Archive for 2010

Who’s ‘Da Best?^^^Let The Fans Decide!!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
One of the folks who visits Motortopia with regularity, has a gripe with those who, upon occasion, compile lists of  “The Greatest Drag Racers Since Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth!!!”  You know what I’m talking about.  Just about every  automotive magazine and website,  from time to time tackles this project.
And the results never fail to raise the hackles of hundreds and hundreds
of disgruntled readers, who bombard the list makers with everything short of kidnapping and a slow painful death.
Everyone has their favorite driver, based on a multitude of reasons … from the type vehicle they drive to the name of their dog.
So, instead of  the “professional” list makers creating the list, all you out there who give a rat’s rump, do it yourselves.
How about some guide lines first, just to make it interesting.
Let’s try this:
Top Fuel from 1960 thru 1980
Top Fuel from 1981 thur 2010
Nitro F/C from 1968 thru 1985
Nitro F/C from 1986 thru 2010
Pro Stock from 1970 thru 1990
Pro Stock from 1991 thru 2010
And then, cap it off with “The Greatest Ever” for each category
and then, just to make it interesting, “The Greatest Pro Drag Racer Ever”
regardless of category.
And then, just to make it even more interesting, or confusing, how about
“The Greatest  Pro Drag Racer to Race in Multiple Classes”, such as
The Goo$e, Snake, Bernstein who raced T/F and F/C, you catch my drift.
And if you really feel frisky, state your reason for your vote.
For all you fanatics out there, you could also tackle sportsman drivers.
Now here’s your chance, no more bellyaching about how “they” got it so blinking wrong.
So, now all of you out there who have a grudge against all those pro list makers, here’s your chance to be heard.

It’s Gonna Get Interesting!

Sunday, November 28th, 2010
First off, I hope all out there had a memorable (for all the right reasons) Thanksgiving…and cases of food poisoning were kept to a minimum.  Watch those left-overs!  We want to keep all the readers we have.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave or in solitary confinement, you know Silly Season’s in full bloom.
First Austin Coil gives the Force organization a kiss-off then Ed McCulloch and John Medlin depart DSR.   
Where “Ace” will end up seems to be way up in the air, depending on what you read/who you talk with…from retirement to signing up with another team.  Medlin?  Don’t know nothin’.  And Austin?….well Austin is Austin.  He has always been full of surprises.  Once again, depending upon who’s bending your ear, where he’ll show up next. 
The one that tickles my curiosity most is him teaming up with a Arizona Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car team, his wife Lisa at the helm.  Can you imagine how interesting N/FC will get if that comes to pass?
And then there’s Cory Mac’s replacement.  Spencer Massey?  Steve Torrence?  Or? Only time will tell.
Speaking of Cory, one juicy tidbit is a NASCAR team owner (some say Truck, others Nationwide) backing The Mac Attack in T/F for ’11.
Totally off the subject…just curious, which would your rather see (hear, smell, feel) 18 “Big Show” Funny Cars competing for a 16 car show,
or 40 Nostalgia nitro F/Cs fighting it out for 16 or possibly 32 car field?
On that note, as Arnold said in Terminator:  “I’ll Be Back”….(insert thick Austrian accent here).
Thanks for your time….now please go out and buy a copy of Drag Racer, or better yet subscribe!

