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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Nasty through the Years

The Life and Times of a True Nitro Pioneer

By Dave Benjamin

Dave Benjamin after his early '80s Pomona Fire. Jim Kelso photo. Thanks to Phil Elliott

Bill has asked me to provide the stats on all my cars through the years. I have come up with a list as best as I can remember and research. Since I have been mostly a match racer without any sponsorship over the last 29 years I will not try to impress you with fictitious fast times. The few times that I did excel stand out to me. I am more proud of the trends that I started.

Dave Benjamin's ' 72 Corvette by Dan JonesMy first Funny Car was in 72 I think. It was patterned after Jim Dunn's car with a high gear 392. Home built (literally) and ran in the high country of New Mexico, Colorado, and West Texas. I believe the best was a 7.67 @ 191 at Amarillo.

 

Dave Benjamin in the Magnificent 7, 1973. From the Dave Hough collection. Thanks to Jim SorensonIn '73, a friend had purchased the Magnificent 7 Fuel Altered so I borrowed it and went to the Fuel Altered Nats in Tucson. Qualified fifth with a 7.98 and went four rounds in double eliminations. I also qualified the Arizona Wildcat (former Nanook) car for Byron Ward in the 12th position.

 

 

Dave Benjamin's Fuel Altered in '74. From the Dave Hough collection. Thanks to Jim SorensonIn 1974, I built the first of the Nasty Benjamin Fuel Altereds. It ran in the 7s in the Southwest races that year.

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin's Fuel Altered OCIR '74 by Dave BenjaminIn 1975, we qualified #1 at Tucson with a 7.23. We crashed it at Ontario, California, that year from mismatched tires bought from Hashim. The car was also too low -- 44 inches at the top of the cage.

 

 

Dave Benjamin's AA/FA in the Pits by Dan JonesIn 76, we built a new Fuel Altered with the first of the 27 T bodies that I have used since. This was the first use of the front magneto and fuel pump drive on a Donovan. We took this car with a Vega body to Tulsa and qualified for an AHRA race, #10 out of 33, with a 7.20. Lost to Snow 1st round. Went to Tucson and qualified #3 with a 7.21 for the Fuel Altered Nats. Ran a lot of races in Colorado and Texas with this car, running a best of 6.89 in Pueblo, Colorado. Had a Donovan in it at this time. Ran mostly in the 7-teens and 220s for speed.

Dave Benjamin's monster Monza Wheelstand by Dan JonesIn 77, my best time came at Seattle with a 6.52 that took out McCulloch and Kalb. Ended up fourth out of 64 cars. Stood the car on its parachutes at San Antonio when Collins burned me down on the starting line, made all the rags. We set a track record at Albuquerque for bodied cars with my Fuel Altered that I hear lasted 14 years. The papers said it was a 7.45 but I remember it as a 7.34. It was .3 seconds quicker than the touring Funny Cars could run.

 

 

Dave Benjamin's radical, but short-lived '78 Firebird by Jeff ThomasIn 1978, I brought out the first Funny Car with the sides down to the ground with a one-inch lip on the front and sides. Inspired by Bobby Unser Sr. Unfortunately I also had a rack and pinion steering that lead to its quick demise. I built and drove a Funny Car for Nelson Lengle in 78 that went 6.39 at Seattle. After 8 or 10 races it met its end at Ontario, California, throwing the crank on the ground and me in the burn center for six weeks. I couldn't race in 1979 until the wounds healed.

 

Dave Benjamin's Super Flowing Fuel Pumps by Dan JonesWhen the burns healed, I built an Omni in 1980 with a Donovan. No spectacular times; too broke to race much. In 1980, I built the first dual fuel pump system. Inspired by the fact that I had no money to buy a new 1100 pump and had several 110 pumps sitting around. I ran it at a match race at El Paso in January 1981 against Hoover. I ran 23 races that year without changing pistons in my Donovan. Our quickest run was in the mid-sixes at 228 in Spokane. 

 

Dave Benjamin's Pomona Fire by John ShanksIn 1981, I brought an Omni Funny Car to the Winternationals with dual pumps, four-disc clutch, and full belly pan. The car labored and blew a valve cover gasket causing a fire.

 

What comes up... Dave Benjamin's wild, one wheel, wheelstand. Photo by Phil ElliottIn 1982, another fire at Pomona because of faulty rods from the new owner of Forged True. Sold me junk and wouldn't stand behind it. 

 

 

 

Must come down! Dave Benjamin bounces back to earth. Photo by Phil ElliottIn 1984, I switched to a 426 with parts bought from Jerry Verhuel. From 82 until early 85, I tested MSD ignitions. You wouldn't believe the troubles I had. 

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin '85 by Phil ElliottIn 1984, I ran a best of 6.35 @ 234.98 at Pomona with the red, white, and blue Corvette.

