Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Here's where we go to kick back after the races with our pals. Pour a tall one, punch a few buttons on the jukebox, and relax...
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:25 pm

Yes, Wheelz, it is! Absolutely breathtaking finish...my favorite!

My pick for Racers of the Week are Billy Bunch, Nick Canton and Pat Doherty, all from Galveston, Texas. This is the story of 2 Funny Cars which ran the same chassis and body: The Islander, then The Beach Bandit. I spent some time chatting with these guys over the last month, and they gave me some amazing facts and information about this car.

The Islander, then The Beach Bandit ran around the country, primarily in Texas and once in Mexico, between 1972 and 1981 before it was sold to a track owner in Louisiana and after that they lost track of whatever happened to it, but my bet is that it's still out there running somewhere as a sportsman car. It was built to last.

I visited Billy a couple of weeks ago at his home in Bayou Vista, and much to my amazement, he took me on an incredible ride through his career as a drag racer. I've known Billy for a long time, and I knew he was a hot rodding legend in this region, but I had no idea of all that he did over 40 years. I saw him race in the mid-60s here in Houston with his orange C/Altered '32 Ford coupe and when Billy Bunch pulled up to the line, the whole place stood at attention to watch his runs. He was virtually unbeatable with that car with one exception: John Smallwoods, a local taxidermist, had a Dragmaster car with an identical engine to Billy's and he told me it took years before he was able to barely sneak by him in a final round. But other than that thorn in Billy's side, I'm talking about a quiet, soft-spoken, unassuming fellow who you'd never think was responsible for some of the most ferocious competition hot rods that ever laid their slicks down on a drag strip.

Billy won the AHRA Divison 4 championship in 1960 with a home-built Anglia sedan. He saved the trophy. It's on a display in the foyer of his home along with a photo of him in the winner's circle with that car. He told me he got rid of all his other trophies because he didn't have room for them anymore. He got out his scrapbook and took me through all of his cars and all of his races, and I was absolutely knocked out by all that he did. I could spend an entire night talking about Billy Bunch and his hot rodding talent. He builds Deuce Coupe Street Rods now; taking his time and paying attention to detail above and beyond anything I've ever seen. He can't keep 'em because people keep buying them from him, offering him more money than he could turn down no matter how much he liked his cars.

Billy decided to go Funny Car racing in 1973. He went to Dallas and bought Mike Burkhart's '71 Camaro with a Don Hardy chassis. He put his trademark injected big block Chevy on nitro in it and ran it as an A/FC. He told me he did fire burnouts and ran the car at Eastex, La Platte, Crowley, Tyler, Temple, Dickinson, San Antonio, and Monterrey, Mexico where they put him and the 6-car field on a boulevard with a median and no crowd barriers.

He told the guy who managed this race that the crowd was standing in his lane at the end of the track, and the guy said no worried, they'll move out of the way when you make your run. Sure enough, when he made his run, they parted like the Red Sea, but he was still very concerned about the safety of that race. He didn't hit anybody, by the way.

His best time with the car was a 7.56 at 176 mph. After a couple of years, he wanted to go faster so he went to California and bought a new Vega, so the first Islander was expendable. Along comes 2 local hot rodders, Nick Canton and Pat Doherty. Pat is my cousin Phyllis Ludgate Doherty's husband and he was a successful businessman in Galveston, running the Exxon station on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, which did landmark business to say the least. With Pat tuning and Nick driving, they renamed the car The Beach Bandit. Pat put a blower on it and with nitro in the tank, they went drag racing.

One thing, though. Nick needed to get licensed. So they went to Alamo Dragway in San Antonio to make Nick's licensing runs. Nick said the car was a real handful with a blown engine on nitro in it. He blasted off the line, got sideways, got it straightened out, weaved back and forth across the track, took out the timing cones, and by the time he got it stopped he said he needed the seat of his pants cleaned out. He was sitting there halfway down the shutdown area, totally bummed out because he knew he'd just blown his opportunity to get and AHRA competition license. Then the track manager showed up. Nick was apologizing to him for that dreadful run, and the guy smiled and handed him his competition license.
When our cousin Carol got married in 1978, I stayed up all night hanging out with Pat and he took me through a complete technical analysis of the car and told me bone-chilling stories of their exploits. I never forgot that night and Pat's dedication to that car and to Nick. He was having the time of his life doing it.

Pat and Nick ran the car for the next 5 years, anywhere and everywhere there was a race to participate in. Their shot at the big time came in 1979 when they went to the AHRA World Finals at Green Valley Raceway just outside of Dallas. They ran good. They ended up in the final round and faced Gene Snow in the other lane. They'd had engine problems that weekend but still managed to make it to the trophy run, but as Nick told me, Gene Snow blew their doors off to say the least. But it was a proud moment for our local heros to take the Beach Bandit that far!

In late 1980, Pat made a difficult decision to build a house for his family. He had to pull out of the deal right when a sponsorship was on the horizon and a new car was available. Nick understood Pat's decision and he supported him all the way with it. What they ended up with was an awesome set of memories and good times that they had running a Funny Car on a local budget and like they all told me, the very best part of the experience was meeting great people and making new friends in our sport.

