Archive for June, 2010

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…)


Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

June 15, 2010 Press Release from Bristol, TN

Bristol Dragway is known around the country as Thunder Valley and 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight wants to bring his own brand of thunder to the historic race track this weekend.

Hight has already posted some impressive personal records in 2010 including three wins in a row, leading the Full Throttle points and currently having a three race streak of No. 1 qualifiers to his credit. For Hight the season is not about records it is about maintaining a level of domination that he did not have in 2009.

“Last season we struggled. I didn’t qualify in Bristol and that hurt. The year before I was one round away from going to the final and then to not qualify last year hurt us. We kept struggling all last season until we started turning it around before Indy. This year I want to dominate all season and we have been running great lately,” said Hight, a four time finalist in 2010.

Hight’s secret weapon … (more…)

Inside Story: The Mongoose’s First Funny Car

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Can barracudas fly? The Mongoose takes a dive.

February 1965: The NHRA Winternationals turned into a much bigger show than I bargained when I debuted the Hemi-Cuda Funny Car, my first Funny Car ride.

Lou Baney, owner of the Yeakel Plymouth Top Fuel team I was driving for, was the consummate wheeler-dealer. He convinced the Southern California Plymouth Dealers Association to pony up for the construction and sponsorship of the famous (or maybe infamous), Hemi-Cuda I rear-engine Funny Car. The mission was to build a racer, not another Barracuda wheelstander like Hurst’s “Hemi Under Glass.”

Next: Mongoose remembers what the Hemi-Cuda’s engine … (more…)

Drag Racing History: The Mongoose Takes You Inside the 1967 Tire Wars

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The Mongoose's ride, around the time of the Tire Wars

M&H Racemaster Tussles with Goodyear in a ‘David & Goliath’ Battle

In the “Tire Wars” of ’67, not a shot was fired, but the combat on the drag strips throughout the U.S. was fierce.

The basics of the battle were truly a David vs. Goliath saga. On one side stood the little guy, Marvin Rifchin, owner of M&H Racemaster Tires out of Watertown, Mass. On the other was his rival, the mighty Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio. The two companies had their own approach to drag racing and they varied greatly. Marvin, the creator of the first modern racing slick in 1957, took a very hands-on approach when it came to developing compounds for new slicks and dealing directly with the racers. Goodyear relied on the giant corporate approach to design and development. Both business strategies proved successful as a flood of newly conceived tires surged from both companies’ design facilities.

Next: The first official 6-second pass in drag racing history … (more…)