Funny Car & Doorslammer Chassis Evolution
By Jim Hill
The early '66 Logghe cars (beginning with Nicholson and Schartman's first unblown SOHC powered Logghe cars) were a major, no make that SUPER-MAJOR step forward in driver safety, handling, weight transfer, traction, etc.
They caused a revolution in chassis design that went from basic stock-frame cars, narrowed, braced, "x-ed," bracketed, crossmembered, and anything else the early FC guys could do to make the cars stronger and more rigid to withstand the HP of nitro and blower motors.
Modern, narrow cars are significantly better now, thanks to an ongoing program of late '60s, early '70s chassis improvements that began when folks like Don Hardy, Logghe, John Buttera, and of course, chassis building master Pat Foster (there were notable others, too!) began exploring the outside of the envelope that the early Logghe cars established. I guess Hardy could be tagged with the title "Henry Ford of Funny Cars," as his shop turned out loads of them.
At one time, there was talk of retaining the basic stock frame, or for unibody cars, allowing "reinforcements." Some wanted to "liberalize" chassis rules to allow such "improvements" as rectangular-tube-only, but fortunately, cooler, wiser heads prevailed. When speeds went above 160 mph, the sanctioning body tech experts wisely decided in favor of tube cars with sophisticated driver protection. Lots of drivers have since been able to retire rather than ending their careers as a line in an obit list because of these advancements.
Chrysler's early chassis development efforts - triangulated, engineered designs, chromemoly steel tubing, coil-over shocks, adjustable links, etc., seeded the fertile imaginations of drag racing chassis folks. In the early '70s, Bill Jenkins revolutionized Pro Stock chassis thinking with his first small-block Chevy, SRD tube car, and nearly everyone soon followed.
The advancements in chassis design as Pro Stock grew into adolescence seemed to parallel the FC chassis revolution as well as the RE concept for diggers. All these contemporary chassis breakouts seemed to come within a period of just a few years. The chassis design folks were thinkin' themselves into premature baldness trying to come up with cars that bit harder, went straighter, and lasted through a crash.