Billy, Nick and Pat get together every Monday morning in Galveston and have breakfast together. They're all still the best of friends, and they still enjoy reminiscing about their projects from years gone by and keep up with the current state of drag racing and hot rodding. I want to thank them all for their great input for this feature, and a special thanks to Phyllis Ludgate Doherty for her giving me information I would not have other wise been able to know about.

Billy, Pat and Nick, we wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby draglist » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:16 pm

Great report, John! Loved this one. bp
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:28 am

Thanks, BP! Billy, Nick and Pat are great guys and I was honored to feature them. They deserve to be here. Best, JB
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:11 pm

My pick for Racer of the Week is Dustin Higa, from Hilo, Hawaii. Dustin was recommended to me by our friend and the admin of the 808_FUEL page, which provides updates and profiles of all motorsports in the Garden State, Michael Baba Balbarino. Thanks, Michael!

Dustin Higa's 1992 Honda Civic recently made the quickest pass in the history of Hawaiian Drag Racing for a Honda: an 8.81 ET. I have the video of his run, and it was as exciting after the 10th view as it was for the first.

He is humble and a rather low-key guy, but like many drag racers, when he gets in his race car, he runs flat-out to win.

Dustin started racing in about 1997. Like many other kids, he street raced his daily driver. It was an Acura Integra which ran 15s in the quarter mile. Over the years, Dustin went through a few cars and eventually had a low 10 second street car Honda. He decided from there he wanted to step it up and build a full race car and that’s when he picked up the white '92 Civic that he currently owns. He took about 8years off from racing and finally got the bug again to finish the car. He got the car running and he told me he was blessed to run his 8.81 pass on the second time bringing the car out. The car is still fairly new to the track and needs a lot of dialing-in, but he's happy with the progress so far.

The engine is an 84.5 mm bore Benson-sleeved GSR engine with a 4 piston head, a Precision 72 mm turbo, and an Albins 4-speed transmission. The car makes 942 hp and 597 ft-lbs/torque to the wheels at 41 lbs of boost. Dustin said his goals with the car have actually already been accomplished, but new goals will be to dip into the mid-to-low 8s, and maybe win a Wally before he dies.

He said a big thanks goes out to his wife Iris for the never ending support, Donn at Zombiewurx tuning, Aka at Hilo Service and Speed, Ryan at Frontbunch, Russel at R and R machining, Jason at Sub Ohm Hawaii, Chase at Cars Dyno and last but not least Bradda Mike at 808_Fuel for the badass coverage at all the Hawaii racing events!

Great car and a great run, Dustin! I have no doubt that you will achieve your goals, and congratulations on setting the all-time ET record for Hawaii. We wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:09 pm

My pick for Racer of the Week is Napat Lapcharoenngam, from Bangkok, Thailand. Napat was recommended to me by our friend and DragList LIVE chat board member, Thomas Warren. Thanks, Thomas!

After Thomas recommended Napat to me about a year ago, I followed several links to Drag Racing in Thailand as well as sent a friend request to Napat. About a month ago, Napat accepted my friend request, and I was thrilled to be accepted by him. I'm talking about the coolest guy on the planet, folks. And Drag Racing in Thailand is something that I wasn't expecting to get my mind blown by, but guess what! They take it to a whole new level over there. Stuff I wouldn't dream of, they do all the time, and they pack 'em in at the tracks as a result.

To lay a little groundwork on this, first of all, a drag race in Thailand is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional spectacle. It's drag racing with more entertainment value than I've seen at 3 separate venues. It is like a mega-rock concert, a Broadway revue, an NFL Superbowl, and a close-up, in-your-face motorsports experience all rolled into one. And Napat is one of the main guys behind the whole deal.

There is definitely a language barrier between English and Thai, so I used Google Translate to find out what Napat and his friends are saying, but the pictures I saw are worth a thousand words. That is what my feature is based on tonight. It's a colorful society there, everybody looks free, happy and healthy. Thailand is in a part of the world that we rarely see much of, but it goes back thousands of years, and it is a beautiful country. I'd recommend checking it out, like it was recommended to me.

There are 3 drag strips in Thailand, one of them is within comfortable traveling distance to Bangkok. I decided that the track I'll talk about tonight is Bangkok Drag Avenue, Northeast of Bangkok. Drag Avenue is appropriately named. It reminds me of Lions Drag Strip in that the spectators are right next to the track, separated by concrete retaining walls. But what happens there is beyond what we see here...

There is a massive lighting apparatus around the starting line that has multicolored spotlights and strobes that highlight the cars (which I'll get to in a minute) when they do their burnouts and staging. Hard Rock music is blasted out of the PA system. There are gorgeous girls everywhere. They use sexy models to advertize upcoming events, and they don't disappoint. They're all there and they're all very friendly.

