Another Wheels-Up Weekend for O’Rourke

Back in the early ‘90s when Mike O’Rourke bought his ’79 Firebird from friend and fellow racer Mike Kelley for $1,800, he called it a clunker, but he still cruised it to eleven-second elapsed-times.

He would break and repair its stock engine, and then break and repair its stock engine again, and eventually, he bought a Dart block-based big-block Chevy engine in 2004 and picked up to high tens before finessing it and leaping to high nines. These days, though, the engine is backed by a Fleenor Racing Transmissions-built Powerglide and Abruzzi converter, and after O’Rourke spins its rpm’s up to 3800 and leaves the line with wheels up, his classic bright red car pounds pavement to low nines.

O’Rourke — who races in Summit Motorsports Park’s Lakewood Pro category alongside his son, Mikey O’Rourke and his eight-second ’71 Nova — won five rounds before exiting competition at the first Accel Super Series points race of the season on April 23, and currently sits sixth in points.

“I can’t believe I’ve had that car for twenty years,” said O’Rourke. “Mikey asked me not too long ago if I would ever sell it, and I said no way, because I’ve cut my hands on it too many times to sell it. It’s part of me, and it puts a smile on my face.”

Catch O’Rourke and all of his fellow drivers and riders in action at the next Accel Super Series points race on May 7, 2016 at Summit Motorports Park.

- Mary Lendzion

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