Tuesday, August 26, 2014



It looks like the past. It could very well be the future of drag racing, full grandstands and all. (Photo courtesy of Bob Higginson)

Last week on SGE, you were introduced to Subjects A and B of our reality perception experiment. These two individuals - unaware and working independent of each other - were struggling through the development phase of a grassroots-level nostalgia fuel dragster class. This week, I'm happy to report that both parties have indeed balanced their common denominators and differences, considered the pros and cons of collaboration, and have decided to give it a go. It turns out that Subject A and B are not their real names.

Tim Conder in his Santa Rosa, California shop. Tim built two identical fuelers (dubbed God and Satan, for the ultimate good versus evil showdown), along with dedicated mild custom station wagon tow/push vehicles and full custom pit bikes, with designs on bringing showmanship back to the drags. The traveling circus would be called Armageddon Top Fuel, and was intended to hit the road as kinetic performance art of the highest order. Then life happened, and everything but this lone fueler was sold to pay off the enormous debt incurred. Now wiser and perhaps humbler, Conder still can't shake the itch. He's desperate to go racing, in traditional Sixties nitro fashion. (Photo courtesy of Tim Conder)

Quain Stott calls Columbus, North Carolina home, but he hasn't been there much over the past 36 years. Quain and brother Mitch were already feared run-whatcha-brung southern match racers when the outlaw Pro Mod movement went legit in 1990. The Brothers Stott dived into Pro Mod pandemonium head-first, and both rode the wave to World Championships. But those accolades came with a staggering financial hit that left them reconsidering priorities. Quain eventually found his niche in the period-correct Sixties-style gasser wars of the new Millennium. And he believes AA/Fuel Dragsters would bring even more fun to the party. (Photo courtesy of Quain Stott)

Conder and Stott have both successfully navigated around NHRA's SFI-spec "upright driver" nostalgia dragster chassis requirements, and have fashioned legal period-correct laid back 'cages to nail the Sixties look. Smoking the hides downtrack was first perceived as a clutch riddle to be solved, but both pioneers have now concluded that tires are the pivotal element in developing a period AA/FD class. The proposed diggers would launch in a cloud of tire smoke to at least half-track, then accelerate wildly to the finish line. Here's Conder's take on the subject:

"First, I want to go fast. So I need a dedicated tire that looks right, but will work with the new tracks to smoke and hook, without growing too much (maybe a radial). My car is built for push starts, no water burnout, and competitive '65-style passes. I prefer the non-piecrust style sidewall. I think two tires are needed: One that's a 10 X 15 (since 15" wheels are more common), and 30 - 31 inches tall, for the less powerful cars - and a 12 X 16 (32 - 33 inch tall) tire for the higher powered cars. I believe the M&H 12 X 16 (Nostalgia Top Fuel) spec tire has a 2-ply sidewall and is made from the original (pre-wrinklewall) 1967 mold. Maybe you could cut apart an original and see how they did the shell. Pat Foster said the tires hooked and smoked."

Notably more succinct, Stott also weighed in on the situation, in his inimitable style:

"People keep telling me I'm crazy. (But) I've never given up on anything (though a lot of times, I should have) until it became successful, then I get bored and move on. I have Hoosier working on a spec tire right now. They're going to keep making different compounds until I get what I want."

The rolling stock looks right because it is. But those vintage M&H Racemasters on Conder's rail are weatherchecked widowmakers. Conder revised his cage to make nice with Tech officials, and now reports improved cockpit comfort. Who knew?  (Photo courtesy of Tim Conder)

Doorslammer stalwart Stott, doing some hands-on field research in a long skinny car. He'd like to see the Kings of the Quarter Mile return home and reunite with the gennie-style Altereds, Gassers, Super Stockers and Funny Cars that are pulling alienated fans and orphaned race cars from obscurity. We say, the more the merrier. Bring on the fuel dragsters. (Photo courtesy of Quain Stott)

One way or another, this is going to happen. It's inevitable. And not just in AA/FD. When bracket racing was hailed as the backlash to escalating racing costs, it served the Sportsman's purpose for a time, but quickly alienated confused fans. As brackets were replaced with the throttle-stopped 'Super' index classes, that alienation turned to a disgust that still echoes through empty grandstands from coast to coast today. Heads-up nostalgia drag racing was right on time, as proven by its extended shelf life, but "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be" anymore. The performances are more impressive than ever, but index racing and billet laden cars have steered far off the intended course. So period-correct organizations such as Stott's Southeast Gassers (www.southeastgassers.com) are injecting drag strips with car counts and gates not seen in decades. Consider this movement the backlash to the previous backlashes. Live and learn, right?