The cars they race are overwhelmingly Asian imports, but their performances are incredible. Nitrous is allowed, and a lot of the cars are Isuzus and Toyotas. Almost all of them are turbo cars, and many of them are diesels. The top dragsters I saw are turbo diesel-powered smoke machines. They run everything from street cars to Pro Mods, and the configurations are awe-inspiring feats of mechanical ingenuity. I'd give anything to be able to go to Thailand to one of these events. They have a hot rod bike contingent, but the cars, and since I'm a graphics guy, the wraps on them are amazing. If you want hot rod eye candy, fast on-track action, dazzling sensory impact embellished with hot chicks all at once, take a trip to Thailand. I guarantee you won't be let down.

Napat works for a turbo company in Bangkok and he represents them to all the drag racers there. He's been involved in this endeavor for a while, and he is in my opinion the most well-known and respected hot rodding influence in the country. Aside from this, he's married to a beautiful lady and he has kids and a full life of adventures, fulfilling his free spirit. Here's a guy who is doing exactly what he loves and I look up to him and all the racers he works with and supports in Bangkok. The racers there are rock stars, and they put on a fantastic show. It just don't get no better than that!

Napat Lapcharoenngam, we wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby Wheelzman » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:33 pm

Now that was cool and unusual too. Those little imports with turbos will scream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycermhv7qnE&t=306s :shock:

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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:51 am

Yes, they do, indeed, Wheelz! Napat is on top of the whole scene, and it is quite a spectacle! Thanks for the link! WC1
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:16 pm

My pick for Racer of the Week is Mark Gapp, from Palmerston North, New Zealand. I found Mark while looking through the NZDRA website and I couldn't pass this feature up, the car is just too good and Mark is a great guy.

Mark is the owner, builder and driver of the Proparts Overkill '41 Willys Supercharged Outlaw. It is a magnificent hot rod from stem to stern. The Proparts Overkill Race Team maintains the beast and keeps it running in top form. I watched a video of the car and it is an awesome performer on track. The closest track track to where Mark and the team are located is at Masterton but they come from Palmerston North in New Zealand.

It's one day ahead where Mark is...it's Tuesday afternoon there. It's also the beginning of their drag racing season, the beginning of summer there, whereas over here we just finished our season with the beginning of winter. What I think is great about that is that drag racing runs year-round from one side of the planet to the other!

Mark Gapp's Proparts is his business. They are now a 4-store franchise in New Zealand that he started back in 1992, selling street & race car high performance parts and safety gear. Mark told me sending things by themselves can be expensive, and they also have the currency difference to deal with (They call the New Zealand money "The Pacific Peso") and at the level of racing they are at, everyone runs different parts, so it's very hard to stock foreverybody. Proparts can save people money by consolidating with each order. Proparts' website is proparts.co.nz

Mark told me "We do this for the love of the sport over here, not big prize money or anything like that, so getting noticed overseas is really cool. We have added some power to the car for the upcoming season and hope to run in the low 7's for the quarter-mile (7.50's so far)."

The graphic for Mark's feature has him holding a trophy - He is #1 in the national series. They have been doing this for 3 seasons, the first season in the NZDRA (New Zealand Drag Racing Association) Mark finished at #2, the second season he was #1, and the 3rd season he finished at #2.

The monster engine in this great hot rod is a Dart Big M 572 Big Block Chevy, with a BDS 14/71 Blower and an Enderle Big & Ugly injector running on methanol. The chassis is a Chrome Moly Chris Alston Chassisworks unit; they are running a Hughes Power Glide transmission and a 40-spline 9 inch differential.

I asked Mark about the scrape on the left front fender and he said it wasn't serious...just gave a love peck to the wall last season. the car got sideways and off the ground in a run against the Dinosaur Racing Team Fiat altered driven by former Racer of the Week Pete Shimanski...it made a shower of sparks and broke his headlight...but luckily the headlight is a decal, so it was more or less a quick fix! I call it quick but...

Mark's Wife and Back up Chick is Cheryl, His Crew chief is his 11 year old son Jack (he is also racing now with a junior dragster), the rest of the team is Phil (aka Toxic), who is Mark's right hand man, and Tony (aka The Diamond) is on return road duties.

Mark sends huge thanks to their team, they have had a big off-season with some changes to the car and had some issues with tire shake, breaking some parts, also to their chassis man Grant Downing, and their Engine man Phil Bluemont, and their sponsors... Proparts, Lucas Oil, Allstar Performance, and Benchtop Surfaces. Also special also thanks to Gavin Green, and Aaron Davison.

I'm sending thanks to Steve Virtue for letting me use his photos for Mark's feature. His Facebook page is SV Photos. He's one of the best I've seen, and I recommend checking out his work. Steve is an artist, and I admire his work.

Mark, this is one of the finest hot rods out there. Thanks for the great input on your feature. We wish you good luck, safe racing and the best of times in the future!
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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby Wheelzman » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:22 pm

Oh another cool gasser. John I can't take much more of all these Willys, Anglias, Thames panels and such yer killin' me boy!!! Okay, a little less coffee and I think I will be alright. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Racin' and Rockin'..."JB's Take"

Postby WildcatOne » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:20 pm

LOL Wheelz! You ain't seen nothin' yet!
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