This is the story of a boy and his truck. The pair have been essentially inseparable for more than a quarter century; long before Mark Bovey got his license, he was working hard grinding away the rust and rot of this old farm truck, bought for a hundred bucks by a father who knew it’d keep his teenaged son out of trouble.
Once, it was a hot green mess, corroded, abused and neglected. It had been worked hard and put away wet, day after day, week after week, until nothing but the bare bones remained. Ready for the metaphorical glue factory then, cut up for scrap and shipped to China to be melted down and reforged as a girder or some such.
However, that’s not what fate had in store. Today she sits in a garage, a few parts bent and broken after a hard campaign, but still in fighting trim. Under her hood is a mighty Chevy Performance LS7 with 427 heads to make it all fit. It cranks out somewhere north of 600 hp, and puts it down through a six-speed transmission, all the way out back to a limited-slip differential at the end of that long wheelbase.
There’s a NASCAR-style steering box, big Wilwood brakes, revalved shocks, on-board fire-suppression. A pair of holes cut in the hood allow for better cooling, and along her flanks you’ll see the names of sponsors: Bolt, Scoggin-Dickey, Chevy Performance, Toylabs. The first name on the list is a juice-bar, which seems a little odd until you find out its owner is big into MMA fighters. Yep, that’s a fit.
It took Bovey eight years to bring this truck back from the dead, and nearly two decades further to train it up to be the battle-hardened war-charger that you see today. Along the way, both truck and driver have grown together, learned each other’s mannerisms and become something of a team. They’ve done speed runs together, autocrossed and drag-raced. But the greatest challenge both faced is only just passed: the grueling 2,000 kilometres of the Targa Newfoundland. Everyone said it was crazy to enter a truck in this race, with its 30 percent attrition rate, narrow, rough roads, and formidable competition. Thing is, the Targa Truck came back from The Rock with the medals to prove the naysayers wrong.
When Bovey got his GMC back on the road after all that work, “It was just an old truck,” he says, “307 under the hood and a three-speed transmission.” However, for a kid who’d grown up with Hot Wheels and a family tradition of working with your hands, it wasn’t long before things got loud.
1989 bodywork, 307 under the hood, 1998 engine swap. Click image to enlarge
Going fast in a straight line was first on the menu, but it wouldn’t be long before a chance event exposed a hidden talent for corners. When a group of high school friends elected to do a weekend autocross school, they goaded Bovey into bringing his truck along. “Everybody thought it’d be pretty funny,” he says, “But on the second day, they stopped laughing.” Against all expectation, the beast could waltz.
However, hammering the GMC through a short course set out with orange cones revealed all sorts of weaknesses requiring further parts-buying sprees and long nights in the garage. Bovey and his truck became a fixture of the autocross scene, even becoming an ambassador for a program trying to get kids away from racing on the street and into legitimate competition.