Pushing the limits with everything he does, Chris Michael has had the drive to win ever since he was a child. A natural competitor, Michael built his new stunningly beautiful 1969 Chevrolet Nova specifically for the Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings series with the intention to dominate through performance and appearance – but Jay Boddie will have the honors of debuting the car.
Growing up in California’s Orange County as an only child, Michael’s parents were very involved and supportive of his endeavors. They pushed him to participate in tons of sports from karate to football, basketball to bowling – the latter of which Michael went semi-pro in.
Michael often went to the now-defunct Lions Drag Strip near Los Angeles with his father, Ralph Michael, and loved helping with his Corvettes and 1931 coupe. “My first car, a ’67 Volkswagen Bug, I made into a racecar with a new engine and dual Weber carbs,” recalled Michael, who often street raced in Orange County. He later owned a 1967 Chevy Camaro, several rotary-powered Mazda RX7s, and a handful of other import cars. “I raced on the street and the track and really enjoyed it. I had fun, met a lot of great people, but life changed as I got older.”
When a fantastic entrepreneurship opportunity presented itself, Michael jumped at the chance to establish his career in real estate and small business investing. Racing took the back burner, albeit temporarily, and he concentrated on securing a stable future for himself and his family.
Having achieved much success after several years, Michael got back into motorsports. He started by adding turbochargers to his tricked-out Polaris RZR sport side-by-sides, built some monster trucks, and generally went over-the-top in his trademark style with perfect paint and chromed aesthetics.
“About six years ago, during a guy’s trip to Pismo Beach, I underestimated a hill. I went to jump it but rolled my RZR, and it threw me,” Michael shared of the catastrophic mishap. “Next thing I knew, I was being medevacked to a hospital with nine broken ribs, a crushed scapula, and a punctured lung. It was day-to-day for two weeks if I was even going to make it.”
Miraculously, Michael pulled through but the prognosis still wasn’t good – the medical team believed his left arm would be paralyzed. His determination, though, helped Michael defy the odds and he was able to recover fully after extensive rehab.
Through it all, his wife, Srey, supported and encouraged him not to give up on his passion. “I took it slow but eventually started building cars again,” noted Michael, who began his Bad Intentions Racing team so he could get back to driving. “We put a lot on hold – vacations, life – over the years to pursue both of our careers. Without her, this wouldn’t be happening.” The couple also has two children to keep them busy.
About two years after his accident, Michael purchased a 1969 Chevrolet Nova and intended to construct it as a steel-roof-and-quarters car to compete on the Street Outlaws circuit. However, the local builder he initially selected wasn’t up to snuff and the project didn’t go as planned.
Later, Michael met Patrick Barnhill of PTP Racing and Barnhill introduced him to Larry Jeffers. In 2020, Michael decided that Larry Jeffers Race Cars would build the Nova over again, from the ground up, and the restart ultimately resulted in a jaw-dropping finished project.
“Everything I did was out of the norm for Larry. I wanted this chromed and that powder coated and everything needed to match,” laughed Michael, who takes pride in having a perfect appearance both personally and with his cars. “Larry asked if I was building a show car or a racecar and nicknamed me ‘Gucci.’ The name stuck, so that’s what we named the car.”
After completing the chassis work, the three men collaborated to select an engine combination. Wanting something a bit more unconventional than what was commonly being run by other No Prep Kings racers, and thanks to Barnhill’s recommendation, Michael chose a 4.9-inch bore space billet Hemi from Noonan Race Engineering as his platform. As Barnhill will be managing the tune-up, ProWire was brought in to handle the incorporation of the man’s preferred electronics: a complete Haltech Nexus R5 engine management system.
“I wanted something different from what everyone else was doing,” said Michael, who also chose to run twin turbochargers as his power adder despite so many others running ProCharger superchargers or screw blowers. Blingy polished compressor covers and coated turbine housings make the snails look more like jewelry than machined metal, and that’s exactly how Michael likes it. “I want to win with twin turbos and a motor no one else really had. We went with the 88mm size to get a weight break, too.”
