Jim Baker's Then and Now


A number of years ago, while writing a report on the Mopars At The Strip, I noticed a lime green Plymouth Duster in Pro competition. A ’72 Plymouth Duster certainly is not unusual at Phil & Jill Painter’s excellent race, but this one had an eye catching cartoon painted on its doors of a Beaver ‘cutting down’ the Tree.


So, as I watched the races unfold on Sunday, the Duster (it is called ‘the Beav’) just kept winning round after round. When I left the tower for the finals at the starting line, here it came for the trophy. With a .003 RT Mark Beavin had won his first PRO title at the MATS.


But that was several years ago, 2011 or 2012. Since then Mark has established what is undoubtedly a record for dominating a single class at a once per year event. Mark returned to Las Vegas Motor Speedway the following four years, winning four consecutive Pro bracket titles in a row. On his fifth try in 2016, a broken torque converter in the semi-finals left him just short of another win.


It does not end there however, during the 2017 Muscle Cars At The Strip, Mark returned and won Pro Eliminator for five wins in six races!

This was the scene in 2017 when Mark and the trusty ‘Beav’ notched another Pro title at the Muscle Cars at the Strip in Las Vegas. Mark and Judi are joined in celebration by Mopar Club members from Clovis, California, who have taken Mark in wholeheartedly.


This is Mark Beavin’s story:  Mark and Judi are from Mesa, Arizona, where Mark operated the area’s foremost Rental Yard for many years. The couple now lives in Clovis, California, where Judi is a Hospital Administrator.  Mark told me, “the job opportunity was just too good to pass up.”  He also surmised that when she retires they will move back to Arizona.


Mark obtained the ’72 Plymouth Duster called ‘the Beav’ back in 1985. On Nov. 2, 2003, he and ‘the Beav’ won a Wally at the NHRA Nostalgia Race held at Speedworld Dragway in northwest Phoenix.

The motor in the ‘Beav’ is top secret because of its ability to repeat, round after round, Mark threatened us with a live Beaver attack if we showed a picture of his winning combination.  “I don’t want the other guys to stop working on their cars and being inconsistent.”


He did however give us some information on the drive train. The power is from a mild 440” cubic inch wedge head MOPAR engine. It has 10-1 compression so that unleaded gas can be used. The valves are activated with a .620 lift MOPAR flat tappet camshaft. The cylinder heads are stock unported steel. Fuel is delivered through a modest Holley 750 cfm carb through a Holley street/strip manifold for a 383” inch motor which required 1” spacers. They are made of wood the beav chopped up for Mark at the shop. When the mixture gets to the chamber it is fired by an MSD 6 AL unit through E-3 spark plugs.


Multiplying the power to the MOPAR rear end is a 727 transmission and a special torque converter. These items are top secret too, but Mark said the trans had a reverse pattern and a rear drum lock. The rear end is a stock type Mopar 8 ¾ unit which now has a spool and billet axels. The modest ratio is only 4.10:1.

It all works, as the Duster has a best ever time of 10.80 seconds at 123 MPG.

The powerful Mopar 440 wedge engine is all business, not a show piece. If you look closely you can see the 1” wood spacers Mark fashioned to use a 383 four-barrel manifold on his larger mill. Whatever it lacks in glitz, it makes up for by repeating run after run.

At the recent SCSN event in Las Vegas, Mark was back in action at his admitted favorite track. Using a string of .00 reaction times, ‘The Beav’ marched through the 82-car Pro Eliminator field until a red light stopped it in the semi-final.

Back in 2016, Mark posed for this shot of his prize winning cartoon of ‘The Beav’.  Mark’s ‘thumbs up’ is certainly the correct sign for this long-time racer who continues to ‘cut down the tree’ against the young guns of today.

“Trophy Winner: Mark Beavin (Mesa, Ariz.) ’02 Startus 18.557 sec./75.33 mph Runner-up: Kelly Painter (Mesa, Ariz.) ’69 Roadrunner 12.263 sec./114.09 mph” This quote is from Randy Bolig written June 5, 2003, at the conclusion of the Inaugural Mopars At The Strip in Las Vegas.This quote is from American Drag Car: “Going into the final round, Beavin nor Sefranek appeared to have any performance advantage as both cars were running nearly equal against their respective adjusted indexes so this would likely be a race won at the tree. And that’s what it came down to as The Beav gnawed the tree at the root and took a substantial RT advantage over Jeff Sefranek who was unable to make up the deficit in an 11.298 over 11.085 final round showdown.”


October 18th 2014 - Race #6

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park

DragSport Eliminator

Annihilator: Mark Beavin

Runner-Up: Jeff Sefranek

If you pull into staging and line up close to this car you most likely are going to “Leave it to Beaver”.


Until next time, Be on Time! 



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