Sat, 24 Dec 2005, 11:05 PM
A Couple of Updates
By Bob Frey
Photo copyright 2005 Auto Imagery, Inc. & NHRA
By now I'm sure that everyone has heard the monster numbers
that came from Warren
and Kurt Johnson
in their test sessions
last week. Sub-record runs in the elapsed time department and speeds of 209 and
210 miles per hour for the pair puts them in uncharted territory for a 500
cubic inch Pro Stock car. And while the conditions were good they weren't as
good as some that we've actually seen at some national events. Nonetheless, it
looks like the Johnson family members have got it all going right now and if
they can start the season out with a bang in a couple of weeks it could be an
interesting year in pro Stock. Of course, that's a big "if.".Jim Yates
just concluded his test
session in Bradenton, Florida
and he was pulling out of the track
as I spoke to him. "We ran a best of 6.66 and a 6.67," Jim said "and the '67'
was in 1,000 feet of corrected altitude so we were pretty happy with it." Jim
added that it "was really neat working with Bill Jenkins.
Anyone who knows what it takes to run one of these
things has to appreciate a guy like Bill." Amen to that. While Jim didn't
produce the big numbers like Warren
and Kurt did he said that he was really happy with the session. "We were just
looking to set the car up, make some clutch adjustments and things like that
and get used to working with Bill. I'm confident that the numbers will take
care of themselves."...While Jim makes progress with the "Grump's" stuff I still
look for one other team to join the Jenkins' camp this year and I think you
could see that happen within the next week or so...Despite what you may have
heard elsewhere, (those nasty rumors), Chip
will return with the G-Squared
/ S & S
entry next year. In fact, if all the details get ironed out in
the next few days you will also see Matt
returning for a full year with the team as well. With Chip and Matt
in the stable George Bryce
and George Smith
will have a formidable
team for the entire 2006 season as they try to catch and pass the Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle bikes.
By the way,
with the new rules that give the Suzuki teams a lot more engine in '06 it could
be an even better year for the bikes that the one we saw in 2005, and that's
saying something. And, remember where you heard it first, you could see at
least one more female racer on tour next year and she could be riding a Suzuki.
Everyone is still waiting for the Bob Vandergriff
and / or Doug
announcements and you can count me among that group. Bob's will
almost definitely come first and, when he finally makes it, it should come as
no surprise who
the sponsor is. The announcement will
come in the first week of January (you heard it first right here) and it will
be big, believe me. Bob has always been a great spokesman for the sport and
with his new sponsor and what they will do for the sport he will move right to
the top echelon of teams, drivers and sponsors in drag racing.. Doug, on the
other hand, continues to explore all avenues and is "currently waiting to hear
from at least one sponsor before the holidays" and a few more shortly after.
While I mentioned here a few weeks ago that John Spar
would be the driver of the car, no crew chief was
mentioned. Well, from what I hear, Todd
was seen hanging around the Las
shop for almost a week and, according to Doug,
"if I had my way Todd would be my crew chief." Doug realizes that he can't tie
Todd up while he is still looking for a sponsor but he told me that "as soon as
I hear from my sponsors, the first call I will make will be to Todd" By the
way, if you were in Las Vegas for the recent Christmas tree lighting you may
have noticed that Doug was hanging out with the mayor of Las Vegas, the
honorable Oscar B. Goodman
honor" was also at the second race at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in
October where he served as the grand marshal and, from what I saw,
he appeared to have a great time. Now I ask you, how
cool would it be to see a Las Vegas-based Top Fuel car sporting the logo and
the slogan of the city of Las Vegas
next year? Hey, I'm not saying that's what Doug has in the works, I'm just
saying that it would be great to see "What Happens Here, Stays Here" on the
side of a Top Fuel car, wouldn't it? If I had to take a guess I would think
that the first time we will see this car and team in action may be at the Las Vegas
tuned.The latest on Wayne Dupuy
him making progress almost every day. According to a family member whom I spoke
speech is getting better and his physical therapy is progressing very well.
"It's still a long road," I was told, "but it's nice to see him making progress
I would like to join with everyone in the racing community
and send my thoughts and prayers out to the family of Steve Carbone
who passed away this week at the age of 62. Steve was
one of the great personalities in the sport and a guy who drove a wide variety
of cars and drove them all very well. While he accomplished a lot of things in
his drag racing career, including a world championship in 1969, he is most often
remembered for the classic burn down with "Big
Daddy" Don Garlits
at the 1971 U.S. Nationals, a race that Steve won. Mike DeLille
, of "1320 Inc."
the company that makes those wonderful, collectible
front engine dragsters, included a couple of Steve's cars in his series
including the Creitz & Donovan
car and the "black car" that Steve used to win at Indy. I was asked to write
the little historical piece for those cars and here's what I had to say about
that Indy final.
...It should have been a mismatch. In one lane you had "Big
Daddy" Don Garlits driving his revolutionary rear-engine Top Fuel Dragster and
in the other lane you had Steve Carbone in his conventional front-engine car.
"Big" had qualified #1 in the field with a stunning 6.21 while Steve had
qualified second with a 6.39 almost two tenths of a second behind the leader.
Don had won his first four rounds effortlessly and spectacularly, clocking
times of 6.28, 6.32, 6.25 and 6.31 while beating Al Friedman, "Kansas" John Wiebe,
Arnie Behling and Carl Olson,
while Steve had managed to go four rounds with the help of three red light
starts by his opponents Chuck Kurzawa,
Kenny Safford and Gary Cochran
to go along with a 6.39 win over the only driver who got a green light against
him, Tom Kaiser (in round two).
Garlits had already won the "Nationals" three times while Steve had a grand
total of one national event win to his credit. Yep, it should have been a
mismatch.and it was. Steve Carbone won the 1971 U.S. Nationals' championship by
beating the seemingly invincible Don Garlits 6.48 to a losing 6.65. Poor Don,
he never had a chance!!
Garlits vs Carbone
The Top Fuel final round at Indy in 1971 will forever be
remembered as the "great burn-down" race, the one where Steve Carbone outlasted
Don Garlits in a battle of nerves and then won the biggest race in the sport.
"Once I got past the semi-finals I knew I had the race won," Carbone would say
after the race. "We knew what Don was doing and we planned accordingly." What
Don was doing was running a new Keith Black motor
with aluminum heads, and what
Carbone knew was that the car would build up a lot of heat and power the longer
it sat there. "I wasn't going to stage first even if the headers melted off,"
Carbone said prior to the final round, and he was true to his word. "What did
he have to lose?,
" Don would lament after the race. "I
was running 6.20's and they were running 6.60's."
The stage for the great burn-down may have been set three
years earlier when Don beat Steve in the Indy final round, a round in which
Steve thought that Don had taken a little too long to stage. Now, at a
seemingly insurmountable disadvantage, Steve decided to do whatever it took to
win the race. Consider that Don was running a 1,260 pound, rear-engine car with
a big wing and a 473 cubic inch stroker motor with those new aluminum heads,
while Steve was running a front-engine car that weighed 1,550 pounds, had a
stock 426 cubic inch engine with cast iron heads and side mounted air foils. On
paper it looked like a mismatch. On the track.it was.
Steve will be greatly missed by all of us who were fortunate
enough to either have known him or had the opportunity to watch him race.
I hope you all have a great holiday season and a wonderful
new year and thanks for all of your notes, comments and corrections during the
year. Happy holidays... .
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