Let ‘er Rip

Sunday, November 21st, 2010
Hello Faithful Drag Racer Supporters…
It’s time you’ve heard something from the new editor.
The 2010 racing season is fast drawing to a close…
It’s certainly ending with a bang rather than a whimper.
The California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield was one of those “dude, you shoulda’ been there!” events.
It’s such a bitchin’ experience, on so many levels…kind of like the  Woodstock Music Festival on nitro.
You’re able to rub elbows with the people who literally created the Sport of Drag Racing….drivers, car owners, parts manufacturers…the
movers and shakers who got us to where we are today.  It’s the only place (event—happening) I know of where you have the opportunity
to do this.  Every body’s laid back, happy to take the time to talk with you.  If you’re into autograph collecting, the Hot Rod Reunion’s
THE PLACE to be.
This year there were a ton of “must see” faces, including Raymond Beadle and his entire Blue Max crew:  Crew Chief Dale Emery, “Waterbed
Fred” Miller and D. Gantt.  If you’re into race car construction, three of the greatest tin benders were in attendance:  Tom Hanna, Jim Hume and Steve Davis.  I’m an Okie, so it was a real treat to see Bob Creitz, who campaigned some of the strongest and most beautiful top fuel dragsters ever to come out of the southwest and  Top Fuel  ’67 & 68 World Champ Bennie “The Wizard” Osborn.
In addition to history making people, tons (literally) of history making race cars were in attendance…either restorations or recreations.
The Cacklefest portion of the event is getting out of control…in the most positive way!
In addition to the people and historical vehicles,  the race was truly a memory-maker.  37, yes drag fans you read right 37 double A nitro funny cars made a lap. When was the last time that many nitro floppers clogged the staging lanes?  One of our historians out there will have to answer than one.
Of course, the Top Fuel dragsters were also there in strength.
If you haven’t been…you are truly missing out!
Next up was the NHRA Vegas race.  It was memorable for what didn’t happen.  None of the Top Three Pro Categories were locked up, sending the Championship to Pomona.   Dixon didn’t win…and sadly (for me, anyway) Bobby Lagana, Jr. didn’t win T/F, after coming oh-so-close, losing to the Army in the final.  And he didn’t back into the finals either, taking out Millican, Dixon and Brown to get there.  I’ve been around the Laganas. for years, covering races and racing against them with “The Mongoo$e” .  They’re good people.
And the World Finals…Matt Hagan came oh so close…but the Old Pro  Force showed ‘em how to get it done…one more time.  Congrats John.
I was sitting next to “The Goo$e” during the race.  When Hagan and Tasca faced off in the first round, Goo$e was saying “stage, stage” and Hagan was sitting there, the motor getting hotter and hotter.  A few seconds later it was all over.  I wonder  if that extra time might have cost him the race….those engines have very short fuses.  It will be interesting to see how Funny Car plays out next season, especially in the light of Austin Coil leaving the Force Camp.
Well, I guess that’s enough for now.
I appreciate your time and your support of Drag Racer Magazine.

Funny Car Evolution: The Sophisticated 70s

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Courtesy Gerdes/Circus Archives

Part 2 of Drag Racer’s thrilltastic trip in the Funny Car Time Machine

By the early 1970s, Funny Car builders from coast to coast had taken cues from each other’s workmanship and began to standardize their approach to crafting the foundations for these ground-shaking, flip-top, crowd pleasers. We’ll pick up the torch where suspensions were no longer needed and where clutches took the place of over-worked (and over-exploded) automatic transmissions.

NHRA vs. the Match Traveling Circus

Little did we know (at the time) that these entertaining drag racers were actually a nitro-burning “traveling circus.” The only difference was they all went in different directions once the show was over. In 1974, there were only seven NHRA national events. The calendar included: The Winternationals, The Gatornationals, The Springnationals, Le Grand National, The Summernationals, The Nationals, and The World Finals.

The striking “Pepsi Challenger” carried Don “The Snake” Prudhomme on a memorable 5.637-second pass on September 4, 1982 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Once the dust had settled in 1974, Shirl Greer of Warner Robbins, Georgia, was crowned Funny Car champion, following a terrible fire in qualifying and a heroic overnight rebuild (by friends and crew) that saw Greer drive with bandaged hands on race day. That made for an exciting story, and the bucks-down racer proved to be a popular champion, as everyone loves an underdog. Truth be told, the sport is peppered with amazing triumphs such as that.

