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View Full Version : To all of the drag racers out there



Fasttrack
01-23-2006, 07:33 PM
If you've got a few, I'd like to hear how you all got started in drag racing and what kind of capital you needed to start running say a blown alcohol dragster. When did you first start racing and how were you able to practice take offs? Also, how'd you build your dragster? plans? kits? how about the engine?

torker
01-23-2006, 11:36 PM
Well not a drag racer "per say" but I did alright.Ran 200 ft mud pits...best time a 2.9 @over 100mph. Built from scratch and rebuilt and retuned and rebuilt and then again...til it was right. Running a 572 all aluminum Rodeck(on alky) with Kuhl 14-71 Hi-helix retrofit, Enderle Bird, Super Mag etc.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v210/torker/Hairy_Kanary_2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v210/torker/Mvc-298sHairy_Kanary.jpg
Russ

TECHSHOP
01-23-2006, 11:51 PM
Oh no!

I think somebody else is going to have a "serious envy issue" looking at those pics.

Hope I have a good web connection later.

EDIT: I'll stick this in here to not muck up the thread flow.

Torker, just what other pictures have you shown my daughter http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif
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Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there no sweeter words than "I told you so."

[This message has been edited by TECHSHOP (edited 01-24-2006).]

torker
01-24-2006, 12:13 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by TECHSHOP:
Oh no!

I think somebody else is going to have a "serious envy issue" looking at those pics.

Hope I have a good web connection later.

</font>
Na...he's seen it before.

Last Old Dog
01-24-2006, 12:28 AM
Long since retired. Started as a street racer. Developed a reputation as a driver, drove for other guys at the drags. Permitted to wrench for a few of them. Aquired my own car, hung out at Vic Hubbards in Cherryland CA (now in Hayward,CA), developed a friendship with the troops there, both Jerry Light in the retail store and Al Hubbard in the machine shop. Got to know all the hot shots, made friends with the the guys at Ashland Grinding and Balancing (lower ends), Harmon&Collins (in LA) all our dyno work, flow bench, and roller cams, local rep for injectors, then Scintilla Vertex magnetos, Sheaffer flywheels and clutches, and yes the little MOON spun aluminum tank way up front, Bruces Tires (slicks), local retailers for other items.

I learned to weld do simple machine work, Fabbed my own set of rails, started getting show-up money, West Coast invitationals (most of the good racing was in so Cal so 800-1000 mile commutes), knew Micky Thompson, blah blah blah.

The message? SPONSORSHIP ! ! ! Tough competition. Today, as in any competitive endeavor, it takes showmanship to attract sponsors. My son and I own and skipper big ocean racing sailing yachts, same problem, money.

Determine your budget, select a class, and expect to fight with your wife once a week. Give up poker night, Monday night football, 'hangin' with the guys', tend to business and save your marriage.

Added - Last Old Dog Former blown fuel dragster co-owner/driver

Corrected - location of Vic Hubbard's Speed and Marine

[This message has been edited by Last Old Dog (edited 01-24-2006).]

[This message has been edited by Last Old Dog (edited 01-24-2006).]

rsr911
01-24-2006, 12:54 AM
Well not a fuel rail but I did run a barely streetable all on the motor stroker smallblock 10 second car. It's like Yuor Old Dog said, sponsorship! I quit shortly after my daughter was born. In drag racing there is one guarrantee, something will break sooner or later. About 5 years ago I got the P-car, meant to track it seriously but never did, now I'm building a street/track car. A roadcourse is a dragstrip at least down every straightaway without the hard launch. Per mile raced it's tons cheaper and you get a lot more track time on a given weekend. Example typical Saturday club race at Mid-Ohio you get 5-6 half hour sessions, you may or may not go through a set of brake pads (depends on car/class) and lower classes run a good part of the season on one set of tires. I'll have 10-15k in the 911 by the time it's ready, about what i had in the drag car, but I'll have far less breakage and way more track time plus a whole lot more skill required.

