Drag racers… what a cheating bunch. Of course, I say that with a smirk and a smile on my face… all kiddingly naturally. I may be naïve but I don’t seriously think there are a lot of people actually cheating. Pushing the rules somewhat; that may be another thing.
I guess it’s just a racer’s mentality to; shall we say; push the rules a little bit. Maybe you could just say it’s often a case of interpretation. With the Daytona 500 last weekend I often recall the great Smokey Yunich who equipped his car with a giant fuel line. Apparently, there was a rule as to how big the fuel tank could be, but Smokey seeing the need for extra fuel, noticed there was no rule as to the fuel line size. Hence, he installed a large fuel line. Not sure NASCAR appreciated his “interpretation,” but there was no rule.
When my son was five years old, he began driving a Quarter Midget car. This way before Jr. Dragsters were conceived. I believe Quarter Midget racing began sometime in the 1930s and allowed kids age 5 to 16 driving cars roughly one-quarter the size of a full adult-driven midget with a single cylinder engine. They run on a track 1/20 of a mile in length and can sometimes reach speeds up to 30-mph in the advanced classes.
We became enamored with them and I am so impressed with the fact of kids learning at a young age how to handle a motorized vehicle. By the time my son came of state driver’s license age, he had already wheeled a car at speed, often spinning sideways and even upside down sometimes. The fact is it taught him well. Much the same as juniors in our line of motorsports.
But then we get into interpretation of the rules. This is what happens when an adult gets involved.
One day in the shop, I was running the quarter midget car and noticed when you held the carb wide open, fuel would spit out the back of the sideways mounted carb like some kind of reversion. I had spoken to some go kart racers who ran that type engine and they mentioned fabricating a body part which would sit about a half-inch behind the opening of the carb. The theory was that the reversion would hit that and bounce back in.
Coincidentally, the carb we used had two bosses cast onto the back where an air filter would bolt on to. I fabricated a flat piece of metal that would mount to those bosses and hopefully do the same thing.
At each race, it was mandatory to go through Tech Inspection, when we got to the first race, the Tech Inspector asked what that plate was. When I told him, he said it was illegal, that the only thing that could mount to the carb was an air filter, showing me the rule in the Rulebook. Okay, no problem, so I took it off, but…
That week I fabricated a flat piece which mounted an air filter sock but stood about a half-inch off the carb opening, with the filter doing absolutely nothing. This time when we got to the race, that same Inspector asked what it was. When I told him, I mentioned it was an air filter which according to the rules was legal.
“But the filter isn’t doing anything,” he mentioned.
“It doesn’t have to. The Rules only say I can mount an air filter. It doesn’t say it has to do anything.”
Drag racers. Always trying to push the rules. I don’t think we set well with that crowd, but what can you do…
I also recall the time we hooked a little light on the top of the roll cage, hooked to the gas pedal and powered by a 9-volt battery. If he kept his foot to the floor, the light would light and I could see where he was lifting off the throttle. He eventually asked to put the light where he could also see it which enabled him to be more cognizant of when he lifted his foot. A cheap sort of data logger (which I believe were also not allowed) but it taught him how to drive.