DRAG STRIP, 1960
© 2014 Chuck Klein
Early fall 1960 finds my buddy, Kirk, in possession of a brand new ’61, 348 Tri-power, Chevy Convertible with 4-speed and 4.11 Posi-traction (thanks to his daddy). Yeah, it was fast, but he couldn’t pull my ’60 Vette – at least not with him driving – and that was the rub. Blue-eyed, tow-headed Kirk was one of those kind of guys the chicks swooned over, but when it came to racing he didn’t have that touch; the feel for engine, traction and speed. Somehow he felt he needed a trophy to enhance his chick magnetism and thus a plan was formed.
Sunday, at the local drag strip and after getting classified as Super Stock, we picked a spot in the pit area to pull the hub caps, remove the spare tire, jack, fender skirts and the air filter. Kirk had fun taking a few trial runs; then it was my turn to practice. I beat his time by a full second and it was decided (as I knew it would be) that I would drive his car in competition.
I had advanced the timing just a tad the day before and over inflated his front tires along with adding a quart of nitro methane to the partially filled fuel tank. I had no idea if the nitro would do good or harm, but it was worth the try.
Meanwhile, I had also prepared my Vette for the strip by giving it a wash and wax job. I mean it was built for road racing with a 3.70 real axle and three-duces in lieu of the standard two-fours. My strategy was to bolt on the hard top and run Altered Coup – not Modified Sports car class. This way, I figured there would be fewer entrants and thus a better chance of securing a trophy. Back then, if you had a hard top and a modified engine, you could choose between classes (If you look closely at the photo, you can see the C/A on the window. I’m in the near lane – with the white wheels).
In addition to the 3-2s, metallic brake linings, HD shocks, quick steering and other road racing improvement, I had added a high voltage Mallory coil and stranded-copper spark plug wires. On a whim, while I was playing around in the garage one night, I turned out the lights and watched the engine run in the dark. Sparks were all over the place! Voltage was leaking from plug wire to plug wire and to any metal close by. This prompted me to cover each wire with neoprene fuel line. I slit the line and slipped the wire inside and then wrapped each wire with electrician’s tape. What a huge difference in performance that little trick made.
SS class that day had numerous entries, but one particular two-door Biscayne was blowing all contestants away – at least off the line. I was able to work my way through the preliminaries with Kirk’s Impala and finally ended up running the Biscayne for the trophy. He had me off the line as he had done to all others, but as I slammed into third and to my utter amazement, I was not only gaining on him, but he appeared to be slowing down! I pulled him by a full car length and Kirk got the chick magnet.
Next class up, Altered Coupe. Lucky me, there was only a few entrants and in the trophy run I dusted another Vette off for my statuette. In the photo of me standing next to the Vette, you can see the trophy on the roof – which I still have.
As Kirk was reinstalling the hub caps, I wandered over to the cat who was loading his stuff into the Biscayne to ask what happened. He told me he was, ah . . . not exactly stock having a stroker kit and mild cam. He then related that, because he was so much faster than the other cars in the preliminaries and practice runs, he had always backed off so as not to attract attention and get protested. But, during the trophy run he decided to let it all hang out. Halfway down the strip, and still at full throttle, the carburetors just ran out of gas – the stock fuel pump wouldn’t handle the added HP and that’s when I smoked him.
In the beginning those times were ours the words, the music,
the clothes and the cars, hot rods and puppy love
and guardian angels up above.
Nostalgia Drag World - by Chuck Klein; photos courtesy of Chuck Klein
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Chuck Klein is the author of CIRCA 1957 and THE WAY IT WAS, Nostalgic Tales of Hot Rods and Romance. He may be reached through his web site: www.chuckklein.com
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