WOW! Christmas/New Year – what a month of drag racing we had at Willowbank Raceway!
Without doubt, the highlight was the appearance of American Larry Larson and his team. He’s a guy who is all about street machines in the true sense of the word. I’m not just a professional drag racer, but also someone who loves the street machine scene, and boy oh boy, I really admire guys like Larry Larson and Jeff Lutz.
What they do over in the States during Hot Rod Drag Week is phenomenal. Larry Larson actually drives his street/race car. It is fully street-equipped, including windscreen wipers, carries a passenger, and tows a trailer full of his gear to each track – and it can sometimes be over 250 miles between tracks.
The car is a twin-turbo Chevy S10 pick-up truck built by Larry at Larson Race Cars, and would hold its own at any car show. When he pulls up at a track he has one hour to undo his trailer, put a different set of tyres on the rear and make any changes that he needs to the car.
Then – get this – he goes out on the track and runs a 5.87@246mph!
Larry brought two cars to Australia for four events at Willowbank. Daddy Dave, from the Street Outlaws TV show, was supposed to come with him, but cancelled at the last moment. So Larry put his hand up and said he’d bring two cars – the S10 and his eighthmile radial Chevy Nova that took him to to five Drag Week victories on the trot.
He and his team were real busy running both cars three times each race day. There was an enormous build-up to his appearance at Willowbank, but he didn’t let the crowd down – he ran a string of low sixes!
I’ve had a bit to do with him while he’s been in Australia, and he’s a great guy. We got into a bit of trash-talking, as you do. He enjoys revving people up a bit – all in good fun. Ben, who’s never short of a word, gets on the front foot and says: “It’s going to be handy having a pick-up truck – I won’t bother to bring my tow car out, I’ll just bring a rope and he can tow me from the finish line.” Larry took it in good spirit, and then came back with a classic reply a couple of days later: “Tell those Bray boys if they want to bring two tow ropes out, I’ll tow them up from the finish line and down the race track and anywhere else I want to tow them!” Some guys might have taken offence at that, but with Larry it was all good fun.
What surprised me was how knowledgeable not only Larry but also his crew members were about the Australian drag racing scene. And let me just say again – what he does with the two cars is out of this world.
I’m really happy to see that the IHRA are starting to move into ensuring rule compliance.
They’re telling the drivers and the teams: “We are going to check that you’re playing by the rules, so don’t get caught out. If you get caught it’s your fault. You’ve been warned; be prepared to suffer the consequences.”
I don’t think anyone in Pro Slammer is blatantly cheating. I think there are some guys who are using new technology to their best advantage.
We are in the midst of a technological revolution in drag racing. Ten years ago you couldn’t get a unit from anyone that had three or four timers in it. When MSD released the Six Shooter timing controller several years ago that was unbelievable, because we had never seen anything like that before. Nowadays you can have up to 55 fully programmable timers in one thousandth of a second intervals activated by time, boost, rpm or pretty much anything you like.
That’s what’s getting used within the current rulebook, but the rulebook was written before this stuff was invented, so it doesn’t address the issues today. Therefore the sanctioning bodies need to make a ruling. Should new innovations by a racer be made available to all race teams, and is it in the best interests of the bracket or not?
Racing within the ‘spirit of the rules’ is important to the success of a category, but the ‘want to win’ blurs the line in some racers’ thinking.
Here’s what I want to do in 2017. My car has a swing-arm rear end, something that Murray Anderson and I developed 20 years ago, which is frowned on by many racers and chassis builders – most of the other cars out there run a four-link. But I’m seeing some new technology coming out now for lock-up torque converters, which may help me use this rear end to my advantage. Murray has retired from chassis building, but he’s said he’s going to build me one last car – a ’57 Chevy.
But we’ve got to come up with the new body shape first, so I’ve thought of an idea that I want to pitch to Street Machine readers. When Murray built my first ’57 Chevy, it was state-ofthe- art, and we’ve stayed with the basic shape for a long time. Don’t get me wrong – I still love the shape; if you look at some of the designs coming out of America to gain an aerodynamic advantage, they have really sloped the front down, and when they’re not painted they look more like a Studebaker than a ’57 – you only know it’s a Chevy if they airbrush the Chev grille and headlights on the front. I’m not a fan of that.
What I’d like is for someone artistic out there to design me a ‘futuristic’ ’57 Chevy, and if it’s good enough, I promise I’ll build it. We’ve got a few ideas, but there might be somebody out there that has a better idea than we do. The top three ideas will get a Gulf Western Oil and Team Bray package, and be invited to the Winternationals as a guest of the team.
So, that’s the challenge. Email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.