The Eastern Raider Top Fuelers
By Al Hanna
Some of the younger online readers have been surprised to hear that Al Hanna - of nitro funny car and jet dragster fame - has been involved with several Top Fuel Dragsters. Al describes them here, and in doing so, uncovers a few more surprise rides from his past...
In 1976-77, there were three "Eastern Raider" Professional Drag Race Cars. First, there was the "Eastern Raider" Nitro Funny Car, which I drove and Gary Richards and I wrenched. Second, there was the "Eastern Raider" Alky Funny Car, driven by Mario Carranca (who drives the 'Super Mario' Jet Funny Car today). That was one of my earlier funny cars with an alky motor I helped them with a bit. Last, but not least, there was the "Eastern Raider" Top Fuel Dragster. That car was owned and driven by Bob Beaulieu, more recently known as the owner/driver of the 'Jazz' Jet Funny Car.
Bob and I go back to the mid-'60s with numerous cars including, besides the "Eastern Raider" series, the 'Shadow Dodge' altered wheelbase '65 Dodge, Bill Flynn's 'Yankee Peddler,' the 'Yankee Peddler' Nitro F/C of Kushi and Flynn, the Patriot Chevelle (Jim Maybeck), the 'Screaming Eagle' Corvair (Jim Maybeck), the 'Screaming Eagle' Camaro (Jim Maybeck), and on and on. Funny thing, but I drove the Patriot Chevelle (Bruce Larson's USA-1) on its maiden voyage after Maybeck bought it and we (Bob and I) adapted a blown motor to it. Bob and I built Maybeck's Lindblad-chassised Corvair. I drove Maybeck's Lindblad-chassised, Beaulieu-wrenched Camaro at its first outing (the Super Stock Nationals at York US 30). Currently, Bob drives my jet funny car when we have a duplicate race date appearance weekend with our Jessica Willard-driven "Queen of Diamonds" 310 MPH Jet Dragster (which I transport and occasionally pull a wrench or two on).
In 1989, I formed a partnership with Don Marshall of the famed King and Marshall Top Fuel Team. I drove; we ran the "Eastern Raider" moniker. Donny provided the steam, consisting of a 'Big Daddy'-combinationed KB, and we appeared at several events including the NHRA WCS Points Race at Maple Grove and the NHRA Summernationals at Englishtown. We also match-raced it a bit. The car was brand new, built by Mike Kase (Kenny Bernstein, Connie Kalitta, Darrell Gwynn) and ran a best of a 5-teen.
At the same time, we were updating our jet funny car. Shortly thereafter, we signed an agreement with the Auto Palace chain (Rite-Aid Drug Store subsidiary) and from late 1989 through 1997, ran with full jet car sponsorship under their banner. In late 1989, Don and I split and I sold the car to Kenny Koretsky. It was practically brand new. Kenny ran under the Sunoco and Phoenix Network banners with that car. I don't know where it is today, but I sure would like to know. If anyone knows, send me a note. It was a great and beautiful Top Fuel car.
I just saw Don Marshall and Jimmy King at Gainesville. They looked great. We all love fuel. The closest person to me besides my wife and family, however -- my banker -- doesn't particularly like it. Hmmm. Wonder why?
By the way, I still love fuel cars, even today, and I pay close attention to their fuel systems, clutch management systems, data gathering and comparison devices, etc. One never knows when that information may come in handy...