You’d assume the owner of ScottRods—a company that specializes in creating custom fiberglass gasser bodies—would race something. Especially since he also runs ScottRods AA/Gassers, a nostalgia drag racing organization packed with supercharged, straight-axle monsters that look like they rolled straight out of the sport’s golden age.
But Scott Leber spent years on the sidelines while his friends thrilled crowds with the massive burnouts, wheel-standing launches, and fast-paced action the match-racing series is famous for. As his wife Kathy put it, “We go to all these races and he sits and watches. He’s tired of watching.” Scott added, “It drives me insane being a spectator.”
That insanity drove Scott to build what might be the ultimate gasser. Motivated by a methanol-guzzling, Hilborn-injected, Littlefield-blown big block Chevy, this replica Split Window dubbed “Cosmic Ray” zaps onlookers with a body that glimmers with more metalflake than “an upside-down bass boat,” as Scott describes it.
Completed in 2021, this five-year build started with a pair of steel frame rails and, of course, the fiberglass body. It took 17 quarts—10 pounds—of silver metalflake mixed into the gelcoat to create the impossibly deep finish. The Lebers’ son Zack, who runs the shop, and the rest of the ScottRods crew got to work sanding the body in preparation for paint. According to Scott, it was no small task: “Nobody in the shop had any fingerprints left when we were done with it.”
The body incorporates several modifications that differentiate it from a genuine 1963 Corvette, including radically raised rear quarters, deleted headlamp cutouts, and a custom hood that accommodates the towering 6-71 supercharger. It also sports some more subtle tweaks that Scott is tight-lipped about. How did he get it all right? “It’s just time. Stand back and keep looking at it, measure it from the floor,” he said.
Scott’s mastery of fiberglass comes from a lifetime of practice. He got started fixing snowmobiles. Or, specifically, snowmobile hoods. “We’d be out riding, break them, and repair them. Then I made a custom hood. By age 17 or 18, I was into Corvettes,” Scott said.
Once the body was ready, it went to Jim Palosi, co-owner of Customs Unlimited in Hartville, OH. With help from Scott, Jim “put all the candy on it.” That took 180 hours, two miles of masking tape, and a month in the shop. Jim was given free rein with the layout of the lines and colors, and no metalflake paint was used; just candies and solids.
As a final touch, renowned artist Leonard Wren (who owns an immaculate supercharged 1940 Willys gasser) came all the way from Oklahoma to apply the gold leaf Cosmic Ray lettering and Martian character. “That ‘Fusion Powered’ on the hood? Leonard called and said he didn’t like how it looked and asked if he could do it again. He came in the next morning, wiped it off, and re-did it,” Scott said.
Of course, this Vette has the goods to back up its radical appearance. The Chevy 427 was the only thing not destroyed when Gordon Crowe, owner of Crowman Fabrication in Canton, OH, barrel rolled his 1933 Willys gasser at Ohio’s Dragway 42 back in 2013, and now it’s found a home in Cosmic Ray.
Is Scott worried about heading down the track in the fastest car he’s ever driven? “Nah. It’s a big rollerskate. The blower’s only overdriven 3%—I can take it all the way to 20%. More air is more power, and it’ll go from 800 hp to 1,000 hp like that. Plus, I know a lot of guys who know how to set up and drive these,” he said, smiling.
It also helps that Crowe built a chassis that’s more than up to the task of getting Cosmic Ray down the track quickly…and safely. The TIG-welded frame consists of mild steel main rails and a chromoly structure, with a funny car-style cage. It’s 7.50 certified, which is faster than it needs to be, but that’s okay. “It’s overkill for what was supposed to be a gasser from the ’60s. It’s closer to a Pro Mod,” Scott said.
The rear axle is located by ladder bars, and the front end features the signature piece of any gasser: a straight axle. In Cosmic Ray, it’s a WAC Customs piece with hairpin radius rods. Both ends of the car are supported by Viking coilover shocks, and the front suspension is height-adjustable for improved aerodynamics and stability at higher speeds. Wilwood Dynalite brakes safely bring it all back from warp speed.
Crowe also fabricated the wheelie bars and 2.5″ zoomie headers, and got to show off his artistry with the flame-scrolled interior. Friend Barry Brown cranked the handle on the bead roller while Gordon guided the aluminum sheet, creating intricate designs on the door panels and floorboards. Finally, the chassis and much of the interior metalwork was powdercoated in a hammertone finish.
When asked what his favorite part of the build is, Scott half-jokingly replies, “Being done!” “And the hardest part was hiding the receipts from your wife!” Kathy adds, smiling. But would he have done anything differently? “I’d have done a Henry J—the doors are bigger!” he laughs. Then, more seriously, he says, “No. It couldn’t be any cooler.”
- Frame: Mild steel main rails with chromoly structure, TIG-welded, NHRA 7.50 certified
- Frame By: Crowman Fabrication, Canton, OH
- Powdercoat By: Rack Coating Services, Canal Fulton, OH
- Rear End: Moser Engineering Ford 9″, 4.30:1 ring and pinion, spool, 40-spline axles
- Suspension: WAC Customs straight axle with hairpin radius rods (front), ladder bars and anti-roll bar (rear); Viking coilover shocks (front/rear)
- Steering: Flaming River steering column; reversed Corvair-type steering box
- Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite disc (front/rear)
- Wheels and Tires: Cragar S/S (15″ x 4″ front, 15″ x 12″ rear); Mickey Thompson ET Front 24 x 4.5-15 (front), ET Drag 31 x 13.0-15 (rear)
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: 427 cu. in. big block Chevy (bored .060 over), World Products Merlin rectangular-port cast iron heads (ported and polished), Ferrea valves, Arias 8:1 forged pistons, Total Seal gapless rings, Venolia connecting rods, Chevy forged steel crankshaft, King bearings, Isky RR-730 grind camshaft, COMP Cams solid roller lifters
- Induction: Hilborn mechanical fuel injection with 1-150-A pump (methanol), Littlefield 6-71 supercharger, BDS intake manifold, DJ Safety blower restraint
- Ignition and Electrical: Mallory magneto, Wired Two Win custom wiring harness
- Exhaust: 2 1/2″ zoomie headers by Crowman Fabrication
- Transmission: Rossler Powerglide with pro trans-brake, Mike’s Transmission 10″ 5,500 rpm stall torque converter, Hurst Pistol-Grip Quarter Stick shifter
- Body: Custom 1963 Vette by ScottRods
- Paint: Axalta Hot Hues Candy
- Paint By: Customs Unlimited of Ohio, Hartville, OH
- Lettering and Artwork: Designed by Kerry McFarland; painted by Leonard Wren
- Body Modifications: Raised rear fenders, deleted headlight buckets, modified hood, and much more
- Other: DJ Safety parachute
- Dash: Custom fiberglass dash by ScottRods with hydrodipped artwork, AutoMeter Sport-Comp gauges (tachometer, oil pressure, and boost)
- Seat: ScottRods fiberglass bucket
- Safety: DJ Safety harness and fire suppression system
- Other: Sheetmetal interior panels and scrollwork by Crowman Fabrication