Referring to one of the old Winston Drag Racing Media Guides, it had a category subtitled, “Milestone Professional Performances,” and the Funny Car section lists: 5.987, Don Prudhomme, October 12, 1975, Ontario, California. “The Snake” also appeared in that same section, thanks to a stellar 5.637 blast on September 4, 1982 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

It would be impossible to count how many active Funny Cars there were nationwide, though the total would be “a bunch.” That said; most racers could travel as little or as much as they wanted for match race bookings. At the time, track promoters had different deals for different drivers. Some, like “The Snake” and “The Mongoo$e” received appearance money, as well as an escalating purse, that increased by the number of rounds won. Other racers may have attracted only the round money, but other incentives were also common, such as tow money and bonus bucks for wild burnouts or wheelstands. Every crafty promoter seemed to have his own package deal … (more…)

Funny Car Evolution: From Stone Age to Space Age

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Photo Courtesy Dave Hodgman /

Part 1 – The Early Years

Ever wonder how ‘funny cars’ came about and got their funny name?

This exciting breed of purpose-built drag cars was actually a byproduct of the “Factory Wars,” where match race Super Stockers were making headlines (and tire tracks) from coast to coast. In the beginning, the players included names like Landy, Sox, Strickler, Nicholson, Dyer, and Lindamood, to name a few. As the rivalries intensified, along came the experimentation. So much so, when the first altered wheelbase cars began to appear, they were classified as “Factory Experimentals.” In 1964, the A/Factory Experimentals took on a look of their own and the idea worked well – move the wheels forward creating more overhang on the rear, which increased the weight transfer dramatically. Chrysler execs ordered Plymouths and Dodges to have their rear body sections moved forward by 15 inches, while the front wheels were moved ahead by 10 inches.

Somebody said, “They look funny,” and the name Funny Car became a regular addition to the enthusiasts’ vernacular.

Once again, the Tasca Ford entry trailered all the way from Rhode Island to Pomona, California, to compete at the Winternationals in Factory Experimental. Notice the wheelbase configurations are virtually stock on the Tasca and Dyno Don entries. (Photo Courtesy Tasca Family Archive)

Steel-Bodied Crowd Pleasers

The earliest versions were cut-up steel bodies with modified chassis and K-members. Sheet metal was acid dipped to reduce weight and carburetors were soon replaced with tall injector stacks sticking through the hoods. Pick whatever class of competition you’d like, and history will prove the first versions to be, well, crude, to say the least. However, craftsmanship wasn’t far away. The altered wheelbase Factory Experimentals featured full suspensions – often using leaf springs and ladder bars in the rear, with coil-over shocks up front. Their starting line antics generally produced giant wheelstands – a practice the factories would soon disapprove of. Official memos were sent to Detroit-backed teams, basically ordering them to, “Stop the wheelstands.” Apparently, the “Brass” felt that wheelstands detracted from the actual racing, where factories relied heavily on actual race victories, in order to “one-up” the competition in showrooms and advertising campaigns across the nation.

Who was the first guy to stuff a blown & injected nitro engine into a full-bodied car? (more…)

Nitro Funny Car Vs. F-14 Tomcat

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Excerpt from 'Mongoo$e: The Life and Times of Tom McEwen

Who’s faster? The Mongoose or the Vietnam fighter jock?

Through the course of the ‘74 season, I did Navy recruiting displays almost weekly. Usually the officer would be a fighter jock who was rotating out of a tour in Vietnam.

I’d be sitting around week after week with these flyers. They were interesting guys and they all got off on the Funny Car, as most seemed to like anything that was fast and dangerous. All of ‘em wanted to make a pass, just like I wanted some seat time in a fighter plane. The pilots were quick to brag of hitting approximately 150 mph in 250 feet, but were a little sketchy on how quickly they got there.

I was positive in that sprint I could hand ‘em their heads. As these conversations continued throughout the year, I started thinking about how we could prove who was truly quicker and faster, my blown Nitro Funny Car, or a twin-engine jet Navy fighter plane. Could you imagine the press coverage and bragging rights I’d get by beating a jet fighter? My sponsors (and race track promoters) would eat it up.

So, how could we actually do it? How could I race a jet?


Drag Racer Thrashes Parts on the Moroso Performance Dyno

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Check out our stats from 10 pulls in one day.

The original “Drag Special” front tire from Moroso Performance (http://www NULL.moroso has been a “must-have” item for decades, thanks to its light weight construction and lower rolling resistance. And that’s not all the parts maker is famous for. Since 1968, Moroso has pioneered the development of deep-sump oil pans, pan evacuation systems, vacuum pumps, and countless other performance systems and accessories.

