Speed boat racing from Florida to Havana and back

It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for the Agent to look around for news other than on the drag strip, so here’s one you might enjoy learning about.


Nigel Hook and the crew of SilverHook are having a two-for-one world speed record attempt on August 17. That's the day that Captain Hook has chosen to try to set two speed records in what is considered the most technically advanced offshore monohull race boat in the world. The first objective is a one-way speed record from a point just off the Florida Keys in the southern United States to Havana, Cuba.


If that record is established, then part two will be an equally fast or faster return trip and a two-way record. Should SilverHook fail to break the one-way record and the mechanical/technical problems are fixable in the water then the return trip record attempt will still be mounted.


On the morning of August 17 the Lucas Oil Speed Record attempt will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT in Mallory Square (Key West). The timer starting the record attempt will be triggered just south of Sunset Key and will stop when SilverHook reaches the channel marker in front of El Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro). Following a brief celebration hosted by the Hemingway International Yacht Club, the return leg will be straight back to Key West, hopefully producing the reverse, round-trip world record.


The sanctioned record of 6 hours was set in 1922 by a boat piloted by motor racing Hall of Fame member Gar Wood. Wood was an American inventor, entrepreneur, motor boat builder and racer who held the world water speed record on several occasions. He was the first man to travel over 100 miles per hour on water.


In 2015 the ocean racer Apache set an unsanctioned time of 1 hour and 51 minutes.


This USA-Cuba record attempt is a tremendous challenge for the SilverHook, which given the expected wave conditions should exceed 125mph. The boat is 48 feet long, weighs over 13,000 pounds powered by two Mercury Racing engines producing a combined 3,100 horsepower and a top speed of nearly 168 miles per hour in calm conditions. The powerboat telemetry has been radically updated from its normal Superboat unlimited configuration.


SilverHook is owned and captained by transplanted Englishman Nigel Hook, who will be controlling the throttles and telemetry on the record attempt. Hook is a 30-year veteran of international powerboat racing and has won three World Championships, set three World Speed Records and earned membership in the APBA Hall of Champions. He currently races the 77 Lucas Oil SilverHook 48GP in the Superboat International unlimited class. His co-pilot and driver is fellow APBA inductee and powerboat veteran Jay Johnson. 

Chuck Beal passes away

In 2012 Beal began helping his grandson, Brandon Welch, to run a nitro Funny Car and they ran some races in 2015 and 2016.


Veteran racer Chuck Beal, a former NHRA national event winner in Top Alcohol Funny Car, died July 13 of complications from a heart procedure. He was 74.


Beal began racing dragsters in 1966 and switched to an alcohol funny car in the late 1970s. He won Winternationals titles in 1982 and ’83. He moved into the nitro class in 1994. 

John Collins succumbs

John Collins in 2009.  Funny Car veteran John Collins, who competed throughout the 1970 and ‘80s, died July 14 after a short battle with cancer.


After running his own car for several years, Collins was hired in 1974 as the driver of Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen’s second English Leather Funny Car, which he drove through the 1976 season.


Collins was instrumental in getting NHRA to allow foreign-car bodies in Funny Car. Collins brought out his Datsun 280ZX Funny Car at the 1980 Winternationals.


He won the 1985 NHRA Fallnationals in Phoenix, beating John Force in the final. 

New Product of the Day


JEGS Fuel Rails for OE-Style LS Engine Intakes

JEGS Fuel Rails are CNC-machined to precise tolerances then anodized black for a dignified finish. Designed for OE-Style LS Intake manifolds these aluminum EFI fuel rails are capable of feeding 1,100+ HP engines. Featuring 1/2" diameter inner bore to decrease fuel pressure drop, help cancel out back pulses, and distribute fuel to all injectors properly. Includes high performance fuel rails, matching fittings, hose and hardware.   

Diamonds are forever, but dragsters aren’t

Veteran Top Fuel racer "Diamond" Dave Miller has teamed up with Midwest N/TF veteran Dale Suhr to run a AA/FD-N/FD around the Midwest this summer.


Unfortunately, the pair had a little incident during the recent DRO AA/FC Motorsports Park in Iowa. There was a mechanical malfunction of some sort after Miller did his burnout resulting in the dragster being stuck in reverse and running into the track sign at the back of staging lanes.