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin's Yellow Vette by Dan JonesIn 1985, I had, I believe, the only blue and yellow Funny Car. Everyone else seemed to be red. After switching back to a magneto that Gary Densham sold me, I ran a 6.02 @ 227.27 in low gear only at Phoenix, qualifying 15th. The trans broke the shifter and again I had put a four-disc clutch back in. This was the blue and yellow Corvette. We ended up 23rd in the nation that year after attending five races.

 

Dave Benjamin vs Jack Holsey at the '86 Mile Highs by Lyle GreenbergIn 1986, after the ban on my three-valve heads was lifted, I again switched to these until 1997 when they were banned again.

 

Dave Benjamin Billet Head by Dan Jones

 

Dave Benjamin '88 Fuel Altered by Dan JonesThe Fuel Altered in these years ran in the 6.20s at match races in Seattle.

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin Clutch Plate by Dan JonesIn 1989, with Ritter driving, we qualified 16th at Denver with a 6.26 and lost 1st round with a 5.878 for our first official five. I fixed the clutch overnight. This was a Beretta painted to duplicate a Chrysler LeBaron. It fit the dimensions for a LeBaron better that it did a Beretta. This car burned at Sonoma in 89. This also was the year we started testing my eight-stand, five-disc clutch -- a year or two before the likes of Brooks and Miglizzi.

 

Dave Benjamin goes Ford with the Blackbird II. Photo thanks to Dan JonesIn 90, I ran Dallas with my first BIG pump that replaced the dual pump setup that was prone to failure due to pressure spikes. It was made from a 3000-PSI hydraulic pump. Settles and others followed suit. We ran 5.70s and 80s this year at Spokane at speeds, I believe, in the 245 range.

 

 

Dave Benjamin's Yellow Olds by Dan JonesIn '91, I put the Olds body on the chassis and ran some decent times at the places we went like Edmonton. Ran 6.15 at 152 and lowered the track record from an 8.30. 

 

 

Dave Benjamin Yellow Altered by Dan JonesRan another 6.15 at 154 in Calgary with the Fuel Altered (shut off because of a fuel leak in my face). I believe this is still the Fuel Altered record for Calgary.

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin -- the world's quickest fuel altered -- on a SHUT OFF! (1993). Photo thanks to Dave BenjaminIn '93, tested a new clutch setup and cam with the Fuel Altered and ran the 5.612 at Seattle. Shut off early because the pad behind my helmet was missing and I couldn't pull my head forward to see where I was going because of the acceleration. The front end started to bounce off the ground and I figured it was only a test so rather than lose it I shut it off at about 800 or 900 ft. Damn it. Ran 6.01 @ 239.80 in Spokane against Karamesines (?) as a Top Fueler with my Fuel Altered. Led him until past 1/2 track but was boiling the tires from 300 ft on. In 93 we set the track record for Boise at 5.705 and backed it up with a 5.74 @ 245 with the Fuel Altered. Still hazing the tires.

Dave Benjamin's '98 Olds Cutlass Jeff ThomasKind of lost interest since 93; haven't raced a lot. I've gone to Spokane each year through 99. 

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin's final funny car fire, 1999. Photo by David HapgoodLost the Olds body in a semi final round fire and don't plan to rebuild a Funny Car. 

 

 

 

Dave Benjamin 2000 -- back to a traditional AA/FA. Photo by Dave BenjaminI am shortening the chassis to 118 inches for a Fuel Altered to run under Dave Hough's circuit. No chassis in front of the front tires, and an 8-71 blower, single pump, and single mag.

 

 

Dave "Nasty"
617 Funny Car

Bill's Notes:

First of all, thanks a million to Dave for putting together this history of his cars. Drivers, if you do this for me I guarantee you a story of the day AND I will get all your stats right in Draglist.com. Please consider doing a story on your cars, no matter what Draglist classes you competed in.

I put out the call for Dave Benjamin photos to accompany this outstanding run down on Dave's career, and the sport's finest responded in DROVES! So many came in that I truly couldn't use them all -- this page is slow loading as it is! I want to thank all the people who either contributed photos or helped to track them down:

Fred Vosk, Dan Jones, Jim Sorenson, Lyle Greenberg, Jeff Thomas, John Shanks, Mike Boersma, Ron Dilley, Phil Elliott, Jim Kelso, George and Karen Adams, Dave Hough, David McFee, and David Hapgood

Check out these websites for some more great photos of Dave's cars!

Northwest Drag Racing www.nwdragracing.com,
Awful Awful Fuel Altereds http://www.mysterion.net/AAFA
The Funny Car Years http://www.mysterion.net/funnys
70s Funny Cars http://www.70sfunnycars.com

 

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