Autocrossing “Whimpy” 1966 Chevelle SS396 Convertible at OUSCI

OPTIMA Invitational Qualifier Lynda Jacobs

Optima-Invitational, ousci, 1966 Chevelle SS 396, sema show


It’s been my pleasure to work with Optima for their after-SEMA race called the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. What is it? Well, check this out to catch up… Basically, it’s a race of the best cars from the SEMA Show floor and qualifying races all over the country.


One racer happens to drive a road hugging, original appearing 1966 Chevelle SS 396 convertible and SHE is every bit the muscle car enthusiast and race car driver you’d ever imagine!  Qualifying at LS Fest, she’s the real deal. Meet Lynda Jacobs.


Optima-Invitational, ousci, 1966 Chevelle SS 396, sema show


Lynda kindly told us her story of racing and her first muscle car, this black-plate 1966 Chevelle.


Words and Pictures from Lynda…


My husband Chris and I have been married for 15 years. We both had cars and racing in our lives and that also played into our meeting as well. A mutual friend who had a body shop helped make the introduction and the rest was history. We went to Great Lakes Dragway on our second date. Chris has been into Chevelles his whole life. First car was a ’69 Malibu. I have had several cars, but almost all have been Chevrolets. My first Chevelle was my convertible, and I’ll never part with it.


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, OUSCI, Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational


My family’s been racing my whole life, but I never competed myself until Chris and I discovered autocross in 2007. My dad used to race midgets and campaigned a nitro injected dragster all through the late 50s and early 60s. He also had his own chassis shop at that time as well. He got out of racing when my brother was born. Those two got the bug to do something else in the 80s and bought an offshore race boat. This was a family affair for many years. Although I never competed in the boat, I went to most of the races and helped out.Back to autocross.


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, OUSCI, Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational


Chris and I had a ’01 Corvette convertible. It was a great car, but we couldn’t take it on a track because we did not have a roll bar. Chris took it to the drag strip a few times and although it was pretty quick, that’s not what it was really for. Vettes are made for corners! We were walking through the Chicago auto show and found the SCCA booth. They had a two day autocross school in April so we decided to try it out. After that we were both hooked. We attended many autocross events that year both in Chicago and Milwaukee co driving our Corvette.


In September we went to the first Chicago GoodGuys show. They were autocrossing with muscle cars and this looked really cool. I convinced Chris to take my car out there and he won! At that time the Chevelle already had Global West suspension and four wheel disk brakes. After that we attended many more autocross events and Chris won a few more with the convertible. That lead us to get him his own Chevelle so I could have my car back.


A little more about my 1966 Chevelle:


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, 1966 chevelle convertible


I’ve owned my 1966 Chevelle Convertible aka ‘Wimpy” for 11 years. It’s a real Lemmonwood Yellow 138 SS 396 car sold new in Los Angeles, California. When we purchased the car it was completely stock including the 396/ 360 hp engine, drum brakes, and Powerglide trans. The car lived in Southern California from the time it was new to 1999. At that time the car moved to Neenah, WI. This is where it was when we purchased it. I still remember the first time I saw it and the drive back home from Wisconsin with the top down. It was one of the happiest days of my life!


Shortly after purchasing the car, we figured out this bone stock Chevelle was not that much to drive.  So the transformation began.

Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, 1966 chevelle convertible


Every year we changed/upgraded some parts of the car. First was the 700R4 from Finish Line Transmissions in Woodale, IL. That made the Chevelle more Power Tour friendly. Then is was on to larger wheels and 4-wheel disk brakes. After that, we installed a new 496 big block, Global West suspension, Vintage Air, ect… We drove the car quite a bit doing portions or sometimes all of the Hot Rod Power Tour events for numerous years.


After the first GoodGuys event in Chicago we both shared the convertible at the old car events until 2010 when we bought Chris a 1966 Chevelle hard top of his own. I finally got my car back to myself! This past year we did lots of new upgrades to Wimpy. After driving Chris’ Chevelle, that we purchased from Randy Johnson in 2010, we decided it was LS time for my car.


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, 1966 chevelle convertible


We brought the car up to Randy at D&Z Customs in February of 2013. The 496 was pulled out to be used for a future project and Randy stripped and refinished the entire engine bay. A new LS3 was put in its place, but was dressed out to resemble the old big block as best as we could to retain its classic look. All of the 47 year old wiring and fuse panel were pulled out of the car and replaced with a new harness from American Autowire. A full Comp Cams valve train was installed with a custom grind camshaft from Finish Line Performance. The engine was completely covered in Chevy orange, then topped off with a single plane GM intake and a new FAST EZ EFI 2.0 fuel injection system with factory 14″ air cleaner. A set of Holley coil covers painted with a special chrome finish top off the disguise.


The Chevelle was put on the rollers at Finish Line and cranked out 436 hp to the wheels.


All of this power is transferred back to the original 12 bolt rear with the 47 year old factory 3.31 gears and TruTrac posi. Other improvements for 2013 include a new Wilwood brake system complete with tandem master cylinder, 6 piston Superlite front calipers and D-154 floating rears clamping GT rotors all of the way around. Viking double adjustable coil over shocks were installed at all four corners and Detroit Speed sway bars were added as well. The old 17″ x 8″ front wheels were upgraded to new 18″ x 9.5″ American Racing TT II Classics and painted to match the old 18″ x 10″ rears. New BFG Rival tires, 275/35/18s, have been added all of the way around for the OUSCI event to keep Wimpy hooked up!


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, 1966 chevelle convertible


For the OUSCI event the rag top would need some type of roll over protection to be able to compete on the road course. With this being a real SS convertible any permanent modifications had to be kept to a minimum. A new custom bolt in chromoly 4 point bar from Competition Fabrication in Lily Lake IL. fit the bill. After all of these changes the Chevelle ended up with a 52% front 48% rear weigh distribution and scaled out at 3,650 lbs. Over 150 lbs lighter than with the old big block and way less nose heavy.


Sema show, 1966 Chevelle ss 396, 1966 chevelle convertible


Optima likes to recognize the people who attend their events regularly and support the competitors and sponsors. I have always been very involved with Chris and his car at the events even though I wasn’t competing myself. Whether helping out with parking at OUSCI, helping Chris with his car, or rooting on our friends the guys and gals at Optima took notice of my presence and enthusiasm. At this year’s LS Fest it was the first time I had actually been at at qualifying event competing and with my own car. Jimi Day from FM3 presented me with my OUSCI invitation at the end of the awards ceremony. I was totally speechless! I consider this such a huge honor as only about 50 cars get to attend each year. In the five year history of OUSCI I will be only the fifth woman to attend as well.


With the level of competition that is at the OUSCI events I have no aspirations of winning, but plan on giving it my all! It is an incredible honor to be part of this prestigious event with my peers. I can’t wait for SEMA and see my car parked outside the show with the Optima group!!!In case you were wondering where the whole Wimpy thing came from, here’s the short version. A friend who was the president of our local Corvette club was misquoted in a newspaper article as saying Yellow was a wimpy color for Vettes. Some of our friends picked up on this and said if anyone had a wimpy yellow car it was Lynda. After all, Lemmonwood, AKA Butternut Yellow, is pretty pale looking and with the old 396 the thing was pretty anemic. Wouldn’t even do a burn out! And so it stuck. The Chevelle’s Illinois vanity plate even reads WMPYELO.


THANK YOU Lynda!  We don’t care if you win, I doubt anyone will be having as much fun as you! Great meeting you today and good luck!!


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