Go to a local roadcourse on a club weekend and see if you can get a ride in one of the faster cars, I guarrantee you'll be having second thoughts about drag racing, I know I did. My first ride was in a track only BMW M3, taking the back straight at 137, driver slammed on the brakes so hard I had bruises from the harness and he just turns right at about 80-90mph! what a rush! I drove a tube frame 8 second Mustang one time and it didn't even come close to comparing with that ride in the M3, can't wait to drive my own car around the track.

I think the cost to fun ratio goes up dramtically after the 12 second mark, maybe faster for rails but still, how fast do you want to spend? Prepared for that failed main bearing or broken tranny? A race bred sportscar like and early Porsche or BMW will ride around a roadcourse all day at or near the redline without nary a complaint. 911's come factory with dry sump BTW as well as one main bearing per cylinder, overhead cams, 4 wheel disks, independent suspension. A lot of guys just change tires on their stock street car and go racing then drive home afterward. I used to drive the dragcar home but after several tows I bought a trailer and a truck to tow it.

That said get a copy of the NHRA rulebook, at one time I seriously considered econo dragster. I figured I could run bone stock junkyard smallblocks and be in the 11's easy. The book had lot's of diagrams for the chassis IIRC. Matter of fact I still have the rearend, trans, radiator, fuel system and MSD race ignition system in case I ever get the bug to build a rail someday.

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-Christian D. Sokolowski

Last Old Dog
01-24-2006, 03:59 AM
Fasttrack, there is much wisdom in rsr911's post. If one were to calculate $ per second in driving a dragster, not attractive at all. Driving time is what builds personal skills. We used to call it 'stick time' in the air. Comparing SCCA racing with NHRA top fuel is like comparing piloting/flying to a very brief ride in a rocket sled. Seriously, in a dragster, the race is won or lost in reaction time at the launch. Then one attempts to keep it hooked up with only the rubber on the ground and keep it between the barriers. Catch a bad light? Bummer, but it still cost several hundred $ for a full power run, win or lose. Drop a cylinder? It shakes so flaming bad all is a blur.

So, you must decide if you really want to drive, or, merely hang on for dear life hoping to get a good light. All you are really going to do is press the 'go' switch, and then the 'stop' switch.

Humph, after these years I can still smell the fuel, feel the burning rubber particles, sense the chest collapsing roar of an engine wanting to be rein free. Once you feel that ground pounding you may be hooked.

Being a former Porsche owner, 911, 930, and import engines, 935, I can understand the fascination with SCCA racing. Yes I did Laguna Seca, Sears Point etc.

On the other hand, even the old Datsun B210 sedan classes provided a lot of racing fun and skill development with a low budget 'drive it home' car for those that truly wanted to race.

New thought:
You want to pull a lot of "G's"? go through Ejection Seat School. Launch from a steam catapult. Wanna stop in a hurry? Wheels down, flaps down, hook down, less than 30 kts of OTD (head wind over the deck), catch #3 wire.

Hey dude, follow your dream, but set your sights at an obtainable goal. Remember, AT THE DRAGS, SECOND IS LAST ! No one remembers a loser.

Enuf. sorry, got a little jacked up here. probably too much. My apologies to all.


Edited some spelling

[This message has been edited by Last Old Dog (edited 01-24-2006).]

jamscal
01-24-2006, 06:53 AM
The guy apparently wants to drag and not road race, but I would agree that road racing is superior...different strokes, though.

If you do want to road race, or do time trials, check out www.nasaproracing.com (http://www.nasaproracing.com)

They have what is called HPDE where you can take your street or race car on the track and run it on various road courses. Very little prep and money is required, and as you progress you can check out 'actual' racing/ time trials to see if the whole enviroment is for you.

