I come from a long line of car-guys (and gals!), so when looking through old family photo albums, I occasionally discover automotive gold. This was the case on Thanksgiving 2012. I was scouring through old albums looking for pictures of muscle cars that my parents, aunts, and uncles once owned, and there it was. Amidst some blurry pictures of “Jungle Jim’s” famous funny car, was a New England Dragway entrance ticket from August 6th 1972. How intriguing I thought… I pulled it out of the album and flipped over the business card that was with it, only to discover something truly incredible. The business card was actually a time slip from my dad’s voyage down the quarter mile. And how quick & fast was he? (more…)
Back in February, we introduced you to Matt A. and his E30 BMW. Under his hood was a Mitsu Eclipse 4G63 turbo engine swap, along with a 6-speed manual transmission, and a turbo that could swallow a goose whole and not even surge. Last year, Matt’s BMW was making a mere 500-ish horsepower and running low 11’s in the quarter mile at 119 mph. So, it was basically too slow, because Matt wanted 9’s. Fair enough.
It’s now July 2011, and racing season is in full swing again. On July 9th Matt took his BMW up to New England Dragway for his first real testing day this season. Right off that bat, Matt tore off a 1.586 second 60 foot time, and ran 10.538 at 132 mph. Cutting a half a second off your 1320 time, along with gaining 13 mph is not too shabby I’d say.
Can’t see the video? Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfHRID7g6AY
You are probably saying “Great, but he still didn’t do 9’s yet, so what?” Well, you see Matt has around 100 more horsepower on tap, ready to be “turned on” per se. He is just on the fence about cranking it up and grabbing 9’s in the weeks ahead, OR saving his fresh drivetrain for the 19th Annual DSM shootout in Ohio on August 20th and 21st. Regardless of when it happens, 9’s are going to happen, and you will see the video here when it does.
More to come…
First thing’s first. If you have never drag raced before, you need to. I don’t care if you have a busted 1988 Ford Tempo or not. If it has gas in it, you need to drive it to the track and put it to the test. What? You are nervous? You want to know how it all works? Ok, I will give you a run down of how it all works so that you aren’t such a scaredy cat. Then you will be able to go to the track and report back your results. My perspective is from our local drag strip known as New England Dragway in Epping NH.
Every Wednesday and Friday during the warm weather months, NED has “Street Nights” where you can run basically any car you drove there as long as you meet the safety requirements. Then on some Saturday’s and most Sundays, they have “Test n’ Tune” days, which is much like a street night, but with some slightly different rules, which often leads to faster cars. The safety requirements are pretty much what you would expect. If your car is capable of going faster than a 14 second quarter mile, then you need to be wearing a helmet. Your seat belt needs to work, you need to remove your hub caps, and you need to have a clutch switch. There are a few other things that the tech inspector will want check out, but it is really just basic “is your car safe” type stuff. They also want to know what engine you have and how much horsepower you make. This means that you can’t stuff 1700 hp into your Tempo and tell the tech inspector that you intend to run 17’s @ 71 mph without a helmet. He won’t believe you.
Let’s back up a minute and start at the beginning. You cruise your car up to the front gate of the track because trailering your car makes you less cool, I think. Then you pay some kind of entrance fee and you receive a ticket. You thank the young lady for the entrance ticket, and then promptly stall out your truck….. I mean Tempo…… ultimately making you look like a total noob. Fail #1. Ok, so now you cruise on over to the tech inspector area which conveniently looks like a bunch of parking spots, because it is. He will tell you to go sign the waiver and get a wrist band at the little booth near the edge of the parking lot. You immediately do whatever he says because you want to be friends with him, and then quickly jog back to go over your vehicle with the inspector. He isn’t trying to ruin your life, he is just trying to make sure that you will have a safe day of racing. He checks off about 100 boxes on a piece of paper, and then signs his name at the bottom. Do a celebration fist pump. Do it.
Ok, at this point, you are ready to race, and since your vehicle is slow, you don’t need to wear your snell 95 approved helmet that you didn’t bring. If you are lucky, a friend will come over and let you know that your first run is going to be awful, so keep your 10 second fast and furious dreams on the backburner for now. It’s officially go time. Buckle up and head over to the starting line. There will be a few guys there directing you where to go. Drive around the waterbox for your first run. You aren’t John Force, and don’t need to heat up your Blizzak snow tires. Before you make it up to the starting line, take a look at the bottom of the walls near the tree (flashy lights) in the center of the track. You will notice a few little holes in a row, which have light beams going across the track. These are where your front tires will land right before the race begins. The light beams send a signal to the flashy tree lights so that everybody knows where your car is at.
Slowly straighten your Tempo out and inch your way up to the starting line. Key word: Slooooowly. Ok, now begin watching the tree in the center. The top set of lights will turn yellow when you reach the first set of staging light beams. Now inch a litttttttle bit further to light up the 2nd set of yellow lights. When that happens, you are officially “staged”, and read to run down the track. Take a deep breath and wait for the lights to begin dropping. They will begin lighting up from the top to bottom of the tree with about a second in between each one. When the green light glows, bury the go-pedal into the floor and hold on.
About 20 seconds will pass if your Tempo is at the top of its game, and you will cross a yellow stripe on the track which just lead you to victory. That is the finish line. WOOO! Now hit the brakes already!! At the end of the track, you make the turn, and start back up the pit road. There will be a small booth with somebody in it handing you your time slip. Don’t stall your vehicle out and look like a dweeb again. The ticket will have a bunch of numbers on it that show you how you did.
It will look something like this:
R/T = .300 (.300 seconds is the time it takes between the green light, and when you actually went.)
60′ = 2.224 (2.224 seconds is what it takes for you to drive 60 feet.)
330′ = 6.117 (6.117 seconds is what it takes for you to drive 330 feet.)
1/8 = 9.269 (9.269 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive 1/8 mile.)
mph = 77.85 (77.85 is the mph that you were at when you crossed the 1/8th mile.)
1000′ = 11.977 (11.977 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive 1000 feet.)
1/4 = 14.257 (14.257 is the amount of seconds it takes for you to drive the 1/4 mile.)
mph = 98.49 (98.49 is the mph that you were at when you crossed the 1/4th mile.)
Now you are addicted to drag racing, and it becomes all that you can think about. It is more fun than human words can express, even if you are driving awful slow. Good luck, and keep it together (figuratively and literally.)