By Michael Kitchens
In the early ’60s, Chevrolet introduced the upgraded Chevy II Nova Super Sport to the American domestic market, and the car rapidly became a fan favorite for period drag racers. Among those who would be influenced by this Chevy model was Juanito “Nito” Lameg, who grew up loving cars while living in camp housing in Whitmore Village. As a youth, he started driving with his father’s hand-me down ’57 Chevy. Disliking the heavy weight, he made his first vehicle purchase of a ’69 Chevelle in 1977, forever cementing his love for muscle cars.
Drag racing was huge here in Hawaii during the late ’70s and eventually Nito became fascinated with the quarter mile — so much so that he soon purchased two Novas: one for the strip and one for daily driving. Through the years, Nito has primarily owned muscle cars such as Camaros, Torinos and Barracudas, although his heart has always thumped for Chevys.
Fast-forward to 1990 and Nito went out cold. He sold all of his hot rods, and decided to focus on work and family, but the passion for drag racing apparently had too strong of a hold on him. Then in 1997, he began making trips back out to Hawaii Raceway Park.
“I just felt like I was missing something, so I found this Nova in ’99,” said Nito.
The Nova turned out to be a hot rod, but it needed some attention to become the car of Nito’s dreams. He showed up at the current owner’s doorstep with a wad of cash and with a wave of the pure green, he was sitting pretty in his new Nova. Never mind the fact that the rear end leaked and it was smoking out mosquitoes all the way back home.
“My wife asked, ‘Why did you buy another car? I thought you quit?” said Nito. His response? “I’m going back racing, Nito told his wife. It took a year to get the car road worthy but he had an edge since it came with a shortened rear end. He started the modification process by swapping the transmission with an M21, adding a Hurst Shifter, fixing the leaks and then dug deep into the engine bay.
With the wife hot on his heels, Nito convinced his brother, Eddie, to help him install an engine before he got into more hot water. Eddie helped out a lot on this ride, and together swapped in an LT1 four-bolt main that Ted’s Machine Shop bored out 30 over with a steel crank. In addition, the brothers installed a plethora of parts including an MSD ignition/distributor, a tunnel ram, Dual 600 polished Edelbrocks carbs, as well as a Comp Cam. The car also features some sweet fenderwell-style hooker headers mated to Stage 2 Flowmasters to keep it quiet yet powerful.
Exterior-wise the car features Centerline Drag Wheels all around swathed in Mickey Thompson Drag Radials in the rear and Metric Radials in the front. The paint gleams in the original Electric Blue while the interior features all the right sparkly bits including an Autometer tachometer and Grant GT steering wheel.
Drag racing is a family sport no matter how you call it. Even though he gets heat, his wife actually raced in Nito’s cars when HRP was open. His son, Jeffrey Lameg, also put in time fixing the electrical portions of the car. And although his son prefers imports, Nito believes he’ll eventually take over dragging the Nova SS if a track ever opens again. Here’s to hoping that dream comes true with a new track here on Oahu.
“We all need a little quarter mile,” said Nito.
Name: Juanito “Nito” Lameg
Occupation: Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance
Hobbies: Cars and work
Year/Make/Model: 1963 Chevrolet Nova SS Pro-Street
Color: Electric Blue
Engine: LT1 Four-Bolt Main Bored 30 Over, MSD Ignition/Distributor, Dual 600 Edelbrock Carbs and Tunnel Ram, Comp Cam, Stage 2, Fenderwell Hooker Headers, Flowmasters
Drivetrain: Pro Street setup, M21 Transmission, Shortened Rear End, Front & Rear Bushings
Exterior: Electric Blue Paint, Various Chrome Bits
Interior: Autometer Tachometer, Grant GT Steering Wheel, Hurst Shifter
Wheels: Centerline Drag Wheels with Mickey Thompson front, Metric Radial Rear