Unless you've been on a globe-trekking expedition for the past year, you're familiar with the names Joel Cura and Angel Padilla.
You've already seen photos of the car featured on these pages, and you probably already know that this street-driven '93 coupe--owned by the aforementioned Cura and driven by Padilla--consistently runs high-7s in the quarter-mile. It holds the record for the quickest True Street average at 8.04, which is nearly a half-second quicker than the previous record. But there's much more to the story than pure speed.
Joel Cura bought the car from longtime friend Angel Padilla in 2001. "I had wrecked my '86 in 2000, and promised my wife Laura that I would never race again. But when I bought the coupe from Angel in 2001, we put the 331 and 91mm turbo from the '86 in the coupe," said Cura. In True Street trim, the car went a best of 8.50. Though not anything to be ashamed of, Cura wanted more.
But by early 2003, Cura parked the coupe to be with his father during his battle with pancreatic cancer. Leonel Cura Sr. lost his battle in late 2003, leaving the younger Cura grieving. By 2005, Cura was back in the game, racing the car locally. Its ability to reign victorious over big-block Chevys in a True Street-like cruise/heads-up competition earned it the name Seabiscuit.
Like the champion thoroughbred it was named after, this unsuspecting coupe found its way to the top, despite unlikely circumstances. In 2007, after dominating the local scene, Cura disassembled Seabiscuit for a fresh paint job and a few upgrades. "We initially wanted to build the car to run low 8s," says Cura. "But guys started getting quicker and quicker, and so we decided to shoot for 7s." With the help of Padilla and his company Automotive Specialties in San Antonio, Texas, the car was completed in memory of Cura's late father in 2008. "Seabiscuit was engineered in memory of my father, Leonel Cura Sr., who was always fascinated by the unconventional ways of making horsepower," says Cura.
Sporting a 377ci Windsor, twin-77mm turbos, a 25.5-spec cage, and a Murillo Motorsports tune, Seabiscuit laid down 1,300 rwhp and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. It also featured a new jockey--builder and former owner Angel Padilla. Padilla's heads-up drag-racing history and longtime friendship with Cura made the collaboration seamless. "I trust Angel with my car. He is one of the best drivers in heads-up racing."
By its NMRA debut in November 2009, Seabiscuit was charging from the gate. It ran a best of 8.28 at 174 mph but was denied an 8- second average when he couldn't finish due to a broken brake rotor. In Sunday's Shootout, though, it ran a best of 8.18 to claim the victory. After being unseen for about a year on the NMRA circuit, Seabiscuit was back on track in Houston in late 2010. Though the record-shattering 8.06 average was impressive, Cura, Padilla, and crew wanted the elusive 7-second average. They had repetitive 7-second runs during the Lone Star Shootout, so everyone held their breath for Bradenton.
By early March, the South Texas crew rolled into Bradenton Motorsports Park for the 2011 Spring Break Shootout. After the 30-mile cruise, Seabiscuit averaged 8.04, re-setting its own record and just missing an intangible 7-second average. A win in Sunday's Shootout concluded with multiple 7-second runs, which secured its place in the history books.
But like the race-winning horse, Seabiscuit's career ended at the peak of its career. Less than two weeks after NMRA Bradenton, Cura was offered an undisclosed amount of money for Seabiscuit. It was an offer he couldn't refuse. Though this is the end of the story for Seabiscuit, the Cura/Padilla team is already working on another car. This new steed is said to be a few hundred pounds lighter, with similar bloodlines.
Once you saddle up jockey Angel Padilla, it too is destined to be victorious.