Monday, July 11, 2016

A thing of beauty

Back when I was still a spring chicken I was a huge fan of anything car-related. I subscribed to all the current hot rod and racing magazines, followed Formula 1 faithfully, and my greatest desire was to own a chopped and channeled street rod, or maybe a T Bucket. (In truth I’d still love to own either one but the toy budget is somewhat constrained by she who must be obeyed – and the fact I need to eat for a few years yet.) And while the art of customizing was interesting where the rubber hit the road for me was always the engine.

And nowhere was the engine more front and center (literally, pre-1970) than in top fuel drag racing. I faithfully followed the exploits of drag racing legends like John Force, Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, and later drivers like Shirley Muldowney, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Amato… it’s a long, long list of greats.

In their day drag racing (Top Fuel in particular) was mostly about the driver getting a barely controllable, on the verge of exploding, 2000+ horsepower bomb down a 1/4-mile track in one piece – and do it in under 6 seconds and at 225 mph. The skill and heroics involved in accomplishing said task and living to tell the tale (not all drivers did unfortunately) were incredible, but it was really the power plants that got my crank turning and I would study the spec sheets and drool over photographs of these incredible engineering marvels for hours.

But eventually, as with most things, time moved on, as did my interests. Cars were replaced by motorcycles. Marriage, mortgage, family, and career took care of the rest. However I still maintain a passing interest so when I saw this article in autoweek.com about Don Prudhomme having the Shelby Super Snake he championed back in the 60s restored to its former glory I had to comment. It’s an interesting read but first look at these images.

prudhomme2

Prudhomme

Now THAT is a thing of beauty.

9 comments:

  1. Have to admit: I never understood drag racing, and probably never will. Strange people drag racers.

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  2. Front engine dragster. Great until the engine blew. Followed this as well and the Winter Nationals were just down the road. Didn't see many races but I enjoyed the sounds...

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    1. Wasn't it Garlits who lost part of his foot in an engine blowup and then started the rear engine trend? Early 70s I think.

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  3. David,
    My brother and I were 13, 14, somewhere in there. There were 2 dragstrips in the Twin Cities Metro, one was Minnesota Dragways, the bigger more flamboyant strip with racing on weekends. Tuesday evenings dad would take the two of us out to Twin City Speedway for racing that was essentially for the privateers. One of dad's workmates raced a Corvette that was sponsored by the major Chevy dealer. They were intoxicating evenings, smells, sounds, early autumn evenings quickly going dusk to dark.

    The dragstrips left....noise, rising property values and sprawl.

    I was still very interested in cars and by the time I could drive and own one, I went the 2 wheel route. The 4 wheel vehicles were merely transportation.

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    1. Coop - Great memories. Unfortunately I never got to see live drag racing back in the day, and now, like you, I'm more interested in fewer wheels.

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  4. My taste in cars runs in the extreme other corner of the chart. Ugly ducklings that run slow and quirky (Citroen 2CV, Citroen HY, VW Thing, VW Beetle Cabrio, MG TD...).

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    1. David - Pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum, but still cool in their own way.

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  5. Very cool, thanks for the share.

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