A Lot More Speed in Half the Time

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					                                          SPEAKING OF SPEED with John Jodauga

                                 A Lot More Speed in Half the Time
                                               hen I       drag racing in the early 1980s, the fastest Top Fueler   in the mid-1960s, I worked with Bruce Crower
                                               first       was Gary Beck’s car, which was the first to run          to develop the first centrifugal-force slipper
                                               became      consistently in the 5.30s. The Top Alcohol Dragster      clutch, which enabled us to quit smoking the
                                   aware of the sport of   cars are quicker than that now. But the number that      tires for the full length of the run, but, again,
                                   drag racing while       stick out in my mind the most is that on our 286.19-     it’s nothing like the sophisticated clutch-
                                   attending Pomona        mph eighth-mile pass, the car actually hit 200 mph       management systems that we have today. Not
                                   High School in the      just 300 feet into the run.”                             only do we have much more power to work
                                   early 1960s, one of                                                              with now, but we are able to apply a lot more of
                                   the often-heard                                                                  it to the track in a much more efficient manner.

                                   phrases in the
                                                                   Today’s Top Fuel racers are                          “And finally, today’s engines are capable of
“Sunday, Sunday!” radio ads was the possibility that               capable of topping the double-                   dealing with a tremendous increase of fuel flow
the upcoming weekend might be the occasion of                                                                       without excessive damage. There was definitely
drag racing’s first 200-mph quarter-mile run.
                                                           century mark in less than a quarter                      a limit on how far you could push the old
                                                           of the distance that it took

    At that time, breaking the double-century mark                                                                  production-style blocks and heads back in the
was drag racing’s equivalent of Chuck Yeager going                                                                  1960s. Those earlier motors couldn’t have
faster than the speed of sound in 1947 and Roger
                                                           Garlits to do it in 1964.                                handled the dual mags and dual fuel pumps that
Bannister running the first sub-four-minute mile in                                                                 we now use.”
1954, so the opportunity to witness such a historic            That means that today’s Top Fuel racers are              Said Oberhofer, “When we have engine
event drew many fans to tracks all over the                             capable of topping the double-century       problems now, it’s almost always because of
country.                                                                   mark in less than a quarter of the       rare flaws in the components. We recently had
    As to which driver should be credited                                     distance that it took Garlits to do   our first engine explosion in quite awhile in
with recording the                                                                it in 1964.                       Madison that was caused by mechanical failure.
first 200-mph run is a                                                                      Oberhofer said,         We hardly ever encounter breakage from the
subject of debate.                                                                       “When Scott Kalitta went   tune-up itself.”
Many point to Chris                                                                       308 mph to win the            Technological advancements in Pro Stock
“the Greek”                                                                               1993 Topeka Top Fuel      have been equally as impressive. Leroy
Karamesines’ 204.54                                                                       final, his eighth-mile    Goldstein driving the nitro-burning,
mph at Illinois’ Alton                                                                    speed was 248 mph, so     supercharged Ramchargers Dodge to the first
Dragway on April 4,                                                                    he gained 60 mph in the      six-second Funny Car clocking in 1970, the
1960, while others favor                                                            back half. Then in 2008, when   year that Pro Stock was introduced with high
Don Garlits’ 200.44 at the Division 1 race in Great        Hillary Will
Description: While attending the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, I talked with a number of major players in the Top Fuel ranks, including Dixon, Team Kalitta crew chief Jim Oberhofer, and veteran Connie Kalitta, to get their feedback on this tremendous progress. [...] we didn't have the tires and the aerodynamic downforce that we have now.
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