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Dawson man dreams big with drag race car
Drag race car.jpg
Timothy Blythe, 29, of Dawson County shows off the 1964 Triumph Spitfire that he will drive during the "Sick Week" drag racing event in February 2022. - photo by Julia Hansen

While some might find it daunting to tinker on a car almost twice their age, that hasn’t been the case for Dawson County native Timothy Blythe. 

Over the past few months, the 29-year-old man has taken pride in breathing new life into his blueish gray and rust-tinted 1964 Triumph Spitfire, all in a bid to get the vehicle ready for its debut drag race. 

“I like building stuff and going fast,” Blythe said. “It’s kind of funny because I’m terrified of roller coasters, but anything on the ground that I'm in control of…I'm fine with that.”

Three months ago, Timothy was surprised to learn that his car would join 349 others in a Florida event called “Sick Week.” During the endeavor, 350 of the nation’s fastest cars will make stops at four of the country’s fastest race tracks as part of a five-day trek in February 2022. 

Blythe’s car will log almost 200 miles a day, for an overall journey of almost 1,000 miles. 

As part of the fanfare, Blythe will be featured in the event’s accompanying “Sick Magazine.” His car will be joining a procession filled with high-profile drivers, like drag racing influencers. An additional 200 vehicles will join the five-day trek for cruising, pit stops and related shows. 

Blythe called the opportunity one of endurance. He explained that he’s been interested in drag racing for about six years and doing it for about four years. 

During that time, he’s been racing at locations like the Atlanta and Carolina dragway tracks, regularly racing, testing and modifying his Datsun car during the racing seasons. Meanwhile, many people have kept up with his progress via his Facebook and Youtube pages for Blythelife Racing. 

Initially, his uncle who did auto body repair got him generally interested in cars. Blythe worked with him on cars as a teenager. 

Blythe has a simple strategy for picking out drag cars: rather than gravitate toward some of the domestic vehicles that have become more expensive, he prefers cheaper options. 

He relies on a combination of his past experiences, welding knowledge, which he went to school for, and YouTube videos to figure out how to repair cars. 

He gained his first drag car, a 1972 Datsun 240z, a little over a decade ago. Interestingly enough, the car was sitting in his uncle’s backyard, and he followed through about getting it after hearing the suggestion of his grandmother.

“The funny thing about it is those are fairly rare cars, especially now,” Blythe said.

Datsun is a Japanese brand, essentially the “Nissan before Nissan” in the United States. When those vehicles began to be marketed stateside, the brand name was changed to Datsun, a more “American-sounding” name. 

As a variation of tube-chassis or all-out drag car, Blythe doesn’t consider the Datsun a car that is meant to be driven regularly on the street, so to speak. 

His desire for a weekend cruiser vehicle, the kind that’s good for driving in pleasant weather, led him to the 1965 Triumph Spitfire.

Though the vehicle now sits in the Atlanta Welding Co. garage where he works, it was facing quite different prospects rusting in the woods about two years ago. 

Blythe grew up spending time with the Sheriff family, who had fields with multiple old cars.

“I was just looking for a project or something to work on, and it was just back there, like the smallest thing you could find,” Blythe said. 

When Blythe got a hold of the car, it had a motor but not much else in it. He’s been diligently working on it since that time, especially now with his admittance to “Sick Week.” 

As it stands now, the flooring and firewall have been cut out and warrant replacement. He has also worked on the motor and added a rectangle tube frame, an axle from a Nissan truck, a roll cage, cooling and turbos on the GMC 1500 5.3-liter engine. 

He’s thinking about whether or not to add air conditioning, heating and/or a roof to the car. 

“I’m more of a ‘function over looks’ guy,” he said. 

Looking back on his journey, Blythe sees drag racing as an attainable auto-related endeavor for individuals like himself. 

“You have your professionals and stuff like that, but as a novice, you can come in [to competitions],” he said, “and as long as you’ve built your car safe enough to pass tech [inspections], you can go out there and race.” 

“It doesn’t mean you’ll win,” he added, “but you can go out there and try.”