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Topics - rooman

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Front Engine Dragsters / Making that first run in your new car
« on: June 21, 2015, 08:33:33 AM »
 On the subject of that first run, please do not try to rotate the earth and set low et of the world the first time you go down the track. Make a moderate run to make sure that everything works as it should. This weekend I watched a brand new car from a very reputable chassis builder totally get away from the driver partially because he tried to make a full hit on his first run in the car. When it shook he punched high gear as he had done with good results in his previous car. For whatever reason the car was instantly totally out of control and it changed lanes and made heavy contact with the wall, first with the front end and then in a hard side impact.  Add to the package the fact that the team had been thrashing to get the motor finished and the car to the event so everyone, including the driver, was tired to the point that a crew member ended up a little beat up due to a simple incident while they were warming the car.
  At this event (the Bowling Green NHRR) the weather was iffy and I can understand the pressure to try to get a run in but it was an all run first round for eliminations so simply staging the car and making a moderate lap would have put the car in the show. Now it needs a front half (at least) and the driver was exceedingly lucky to be able to walk away as I have seen people injured in less violent impacts.
  I am sure that there are photos of the incident out there on the net but I did not get home from the event until 4:30 am and am still trying to catch up. If someone can find them and post a link you will see how quickly one of these cars can get into a bad situation, and how much worse this one might have been.


At a recent gathering to celebrate Steve Gibbs' Birthday, Larry Sutton was asked to compare current drivers to those back in the day, Sutton launched into a long yet brilliantly funny soliloquy.

“Today, the drivers have very little to do,” he started slowly, then kept building, with each example cited more incredulously and louder than the last. “Their car gets pulled up to the lane by their crew – of thousands – and the driver dons his $2,000 helmet that’s designer like their [firesuit]. They climb into their padded seat and their padded roll cage, put on their six-piece [safety belts], and the crew starts the car. He does a burnout and backs up but doesn’t even drive to the starting line. The crew pushes him to the line. So he’s got a billet block, billet heads, and billet crank, and a crewman walks up and turns on the computer. He leaves the line and gets down there a ways, and it drops a hole, and right in the lights, the blower pops, but one of [Dennis] Taylor’s restraints holds it in place. He doesn’t even have to pull the parachute or shut off the motor because it’s all electronics. He doesn’t even have to turn off the racetrack because they come out there with a quad with a roller on it, and they push him off the track. Then he gets out of the car, and someone takes all his safety gear off of him so he can be interviewed. Just then, his opponent comes up to him and gives him a big hug because he’s glad he’s safe. Then, when he’s done with the interview, he gets into a golf cart -- that someone else is driving – and he goes back to his beautiful 18-wheeler and sends his family and friends to the hospitality trailer to have fine cuisine by the hired chef while he goes to the lounge because he’s exhausted.

“In the early days at Irwindale, he’d show up at the track with the car on a flatbed trailer, maybe a couple of friends to help, and the owner. They get ready to run, so the driver dons his ironing-board-cover one-layer firesuit and puts on his helmet that he wears during the week to ride his Harley. So they go to push-start him, and the fire-up road is really narrow, and he’s trying to keep the car on the push bar and keep the car straight because if he goes to the side, he’s going under the fence. He can’t hear anything because the new people who are push-starting him are screaming bloody murder. He’s got to let go of the steering wheel with one hand to hit the [ignition] switch. He doesn’t have an electric starter. He makes the turn and hopes the starter does not see the leaking front and rear seals into which he’s stuffed rags. He pulls up there and leaves and hopes that his single-disc, three-finger clutch – not a 100-finger, six-disc clutch – doesn’t slip so it won’t come apart and come through the welded aluminum bellhousing that may not hold up.

“He’s blazing down the course, and suddenly the breathers start breathing, and he’s getting a face full of oil. The blower comes off, and because Taylor hasn’t yet invented the blower restraint, the blower bounces down the track alongside the car. He reaches over and pulls the 16-foot ring-slot parachute that he just bought at the war surplus store. He can’t understand why it blew up because he only has 20 runs on the steel box rods. He’s slipping and sliding in his own oil, on fire, and his Vans are starting to get real hot on his feet. He makes the last turnoff with his opponent – the one who burned him down on the starting line – and he is so mad, but his car is still on fire, and there’s no one down there to help him, so he gets some Irwindale dirt and throws it on the motor to put the fire out. He’s so mad at his opponent that he wants to break his nose. He’s waiting for his crew, and he’s waiting for a long, long time. When they finally show up and he asks where they’ve been, they tell him that when they made the turn after the push-start that the toolbox fell out of the back of the truck, and they had to pick up all of the tools. They get back to the pit area, where they don’t have 10 motors to choose from – that was their only engine -- and the guy he just beat and whose neck he wanted to break walks up and offers his whole car and crew to them to put their motor in his car. That’s the difference between early racing and nowadays."

Thunderous applause.

I just wish that I had been there to hear that in person. For those who don't know, Larry was the long time starter at Lions drag strip in So-Cal and also drove a variety of fuel cars in that era.

Larry in the black hat back in the day.

And more recently.


Your Builds / Photo Gallery / Bob Buckley's Coating Specialties dragster
« on: August 18, 2014, 04:32:04 PM »
This is the letest car to leave my shop and end up on the track. Bob wanted a really vintage looking car and did a great job of making my stuff look good with lots of polishing, powder coating and chrome as well as a gorgeous candy red paint job with gold leaf lettering. The first photo is from a car show just over a week ago and the others are from last Saturday night at Route 66.

Your Builds / Photo Gallery / I shipped this one out on Tuesday
« on: May 21, 2014, 12:42:05 PM »
Headed for Western Australia, 225" NT/F--Donovan powered.


Your Builds / Photo Gallery / The latest car out of my shop
« on: December 21, 2013, 05:31:17 AM »
Some of you may have seen this one on Facebook but for those who did not here it is out in the sun. The owner picked it up during the PRI show and should be on the track next year. A former fuel Harley racer, he is building a blown alky 392 and the car is set up for a Powerglide. It is 200" and wide in the shoulder hoop because he is a big guy.

Front Engine Dragsters / New NT/F from Illinois
« on: February 01, 2013, 05:17:51 AM »
These have been posted elsewhere in the past but I figured that some people may not have seen them.
This is a new 225" nostalgia top fuel car owned by Scott and Espie Calmes. It will be late hemi powered and Scott, along with Dave Lindsay of Rapisarda International Autosports, is putting the motor together now. The car is back in my shop to have a dry sump tank added and some other finish work done (puke tank, fuel tank etc) but is substantially complete. When these photos were taken Scott had just hauled the car home for the first time and mocked it up with the wooden intake "manifold". He now has the top end from Paul Romine's NF/C on the motor.


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