EDITORIAL: The Big Show serves its purpose. I haven't bought a ticket in almost 30 years, but I watch it on TV. It's quite the spectacle. But this... this is racing I can relate to. A stage where grassroots racers can get inspired, maybe even get some respect, and basically get their jones fixed. If you have hands-on tire design experience (you know who you are, Steve and Cody), contact me and I'll connect you with Conder and Stott. You just might play a part in saving drag racing from itself.

Bill Pitts' Magicar and the Anderson family's Vagabond are restored originals. It doesn't get any more legit. But nobody would complain if you and your buddies built your own vision from scratch. Cackling is amusing, but these cars were born to run wild. (Photo courtesy of Sherm Porter)

Get to know your Modern Era pioneers:

Bold concepts are business-as-usual for Tim Conder. And he delivers on the promises of his sketches.  One example: Tim took Coby Gewertz' van from sketch to mobile award winner. (Images courtesy of Tim Conder)

2014 marks Quain Stott's 36th year of drag racing. The lessons learned should serve him well in the AA/FD endeavor. Bottom line: It must be fun, and you must share the fun. Amen. Photos courtesy of Quain Stott)

Imagine a world where cast-offs such as these would be welcomed back to the track. What a wonderful world it would be. 



Motormouth Ray has gone completely nuts on his GTO lately. Patch panels are welded in, sealer and primer applied, and brand new rolling stock is bolted up. Ray quips, "I think it looks tough, sans headlights. I may just leave them out entirely." Good call: Less weight, and less drag on the charging system - all in the name of conserving energy.

 Pretty tidy in here! The chassis and drivetrain are ready to rock, but for one pesky hard-to-find radiator hose. It's always the little stuff... A dual Flowmaster exhaust system is next on the list. Then: "Knowing that everything in it is either new or rebuilt, and all systems must be broken-in simultaneously, I realize I'll be jacking it up and making adjustments to various sub-systems. Slips, falls, bumps and bruises are bound to happen, and it's always easier to touch up primer and black semi-gloss than it is to fix the real deal. Besides, I'm a low budget kind of guy at heart, anyway." 

A young, earnest, and somewhat naive Motormouth Ray ponders the future of his street racer '55 Nomad, back when. Does it have a future yet, Ray? "Sure. I look at it every day. It'll have a tenth of the anal detail that I paid to the Pontiac. The bigblock Chevy is waiting patiently under the workbench, and I need an I-beam with brakes. Where's Chris Darland when I need him?" (Photos courtesy of Motormouth Ray)

Nipping at the heels of Ray's GTO, the SGE Model A is closing in fast ("fast" being a relative term). The tubing running down the center of the chassis represents the crankshaft centerline. After comprehensive measurements of the engine and trans, we now know where it will all end up. Good news: It'll mostly fit in the car. Not so good: At its lowest possible position, the top of the engine still sits above the hood line. What to do? No sweat - we're highly skilled professionals...

We solved the engine problem by ignoring it and returning to the torque arm for the banjo rearend. But this week will be spent in deep meditation on the engine conundrum. The Labor Day holiday provides an extra day of head scratching to consider our options (none of which are appealing). As of this writing, we're totally blank. So it goes. 

Incredibly, all of the above work was accomplished in a single 4-hour Sunday! The toll on Dr. Lockjaw and myself was devastating, but that's just how we do. Doc surveys the day's results, moments before nodding off. I somehow managed to drive home on Auto Pilot, then followed suit. (Scotty shots)



Brazilian Tiger Squirrels are one of the rarest breeds of the species. The same can be said for photographs of them. But with urban sprawl (soccer stadiums) encroaching upon rain forests, these scenes are becoming increasingly common around Rio De Janeiro. Truth be told, we're just running this image as a congratulatory acknowledgement of Motormouth Ray's GTO project. (Photo courtesy of National Geographic)

The most important tool in the box is the mindset you approach your work with. We're here to help, with the new Scotty Gosson Combo album, "Surfing the Asphalt Playground". It features fifteen individual tracks of music specifically designed to increase focus and relieve stress in listeners driving at high velocity and/or performing light fabrication work. Bonus: The deluxe jewel case doubles as a handy Bondo mixing board. You're welcome. Coming soon from the Gosson Bros. Racing Library. (Scotty shot)


More insight into Tim Conder and Quain Stott. If you can't support them financially or physically, please send some positive energy their way. As the cardboard sign says, "Anything helps."