Monday, October 12, 2015



Early Sixties action at Omaha, Nebraska's Cornhusker Drag Strip. The Rebels car club ran the Olds-powered '33 Ford coupe against anyone willing to try it. Known both as the Playboy Coupe and the Orange Crate, it went on to solid success as a landspeed racer at Bonneville. Cornhusker Drag Strip went on to extinction, and was later replaced by Scribner Dragway, an abandoned air base carved from area cornfields. (Photo believed to be courtesy of Pete Smock)

In the course of researching for Cartech's Lost Drag Strips Too book (available this winter), I was simultaneously stoked and disappointed to discover imagery that either didn't meet Cartech's tech requirements, or didn't possess legit ownership, background info and other must-haves. Scrounger that I am, I saved them to share with your eyes only. These candid peeks at off-track action didn't even earn out-take status, but I dig 'em. Wait'll you get a load of the good stuff in the book...




The anti-buck SGE Model A project (begun in 1997ish) has been through enough twists and turns to qualify for pretzelhood. It was last seen on this blog when put into storage at Allen Stewart's rust farm, so I could focus on the drag strip book. I visited it last weekend for the first time in almost five months.

Amazing! Still right where I left it. Now sharing barn space with Allen's '40 pickup, the rolling chassis is sporting some cobwebs and light rust, but is otherwise untouched.

Allen's truck has rejected every gas tank installed so far. Or rather, the tanks have rejected every drop of gas pumped into them. Then again, the pristine truck may be protesting being forced to slum next to my heap. Can't blame it.

After staring at my rolling chassis for a few minutes, I soon found myself gathering tools. 

With so much work ahead of me in the coming months, it might be reassuring to know that at least the little 2.3 liter Ford is being expertly machined, as I toil in the cold. So I jumped in. Since scoring the engine and trans from some very colorful characters up in the hills, I haven't had a chance to tear it down. It was time to satisfy my curiosity. Employing the chassis as a deluxe engine stand, I dove in.

This was my maiden voyage into a 2.3 engine. I can tell you this: It's weird in there.

This engine turned freely, but for a single cyclical "snick", which I hoped was emanating from the valvetrain. But all of the monkey motion stuff checked out, visually.

Being a know-nothing knuckledragger, I sided with caution and covered the intact overhead cam assembly. Out of sight, etc. Check those wild port shapes. 

The cylinders were topped with what I deemed to be an acceptable ridge. The crosshatching was still visible on the cylinder walls. So far, so cool.

With time running out, I called an audible and ceased the engine tear-down. 

The Mazda 5-speed was hastily popped off the block...

 ... and unceremoniously tossed on the parts pile beside the shop. Turning the output shaft by hand produced the dreaded but familiar "snick". So the good news is I found the noise.

The clutch appeared to be mostly intact.

This is also my first whack at a hydraulic clutch and throwout bearing. The Model A shall be my teacher.

The engine carcass was fitted to this custom stand and wheeled out to the trunk of my awaiting transporter. 

Minutes after a scenic drive through Oregon's Applegate district, the 2.3 arrived at Jerry Peckham's machine shop in Grants Pass. That's Jerry on the left (brown hat), conferring with a customer. Jerry has done all of my machine work over the years, always exceeding my expectations. He also did the machining on Jeff Jahns' turbo'd 2.3s, so my cat pee-fueled and normally aspirated Ranger engine will be child's play to Mr. Jerry. (Scotty shots)



And I thought I was an opportunist.

Always the opportunist (told you so), I couldn't resist a shot of Allen Stewart's '60s vintage Craftsman rollaway. The only box needed in this shop. (Scotty shot)


A compound the size of Allen's spread requires a dedicated transportation module to traverse all of the rugged terrain between the buildings. This is what Allen came up with, though he covers most ground in his air conditioned Chevy pickup. (Scotty shot)

With the release of Lost Drag Strips Too still several weeks away, you may need a little something to get you through the dry spell. Our crack research team has uncovered some amazing finds that should tide you over. All are discount priced at You're welcome.

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