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60-DEGREE RULE FOR FUEL CARS

Whit Bazemore photos by Todd Dziadosz

The one thing that everybody agreed on at the recent NHRA Englishtown event was that the Top Fuel and Fuel Floppers were having a tire problem which contributed to the postponement of the race. At that event almost every fuel car that made a complete lap under power had some kind of tread failure. DRO was told by several sources that the tire manufacturer informed NHRA that it was unsafe to run the new Top Fuel tire when the ambient air temperature was under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the reason that NHRA made the decision not to run the second session of fuel Saturday night. It was also the main reason that the race was postponed on Sunday morning, but certainly not the only reason. Even though the temp never got above the magic 60-degree mark, the fact that it rained off and on all Sunday morning also was a factor.

As to the reason for the tire failure, all sorts of theories from the bizarre to the absurd floated around. Among those heard were that the back 1/8th mile of the track was so good it was causing tread failure. That theory held that since the tires werenít spinning like they do on a "normal" track, they couldnít dissipate enough heat which in turn affected the bond that holds the tread to the tire.

Iím no tire engineer but the fact that cold weather was given as the main reason for the tire problems doesnít give much credibility to that "heat" argument.

Another theory floating around was that the track was " too good." That theory held that because the tires couldnít spin down track, the tread was literally being pulled off of the tire by the track. You talk about a track with teeth!

We were also told that the track crew spent one night trying to remove the glue from the back half of the track in order to allow the tires to spin! Unbelievable, but true. It apparently didnít work, judging from the record elapsed times in Pro Stock and Pro Stock bike.

Despite all of the theories from the untrained, the crew chiefs on the fuel cars refused to a man to place any blame on the new Goodyear fuel tire. DRO was told that both Dale Armstrong and Austin Coil, among others, blamed the tire problems on a once in a lifetime combination of weather and track conditions, not a design flaw in the tire.

When asked about the tire problem John Force replied, "Youíre asking the wrong guy. The last time I ran here it snowed and we ran 300 without any tire failure."

In the last eight years or so since Kenny Bernstein broke the 300 mph barrier there have been numerous instances of Fuel cars lapping in sub-60-degree weather but in almost all cases the runs were made on the "old design" Goodyear Top Fuel tire.

If the new tire ó which is supposed to improve the tire failure problem ó cannot be run in temperatures under 60 degrees, that will create a whole new set of problems for NHRA, IHRA, and promoters running match races with fuel cars. On the other hand, if the problem persists in the heat of the Texas sun over Memorial Day Weekend the problem wonít be the promoters' or racers'.

ó JB

POTENT PROWLER

Agent 1320 was sent these spy photos of a Prowler being built in the G Force Race Car shops for Paul Chirayath. It reportedly is being built for IHRA T/S-T/D competition. As you can see from these photos the car is powered by a supercharged Ford Hemi. The Agent canít wait to see this car run.

 

 

AND YOU THOUGHT THAT KAASE ONLY BUILT FORDS

At a recent NMCA race Agent 1320 was hanging around Chicago racer Junior Griffinís pit when he (or she) noticed that Griffinís Pontiac had a GM engine under the hood with Jon Kaase stickers on the valve cover. When questioned about the deal, the Griffin crew told us that they called Kaase and asked if he would build them a big GM wedge motor. He told them yes and built them an 810-inch mountain motor. The car ran a 7.15/193 the weekend the Agent saw it run.

VEGAS STYLE GRANDSTANDS FOR INDY

Agent 1320 has been told that when IRP gets its long awaited facelift, one of the improvements will be grandstands like those found at Bruton Smithís Las Vegas facility.

CHEVY RULES ON T.V. TOO!

Agent 1320 has been told that the consistently highest rated drag racing shows on television are those that cover Roger Gustinís Super Chevy Shows. The only professional class offered by Super Chevy is their Nitro Coupe class. (Thatís Dave Greytakís í37 above.) The rest of the program consists of bracket racing and a car show. The Agent wants to know: Is it the fact that the program is all-Chevy or is it the Nitro Coupes? Maybe NHRA needs to consult with Mr. Gustin.

IN MEMORIAM:
Terry “Fuzzy” Carter

There have been times when I can’t believe I am writing what I’m writing and this is one of them. Former Eddie Hill crew chief Terry “Fuzzy” Carter, age 41, died from cancer May 17 at his home in Big Spring, Texas.(MORE)

HAMMONDS DROPS THE BALL, RETURNS TO RACING AT E-TOWN
Tom Hammonds, power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, will return to NHRA Pro Stock racing after the T'wolves were ousted from the NBA payoffs.

First race this year in his second sport will be at Englishtown, although he did get in some earlier testing at Houston Raceway Park during the NBA All-Star break. Hammonds will compete at 13 events, with his last race of the season at Topeka, before returning to duties in the NBA. He has been an NBA player since 1989 and began racing NHRA in 1996.

“I’ve got another two years left on my basketball contract,” Hammonds said. “It’s my full intention to totally drag race when this contract is over. It gives us enough time to further strengthen our program so that when I do finish playing basketball we’ll be off and running.”

J.R. TODD GETS UNITED EXPRESSLINE SPONSORSHIP
When Bruce Litton named J.R. Todd as driver of his second top fueler a month ago he planned to sponsor the car out of his own Bruce Litton Trailer Sales. But now plans have changed, at least for a couple of races. United Expressline, Inc., a manufacturer of enclosed trailers, will sponsor the 18-year-old former junior dragster standout for two races beginning with the IHRA Amalie Oil Summer Nationals in Cordova, Ill.

GOODGUYS GOODTIMES YEARBOOK IS AVAILABLE
Nostalgia fans, get out your checkbooks - you don’t want to miss this. The 2000 Goodguys Goodtimes Yearbook is now ready. The 132-page glossy book features a look at Hot Rod Heroes such as Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Wally Parks, Mickey Thompson, Art Chrisman and others; color photos of the 1999 Goodguys Street Rod of the Year, Custom Rod of the Year, Street Machine of the Year, and Muscle Car of the Year. DRO’s (occasional) contributor Dave Wallace recaps the 1999 nostalgia drag racing action.

To order the book, send check or money order for $5 to:

2000 Goodguys Goodtimes Yearbook
Dept. DRO
P.O. Box 424
Alamo, CA 94507.

Or call the Goodguys Merchandise Department at 925-838-9876, ext. 118 to charge by phone using Visa or Mastercard.

11-INCH DOT OUTLAW CIRCUIT
Former IHRA Funny Car World Champion Denny Savage heads a Southern California-based circuit for high-powered street racers called 11-inch (Tires) DOT Outlaw. Sounds like a wild deal. At the Super Chevy race at Pomona Raceway this past March, Savage produced 45 contestants qualifying for a 16-car field. The competition is handicapped with the assisted cars (blown cars and nitrous cars) giving an edge to the motor cars based on weight. Savage won the event, keeping his ‘66 Nova in front of Jon Finley’s ‘66 Chevelle to take a 9.55 / 142.31 to 9.12 / 152.28 nod.

“We were able to pay back 20 places at Pomona,” said Savage. “That’s 16 qualified cars and the first four alternates. It’s been a good group. We started it two years ago when it became evident to me that a lot of the muscle car drivers wanted to run a bigger tire than the usual 10-inch size. We've grown quite a bit in our young existence. I have gotten some sticker sponsorship (each sponsor kicks in $100 to the purse based on stickers), and some television time. We’ll be back at Pomona for the GoodGuys Meet in July.”

If you are interested, contact Denny at xflopperdriver@msn.com

 

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