You could call Randy Klein a few things – a family man, a gear head, or even a businessman. But what shines brightest are his deep roots in the sport of drag racing. He’s had ample success stemming back to the early 1970s and doing so with a not so typical chariot, a monster wheel standing Super Stock 1956 Nomad.
Randy Klein’s history in racing dates back to the 60s, during the golden age of drag racing when muscle cars flourished. You’d catch him during a street race, or competing out at the local track in Omaha.
The Nomad Story
In 1972, Randy was digging through the Omaha paper when he found an ad for a ’56 Nomad in Norfolk, NE, for $600. Randy and his wife Judy drove to Norfolk and paid $550 to a young man from California who was visiting some relatives. The car was painted two-tone army green and running a 283 engine with a Powerglide.
In a short time, the 283 engine gave out, and after letting it sit for a few years Randy installed a 454 LS6 and 4-speed transmission. Later, he swapped in a 350 LT-1 ahead of the 4-speed and raced in some Super Chevy events in Denver and Indianapolis.
For a while, Randy ran it with a 2-barrel 350, added air conditioning and tilt steering, and just used it as a fun driver. Meanwhile, he raced at the old Cornhusker Raceway west of Omaha with a 396/375-hp ’69 Nova. After Cornhusker closed, Randy concentrated on a new business and raising his family. The Nomad, sadly, went on hiatus.
Randy came across an advertisement for a “Rockin’ Rods” race at the old Scribner track in Northeast Nebraska, he dug the Nomad out of storage, suddenly, he was hooked again. Randy was racing his ‘67 Camaro at Scribner and Kearney and the new track, Heartland Park, at Topeka, KS, mostly in brackets and NHRA Super Street class. He dreamt to race legal NHRA Class with a 265/205-hp (single 4-barrel) engine.
So… he did. Randy built a legal engine and raced it for three or four years, running the quarter mile in about 12.20 seconds. But, he wanted to go faster. NHRA recognized the 1956 dual 4-barrel motor, so with a set of borrowed carbs and intake, Randy tested it at the track and jumped from 12.20’s to 11.60s. The change to dual-fours moved him from SS/PA to SS/NA. NHRA uses factory shipping weight and horsepower ratings to determine “Natural” class designation, ranging from SS/AA to SS/PA.
After some missteps – the increase cfm and rpm’s caused many broken parts, valves, cams, etc. – but finally, Randy set the class record at a track in Douglas, Wyoming. Since then, Randy has held the class record many times, hitting a best elapsed time of 11.25-seconds in the quarter mile.
When the track is right, the car does 4 to 5 foot wheel stands, which Randy claims is a lot of fun! With no torque to speak of, Randy used deep gears to get 3650lbs moving, coming through the traps at 9300-rpm.
NHRA rules allow several modifications from stock. One is any intake manifold that fits under the stock hood. In the mid-90s the famous Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins took an interest in the Nomad and offered to hand-build a tunnel-ram manifold.
Randy has raced his Nomad in Pomona, CA, Gainesville, FL, Dallas, Houston, Pennsylvania, and Brainerd, MN, and countless tracks all over the Midwest. Without question, Randy has mastered how to implement maximum performance with a strict set of rules to follow.
Thanks to Randy and his wife, Judy, this Nomad came to the Museum of American Speed in the Summer of 2023 and sits proudly inside the Drag Racing Gallery.