Niles man’s drag racer featured in tools calendar
Published 8:44 am Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Roger Ibbotson’s smiling face can be found on a 2014 calendar for Snap-on tools.
The main attraction on the page, however, isn’t Ibbotson.
It’s his souped-up 1969 Pontiac GTO — a 1,732 horsepower drag racer that can travel a quarter mile in 7.92 seconds at 175 miles per hour.
“It’s hard to comprehend until you’re into it, but the rush you get when that thing takes off is strong,” said Ibbotson, co-owner of RB Total Performance on North 5th Street in Niles. “There is no performance car out on the street that does that. The acceleration is adrenaline-pumping stuff.”
Ibbotson and his vehicle, nicknamed “The Ultimate Judge” can be found on the January “Tech Toys” calendar featuring innovative customer vehicles.
Ibbotson said he uses Snap-on tools at his business. A sales representative for Snap-on encouraged Ibbotson to apply to be on the calendar.
He was one of 12 chosen in the nationwide contest.
“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t think they would pick it,” said Ibbotson, a 1980 graduate of Dowagiac Union High School.
Ibbotson didn’t get anything for being chosen, just the pride of knowing that a picture his vehicle could be hanging on the walls of garages across the globe.
“They sent me 12 free ones,” he said. “I’ve got one here at the shop.”
Ibbotson said he purchased the GTO — nicknamed The Ultimate Judge — at some small Nebraska town for $350 in 1984.
He and his business partner, Bruce Boyd, have been working on it every since.
“It’s just proceeded to get more stupid every year power-wise — more and more money I’ll tell you,” he said. “Every year a little more power, add a few more things to it. I’ve had the car a long time and it’s just one of those things that you do more and more to each year.”
When asked about the unique features on The Ultimate Judge, Ibbotson said the engine is a 525 cubic inch Pontiac that produces more than 1,300 foot pounds of torque.
“It burns two gallons of alcohol in a 1/4 mile pass,” he said. “It’s made for one thing — to go extremely fast in a short period of time.”
Ibbotson has raced the car at several drag strips near and far, including the Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
He said the car was featured on the Pontiac Nationals event flyer and t-shirt a few years back.
Ibbotson traces his interest in cars back to building model cars with his brother-in-law at a young age.
“It just kind of progressed from that point,” he said.
On a typical day, Ibbotson can be found working at R & B Total Performance, which opened in 2002. The business offers race car fabrication and general automotive repair.