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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Bill Kuhlmann Resets Doorslammer ET Record!

Story by John Lindsey
Photos by Scott Meier

Bill Kuhlmann and crewchief Vicky Shiels prepare the Summit Racing Corvette Nitro Coupe for the next round. Photo courtesy of Summit Racing
Bill Kuhlmann and crewchief Vicky Shiels prepare the Summit Racing Corvette Nitro Coupe for the next round. Photo courtesy of Summit Racing

Drag racing pioneer Bill Kuhlmann has sunk doorslammer ETs to new lows, driving his 1968 Corvette Nitro Coupe to a record 6.161 quarter mile ET in Super Chevy Series competition August 26 at Chicago’s Route 66 Raceway. (Randy Merrick had run a 6.10 last year, but was unable to back it up for a record.)

Kuhlmann added the national ET record to the national speed record — 230.88 mph — he set in Maple Grove, PA in July.

Running a new 525 cubic inch Fontana-Kuhlmann Hemi Chevy engine in his Summit Racing Corvette, Kuhlmann melted five spark plugs and put a connecting rod out of the motor during the first qualifying session. "I had to back off the throttle three times," Kuhlmann explained. "It makes me wonder what we’d have run if the motor wasn’t hurt."

The run also included a 3.99 second 660 ft. time, Kuhlmann’s first career sub-four second time at the eighth mile marker. He backed up the record during his semifinal round appearance, defeating Jim Nordhaugen on his way to winning his 9th of 14 Nitro Coupe titles this season. Kuhlmann has been the runner up four times in 2000.

Bill Kuhlmann contemplating the fives in a doorslammer. Photo thanks to Summit RacingThis ET record, even more than the speed record, has Kuhlmann thinking about extremes and his legacy. "I’d like to be the first to get doorslammers into the fives," he admits. "To be the first to break the 200 mph barrier, and then to drop doorslammer ETs into the fives, that would be really special."

In fact, at Route 66 Raceway, when everyone else was wondering if he could back up his record with a 6.22 or quicker ET, Kuhlmann was thinking about using the 6.161 to back up a 6.09 run. He’d like to run 6.0s this season.

Though he’s been resetting records and breaking barriers for years—he broke 200 mph in 1987—he still doesn’t feel like the doorslammer legends he remembers from the 1960s and 70s. "When you’ve raced cars all your life, you think of guys like Bill Jenkins and Dyno Don Nicholson," Kuhlmann says quietly. "They were unbelievable. What they accomplished seemed so unattainable. They’re the real heroes."

Follow Bill Kuhlmann’s record-breaking season at www.summitracing.com.

 

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