classic funny cars by theonething

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With the introduction of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo
on the high-profile stage of professional Funny Car
competition in 2004, GM Racing reaffirmed Chevy’s
commitment to excellence in drag racing’s most
spectacular nitromethane-burning category. In its
first season in quarter-mile competition, Chevy’s
Monte Carlo Funny Car captured seven national-
event victories, advanced to 13 final rounds and
earned low qualifying honors six times. In 2005,         DOWNLOAD | X05MO_CH262
four Monte Carlo drivers finished in the top 10 in  GM Racing developed a Chevrolet Monte
the NHRA Funny Car standings: Tommy Johnson Jr.,    Carlo Funny Car that combines the identity
                                                    of the production car with the aerodynamic
Tony Pedregon, Cruz Pedregon and Del Worsham.       characteristics required to create a
GM Racing also developed a Monte Carlo body         competitive race car.
specifically for the Top Alcohol Funny Car class,
which Bob Newberry drove to the 2005 TAFC championship.

“I’ve had more Top Alcohol Funny Cars than I can count, but the Chevy Monte Carlo is the
best I've ever raced,” said Newberry. “The construction of the Monte Carlo Alcohol Funny Car
body involved a four-part development team: GM Racing, Roush Industries, S & W and myself.
The body had to be approved by NHRA and could not be modified in any way after it came
out of the mold. That called for the development of an entirely new race car because there
wasn't a current, state-of-the-art Alcohol Funny Car body in competition. Starting with the
Monte Carlo that’s used in the nitro-burning Funny Car class, we were able to make some
modifications with the approval of the NHRA, and the result was an outstanding Top Alcohol
Funny Car body.”

A sophisticated street car with race-inspired styling, the Monte Carlo is a classic Chevy
nameplate. The strengths of today’s Monte Carlo make it one of America’s best-selling cars
in the midsize coupe market and the most successful NASCAR racer. Now the storied Monte
Carlo is taking its place among the legends of NHRA drag racing.

Work began to develop GM Racing’s vision of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo Funny Car in the
summer of 2003. The primary goals of the Monte Carlo marketing team and GM Racing
engineers were to keep the shape and appearance of the new body as true as possible to the
current production car, while adhering to the aerodynamic fundamentals needed to create
a competitive race car.

“A Funny Car body has to make a tremendous amount of downforce,” explained Terry Laise,
GM Racing aerodynamicist. “The nitromethane engines create enormous horsepower, so
you’ve got to have enough downforce to apply the power to the track. As the speed of the car
increases, you produce more traction by taking advantage of the ambient air. You also need
enough front downforce so that the driver can steer the car down the track. Obviously, you
don’t want any more drag than necessary, but with the amount of power that is created, drag
does not become a primary factor when designing the car.

“A Funny Car body is so extensively reshaped that you could probably make a satisfactory shell
out of most production cars – but we wanted Chevrolet’s new Funny Car to actually look like a
Monte Carlo,” Laise noted. “We've managed to develop a race car that looks a great deal like a
Chevrolet Monte Carlo but performs better than the cars we've raced in the past.”

The first step in developing the new Monte Carlo
was a performance assessment of the Chevy
Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird, the two previous
models used by GM Racing in NHRA competition.
This included a vigorous, comprehensive
aerodynamic comparison of how the two cars
stacked up against the current competition in the
Funny Car class.

Working with Don Prudhomme’s Snake Racing                    DOWNLOAD | X02MO_CH096
Funny Car team, extensive research was conducted         The science of aerodynamics has progressed
                                                         since the early days of Funny Car racing
at the GM Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren,
                                                         when Bruce Larson competed with a near-
Mich. Testing revealed that the five-year-old Firebird   stock fiberglass replica of a first-generation
and Camaro molds (the oldest in Funny Car                Camaro body.
competition) were still very competitive.

“We knew we needed to make some changes, but it was good to know that we didn’t have to
take huge strides with this development project to meet our goals,” said Laise. “Our technical
notes, wind tunnel data and various feedback indicated we had to make minor adjustments to
make the Monte Carlo better right out of the box.

“I helped design the Monte Carlo body used in NASCAR, so some of the same technology could
be applied to the Funny Car program. At GM Racing we translate and share technology among
all of the racing series in which GM competes. Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint specific
areas, but you don’t forget what you did to develop one race car when you begin work on
another. Although racing in NASCAR and NHRA Funny Car are two completely different sports,
the laws of physics remain the same.”

Through additional wind tunnel research and input from several Chevrolet and Pontiac Funny
Car teams, improvements were made over the previous designs. Several attributes of the
Firebird and the Camaro accelerated the development of the Monte Carlo body. For example,
the dimensions of the Camaro and the Firebird fell short of the maximum dimensions allowed
by the NHRA technical department. The Monte Carlo body was constructed to take advantage
of these rules. The Camaro and the Firebird were also notably light on the front end, creating
a slight front-to-rear balance deficit that at times made the cars difficult to drive. The new
Monte Carlo body addressed these shortcomings, and with its refined shape and overall
balance, a significant amount of aerodynamic efficiency was established without a great deal
of additional drag.

“The Camaro was an outstanding reference point when we began building the Monte Carlo,”
said GM Racing director Mark Kent. “You want to have downforce, but you also want to have
a good balance from front to rear. You want to have some adjustability so that the driver feels
comfortable steering the car. Every driver has a preference on how much front downforce the
body should produce – some drivers like it light, and some like it heavy so that they know
when they turn the steering wheel, the car reacts. You also want to offset that with rear
balance so that it coincides with each crew chief’s clutch setups on the car. Aerodynamic drag
is also an important point to consider, but not nearly as important as getting the front and
rear balance and overall downforce established on the car.

“One of the areas we focused on was the greenhouse,” Kent continued. “Since we designed
the Camaro, NHRA mandated a maximum height so we were able to take advantage of the
production Monte Carlo’s roof shape. We brought it down by a small amount and tucked it
in a little bit. That improves the airflow over the driver’s compartment all the way back to
the box. We also shortened the overall length of the car by eight inches and ended up
constructing the greenhouse to match the overall shape of the production car.”

GM Racing engineers also incorporated new safety features in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Funny Car body. The carbon-fiber body was made stiffer and therefore more stable. A larger
burst panel was installed to allow greater dissipation of energy in the event of an engine
explosion, and an enlarged escape hatch in the roof accommodates drivers wearing the HANS
device. A wider windshield improves visibility.

The burst panel on the Monte Carlo measures 576 square inches, twice the size of the NHRA
minimum requirement of 288 square inches. The driver roof hatch opening measures 399
square inches, exceeding the NHRA minimum requirement of 306 square inches by more than
30 percent.

“The Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car is an outstanding race car,” Laise said. “The body is lighter,
it’s stiffer, it’s safer and we know it’s aerodynamically better than the car we ran previously.
The Monte Carlo Funny Car also retains the styling cues of the production version. The front
grille area is very detailed, and the rear glass behind the door mimics the shape of the
production glass.

“We’ve managed to develop a car that looks a great deal like a Chevrolet Monte Carlo you
would see in the showroom but performs better than the Funny Cars we’ve raced in the past.
That’s great for GM and an important avenue for our company to promote our technology
and high-quality products.”

For Chevrolet and GM Racing, building a better Funny Car is serious business.


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