FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AAFD HQ, January 30, 2013—With the 2013 racing season imminent, the All American Fuel Dragsters—the drag racing world’s most unpredictable ¼-mile nitro-burning circuit—are bracing for the future while embracing positive changes. On the docket this year for these fearsome front-engine Top Fuel dragsters are more cars nationwide, different power-train combinations, new measures for improved safety and containment, as well as the possibility of a handful of new venues in some rather provocative and unexpected places.
Despite the changes, one constant for the fuelers is a 16-car eliminator at the season-opening March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, north of Bakersfield. Because of a recent downturn in a car count that reflected a general stall found in most economic indicators, a streamlined 8-car ladder almost seemed more feasible than what has become a traditional 16-car show.
At a recent meeting in Pomona between representatives of the association, track owners and NHRA Heritage Series Officials, it was decided the format would remain the same for both the March Meet as well as the 22nd California Hot Rod Reunion, also contested at Famoso.
“I’m counting 15 cars, definitely,” reported AAFD President Bob McLennan, in reference to participation at the March Meet. “Including (speed-record holder) Tony Bartone who is coming out from back east as well as (defending March Meet champion) Jimi Young.” McLennan sees the possibility of 17 March Meet entries.
Beyond maintaining the status quo in Bakersfield, the Heritage Series has added two points races to its Top Fuel schedule, thus encouraging participation at dragstrips east of the Rocky Mountains. Indeed, both this year’s 11th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky as well as the Inaugural NHRA New England Hot Rod Reunion in Epping, New Hampshire will feature the vintage-style front-engine Top Fuelers in 8-car eliminators and the results will count towards season points.
“This allows the cars based back east to earn points at those two races,” McLennan said. “This is a thank you to them. With these being points races, it’ll add a little more to the Reunions.”
Of these five points races, drivers can claim any four towards their points total. Moreover, with the Heritage Series races solidified, the AAFD’s brass are in discussion with track operators about a smattering of additional match races and exhibitions from Arizona to Colorado and Utah.
But with this extra participation comes added responsibility. Ergo, the NHRA Heritage Series has implemented an “Oildown Rule,” whose aim is to encourage the proverbial “tidy workspace” and keep fluids off the track and, by extension, expedite the racing. In essence, the rule states qualifying runs will be nullified if safety trucks roll for clean-up; oil during eliminations costs the victor lane-choice. Three violations and the violator is disqualified from the event. (For the record, this rule is applicable to all Heritage Series classes, not just the nitro-burners.)
McLennan says his association welcomes the new rule. “It gives teeth to the need for a better fan experience. It’s not acceptable. It’s no longer a simple oil-the-track and walk away. It’s going to be administered pretty tight at the March Meet. (Famoso track-owner) Blake Bowser is putting two people on this.”
How teams avoid getting penalized is up to them. “There is nothing specific nor mandated,” McLennan stated. “But every team has been talked to about the need to relieve pressure and get fluid into the catch tank without any bottleneck.
“With containment and the rule, the show will be much better,” he concluded.
As part of its due diligence in the effort to lessen the oildown situation, McLennan consulted with famed ex-pro Funny Car tuner Austin Coil, and the two of them toured the NHRA pits at the Pomona Fairplex last November. Coil showed McLennan the 6-gallon “puke” tank systems used by NHRA’s Mello Yello Series’ teams and recommended AA/FD teams adopt that technology.
“We don’t have room for a 6-gallon tank,” McLennan explained. “But we can put in larger (relief) lines. My team (Champion Speed Shop) is expanding the size of the lines, in addition to putting another catch tank at the front of the car.
“Everybody is working toward relieving pressure within the engine itself.”
To that end, Heritage Series rules have been amended to allow two-speed transmissions in Top Fuel, although the rule specifies that a “two-speed transmission may only be used in conjunction with a points-type magneto.” The idea is to lower top-end rpm, which, theoretically, will also lower pan pressure. At least three teams are experimenting with this combination.
Race fans can see the changes for the AA/Fuel Dragsters in effect at the March Meet, which is billed as “Four Days of Quarter-Mile Drag Racing,” occurring March 7-10th at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Tickets are available on the track’s website at www.famosoraceway.com.