Rich Hanna Raises the Bar in IHRA World Championship Jet Funny Car Win
Also runs 295 MPH in Atco test
By Al Hanna
5/12/2001 - Norwalk, OH - Rich Hanna, driver of the AJK Engineering 'First Strike' Pontiac Firebird Jet Funny Car raised the standards all others have to shoot at in the Jet Funny Car category. He did so May 12th, as part of the historic Norwalk Raceway Park/IHRA Event titles 'Jet Warz'.
In the final round win against the Gustin Racing/Workmat Camaro, driven by Jerry Gannon, Rich rocked the jet world by setting all-time records in both ET and MPH. With an incredible .991 60-ft time, the all-new AJK Engineering 'First Strike' Firebird blasted to an ET of 5.446 seconds @ 291.57 MPH.
This had great meaning as Bill Bader, Jr, owner of Norwalk Raceway Park, had assembled a very competitive field of more then 20 jet-powered machines in both the Jet Dragster and Jet Funny Car categories. Added to that were other impressive jet exhibition vehicles including the jet limo, the jet bike, and the jet Kenworth.
Rich, #1 qualifier, marched to the finals by running consecutive 5.50's, a 5.59 vs. Ernie Bogue Jr's 'Runnin' With The Devil', and a 5.56 vs. Bob Sattelmaier's 'Sonic Thunder II'. Gannon's trek showed nearly identical numbers including defeats of both Al Hanna in the 'Eastern Raider' Pontiac Firebird with a 5.60 and Fran Peppler in the Rock and Roll Thunder with a 5.59. Both cars ran speeds in excess of 285 MPH.
In the past, only one jet funny car driver has ever exceeded 290 MPH in the quarter. That feat was accomplished by none other then Rich Hanna at the wheel of his previous 'First Strike' Pontiac Firebird while winning New England Dragway's Fall Finale, October of 1996. His winning speed was 290.04. Since then, there have been many attempts to break the 290-MPH barrier by other teams but that number has stood the test of time until March 12th, 2001.
Hanna Motorsports and Rich Hanna are especially proud of their accomplishments at 'Jet Warz' since the new AJK Engineering 'First Strike' team tested this machine last weekend and the final run of the event was only Rich's 6th full run in the car. "We're ecstatic," said Rich. "This new car is phenomenal. Dan Page, our chassis builder, deserves a great deal of credit for this unique creation. It handles great and, believe me, there's a lot more in this car. We're taking a look at 300 MPH before the year is over."
This event win follows testing this past weekend at Atco Dragway where Rich et the all-time mark for MPH in a Jet Funny Car running an incredible 5.42 ET @ 295.08. Track owner Joe Sway commented "That was an unreal pass. Those are numbers anyone should be proud of. We're happy the mark was set here at Atco. Jets have somewhat of a home here."
Hanna Motorsports also thanks AJK Engineering, our newest sponsor East Coast Aero Tech, Pontiac, Simpson Safety Equipment, Goodyear, Dan Page Race Cars, Center Line, Deist, all the members of the Hanna Motorsports Team, Bill Bader, Jr., Norwalk Raceway Park, and the entire jet car community.