-James

torker
01-24-2006, 07:10 AM
There is NOTHING like sitting behind a big honkin blown alky motor (ok...maybe fuel is better). Here's a link with a short vid of my mud car. This is what hooks you...
http://www.whiteknight.ca/READERS%20RIDES%202002.htm
What the others said exactly. This thing broke me and my family.
I even won nearly every race I entered but the prize money didn't even begin to cover the costs.
In the end I was spending $500 to $600 every other weekend for tow vehicle fuel alone.
This thing has to have the oil changed every run or even if you fire it up to tune it. $50 a pop.The main bearings have to be replaced every few runs...that gets old. The blower needs to be restripped a few times a year...not fun either. And the list goes on and on.
All I did...every spare minute for years was work on this toilet. At the end it was so fast it actually boring.
Drive for 16 to 18 hours to make a 3 second run...if nothing broke.
I was racing against millionaires and heavily sponsored racers.
Up here sponsorship is very hard to get...even with my winning record.
I have over $35,000 in this motor...I bought it used but it needs about $15,000 spent on it to make it "fairly" competitive again. Hmmm, a couple of the real fast guys I race against have around $100,000 in their motors...and a spare in their $1 million haulers.
If I had it to do all over, I'd do as Christian suggested...go road racing in a lower class...prolly an older 5.0 Mustang.
I tried oval track and tuff truck racing. Both are far too hard on machinery.
I have enough stuff to get a good start on a rock buggy...a popular new event. A decent rock buggy now costs over $100,000 to build.
This type of racing is a huge committment. It will be your life....much of it is not pretty after awhile.
Russ

bob308
01-24-2006, 07:14 AM
to run a rail. frist you have to run in the lower classes and work your way up. also to run a rail you need a pickup with a cap on it. and in this pickup you need the bed stuffed full of money.
i ran a 65 nova in c/mp then d/g then brackets came into use and i went street racing and made more money.

GregC
01-24-2006, 07:43 AM
The problem - the BIG problem with all forms of road racing is that you are far more likely to contact other vehicles or non-moving objects with your car. You can drag race a car for decades and not hurt it that much; try that with a road track car.

Here's the sad fact - by 2006 virtually all forms of racing have been ruined by money. It's no longer about who can drivet he best or turn a wrench - it's about who can kiss the best ass to get the best sponsorship.

There's also a lot of drug activity, and too many tracks have gone to 1/8 mile.

dhelfter
01-24-2006, 08:18 AM
Gregc I couldn't agree more. However if there is one type of racing still hanging on for the ametuer it is land speed racing. I have run a car at maxton and bonneville for the last 10 years. There are so many classes. Yes speed still costs money but with lsr you can start in a "cheaper" class. I run a 1978 monza with a 1978 fiat 1.8liter motor and am getting 180mph peak 155mph mile average. I also run a front engine dragster and must say ir costs much more to operate. Just my simple thoughts!

PBMW
01-24-2006, 09:05 AM
We race a Pro Mod Suzuki and used to race Fuel bikes and funny's but the money got too nuts
I'll see if I can get some pics scanned of the bike
we run (currently) a 1427cc bigblock injected motor on NO2 and over 100 inches of boost
It's run 6.72 at 204mph with .97's for the 60's

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v291/dragracer1951/drag%20bikes/DZZ_newpic.jpg

[This message has been edited by PBMW (edited 01-24-2006).]

dhelfter
01-24-2006, 10:03 AM
Our bonneville car was pictured in the Jan 2006 issue of popular mechanics. Here is a link it is the 3rd picture down(the silver car)
http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/motor_sports/2169297.html?page=6&c=y
Our drag car isn't good enough for a magazine! I am just learning to drive it as my father always drove. Best 1/4 mile was 7.98 179mph. Totally a rush even though my best is 9.01 152mph I just can't get used to the trans lock(don't have balls enough yet I guess).

viking
01-24-2006, 10:48 AM
"what kind of capital you needed to start running say a blown alcohol dragster?"

