Funny Car Racing: A Barely Controlled (Hopefully) Explosion and 330 MPH Before You Can Blink

Lookout Ranch

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#1
Thought some of you might enjoy this write-up. (Hopefully the link will work.) @Bill Kuran 's next challenge is to put some nitromethane in his wagon, to solve the 226's breathing problems.
Tim Wilkerson, driving the Levi, Ray & Shoup funny car, after an engine explosion. On-board fire extinguishers put out the blaze in seconds. Driver injuries are rare. Photo Credit...NHRA/National Dragster​
 
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Stakebed

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Many fond memories of races at Fremont, Famoso and Sears Point. The intense vibration in your chest when they pass, the silence in the air after they blip the throttle, your eyes watering and sinuses burning from the fumes, heartburn from the vendor food, flat beer, sunburns, ahhhh yes. The good old days.:)
 
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#4
Many fond memories of races at Fremont, Famoso and Sears Point. The intense vibration in your chest when they pass, the silence in the air after they blip the throttle, your eyes watering and sinuses burning from the fumes, heartburn from the vendor food, flat beer, sunburns, ahhhh yes. The good old days.:)
That's exactly what I'm talking about! And if you want a real show try to catch a night show. The flames you see are not exhaust flames but are from the intense exhaust temperatures actually burning the hydrogen out of the water or humidity in the atmosphere.
 

Stakebed

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That's exactly what I'm talking about! And if you want a real show try to catch a night show. The flames you see are not exhaust flames but are from the intense exhaust temperatures actually burning the hydrogen out of the water or humidity in the atmosphere.
Oh yeaaaah! Friday night qualifying was AWESOME!! Cheap too back in the day.
 

Lookout Ranch

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The closest I've come to the world of racing is the sprint and stock car races at our local quarter-mile dirt track. That and taking a two-day race driving class at Laguna Seca with some other guys from our company about 15 years ago, in which we drove open wheel minis that were basically over-sized go-carts.
 

Phaeton

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#7
I’ve been fortunate to go to the Northstar Nationals in Brainerd, MN a few times. If you have the opportunity to get in the pits at a top fuel race go for it. It’s amazing to watch a motor tore down and back together ready to race in 90 minutes. The tear down starts as soon as the dragster or funny car is back in the pits. The motor is HOT. The heads come off, the pan is dropped and the pistons are pushed out of the cylinders by a guy underneath. Just over an hour later it’s ready to fire up. Then get ready for your eyes and nose to start the to burn from all the unburned nitro in the air. On top of that the decibels from 9000+ horsepower turned loose.
 

Moriazbane

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NHRA US Nationals at Indy. 3 days sun to sun. No shade, $5 drinks (In 1988) and Lots of enjoyment. Seeing Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden, Ed McCulloch, Kenny Bernstein... I Got married in August at that was that. It was a fun few years going with my buddies branching out from the local Benton IL dragstrip.
 
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#9
We used to go to National Trails in Hebron,Ohio for the spring nationals. Time trials on Friday afternoon and evenings. We were there the year my Sons graduation at Ohio State got rained out. It rained so hard in the stadium the stairs looked like water falls. The Graduates were all seated on the field. I was sitting in the closed end of the horse shoe. It rained so hard I could not see the score board at the other end of the field.We left OSU after the hard rain storm and drove to National Trails. It had rained there so hard that the front parking lot on the pit side had flooded. Spectator cars were flooded up to the windows. We had reserve parking on the spectator side. It was high and dry. We could hear the air dryers running and in an hour or so cars were on the track.

We came home late that evening. The next morning my son and I headed for Brooklyn Heights Michigan to the NASCAR race. We watched the ARCA race from the back of Frank Kimmels pit stall. Then Sunday we watched the NASCAR race from the stands. Dale Garrett passed Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 22 and led the rest of the race. It was still called the Kmart 400. Now Kmart is gone. My how things change.

That was the best weekend my son and I ever had together.
 

Stakebed

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We used to go to National Trails in Hebron,Ohio for the spring nationals. Time trials on Friday afternoon and evenings. We were there the year my Sons graduation at Ohio State got rained out. It rained so hard in the stadium the stairs looked like water falls. The Graduates were all seated on the field. I was sitting in the closed end of the horse shoe. It rained so hard I could not see the score board at the other end of the field.We left OSU after the hard rain storm and drove to National Trails. It had rained there so hard that the front parking lot on the pit side had flooded. Spectator cars were flooded up to the windows. We had reserve parking on the spectator side. It was high and dry. We could hear the air dryers running and in an hour or so cars were on the track.

We came home late that evening. The next morning my son and I headed for Brooklyn Heights Michigan to the NASCAR race. We watched the ARCA race from the back of Frank Kimmels pit stall. Then Sunday we watched the NASCAR race from the stands. Dale Garrett passed Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 22 and led the rest of the race. It was still called the Kmart 400. Now Kmart is gone. My how things change.

That was the best weekend my son and I ever had together.
I miss the days when NHRA races has names like Summer Nationals, Spring Nationals, Gator Nationals, Mile High Nationals, etc instead of corporate names.
 

david0225

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We used to go to National Trails in Hebron,Ohio for the spring nationals. Time trials on Friday afternoon and evenings. We were there the year my Sons graduation at Ohio State got rained out. It rained so hard in the stadium the stairs looked like water falls. The Graduates were all seated on the field. I was sitting in the closed end of the horse shoe. It rained so hard I could not see the score board at the other end of the field.We left OSU after the hard rain storm and drove to National Trails. It had rained there so hard that the front parking lot on the pit side had flooded. Spectator cars were flooded up to the windows. We had reserve parking on the spectator side. It was high and dry. We could hear the air dryers running and in an hour or so cars were on the track.

