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Kuhlmann's '57 Nitro Coupe

Kuhlmann hammers the throttle and heats up the Goodyear's at Las Vegas in December. Photo by Tim Marshall.

After Bill Kuhlmann's horrendous crash and fire last year at Virginia Motorsports Park it became obvious to everyone involved that how Nitro Coupes were being built would have to be re-thought. Although Kuhlmann's fire was by far the worst in the short history of the class, it was far from the first. It was evident to everyone concerned that the rules would have to be rewritten so that the drivers of Nitro Coupes would have the protection the driver of a nitro-burning race car should have.

What better person to build the first of the "new age" Nitro Coupes than Bill Kuhlmann himself? Thanks to Millennium Race Car owner Dave Wood, Kuhlmann got that opportunity. Wood had purchased an unfinished '57 Chevy Pro Mod car originally built in Canada and then worked on in the race car factory of former Pro Mod World champ Tim McAmis. Wood and his team had bought the '57 to run as a nitro coupe as a replacement for their all steel '57 but, in order for it to be a legal Nitro Coupe it was going to need to be changed over from a nitrous Pro Mod and upgraded to 2001 Nitro Coupe specs. When Kuhlmann destroyed his own car Wood graciously turned his '57 over to Bill, paid him to update it to 2001 nitro coupe specifications and then told him to take it to Las Vegas for the Super Chevy race which was billed as the first race of the 2001 season.

DRO got the chance to take photos of the car as it was being built which show some of the mandated safety improvements that will be incorporated into the 2001 Nitro Coupes to protect the driver from being trapped and to protect him from fire.

One of the first changes mandated by Super Chevy Show rules and implemented by Kuhlmann was installing a roof hatch and moving the head hoop of the roll cage back so that the driver can stand up and exit the car. His eyes still showed the effects of the fire when this photo was taken.





Another change that Kuhlmann incorporated in the '57 was in thickness and material he used in building the firewall and floor pans. In order to seal the cockpit, Kuhlmann closed up as many holes in the firewall as possible and rerouted wiring and plumbing so that it didn't go through the firewall whenever possible. He used .032 thick aluminum for the firewall and floor pans and didn't use any carbon fiber material to cut down the spread of fire, smoke and fumes.

The powerful sparks of these ignitions will ignite high revving, high compression engines to produce great throttle response, a clean idle and incredible power throughout the entire rpm range

Capacitive Discharge design produces powerful sparks through high rpm.
Every spark is at full power, even each multiple spark, for complete combustion.
Adjustable soft touch rev limiter for engine saving overrev protection.
Multiple spark series lasts for 20 of crankshaft rotation.

3-Step Rev Control.
RPM Activated Switch.
4-Stage Retard System.
Start Retard Circuit.


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