Our Unbelievable Year with the USA-1 Tribute Funny Car! cont...
Back to the run. I checked the oil pressure gauge as we had talked about and gave Bruce the thumbs up to do a dry hop. I walked to the back of the car and as I turned to watch it, the engine roared to life and the car went speeding off, until Bruce lifted off the loud pedal at about mid-track. As we rushed to get Bruce and the USA-1 Camaro down track with the tow vehicle, thoughts raced through my head that the throttle had stuck during the dry hop or maybe there had been another problem. Upon getting there I yelled to him to see if everything was OK and he smiled and said yes. When I asked what happened to the dry hop, he reminded me what he had said about his discretion to change it up. I can laugh now, but I was wound up for sure that day! All was good and after another successful pass, we loaded up and went to a restaurant to celebrate.
We match raced the USA-1 Tribute Funny Car at events all year and ran some single exhibition runs as well. I have to say the high point of the season was at the U.S. Nationals in Indy this year when we made 3 passes to drum up excitement for the Epping, New Hampshire Hot Rod Reunion. To run a car at Indy is special. To have Funny Car World Champion Bruce Larson run the USA-1 Tribute Funny Car that we built at Indy is VERY special. And to top that, for the last run on Monday in front of a packed crowd, Bruce told me that he was going to leg it through the ¼ mile to see what it would do. We normally run 1/8th mile for safety purposes and to cut down on parts wear, but I was all for it. After starting the car and lowering the lid, I motioned Bruce through the water and he proceeded to do a half-track burnout. The fans exploded with applause and gave him a standing ovation as he backed the car to the line. He staged and left hard, pulling the wheels in the air about 6 inches. As he passed the 1000 ft mark, Bruce lifted, pulled the chute and coasted through the ¼ mile traps to an ET of 7.38 at 184 mph. What great numbers…and lifting at the 1000 ft mark! We pulled in at the top end to pick him up and he casually asked me what it ran. When I told him the time and speed, just for a moment Bruce showed a bit of emotion. He told us that back in the day, the original USA-1 Camaro had held the national record at 7.41 and he had just run quicker with the new car and with the chute fully blossomed at the stripe.
A special moment that I am sure he will treasure. I know I will!
Nostalgia Drag World - by John Worm; photos courtesy of John Worm