We came home late that evening. The next morning my son and I headed for Brooklyn Heights Michigan to the NASCAR race. We watched the ARCA race from the back of Frank Kimmels pit stall. Then Sunday we watched the NASCAR race from the stands. Dale Garrett passed Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 22 and led the rest of the race. It was still called the Kmart 400. Now Kmart is gone. My how things change.

That was the best weekend my son and I ever had together.
Spring Nationals of 1990- rained so hard that the campgrounds across the street flooded. Watched campfires float by on the water as we tried desperately to get out of there. Race was postponed and run the following week. Drove back the following week and the fields were still flooded, but the track was dry. Highlights were the first time I met Force, McCullough, Prudhomme, Kalitta, and many more. Glidden was the guy to beat in pro stock, previous year’s champion, I believe. Failed to qualify at that race and the place went crazy (everybody loved the underdogs). Went to that for the next fifteen years, along with being a crewmember weekly on a drag car racing at Quaker City (Salem) and Keystone (Pittsburgh). Now I’m so burned out with racing that my current project won’t even hit 50 mph without a strong tailwind.
David
 
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I haven't been to Quaker City in at least 40 years. I hear it haven't changed much. You still have to come up the hill to get to the staging lane. In fact that was the first place I ever saw fuel dragsters run. Big Daddy Don Gartlis was match racing some one. I have forgotten who. It had to be in the early seventies. Long time ago.

My Son graduated in 1997

You ever been to Summit?
 

mickeykelley

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Yes, the good old days. When I was in high school and after I dropped out my sophomore year of college, I raced my ’69 Firebird in C class stock automatic. Was way more fun being in the pits with your own car instead of just watching them in the stands. Even though I was only turning low 15’s, I felt like I was blasting down the strip. Was very thrilling, then I watched a car close to mine go up against a super stock and it was humbling. Let alone against the big boys of the funny car or rails. But I felt bad ass with those slicks in a burnout, the tree going down. But then after dumping most of my paychecks in car repairs and trying to race and daily drive the same car (and a girlfriend...now wife), I got wise and went back to college. But it’s never been out of my blood. I have a C6 that is supposed to do 12.8. I took her to the strip once when still under warranty and the best I could do was 13.1. Now days they prep coat the track with sticky crap and I had a hard time adjusting to the clutch launch without bogging. But was fun experience with my son. I still have a little fun sometimes. She has way more power than I need or will ever use at my age. Wilbur has his eyes on her when they are in the garage together. He’s a dirty old man eyeing that hot young thing.
 
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#15
I haven't been to Quaker City in at least 40 years. I hear it haven't changed much.
You ever been to Summit?
I’ve also got fond memories of a very successful weekend at Norwalk/Summit. Raced a Super Chevy event (my brother’s car, me as crew). Over 700 cars in his class alone, made it down to six before a red-light ended the day. Actually won enough money to pay for the weekends entry fee.
The basics of Quaker haven’t changed, uphill to the burnout box, no real difference in pits. I have had my fill of racing, though, and haven’t been back in a long time. In the last ten years, I’ve probably been to a track five times. I’ve got two boys who, thank goodness, aren’t into it. To quote Darrell Waltrip-“if you want to make a small fortune in racing, you have to start with a large fortune”. I really give a lot of credit to those who have continued to do it, it isn’t easy.
David
 
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I worked on the crash crew at DuQuoin ,il. For the USAC and ARCA cars for over 20 years. I was stationed on the inside of the track between turn one and two. You were up close and personal to the cars. After I retired and moved to Tennessee I became friends with a guy whose son runs a drag car. Went to the track with him to watch. Enjoyed both types of racing. Guess if you have been exposed to the car culture you love it all. Jim
 

6T1L226

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All this reminiscing makes me nostalgic for the good old days. I feel like throwing a few sandbags in the bed to improve traction, letting some air out of Firestone ground grips, unleashing the Hurricane under her hood and taking Wilhelmina out to see if I can break 40 (either ET or MPH) in the quarter mile. I do recall a Willys Aero in the late 60's at the old Irwindale dragstrip (I think) that was a pretty consistent winner over 6 cylinder Falcons, Nova's, and the like.
 
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#18
Yes, the good old days. When I was in high school and after I dropped out my sophomore year of college, I raced my ’69 Firebird in C class stock automatic. Was way more fun being in the pits with your own car instead of just watching them in the stands. Even though I was only turning low 15’s, I felt like I was blasting down the strip. Was very thrilling, then I watched a car close to mine go up against a super stock and it was humbling. Let alone against the big boys of the funny car or rails. But I felt bad ass with those slicks in a burnout, the tree going down. But then after dumping most of my paychecks in car repairs and trying to race and daily drive the same car (and a girlfriend...now wife), I got wise and went back to college. But it’s never been out of my blood. I have a C6 that is supposed to do 12.8. I took her to the strip once when still under warranty and the best I could do was 13.1. Now days they prep coat the track with sticky crap and I had a hard time adjusting to the clutch launch without bogging. But was fun experience with my son. I still have a little fun sometimes. She has way more power than I need or will ever use at my age. Wilbur has his eyes on her when they are in the garage together. He’s a dirty old man eyeing that hot young thing.
I had several friends who raced a lot more seriously than I did. I had a 1952 Henry J Kaiser ex drag car I had made into a driver with nova subframe automatic and 350 mild cam etc, and a '66 Fairlane with a 351w that I raced a couple of times at the Benton drag strip on grudge night. Years later I was in the Big Brothers program and took my "little" to the dragstrip. He was ready to leave after 10 minutes or so. He liked the roundy rounds a lot better. You are right, without a friend at the track it was just boring for a kid.
 

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