Kuhlmann Flirts with the Fives!
Story and Photo by John Lindsey
Bill Kuhlmann's historic pass makes the drag racing
When will he break into the fives? Photo by John Lindsey
Bill Kuhlmann pushed both ends of doorslammer racing to
new extremes in just a single pass at Ohio's National Trail Raceway Sept.
Kuhlmann fired a 6.001 second, 234.41 mph shot
during qualifying in his 1968 Summit Racing Corvette that stunned the crowd,
the announcer, and even his crew into momentary silence. The pass was made
in 64-degree air with an adjusted altitude of 1,392 ft.
In the first round of eliminations, Kuhlmann made a 6.065-second
pass that now stands as the world doorslammer record. The quicker pass
backed up his eliminations run because there is slightly more than a one
percent difference between them.
Kuhlmann held the previous record, a 6.161 ET set in
Joliet, IL, two weeks earlier. The unofficial world record was Randy Merrick's
6.10 pass last season. Australian Victor Bray's 233.12-mph pass stood atop
world speed lists for doorslammers until Kuhlmann's 234.41 blast.
Now that Kuhlmann, the 1998 Nitro Coupe champ and 1999
runner-up, clinched the 2000 points title by defeating Jeff Brozovich in the
final at National Trail, he can concentrate on getting his Corvette into the
fives this season. He says that achievement, coupled with his historic
200-mph doorslammer pass in 1987, would be the highlight of his storied,
36-year drag racing career.
"I imagine all of this will mean more to me at the
end of the year," Kuhlmann said. "That's when I'll have time
to enjoy it. Right now, we're working day and night so we can continue to
That's really been the key to an extraordinary 2000
season that's seen him destroy records and win 11 of 15 Nitro Coupe
shootouts. "It's hard work," Kuhlmann admitted. "There's
no way around it. We're the most successful doorslammer team on earth
because we work harder than anyone else."
"You hear a lot of guys bitch about bad breaks and
lousy racetracks," Kuhlmann continued. "My philosophy is simple:
Shut up and work on the racecar."
The intensity this season is no accident. Kuhlmann's
work ethic is legendary, and it's no secret that losing the 1999
championship to Dave Greytak in the final round of the season has haunted
"We approach this thing round by round,"
Kuhlmann explained. "We're meticulous; we don't leave anything to
chance. If it means working until two a.m. and getting up at five, that's
what we do."
In fact, Kuhlmann and crewmembers didn't take time out
to celebrate their win, championship, or records in Columbus. They left the
racetrack and were back at Kuhlmann's Wentzville, MO, shop by two a.m.
With four races remaining, can Kuhlmann really break into
the fives? "You never know in this sport," Kuhlmann said
cautiously, "but I like my chances in Richmond!"
See highlights of Bill Kuhlmann's history-making
performance on ESPN2, and check out race wrap-ups and biographical
information at SummitRacing.com!