I always thought the very first funny car was Jack Chrisman's Comet. I
saw that thing make its first run at Riverside and it sure shocked everyone that day. We
were at half track and saw this stock looking Comet approaching the starting line, it
fired and EVERYONE turned their heads, those people who couldn't see the starting line ran
to the fences because they thought one of the fuelers had just fired. The Comet left and
we were all shocked to see a stocker run like a fuel coupe, which I guess that's what it
really was, because there wasn't any class called funny car.
|Standard 1320 Group Founder Lee Schelin on Chrisman's Comet, 12/98|
The first serious, non-stock car that Lew and JJ built (predecessor to
Hercules) was (gasp) a Stude Lark set up I believe to run AA/MP, but is more of a funny
than what was AA/MP in those days. Complete roll cage -no interior- ran an injected Hemi.
It was not around long (right away they got more ideas and started on Hercules) and ran
only locally at Fremont, maybe Vacaville. I have pictures of it somewhere........ and if I
never find the pics, it's firmly in my mind. Every once in a while nowadays I see a cool
Lark at a car show and my heart does pitty-pats.
Like many racers on a budget, Shubeck opted for the very efficient,
purposeful, economical (free to a bit of nighttime larceny!) use of a local newspaper's
rural delivery box as a lightweight injector scoop.
Some guys who used to travel South from NYC to spend the winter racing in South Florida
did the same. They used a New York Times "scoop" for their four-hole
Hilborn atop a blown 392 hemi Gas Dragster. This car was very fast - low eight's at
185+ in early 60's - owned by Pete Van Kirk, driven by John Levins.
The car was immediately and forever known as "The New York Times."
|Jim Hill on
Gentleman Joe Shubeck's famous injector scoop, 12/98|
That shot would certainly back up a couple of stories that
Bruce Larson told when I saw him last week. Said that he was working as Service
Manager at Sutliff Chevrolet (think I am correct about the spelling), and Jungle used to
come in and scavenge all of the used Big Block parts from them. Said Jim was the
only one who could take all that crap and make it run as hard and as consistently as he
did. Obviously, it didn't always work that way.
|Tom West on one
source of "high tech" Jungle Jim racing parts, 12/98|
Many years ago I asked Jeep Hampshire (at least I'm pretty sure it was
him) how he saw around the motor, especially in my Dad's cars where your butt is skidding
the ground, whether feet over or feet under, and he told me there shouldn't be anything
for you to see in front of you. You have two guard rails to follow out each side, one
being a little closer than the other, and hopefully remaining that way down the track.
Many other chassis builders put the driver up high and sitting fairly straight up. The
injector scoop is still there, but it's a bit narrower and easier to see more track. From
what I've heard it was a bit freaky to change over from FED to RED since the safety
blanket was taken out from in front of you. If you hit something you had a pretty big
hammer coming down on your head. (I like how my Dad describes the FED/RED change, the
motor position didn't change, the driver position did. Maybe they should be FDDs and
|Eric Fuller on how
Front Engine Dragster racers saw over their engines, 1/99|
I remember one nite at the beach while driving for Ed Donovan. I was getting suited up
in the staging lane. Some gal came up and was talking to me (Ed did not like girls in the
pits). She asked Ed, "How come you have such a big driver?" Ed's reply:
"You don't drive a railroad spike with a tack hammer." I was over 6'4 and 200
lbs., as was James Warren. Who can forget giant Jim Moore? He was like 6'8".
|Wayne King on big drivers and
little cockpits, 1/99||