It greatly depends. Do you just want a car you can run down the track at your local drag strip or do you want something that can be competitive at a National Event. An alchohol dragster would be a very poor chioce to learn to drive a racecar. Something in the 10-12 second range would be a much wiser choice to begin. Also keep in mind that the cost of the racecar is only the tip of the iceberg in a racing operation. The support equipment and spare parts will cost 2 to 3 times the cost of the car. In the mid ninetys I had what was considered a nice sportsman level racing operation that was competetive on a national level. A few years later to be competitive even in the Sportsman classes everyone was transporting at least two cars in a semi with a 40 foot trailer. Racing without serious sponserhip money became a thing of the past. Sad... glad I got a chance to get the memories while it was affordable.

67chevelle
01-24-2006, 12:50 PM
Fasttrack,

I went out to our local strip a lot when I was in high school, but never had a car that I thought was "fast enough" to run. At the time, I didn't recognize that consistency was the name of the game.

I bought my chevelle in the late 80's ( it was a basket case) and spent 7 years going through it. ( backhalf, cage, tin work, paint, mechanicals, wiring etc..) I started racing it in 95. We got the elcamino for my wife in 2000, which is the same year we started running the junior dragster program with our oldest daughter and the other 2 kids entered the program in 01 and 02.

The top pic was taken last summer, and is all 5 of the cars we had at the time, we've since sold one of the juniors after our oldest got her drivers liscense. the bottom 2 are of the engine and interior of the chevelle

We don't run our cars to the edge, which cuts down on the expenses as we don't blow stuff up ( very often http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif ).

I'm not well versed in the blown alcohol stuff, but you might do some poking around on

http://racingjunk.com/

http://www.carringtonfamily.com/temp/race.jpg

http://www.carringtonfamily.com/temp/race1.jpg

http://www.carringtonfamily.com/temp/race2.jpg

Rex
01-24-2006, 01:33 PM
Put me down for road racing. I started out street racing in high school and after, then to running legally at the local quarter mile and doing pretty well. When they went to brackets I lost interest. Then I ran across SCCA, almost by accient. I worked races and ran autocross for years. When I found myself single again at 43, I bought a Reynard Formula Continental single-seater and took a SCCA drivers school. Ran that FC a couple years, then ran across a retired Pinto showroom stock racer. After updating it to Improved touring on the cheap, I had more fun running that $1000 Pinto than I did in that $10K FC.
Today I race a Spec RX7, which is about as cheap as you you can road race today. A $2000 factory motor will last years, and if you bend a tub, a replacement is $100 and a couple weekends. It's about as competitive as it gets. Today, the latest rage is Spec Miata. Same deal, a little more expensive, still a great value.

You choose your toys and have fun.

Fasttrack
01-24-2006, 04:14 PM
Well first i have to say: thank you all very much for your advice. I really appreciate it because i have an obsession with racing (not racing so much as building something and then pushing it and myself to the limits) but never had the oppurtunity to talk to anyone who was really serious about racing.

Second, i am honest with myself and knew that i would not be doing this as a profession or even competitively. I also don't forsee myself starting on an alchohol car, just curiuos what it'd take to get there. A friend and mentor of mine knows a man fairly near by who runs a transmission repair shop but races funny cars in the 4.8 range on weekends. He doesn't do it competiviely; he's part of a club and they will all go race each other or go to various events to impress the audience. I'm looking for something more like this. Something a little less formal so to speak. I really like pushing machines to the limit and look forward to breaking something and repairing and trying to make it a little better. I don't want to jump into the big guns for this reason; i'd like to start somewhere low and then, as i build a better faster vehicle, enter in a higher class. I obviously dont know what i'm doing here but i really love engines and pusing them to thier limit.

Carl
01-24-2006, 05:27 PM
Longing for the "good old days"...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v35/lathefan/e8c600c2.jpg