Drag Racing's Biggest Influences
By Karl Wortman
OK, here are my entries to what I believe have been some of the biggest influences in drag racing since I've been a fan. (A follower since about 1970):
- Bill Jenkins 1st tube Vega Pro Stock
- Don Garlits 1st rear engine dragster
- Kenny Bernstein's "Batmobile" Buick Reatta Funny Car
- Wally Booth successfully winning in Pro Stock in an AMC product
- Bob Glidden's Fairmont Pro Stock
- Gapp & Roush 4 door Maverick Pro Stock
- The Lenco transmission
- Body parts made by other than fiberglass and acid dipped products
- Computers in race cars
Anything else anyone can add? I think it would be great to have readers add their list, and then print up a list of what the fans have chosen.
I think that the guy who invented the "Zoomie" headers in 1964 deserves a great deal of credit. At that time, most dragsters, with a few unconfirmed exceptions were knocking on the 200 MPH mark, and had been for a long time. People in all forms of auto racing at that time were thinking about harnessing the unused and wasted energy that is just blown out the exhaust. Turbo-Chargers were coming into race car use, and tuned exhaust manifolds in conjunction with tuned intake manifolds were being experimented with too...
And then...all of a sudden...some guy (I think he was in the mid-west) figures out that he could aim the exhaust into the flat surface of the slicks, and this would do two things... 1). Heat up the tire rubber to soften up the compound and make it more "sticky" for better traction and 2). Blow away tire burnout smoke and give the driver better visibility...! How smart is THAT...?! Then...all of a sudden...in about three weeks...everybody with a dragster is using them and going over 200 mph.! It seems like sometimes the simplest idea can work wonders...!
more info on Zoomie Headers, see Jim Hill's great story HERE.