by Justin Ashley, Top Fuel driver Tue, 2021-09-21 20:59
2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley, driver of the Smart Sanitizer Top Fuel dragster powered Strutmasters.com will be providing behind the scenes insight throughout the NHRA Countdown for CompetitionPlus.com readers. Ashley is competing in his first Countdown and entered the seven-race playoffs in the No. 7 position heading into the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. After a runner-up finish, he's now fourth headed into the Dewalt Toos NHRA Carolina Nationals.
That awesome recent display of power and acceleration exhibited by Bob Tasca, Jr in his all-electric Mustang Cobra Jet 1400E made the race promoter in me stop to think about what’s ahead for drag racing and us old gear heads.
My initial reaction was, “Wow! That’s really cool.” An 8.12 ET at nearly 180 MPH. And it looks like a real Mustang! But will it play in Peoria? Will fans really buy into electric car racing? What’s the future for drag strip promoters and the drag racing industry?
This prompted me to do some serious thinking about it. My entire adult life, my legacy, and my fortune were all about this truly visceral sport we call drag racing from my first exposure to it in the mid-1950s.
I realized quickly that drag racing is one of the most sensory experiences one can encounter — the sound, the smell, the shaking of the earth.
Paul Lee doesn't consider himself a journalist. He's a Funny Car racer and owns the very successful McLeod clutches product line. In the days following the Summit NHRA Nationals, Lee felt inspired and the only way to get his point across was to put his fingers to the keyboard and begin typing. He writes from the standpoint of a racer, aftermarket manufacturer, and a race fan all in one. We are sure he speaks for a large contingent of fans who believe they witnessed the future of the sport on Sunday in Norwalk, Ohio.
Tod Mack, a former owner of Maryland international Dragway, had his fingerprint on many promotions and innovations from the heralded facility located in Budds Creek, Md.
Mack, whose promotional home runs included the US Pro Stock Open, Mountain Motor Nationals, and The Wild Bunch, solidified his name in the ranks of significant drag racing contributors.
Mack was the first to use a pairings ladder based on qualifying times for the nitro cars when he ran the NASCAR Drag Race Division in the 1960s. Tod and Larry, along with Lex Dudas and Mike Lewis, created the ET Bracket Finals program in the early 1970s, which the group finally turned over to NHRA after a few years. MIR was the winner of the Inaugural event held at York US 30 Dragway. All in all, Tod Mack owned or operated six tracks over his career, and MIR fans benefited from his decades of experience.
One would think after 40 years, one would get over the boohooing.
On August 5, it will be 40 years since I lost my everything.
Here we are on another Mother's Day, and the struggle to get through without shedding a tear is still very real.
As men, we are trained to be tough, macho, and everything manly men are expected to be. And there were some of us whose Moms demanded a measure of toughness, as mine did but on the same token gave an object lesson of compassion.
by Tod Mack; Photography by Francis Butler Mon, 2021-04-26 20:57
While thinking back at some of my accomplishments while in the drag racing industry, one of my favorites immediately comes to mind — the creation of The Wild Bunch. For several reasons: It had a significant impact on the sport; It was fun; I made many lifelong friends; It was profitable for us, the members of The Wild Bunch and the race tracks that hosted the events; and it was the right promotion at the right time during the growth of the sport. For those who don’t already know, The Wild Bunch was a rag-tag group of car owners who liked to go fast, thought out of the box, and stuffed big, loud, supercharged motors in very unlikely cars at the time. The forerunner to today’s very popular Pro Modified class
The second half of this season started with a most-memorable July. A single Sunday served up two of the biggest milestones in drag racing’s history: the first believable, officially-backed-up 200s and the debt of blown, nitro-burning “stockers,” both on July 12.
Interestingly, Garlits was not the favorite to break the double-century barrier first, given the flurry of 198s and 199s coming from California cars this year. No, smart money had either Frank Cannon or Paul Sutherland blasting through first in the revolutionary "Flexy-Flyers" from Woody Gilmore's Race Car Engineering (where none other than Sutherland welded up Woody's first set of Chrysler zoomies for the Dave Zeuschel 392 in Cannon’s fueler). Both SoCal favorites were beaten to the punch by two weeks by Garlits, who punctured the barrier repeatedly and convincingly. [Historical footnote: While it’s true that one-off clockings of 200-plus had been reported — and promoted — even before the Greek’s controversial 204.54 in 1960 (when other hitters were barely cracking 180), it would be another four years before double-century speeds were universally accepted.]
This first full season free from fuel restrictions since 1956 opened like none before. Imagine five major meets in six weeks, starting with the inaugural United Drag Racers Association Championships at Lions Associated Drag Strip. The racer-run show was surprisingly success-ful, somewhat upstaging the next two week-ends' traditional openers, the AHRA Winter Na-tionals and NHRA Winternationals, respectively. After one week off, the action resumed with back-to-back biggies at Bakersfield and Fremont, Calif. — all before the middle of March, only in the west.
The race to convincingly reach 200 miles per hour — backed up within the then-customary two percent — carried over from late 1963, when the Chrysler-powered kings of the sport seemed stuck in the mid-190s with their con-ventional “weedburner” pipes and lightweight “shorty” bodies. Slingshots expensively rebod-ied into swoopy aluminum streamliners specifi-cally to break the barrier were proving both heavy and spooky. No, the hot, trick setup for those few elusive miles per hour would be far simpler and cheaper: basically inverting a set of 392 headers. Frank Cannon’s resultant 199 on Lions’ trusted clocks effectively ended the Streamliner Era in a single pass.
The fences still remain, as do dilapidated buildings, a reminder that a once proud drag strip occupied the land.
To the drag racing community, Spartanburg Dragway was just another drag strip that fell victim to a new neighborhood where the neighbors created a community around the strip and then realized that drag strips are loud.
Spartanburg Dragway wasn’t purchased for a real estate investment. It was purchased to be silenced.
I am often asked what my favorite promotion was out of the many hundreds of crazy events I put together in my decades of owning and promoting drag races. I loved the challenge of the Monday night US Pro Stock Open races and, of course, the infamous “Dragzacta” parimutuel betting events in the 1970s at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, MD. My all-time favorite idea, however, was “The Unknown Street Racer”