in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of February 6, 1999
It's been ominously(?) quiet here for the past week or so, hasn't it? People are starting to wonder what, if anything, is brewing in "Thunder-land". Well, we've been busy as usual dealing with quite a few issues. The largest one being, of course, the dragster. The engine is starting to come together finally, but with the NHRA season starting this week at Pomona, getting much accomplished with the manufacturers and our "consultants" is on hold until next week. Regardless, we're pressing on in areas that don't require their help.
Tom (crew chief extraodinaire) Mohan has begun construction of our intake manifold. It's one of the last large components necessary, and with our options being to either pay Rick Santos or Alan Johnson a lot of money (or pay Ken Lowe not nearly as much), we finally decided on the fourth option... do it ourselves and spend about twice as much as we budgeted, but still less than the "pros" would charge.
For a preview of what we're doing, take a look at the pictures below of a manifold Tom is finishing for a friend's carburetted B-1. Ours' will be constructed of thicker material obviously, but the basic shape will be the same. It's starting to look more and more like a "Pro Stock motor with a blower" isn't it? (Click on the thumbnails for a closer look)
While this work is going on, we'll have our good friends at High Performance Engines modifying the (still brand new) TFX-96 block to accept our Brodix B-1 heads. And provide clearance for the pushrods. And provide clearance for the roller lifters. And anything else we encounter.
Trust me, this is not "corner store" stuff we're doing; NOTHING fits right out of the box, every single part requires some "massaging" or "re-engineering" to form part of the horsepower package that we're trying to create. (And the little voice inside my head still keeps saying.... you coulda had a BAE, you coulda had a turnkey BAE already running... etc.etc.) Well, as my (current) motto states: "Why Be Normal?" and that pretty much sums up this big adventure we've embarked on. Now for a few more pictures depicting how far we've travelled on this "road to success?".
So with all this good stuff happening, what am I "burned up" about now? First, came the news from Willowbank Raceway last weekend. As I looked at the results from the first round of the Australian Top Alcohol Championships, the anger and frustration at not being there became almost unbearable. Only seven cars showed up (for the 8-car field) and one of them was a "refugee" from Top Comp. With only two cars under six seconds in qualifying, our new car would have been a contender for at least a semi-final berth.... if we'd been there, that is.
Low qualifier, Low ET and event Winner was the usual guy, Gary Phillips, who seems well on his way to yet another Australian championship. His toughest competitors of the last few seasons, David Glenwright and Stan Tindal were conspicuous by their absence.
With the second and third rounds (of five) of the championship series coming up next weekend in Adelaide and the following weekend in Melbourne, the "chase" for the crown could be over before the end of the month. And here we sit, with an 80 percent finished race car, plane tickets in hand, shipping arrangements made... Arrgghhh!!!
It wouldn't surprise me at all if the next two rounds see less than full fields also, as the distance from Brisbane (where the vast majority of Australia's alcohol cars are located) down to Adelaide and then over to Melbourne, not to mention the two weeks on the road required, will limit the number of entries. Scott Ferguson are you listening? Time to step up and slay the dragon on our behalf if you can. While you're getting ready, ring Tom Easton and see if he can help too.
Burned up - Part Two: I've just uploaded the results of the first two rounds of qualifying at the NHRA Winternationals. (The "alcohol" cars have run twice, the fuel cars only once as Thursday's pro session was rained out). As expected, Rick Santos leads the field with an excellent 5.49, so far, but the next four spots are held by those (deleted) injected NITRO cars. The majority of cars are still blown alcohol: 15 of 23, but 4 of the top 5 cars in the field are running that "horsepower in a drum". It sure looks like the "major" rules changes that NHRA made over the off-season have evened out the field. (Like hell they have!)
I could go into another big tirade about what's happening with Federal-Mogul Dragster, but why bother? I'm just one very small voice in one very big wilderness, and since I'm moving my entire operation to Australia anyway, what right do I have to make any comment? All I can say to those people still willing and able to "compete" with their supercharged methanol burning dragsters is: Good luck!! Keep fighting the good fight and keep pressing for a fair and equitable solution to the current situation.
The last time I put my thoughts on paper and forwarded them to NHRA, they were ignored until the article was published in Australia... then all hell broke loose, with NHRA's Director of Field Marketing (great title eh?) Melvyn "Broken" Record slagging me for having the nerve to criticize the association and all the great things they've done for me and the other "sportsman" racers.
To state again that the NHRA has completely missed the point would be redundant. Or maybe it's me that's way off base. Maybe the spectators would rather see the Pro Stock Trucks and Bikes and whatever other class the marketing department can invent. Maybe I'm just such a "blower snob" that I can't see the forest for the trees. Maybe the millions of dollars invested in Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars has just been a big waste of time, effort and dollars for all concerned. Maybe we all should have just kept the class where it was ten years ago and become a faster version of Super Comp or Top Comp.
That's enough "maybe's" for one night, don't you think? And speaking of thinking, what do YOU think about what's happening with the alcohol classes? Where would you rate them? Do they deserve "professional" status, with seriously increased payouts and ranking in the "pecking" order? Or should they just fade away to be replaced by _____________ (you fill in the blank). Let me know what you think. Please.