of trying to be complacent with the grumpy neighbors at Fontana is that the car entertains the crowd thanks to volume aimed at the stands.
Thanks to a potent combination of parts, lots of hard work and a dedication to drag racing the Sniff brothers have a striking ’67 Fastback that entertains the crowd and hauls ass as well. Nothing on this car has been ignored and no corners have been cut during the entire build process. Unlike the majority of racecars, Dana made sure to spend the time and money to have the car look great; looking down the lines of the ’67 the above average paint and body eclipse the typical single stage paint jobs and backyard bodywork. Not that all racecars have to be show ready, but it just adds a certain level refinement that make the ’67 stand out from the average drag car in the pits. Of course, no drag racer can leave well enough alone and it is fairly certain the Dana and Dennis will continue to tweak the car as needed to get the most out of the combination.