Fri, 28 Oct 2005, 01:37 PM
The Man From Down Under
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2005 BME Photography
A lot of Americans have gone to Australia to race. Mike Dunn, the ESPN analyst, still gets his
annual nitro fix by going down to Australia every winter (our winter, not theirs) to drive a Top
Fuel car. Gary Densham used to make regular pilgrimages there to do some match racing and pick up
some money in the off season. Now that I think about it, wasn't it in Australia where Gary bailed
out a down-on-his-luck racer by the name of John Force some years ago? And we all know how that
ended up, don't we? Yes, the continent in the Pacific has provided a lot of American drag racers
with some great racing moments and a lot of fond memories. But most of the guys who go down there
to race come back home and that's why it's a bit of a surprise to find out that one of Australia's
best drag racers came here and never returned to his native country. Jeff Burnett, now one of the
top alcohol funny car racers in the Division 3 area, was among the best racers "down under" and he
was also one of the best innovators and creators of parts for fuel burning race cars. "I came here
about four years go," Jeff said. "I was making parts for cars down there and then I hooked up with
(car and chassis builder) Murf McKinney and we went into the business of making funny car bodies.
In order to make the business go I had to move here and I've been here ever since." And he's been
making great parts for race cars ever since, too.
Burnett in his altered Down Under.
When Murf and Jeff first got together they were making Pontiac and Chevrolet bodies for funny cars
and, after doing that for a few years, Jeff bought the entire operation from Murf. In addition to
the bodies Jeff also was specializing in fuel injector units, spoilers for the Monte Carlo and
Toyota Funny Cars and wings for the alcohol cars. "I started building the injectors while I was
still in Australia and they were very well received by the racers. Today I'd have to say that the
injectors and my wings are the biggest part of my business." Of course making good race car parts
is one thing, but getting the top teams to run them is something else. "I've been knocking on the
doors of the major teams for several years now and it's tough to get them to change but I think
we're making progress." Some of that progress came a few weeks ago at a test session at
Indianapolis Raceway Park when Jimmy Prock, the crew chief for Robert Hight, and one of the troika
of crew chiefs for "Team Force," put one of Jeff's injectors on the car. "I guess my persistence
finally paid off," Jeff said. "I've been talking to them for about three years and they finally put
my product on their car. They liked the way it worked and how it responded right at the hit of the
throttle and how consistent it was," Jeff said. "They've ordered a couple and I hope this will open
the door to some other teams trying my injectors."
Edmonton Final, McMillen vs Burnett.
For those who are not familiar with Jeff Burnett's race car that may be because you haven't been to
any IHRA races in the past few years. "I ran the IHRA races for a while and did pretty well. I won
the Edmonton race last year but that was a long way from home," the Indiana resident said. "I
decided that a good way to meet the racers and be with the guys who can use my products was to come
over and race on the NHRA circuit and so I am now a member of the Division 3 contingent." Jeff
didn't waste much time showing the NHRA teams what he could do on the track. He went to his first
D-3 race at Indianapolis earlier this year and he made it to the final round before losing to Danny
Townsend. Then, at the next race in Stanton, Michigan, he went one step further and won the race,
reversing the Indy rolls and beating Townsend in the final round. "It's kind of a mixed feeling
when I go to the races," he told me. "It's basically me and one other guy at the shop so when we're
racing not a lot of work is getting done. But I have to be at the races to meet the potential
customers and show them my products and tell them why they should be using them."
Before he came to the states Jeff was a very accomplished racer in his home country where he raced
"just about anything that had wheels" and he was very successful. "We had a class that included the
alcohol dragsters, funny cars and altereds and I had the first altered in that class that ran in
the five-second zone. I set track records at virtually every track in the country." Today he races
his alcohol funny car in one of the toughest divisions in the country and he says that it is a
great way to meet other racers and promote his products. "Basically our main products are carbon
fiber injectors and the spoilers that a lot of the fuel cars use. I like to think we make a product
that is better than what the competition offers and that all of the top teams will use." He also
makes a couple of specialty parts for some other racers like Competition Eliminator standout Brian
Browell. "We made a wing with a neutral profile," he said. "The rules say that his car needs a wing
but he didn't need a lot of the down force so we made one that basically offers no drag. It's
pretty neat." And so are the other products that Jeff and his companies, Jeff Burnett Racing and
Composite Specialties, Inc. manufacture. "We use a process that's called 'pre-preg' and it provides
a better, stronger more resilient part for the race car. Right now one of the biggest segments of
our business is in the Pro Mod class. These guys love our stuff and a big percentage of them are
In addition to winning his first divisional race and participating at his first MAC Tools U.S.
Nationals this year, Jeff Burnett has established personal bests numbers with a 5.706 at the Maple
Grove national event and a strong 249.30 mph run at the Chicago race. He has also continued to make
inroads with some of the top teams in the sport who are using his products. And if you happen to
catch Jeff at the races, or now that he's done racing for the year, at his shop, feel free to ask
him about his theories on racing, you'll find them very interesting, but whatever you do, don't ask
him about the time he took a new body from his Indiana shop to Maple Grove, Pennsylvania for Jim
Dunn, it just may change your whole opinion of this really bright man from down under!
To find out more about Jeff and his products go to www.compositespecialtiesinc.com.
NHRA: 10 Most Recent Entries [ top ]
Sep 16- DALLAS - Top Fuel'S Spencer Massey Knows Big Weekend at AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals
Sep 16- DALLAS - NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Playoff Doubleheader
Sep 16- DALLAS - Fact Sheet
Sep 16- CHARLOTTE 2 - Special Awards
Sep 16- CHARLOTTE 2 - Through the Lens of Gary Nastase
Sep 16- Indy - Through the Lens of Ron Lewis
Sep 16- CHARLOTTE 2 - Pro Stock Racer Gaines Walks Away from Crash at zMAX Dragway
Sep 16- CHARLOTTE 2 - Lucas Oil Sportsman Eliminations Postponed
Sep 14- CHARLOTTE 2 - Continuation of Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals Eliminations Moved to Texas Motorplex
Sep 14- CHARLOTTE 2 - Race Completion Moved Elsewhere.