Teen Engineering and Royal Triton Lube
By Harold Bettes
Around 1959 or 1960... I was a semi professional (they fed me and paid for my pit pass) tire wiper and crewmember for a dragster. The older guys let me hang around 'cause youthful enthusiasm allowed cheap labor and they had to treat me nicely...because I was in their car club.
Besides, being a young kid with a bent for applied physics via drag racing provided the older guys with a multiple of grins over stuff that I got to try that generally never worked! So, I had an established history of entertainment for the older guys...some however had no sense of humor or understanding of how to channel my energy and interests to the betterment of all.
This old car was a high gear only unit (on gasoline) and the best ET had been 10.04 at 140 mph (as I remember). The thing had dual AFB carbs on a rare Crietz manifold (I still have the manifold to this day). I had already tried a magic trick (easily convinced the older guys that it would work) of propping open the secondary air valves with pieces of shop towels... talk about bog! Serious loss of credibility and patience.
No matter what we tried, the dog wouldn't get down the track any quicker...New Super Secret Plan... Many of the fuel cars smoked the tires and coupled up later, so I reckoned that too much traction was our problem!
I told the other tire wiper that we should get some of the Royal Triton (purple stuff) oil that we used in the motor and soak some into our folded up shop towels. We could wipe the tires with it as we walked 'er to the line on the final run of the day in competition. I was absolutely convinced that too much traction was our problem.
He was very apprehensive... We were 90 miles from home and he was afraid if it went badly (as he was convinced it would) that we would have to walk or beg ride back. Have you ever had a feeling that an idea would work, but that getting others to understand is the most difficult thing the limitless vision of youth runs into?
After a careful plan of waiting until we got fairly close to the line to apply my oily solution to our traction problem (that way the older guys could not stop this plan)... I will never ever forget the look on the face of my tire wiping colleague as the RPMs came up, flag went up, clutch engaged, SMOKE WENT UP and off the tires. I seriously thought that I was gonna have to kick the car off the starting line, but it was smoking too much to see where to kick!
My pal took off to find someone to ride home with and the guys in the push truck sorta glared at me as they rolled by to go get the car. I hoped that my pal had found someone with room for me too and I ditched my rags... You could never hear the PA system from anywhere around the starting line, so I was hatted up to head out. ET? 9.89 seconds!
I (we) never completely told them what we did, just said that we really cleaned the tires well with damp rags! We got to ride home with the guys AND we got chicken fried steak for supper! At least that is the way I remember it.
Best Regards to All,
Weird Harold (I got that nickname long before Cosby ever made it famous)