They're Not Crazy. Just a Little Unwell.
By Jim Luikens
|Hot Rod Magazine revolutionized the street scene a few a years ago with the introduction of the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. For those of you that might not be familiar with it, the Power Tour is a 1500 to 2500 mile, ten day cross-country drive with a couple thousand like-minded strangers that are your new best friends by the end of the week. This is the story of Drag Week 2005, which takes that concept one step further by adding a daily dose of drag racing to the cross-country drive.
Like almost everything else in life however, there is a small hitch. You must drive your drag racing vehicle and carry everything you need to survive the week onboard your vehicle. If you can't fit what you need on board you are permitted to tow a small trailer with your necessary supplies. Towing your car itself however, is emphatically not permitted and, in fact, competitors are supplied with disposable cameras to document anyone they see violating the rules.
This year's Drag Week, the first ever, started in Kansas City, Missouri and then hit Madison, Illinois, Bowling Green, Kentucky and Columbus, Ohio before ending at IHRA's showplace track, the 12 million dollar US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan. Pretty simple, eh? Five days, five states, five drag strips. What about the 1500 plus miles that you are going to have to drive in between those tracks to keep on schedule? That's where the plot thickens.
In the Daily Driver class the winner was going to be determined by the car/driver that averaged the closest to twelve seconds (over or under) for the five tracks. Amazingly, at the end of five days, two drivers were TIED with an elapsed time average of 12.005 seconds. Think about that for a moment! Two drivers, two cars, two very different approaches, five tracks, five days and tied to the thousandth of a second after a week of racing. Brian Corrigan was declared the class winner when his 121.566 average mile an hour barely eked by Tom Fauglid's 121.090 average speed by less than a half a mile an hour.
The rest of this story will focus on the marquee class, Power Added Big Block. Seven cars answered the bell for the class on opening day at KCIR. Two fell out early (one was to return on the final day) and two others were not really in the eight-second hunt for the top spot. That meant that the class would be decided between Carl Scott, Phil Cooper and Larry Larson. Ironically all of them were driving either a 1966 or 1967 Chevy II. Despite their similarity of car model each made his power a very different way.
Carl Scott, of Woodward, Oklahoma uses a nitrous-assisted 540 CID Big Block Chevrolet engine for power in his '67 Nova and he had a very interesting week. Three weeks prior to the event he had constructed a small trailer to haul his spare parts, DOT tires, etc. from a (Sea Doo-type) watercraft trailer. His Drag Week got off to a rocky start when he left the keys to the diamond-plate toolboxes he had installed on his trailer back on the kitchen table in Oklahoma. He had to purchase a small grinder at the local Home Depot on the first day so that he could cut the pad locks on his boxes. That grinder was to play an even bigger role later in the week.
With his Nova now running again Carl only had to cover the 325 plus miles between him and Columbus before nine am the next morning. He broke in his new engine by pushing it as hard as he dared, sometimes seeing as much as 4000 rpm on the tachometer. He arrived in Columbus only 15 minutes late and was rewarded with a standing ovation from his peers. Carl's only other problem of the week occurred at Martin when he tried a second stage of nitrous for the first time. The result wasn't pretty and Carl came back from the top end of the track on a tow rope.
That leaves the remarkable '66 Chevy II of Oak Grove, Missouri's Larry Larson. Larry made do without a trailer to support his Lenco-shifted, 1471-blown 555 CID Chevy engine for the week. He carried everything he needed, including a token spare tire inside a garbage bag, either in his fuel-cell dominated trunk or his former back seat area, which is now mostly taken up by wheel tubs. Larry is the owner of Larry Larson Race Cars and the drive line crew chief on Mike Moran's 239 mile-an-hour Pro Mod Monte Carlo so this wasn't his first drag race. He had a mostly uneventful week, recording the best elapsed time, 8.382 and the highest top speed, 163.51 mph of any competitor for the week on the last day at Martin.
Last year I gave out my first "Lukeys" for Excellence in Drag Racing and later this year my 2005 award winners will be announced. For right now I can tell you that Larry Larson is the first winner. When you consider that he drove a supercharged, Lenco-equipped car 1500 miles in five days without a support trailer, recorded the lowest et and highest top speed of the event and finished third overall in the toughest class, the choice is obvious. He is also the only one of the Chevy II triumvirate whose engine was still operable at the end of the event.
Congratulations to Larry but also to everyone that was a part of Drag Week 2005. Next year there will be more cars, more sponsors, more stories and, hopefully, even more fun. But there can only be one first time. The drivers that were a part of Drag Week 2005 are all winners. They helped each other survive, made new friends and recorded a lifetime of memories. To paraphrase the popular song, "They're not crazy, just a little unwell." We should all be so lucky.