Northeast Fuel Match Racing with Don Roberts
By Don Roberts
Note: Draglist Associate Editor Steve Klemetti asked Northeast Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Top Gas veteran Don Roberts to run down his various rides over the years. Here was Don's response... bp
The top gas car ran 7.70's and 7.80's early in 1968. That's all that was needed to win here in New England when that car raced junior fuel and other top gas cars heads up. At the end of 1968 when one of the other top gas cars, Mansfield, Pickard, and Holmes, started running high 7.60's, we bumped up the "Slider" to mid 7.60's but in the process, nipped a few more pistons than normal. But it won, and that car won a lot. Mile per hour on that car was 195. In 1970, after I got home from the Army with a little better clutch technology, the best the "Slider" ran was 7.58 @195.64 in October 1970. After that, top gas class was on the way out. Also, at that time we ran a 3.90 rear end gear. Some guys had gone to 4.10. They would haul ass to about 1,100 feet then run out of steam. I won a lot of races in the last 100-200 feet because my car never stopped moving. That car was awesome. As I said in a post on Ewald's site, " That car was better to me than my first serious girlfriend."
Top fuel times were 6.60's and 6.50's with King & Marshall's front engine car with 392 power. Early '70s, lots of match racing, filler with the big funny car shows at Epping and Connecticut. Speeds were 215-225. Rear engine Garlits chassis car with 426 and a 2 speed Lenco ran 6.30's and 40's 225 mph. At a time when most guys were running 230-240 mph, we kept it at the slower speeds. Never had the heads off it between rounds either. Marshall and I would take that car out by ourselves and have a ball, never get dirty, never get tired.
Funny cars, well...They were ok, burnouts were fun, but the dragsters were where my head was. I did funny cars for something to do and make a few bucks when the dragster races were dying. Quickest in a funny car was Kosty Ivanof's Boston Shaker, 6.50 at 222, I think. But you had to be careful with Ivanof. He was liable to be running a bad crank or a weak block, and still put 93% in the tank with tons of mag and blower. He only lit me up once, not a bad one though.
All of this was done on the east coast: Epping, Connecticut, New York National, Englishtown, Maple Grove, Sanair, Suffolk, Cecil County, Cayuga, Pittsburgh, Atco, MIR (long ride on a Saturday night for a Sunday race at Epping), Richmond, Rockingham, Cicero, NY, Oxford, Maine, Napierville, Quebec, and probably a couple of others I can't remember.
Always loved racing Garlits and TV Tom.