Our Mission
DRAG RACING Online will be published monthly with new stories and features. Some columns will be updated throughout the month.
owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em like we see 'em. We strive for truth, integrity, irreverence, and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.

Jeff Burk
Managing Editor
Kay Burk
Senior Editor
Ian Tocher
Matt Schramel
Asst. Managing Editor
Caitlin Moriarity
Bracket Racing
Jok Nicholson

Mike Bumbeck
Cole Coonce
Cliff Gromer

Darr Hawthorne

Bret Kepner
Jeff Leonard

Dave Wallace
Dale Wilson

Editor at Large
Bret Kepner
Senior Photographer
Ron Lewis
Adam Cranmer
James Drew
Todd Dziadosz
Steve Embling
Steve Gruenwald
Zak Hawthorne
Bret Kepner
Tim Marshall
Mark Rebilas
Ivan Sansom
Jon Van Daal
Tech Contributors

Dave Koehler
Jay Roeder
Jim Salemi
Wayne Scraba
Mike Stewart

European Correspondent
Ivan Sansom
Jon Van Daal
Poet Laureate
Bob Fisher
Director of Advertising
Darr Hawthorne
Accounts Manager
Casey Araiza
Editor at Large Emeritus
Chris Martin
Website Hosting
Website & Ad Design
Matt Schramel

A second chance for the Funny Car class


Art by Star Pixel Graphics

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t get the opportunity to use the benefits of 20/20 hindsight to change the course of events. If those in charge of drag racing were able to, surely based upon 20/20 hindsight they would erase their decisions to add the Pro Stock Truck class, to allow the morphing of fiberglass funny car bodies to the point that they’re unidentifiable or to allow the massive proliferation of electronics in the bracket and professional classes. But usually the sport just lurches along saddled with decisions and precedents that can’t be changed because the sanctioning body is sure to be sued if they were to change.

Every once in a while, though, the opportunity to use 20/20 hindsight presents itself and someone takes advantage of it. I think that is about to happen to the Fuel Funny Car class.

As a 16-year-old I watched front motored Top Fuelers, Fuel Roadsters and supercharged gassers that were so high off of the ground the driver needed a ladder to get into the car to go down the track (often on two wheels; sometimes on the same side of the car, sometimes not). Those cars left a life-long impression on my consciousness.

Later it was the Funny Cars with production steel bodies, automatic transmissions and flat hoods that I saw in the pages of Hot Rod magazine that impressed me. I thought that Prudhomme’s Hot Wheels-backed 'Cuda was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of a production car with a nitro motor under the hood. One reason I liked those cars was because I could tell a Mustang from a Camaro in an instant even without the brand logo lettered on the nose in 10-inch letters. . .sigh.

Even though I’m still a dyed-in-the-wool nitro Funny Car fan, I still wish that Funny Cars could go back to their roots, go back to just being a really bad-fast hot rod.

I think that the reason for the surge in popularity of Pro Street and Ten-wide cars in recent years is largely the fact that the average car owner can look at those cars and recognize what brand it is. The fact that they are often ill-handling, have huge engines under the hood and narrow tires that never quite hook up, and are faster than stink also adds to their popularity. The only drawback for me is that unfortunately most of the cars don’t burn nitro. So they really aren’t funny cars.

Now, I believe that a generation of fans that have never seen nitro-burning, stock appearing, altered-wheelbase, door cars with the driver sitting where he or she is supposed to, will get an opportunity to see some real Nostalgia Funny Cars.

Roger Gustin introduced a class at the Super Chevy Shows he called “Nitro Coupe” about a decade ago that I believe was supposed to be basically a 'retr"o funny car class, but the class just didn’t capture the public’s imagination like I thought it would, despite having star drivers like Bill Kuhlmann and Fred Hahn competing. Maybe the fans at Super Chevy races just weren’t that interested in racing, who knows. Maybe some of the restrictions imposed by Roger to appease the NHRA -- which kept the cars from running much quicker or faster than their alky-burning Pro Mod brethren -- is to blame but, for whatever reason, the class failed to attract many racers, sponsors or media attention.

Now, though, a new sanctioning body, the American Drag Racing League, has decided to not only allow nitro-burning Pro Mod style race cars, but they’ve taken the next step. They threw the rule book in the trash. They are encouraging their racers to build nitro-burning door cars. The ADRL rules for their Pro Extreme class doesn’t restrict nitro percentage, clutch or gear ratios, tires size or vehicle weight. In fact, if you want to run a traction control program or a clutch management system it's fine with them.

The only rules aside from safety (they are working with Carl Olson and SFI to develop their own safety and chassis specs) are those that require working doors and left hand steer. In other words, my fellow nitroholics, these are FUNNY CARS like they used to be.

What makes this class even better for me is that there are no performance restrictions. All ADRL races are on the eighth mile, including tracks like Memphis, St. Louis, and Rockingham, so they can go fast in relative safety. The ADRL awards points for not only low ET but, unlike the NHRA, racers get points for having the fastest hot rod! What a concept: rewarding performance. And since they are only running an eighth mile there will be plenty of room for these cars to get stopped.

Photo by Ian Tocher, Illustration by Matt Schramel

What do you have to say?

Your letter may (or may not) be published in our "We've Got Mail" section.
Full Name: Location:
Email Address:
Burk's Blast "the publisher's corner" [1-6-06]
Clearing out the Burkster's 2005 notebook

Bill Kuhlmann is returning with a purpose-built car. Gene Snow has ordered a car and there are several other racers that ran small percentages of nitro in their blown Pro Mods last year that will run the circuit this year.

I don’t know how soon we are going to see full fields of these beasts at ADRL races. In fact, I think that we will be lucky to see a half dozen purpose-built “Nitro Coupes” at ADRL races this year, but I’m confident that they will come. The ADRL management, with some urging from the Burkster, is at least trying to take advantage of the old 20/20 hindsight, turn the drag racing clock back, and return the Funny Car class to what it was supposed to be when it was first introduced: Street cars on nitro.

Come to think of it, wasn’t it the OD’s (Original Drag racers) that street raced T-buckets and ‘34 Fords on the back roads of SoCal with a load of nitro in the tank? Maybe those were the original funny cars. Anyway, I can’t wait to see the first of these real "nostalgia" funny cars make their appearance. I’ll be the guy on the starting line with the camera and the big grin on his mug.


Copyright 1999-2006, Drag Racing Online and Autographix