Recently, the Drag Racer team was pleased to spend a day at Moroso Performance, where its team of engineers soundly thrashed a host of parts on the company’s DTS dyno. This aggressive project showed us (in real time) how a host of products have increased horsepower over the years.

Mule Engine Basics

The mule engine selected for this exercise was a 582-inch big-block Chevy provided decent results from most of the products tested here. However, it’s difficult to baseline such a wide variety of power producing items using one mule, as different combinations respond differently when applied to engines that put out either less or more grunt.

Specs … (more…)

Inside Story: How the Mongoose Landed the Hot Wheels Deal

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The Mongoose reveals how he scored cash to buy nitro — & changed drag racing sponsorship forever.

As the old saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness,” but it can sure buy nitro — and snappy Coca-Cola pants to boot!

As drag racing matured, it became much more expensive to be competitive. Equipment manufacturers were building better parts, and now, the stuff was being designed specifically for drag racing. The science of nitro engine development, tuning and chassis design was making rapid advances. Crew chiefs were getting savvier. Drivers, many becoming full-time professionals, were constantly honing their skills.

All this was conspiring to radically improve the performance of Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars. This increase in performance came at a cost, though, literally. Racing was getting much more expensive. You could no longer get by on the parts deals doled out by traditional automotive-related sponsors.

This was the state of professional drag racing that brought about the “Hot Wheels Deal.” The whole deal kicked off in late ’69. I realized that if my racing career was going to continue to flourish, it was going to require a major injection of cash. To come up with the kind of money I needed, unconventional thinking (and funding) was required. After doing my homework, Mattel Toys and their highly successful Hot Wheels line of toy cars and accessories seemed like a natural target. The kids raced their cars in a straight line like we raced, and the parents, being about my age, were either already race fans, or at least potential fans. Throw in the Mongoo$e and Snake animals to use as advertising hooks, and it looked like a win-win situation.

Next: Can the Mongoose persuade the skeptical Snake to get on board with the deal? (more…)

Mongoose Journals: From Doorslammers to Dragsters

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Cutting-edge tech when the Mongoose gets his paws on 'em.

Route 66 sees more action than the dragstrip in this wacky Mongoose adventure.

Hauling my D/Gas ’57 Chevy all the way from California to Oklahoma City for the ’57 NHRA Nationals was quite an adventure for me and my three friends. The race was exciting, but it was nothing compared to our journey home.

For the ’57 to make D/Gas class weight, we stacked a couple of hundred pounds of barbell weights in the trunk. The car raced, as was the hot set-up of the time, with its nose in the air. Prior to the trip home, we relocated the weights to the front floorboards, so it would tow easier, hitched it up to Jim Yander’s Chevy and headed west on Route 66.

I was asleep in the front seat of the ’57. We were heading up the grade just east of Albuquerque when Jim started to pass another vehicle. The race car swung wide, tearing loose from the tow bar with its locked rear end chattering. Instantly wide awake, I grabbed the steering wheel and yanked myself up just in time to see the race car pulling alongside the tow car. The gasser plowed into the center divider, careened across two lanes of traffic … (more…)

Steve Torrence Takes Hunt for Title Points to Thunder Valley

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Plus, when & where you can find this weekend’s Thunder Valley action on TV

The decision to contend for a berth in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship is taking Steve Torrence to some new race sites, including Bristol Dragway, home to the Thunder Valley Nationals, Friday through Sunday.

While it is Torrence’s initial Top Fuel appearance, those making the tuning decisions have a vast performance notebook for the track Bruton Smith carved out of the East Tennessee mountains.

“I’m looking forward to racing there,” said Torrence, driver of the Torrence Racing/Tuttle Motorsports dragster.  “We do have a good race car now.  Dexter (Tuttle, team owner and tuner) and co-crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Kevin Poynter are working well together.  The car has been running consistently and it is going to get better.  We just need to win more rounds.”

Next: Points rankings … (more…)