No one was injured but the same couldn't be said for the chassis. The car was originally thought to be totaled but the Frank Parks-built chassis was taken to Midwest chassis builder Ty Baumgartner who told the Agent it appears to be repairable.  

DRO AA/FC Challenge to allow 44-amp magnetos

The DragRacingOnline.com AA/FC Challenge series strictly adheres to the NHRA Heritage safety rules and most of their other rules. The only exception has been that DRO uses a go/no-go gauge to verify the fuel pumps legality.


Today DRO AA/FC Series administrator, Jeff Burk, announced that effective at the Sept 8-9 DRO AA/FC Challenge at the Funny Car Nationals at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, the 44amp magneto will be legal.


“I decided to make this change for the following reasons.,” explained Burk. “First the old style points mags have problems when in RPM ranges above 9000 engine rpm. NHRA Heritage rule makers recognized that issue when Top Fuel cars originally limited to a points mag had major engine problems traced to the points mag at engine RPM above 9000 rpm. They made the 44-amp mags legal and saved the class.


“Second,” Burk continued, “today 9500-10,300 shift points for AA/FC teams aren't uncommon and now the Funny Car teams are having the same issues that the Top Fuel racers were having.


“And finally, the DRO series has had some issues getting eight-car fields especially this year. At the DRO race at Cedar Falls I talked to every AA/FC team owner and tuner in attendance and to many team owners at home after the event and to a man they wanted the 44amp mag.”




One MSD  44-amp generator

One MSD points box

One MSD or FIE coil

No Battery and no electrical connection between generator and point box

No crank trigger devices and no use of MSD "Grid"

Advance and Retard of magneto must be done mechanically/pneumatically

8.50 Index Racers to Run Heads Up at Cecil County

For the first time ever, 8.50 Index racers will run in a true heads-up format at an event called 8.50 Unleashed that takes place Saturday, July 22, at Cecil County Dragway.


Normally 8.50 Index racers have to worry about “breaking out” but not this weekend because the index is getting thrown out. This event will be run in a true heads-up style with the first one to the finish line getting the win light. The race will feature all door cars running the full quarter mile.


Race creator David Godfrey stated, “This event really stems from fans constantly asking us how fast our car would go if we just ran it flat out and didn’t worry about the index. Of course that turned into us wondering about who really has the fastest car out here.  Come July 22nd we are going to find out.”


More than just bragging rights will be on the line as the winner of the event will be taking home $2500.

Jr. Eastern Conference Finals under way at Bristol Dragway

The NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Finals presented by Huddleston Performance takes place at Bristol Dragway Thursday through Saturday, July 20-22. The event features more than 500 drivers, from 6-17 years old, in eight racing categories.


Each of the 10 members of the team champion at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Finals event will receive the NHRA Wally trophy. Individual champions will each earn $1,500, along with a Wally trophy and champion’s jacket. 

Geno Scali buys Gladstone bike and returns to racing

Geno rode at the 2006 NHRA event in Joliet, IL. A note in the mayo jar on the Phlegm Building’s porch say 2003 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, Geno Scali, has purchased Skip and Joey Gladstone’s Real Street Suzuki Hayabusa and will make a return to racing at the IDBL WPGC Bike Fest at Maryland International Raceway on July 28-30.


Skip Gladstone will tune the bike for Scali at the Maryland race, according to cycledrag.com. Joey moved to NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competition this year.


Scali has been slowly recovering from nerve damage and a balance problem suffered in a 2004 testing accident that sent him into the sand trap and safety net.


Scali says the team will make adjustments to the clutch and switch to a clear shield. With Scali’s body weight heavier than Gladstone’s 140 lbs., Scali will run the bike at 71 inches if he weighs in at over 170 lbs. 

Denver by the Numbers

With a tune-up needed that is nothing like any other event on the NHRA schedule, the Mile-High Nationals is a challenge for the teams. One that some can’t afford to try. On the entry list for this weekend’s racing are 16 Top Fuel dragsters, 16 Funny Cars, 14 Pro Stocks, and 18 Pro Stock Motorcycles.


Even some of the sportsman classes are less than full with 17 Super Stocks, 32 Stocks and just 15 in Top Sportsman.




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