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Drag Racing Stories
Aug 6, 2009

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Fuel Altered Files, Part 6

Text by Danny White

The Beaver Hunter II fuel altered of Nolan Pritchard debuted in 1968 and was raced by various drivers into the early seventies. Pritchard had been a partner in the original Beaver Hunter until the partnership split. Nolan built the new car in 1968, placing Dale Young at the wheel of the yellow altered. Pritchard joined the Leon Fitzgerald’s US Fuel Altered tour. Harry Harrison replaced Young at the wheel. Harrison was known as a heavy footed driver with a never lift reputation that suited the Beaver Hunter II just fine. Other Beaver Hunter drivers included John Force, Henry Harrison, Dale Young, Don Hicks, Tom Oliviras, and Stan Lucas. John Force’s ride ended in a crash on the fire up road! (L&M Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer; information from Rod Hynes and Draglist files)

Warren Gunter was in high school when he bought the original 23 Ford Model T body on a '32 chassis. While going to engineering graduate school, Warren designed and built the car and began racing. The Gunter Bros. car was originally designed as a street car, but ended up on the strip instead with a steel body and a chopped top. It debuted in 1965 with a small block Chevrolet and was classified as an AHRA B/FA. Later on, a big block Chevrolet moved it up to the A/FA class. The engine was set up for fuel injection (with a small beer keg for a fuel tank) and ran about 70% nitro. The transmission was a C & O Torque Flite automatic. The unique car ran mid 8's with a known best of 8.69, 163, and won at least a few injected only shows.

The Gunter Bros. normally ran at Lions but ventured out to Irwindale and OCIR on occasion. Warren Gunter left the altered ranks to build the famed Durachrome Bug VW funny car in 1969. The engine was later traded up for a blown engine that was first used in the Durachrome Bug. This car -- originally built for the street -- sat for years in Warren's den and was converted back to street use in 1975. The car still runs on the street today with a small block and original chrome megaphone headers by Warren’s brother Tim. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ditty; text by Warren Gunter, Bill Duke, and Danny White; information from Warren Gunter and Draglist files)

The Blue Blazer fuel altered was built in 1964 or 65 by Roadmaster Jack Eskelson for Al Carter. Keith Drum bought the car from Carter after Al had won Bakersfield twice. Bob Hankins was the car’s original driver but found that he did not want to drive the car anymore. Larry Maladano took the Bob’s place in the seat. Drum needed to sell the car, and Bob Hankins bought it and returned to driving. Hankins won many races in Southern California, enjoying success from Irwindale to Orange County and getting known best numbers of 7.44 at 209. Bob drove the Molly painted Blue Blazer from 1968 until 1971, then left to race funny cars full time. There is a new version of the Blue Blazer out today with Bob’s son Brent doing the driving. (L&M Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer; information from Draglist files)

Gary Hazen and Don Wilson came out with the famed Panic AA/FA in 1970. The car was built by M & S Race Cars and featured a 436 c.i.d. Chrysler Hemi for power. In 1971, Bill Velebil joined the team and the car was painted in its distinct orange and white scheme with Kenny Youngblood lettering. Hazen drove the car in Southern California action for three years, running an amazing (and disputed) 6.71, 216.86 time slip at Irwindale in 1971. Gary raced the Panic AA/FA through the 1972 season before building a Vega funny car, and later moving on to a Top Fuel dragster. The Panic AA/FA was sold to Don Wilson and became the Bad Actor AA/FA. (L&M Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer; information from Draglist files)

In 1967, the Gretchko Bros. from the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights entered the fuel altered wars with this nice looking Bantam altered. The Gretchkos consisted of Mike, Tim, and Tom, with Mike doing the driving for the team. The Gretchko Bros. raced the car in NHRA, UDRA, and match race action in the Midwest. Note the chassis with its reinforced added chassis bars added after the chassis was originally built. This car was raced from 1967 until 1971 until it was replaced by a modern Logghe chassis altered. (Photo courtesy of Bob Plumer; information from Rod Hynes and Draglist files)

Mike Hall began racing fuel altereds with the purchase of Freddie Whittle’s Shutdown AA/FA in 1973. Hall raced the aging altered in 1973 and built a newer Shutdown AA/FA in 1974. Mike purchased a chassis from Dennis Priddle that had been used in Priddle’s Avenger AA/FC. Hall used his blown nitro 392 Chrysler Hemi to power the new Shutdown altered, now topped by a Bantam body. Mike raced the car on fuel in 1974 before converting over to alcohol when the AA/FA (T/CA) class was taken off the books by the powers to be. Hall raced the car in the Pro Comp class in 1975 and 1976 running a known best 7.76, 179 before buying a more competitive front engine dragster. (Photo courtesy of Alan Currans; information from Alan Currans and Draglist files) 

The first incarnation of Mob Fiat AA/FA was built in 1977 by Phil Miller and Ed Moore. The swoopy altered impressed fans with its appearence and performance. The Mob Fiat was sponsored by Dick Miller Fiat and was built by Race Car Specialites. Power was provided by a Donovan Hemi and helped Moore ran a best of 6.58 218. That run was at the 1977 PDA race that Dave Hough ran 6.18 at while running with the funny cars. The Mob Fiat AA/FA was sold to Al Arriaga and was contined to race as a AA/FA and later a AA/FC. (Photo Courtesy of Big Bob Snyder and www.vintagedragclub.com)    

Vic Hammond’s Cockney Rebel AA/FA was built in 1984. The altered was named after the rock band Cockney Rebel from England. It was part of a short lived English fuel altered revival that occurred in the mid-eighties. The rules called for a 50/50 mix of nitro and alcohol. Hammond ran in the sevens with the Donovan Hemi powered car. Vic later sold the car and the Cockney Rebel is now called the Mob and is raced to this day. (Photo courtesy of Alan Currans; information from Alan Currans and Draglist files)

In 2002 Arizona based racer Steve Neese laid down one of the great fuel altered runs of all time. At the Fuel Altered Nationals held in Tuscon that year Kneese ran a 5.42 282.19. The Neese and Knowles transfomer altered was now one of the quickest and fastest of time. In 2003 the team built a new car that has yeat to top the times the times ran in the summer of 2002. (Photo and information courtesy of Kyle Neeese)   

In 2005 Tim & Candy Hay debuted the High Voltage Hayride to race in the Outlaw Fuel Altered Association in Texas after years of bracket and index racing. The retro-fuel altered has been a crowd favorite with its distinctly crisp nitro Chevy cackle and wing high flames. The car features a seventies era Don Hardy chassis of an unknown pedigree that has been updated to current standards. The engine is a cast iron Chevrolet complete with stock heads backed by a two speed Lenco tuned by Tim’s son Shawn. Hay was given a nitro baseline by neighbor and former NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Ronnie Martin. Hay ran a best of 4.10, 176 at North Star Dragway in 2007. His biggest win was the 2006 World Fuel Altered Nationals held yearly at Eddyville Raceway Park in Eddyville, Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Gena White; information courtesy of Tim Hay and Draglist files)


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