(Photos aren't scanned yet, but there will be some eventually.)
The Wentzville, Missouri, nostalgia race looked like an interesting way to spend Memorial Day Weekend. I had heard that Rick Schnell was planning to be there, so maybe I could see him outdo his record performance at Denver last year. My flathead instincts told me to head east, toward St. Louis.
The meet was a Friday, Saturday, Sunday affair, but I couldn't get away from work early enough on Friday to make all three days. Too bad. On Friday, Rick Schnell absolutely shattered any existing records for flatheads and I missed it. His first pass was a 7.86 and his next was an unbelievable 7.724 at 173.73 mph!
Rick didn't make another pass all weekend and frankly I can't blame him. The way the classes broke, he would have to run in top fuel and it has been a long time since a flathead beat an overhead in that format. More importantly, he was going through the traps at well over seven grand and he just didn't want to risk the motor. He did what he came to do and there was just no sense in scattering parts for more. He says he won't be racing again until he can slow down the motor by changing the rear gear and/or tires, and he predicted that would be in 2000, maybe at the Antique Nationals in Palmdale.
Now, even though I missed the run, I did get a look at the time slip and can give you the stats for those who like such things:
Reaction - Hey, who cares. It was a time trial.
60 ft. - 1.164
330 ft. - 3.217
1/8 ET - 4.940
1/8 MPH - 142.81
1/4 ET - 7.724
1/4 MPH - 173.73
I knew everyone would be as curious as I was about the car, so I leaned on Rick for a little info about it. Here is what he says.
"It's an original car from the sixties that I got in '87. It was built somewhere on the west coast because it has Tony Nancy upholstery. I shortened it a little and completely rebuilt everything.
"The reared is a Halibrand "no-change" with 3.60 gears. The trans is a C-4 automatic that I just put a trans-brake in this year. I'm on my 4th engine and it's turning out to be a real killer! And, its still together. It has a 3.425 bore and 4.125 stroke for about 304 cubes. The cam is an approximate copy of in Isky 433 on a 32 billet core with old-style, hollow adjustable lifters. Intake valves are 1.750 with stock exhausts. The center exhaust ports are completely divided with one side going up and out the top and the other side going down, so there are eight completely separate exhaust ports - one for each cylinder.
"The blower is a 4-71 GMC with Teflon rotor tips on a manifold that I built myself. Injection is, of course, Hilborn. Ignition is a Mallory Super-Mag 2 that I converted from a Chevy style. I made my own billet heads. (If I may interject my own editorial thoughts, those heads are absolutely works of art from the outside and I'll bet the insides are just as skillfully done. JM) I tried a couple of my own ideas on the heads, blower manifold, and ports and that's where I feel I'm getting a little extra horsepower.
"Keeping it together was a problem. I pretty much took care of that with a Moldex billet crank, Crower rods, Aries pistons, and a Doug King-style center main girdle. It also has steel front and rear main caps. But the changes I made to the fuel system last year are a very big part of why it's staying together now. A bigger fuel pump and port nozzles made all the difference. Now it's going faster and not burning things up. I give Dave McCain credit for getting me on the right track. He showed me what he had done and I basically copied him. Thanks Dave!
"Well that's about it. I won't be running anymore this year, but I hope there will be a race somewhere next year where we can get at least 4 cars for the unlimited class."
I hope so, too. It didn't happen at Wentzville.
The only other flathead representing the faithful was the dragster of Bruce Dahl. It was great to see Bruce out and about following his recent bout of ill health. His dragster is a great old car. Built by Rod Stucky in the '50s, it was originally Chrysler hemi powered. Bruce says the swoopy rear end was fashioned from a sprint car nose section. It was featured in a number of magazines of the period and he had a copy of one of them with him. With his son Wade at the wheel, the Dahls handily won the flathead front-engined dragster class with a single.
There were no inliners at all that I could recall, although they could have slipped past me. I was pretty much focused on flatties. However, front engined dragsters of the overhead valve variety abounded. The Nostalgia Boys from Illinois, a front engined dragster group from the upper Midwest, were there in force as were a number of A/Fuel dragsters, a smattering of AA/Fuel dragsters, and some fuel altereds. Of note was one of "The Greek's" former fuel cars which is now a nostalgia car sporting an injected Chrysler.
The fastest car on the property was Dawson's Demon, a AA/Fuel Altered. It set the track's top speed record at over 210 mph that weekend. According to the track announcer, they were running the same hemi that powered their top fueler in the 60's. I don't know if he was referring to the very same engine or just the same set-up, but if it is the same engine, that is pretty good longevity.
So, with all this and nostalgic door cars too, I had a great weekend and used enough film to make sure Kodak stock stayed healthy. I just wish I could have used some up on Rick Schnell's run.