To transfer the engine’s boosted power out to the big 36” tall Hoosier tires, Michael selected a Rossler three-speed Turbo 400 transmission and M&M shifter. “Carl Rossler is one of the most knowledgeable guys I know and spent hours with me on the phone getting me up to speed,” added Michael, who also chose a Neal Chance torque converter along with a Precision Shaft Technologies carbon fiber driveshaft. “I got a billet full floater rear end from Mark Williams because they’ve got a great product and their customer service is excellent.”
With keen attention to detail, Michael worked with Lamb Components to create a custom set of one-off struts to be used with Lamb Brakes in Gucci’s front end. “They took the shocks apart and had them powder coated, anodized, and reassembled for me. I know it’s over the top, but that’s what I wanted and they went above and beyond to make it happen,” Michael shared of the manufacturer’s ability to accommodate his vision.
In the rear, the unconventional theme continued as Michael utilized air-assisted JRi shocks that had been re-valved by Mark Smith. “These are the hottest, best shocks out there and a lot of people will be surprised to see the car run with the setup we have,” he asserted.
Loyal to those who treat him well, Michael opted for a set of RC Components wheels that had been polished to perfection at all four corners. Double Stroud Safety parachutes in the back and custom carbon fiber Voss Wheelie Bars that had been powder coated with red accents completed Michael’s vision with a racy edge.
Finally, the LJRC team had the top-of-the-line Nova dressed to perfection with a spray of candy burgundy and black paint. The finished product was nothing short of striking with thoughtful accents, such as the “Gucci” name on the steel rear quarters and license plate, incorporated throughout.
No detail was overlooked while Michael and Jeffers fashioned “Gucci” from interior to exterior, and the engine was even topped with a custom intake and valve covers that had all been anodized to match, of course. “So many things have been powder coated and chromed and polished… there was so much work involved, and I’m really happy with how it all came out,” stated the Nova’s owner.
On display in the Extreme Brand Products booth at the 2021 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show in Indianapolis in December, “Gucci” was a hit with fans and fellow racers.
Undoubtedly the quickest and fastest car in Michael’s stable to date, he’s graciously and generously handed over the driving duties for its inaugural season to a good friend of his – the West Coast king of grudge and fellow Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings star, Jay Boddie.
“I met Jay Boddie and Mark Washington around 2018. They are great friends and mentors to me who have helped me every step of the way getting to the top of the mountain,” recalled Michael, who relied on his buddies to help get him up to speed on what had changed in racing during his hiatus. “I don’t want to rush myself getting back into driving since I’m still healing from my accident, so it made sense to have Jay drive Gucci in No Prep Kings for 2022. We plan to be at every race, and we plan on winning.”
The men will begin testing “Gucci” in Florida with Boddie behind the wheel as early as February of 2022, and Michael is planning to strap back into his 1986 Ford Mustang known as “Midnight Money.” A small tire grudge car, the Fox body will also get its chance to shine on No Prep Kings.
“I’m hoping after I get some seat time in the Mustang that I’ll be able to get in Gucci,” Michael clarified of his plans. “As much as it pains me that I’m not ready just yet, I plan to grudge race Midnight Money in Texas and Florida towards the end of this year and then drive Gucci in No Prep Kings in 2023 representing for Team California.”
Boddie recently unveiled his new No Prep Kings car, his first-gen Chevy Camaro RS known as “Kurupt,” but has temporarily sidelined the project to give time in the chassis shop getting a few more upgrades. Without something to wheel, it seemed like fate intervened to deliver the golden opportunity to gun it in “Gucci.”
With a fleet of four Bad Intentions Racing cars, including “Gucci,” “Midnight Money,” and a Noonan-powered and twin turbocharged 1966 Nova named “Scorpion” that’s destined for the grudge racing world along with a 1967 Nova on nitrous for the street, Michael will certainly have his hands full in the coming seasons with plenty of high-quality, showstopping horsepower to help him make up for the time he spent away.