There are better-suited race cars that Jason Ochoa could have chosen than a 1972 Vega to run Competition Eliminator. But for the second-generation drag racer from  Amarillo, Texas, there was no other ride he wanted to drive.

Ochoa races a Vega in NHRA Competition Eliminator's D/Super Modified division with a small block and a five-speed. But this is no average version of Chevrolet's gas-friendly compact from the 1970s.

"We built this car back in 2015 because my dad owned this car since I was about eight years old," Ochoa said. "When my dad passed in 2015, we decided to send it down to EasTexas Race Cars and have it converted to a Comp car."

Ochoa's dad, Roel "Unk" Ochoa, raced the classic Chevrolet as a Super Streeter, but as the son decided to return the car to the strip, memories of going to the race track with his elder inspired him to go the Comp Eliminator route. 

"When we used to have an NHRA divisional in Amarillo, I used to go to the track with him," Ochoa said. "We always watched the Comp class, and it was a neat deal. I would get to sit in his lap as we went down the return road, warming it up. Just sitting in my dad's lap pretty much cemented my love for drag racing."



So, when it came time for Ochoa to return the sentimental car to the drag strip, he never intended for it to be an entry-level combination. 

"I went with the Liberty five-speed and a 297-inch Chevrolet, a mule motor of sorts," Ochoa said. "We struggled a bit with the clutch, but a lot of help from the NHRA Division 4 racer has been very helpful."

Ochoa has had plenty of options for help as the Rooftec Competition Eliminator Bonus fund has ensured every divisional race has guaranteed every winner must win five rounds to take home the trophy. 

Ochoa would love nothing more than to win in his father's honor, but for the moment, he's just happy making runs in the car, which can sometimes be a handful. 

"Once the clutch is right, the few times that I've gotten it right, it's pretty smooth," Ochoa said. "It's pretty fun to drive. Any time you're having a challenging day, it clears your mind because it's fun to drive. 

"I'm doing another engine right now where I can run probably E/ Super Mod. Might change things up to run a few classes and just try to make it faster as I go along. This engine is a mule motor, so I can learn about the clutch.

" I like the history of the Vega in Pro Stock and the Monzas. They were always neat-looking cars. And I think this one looks pretty neat, too."