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Old 07-06-2005, 01:43 PM   #1
InjectorTim
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Default Early Drag Racing Classes ?

B/G S/S C/G A/D A/BS K/A A/ES F/S ??? Could someone familiar with the early days of drag racing give me a rundown of the classification letters and what they mean? and what the most popular classes in the 50's were, and what was typical of those classes?
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Last edited by InjectorTim; 07-06-2005 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 07-06-2005, 01:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Okay, did some research on Byron's Gasser Madness, it seems the classes were based on a weight:engine size ratio. The first letter is the class, the class designations are as follows

Class A 0 to 8.99 pounds per cubic inch
Class B 9.00 to 10.99 pounds per cubic inch
Class C 11.00 to 12.99 pounds per cubic inch
Class D 13.00 to 13.99 pounds per cubic inch
Class E 14.00 or more pounds per cubic inch

Know the second and any folowing letters denote specifics about the class, these are what I am not to familiar with but here is an example

A/GS- A- a car that has a ratio of 0 tp 8.99 Pounds per Cubic inch
G- runs on Gas
S- is supercharged
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

But this only partially answers my questions, I have read about classes like F/S and K/A, and the above information is all post 1958, does it apply to pre '58 NHRA?
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockabillyTim
B/G S/S C/G A/D A/BS K/A A/ES F/S ??? Could someone familiar with the early days of drag racing give me a rundown of the classification letters and what they mean? and what the most popular classes in the 50's were, and what was typical of those classes?
Cars were rated on several factors in the 50's and 60's mostly classed by fuel, power to weight, stock or modified or altered etc. Different sanctioning bodies or tracks might class the same car differently as well.

F/S would be F stock. an A/S car would be faster class than an F/S car

D means Dragster, A means Altered, G means Gasser, S means Stock, SA means Stock Automatic, M means Modified, MP means Modified Production, S/S is Super Stock, FC used to mean Fuel Coupe, now it means Funny Car, and so on.
As for fuel, AA is Blown Nitro, A is Alcohol or sometimes unblown nitro, G is Gas. B depending on class could mean blown or the second fasted stock class. Sometimes they used F for Fuel or Nitro. It does get confusing but overall kinda makes sense if you understand the concept. The FX classes were kings in the early 60's, That was the Factory Experimental class.
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Cool thanks its still confusing, but now maybe I can kinda figure them out.
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Up through the sixties, lots of classes:

Gasser(Coupe-sedan) -street roadster-modified sports--classes for different body styles, streetable or pseudo streetable, 10% or less engine setback. Meant as a street class, but soon evolved way past this...upper classes soon added "S" designations for blown cars. Modified production then begun as a street class...

Altered (and fuel altered) (coupe-sedan) and roadster-fuel roadster--classes for race cars with 25% setback, no street equipment

Competition coupe and competition roadster--no limits on setback or mods, evolved into just dragsters carrying a body shell. Also fuel versions.

dragsters, fuel dragsters

All were then subdivided by weight to HP ratio, I think supercharger just bumped you up in these divisions.

I think this is roughly correct for modified cars mid fifties--sixties. Then a massive die-off of hotrod classes...
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockabillyTim
Cool thanks its still confusing, but now maybe I can kinda figure them out.
For the 50's it was simpler as there just weren't as many classes.
some places gave the same type class lettering as the lakes cars. /SR for Street Roadster, /CC for Competition Coupe, etc.

Just wondering, How many of you remember the fuel ban?...
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

I've got a 1964 NHRA Rule Book if you have a specific class question.
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: Eraly Drag Racing Classes ?

Weight breaks changed continually as bigger engines came out and superchargers became common, and of course the stock classes were continually rethrashed as new cars got faste cheating more sophisticated, and so on--eventually super stock added at the top to take new and very fast stuff. SA=stock automatic, separate from regular stock for a long time. Eventually, they started assigning their own HP numbers to stockers whose factory power ratings were very low or high compared to competitors--a lot of stock power ratings were pure hot air.
X classes in the modified divisions were for obsolete bangers, flatheads, and such after they became uncompetitive.
Old rule books are hard to find--anybody have any websites or postable copies??
A way to get a snapshot of the situation for a particular time period is to look in HRM. In the period from maybe the mid fifties to the mid sixties, the peak period of many of the now extinct classes, they gave elaborate coverage with class results to the big meets, and also for a while printed a list in every issue of current records for all the classes.
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Old 07-06-2005, 02:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The37Kid
I've got a 1964 NHRA Rule Book if you have a specific class question.
Naw just a general curiosity. Here are some pictures from the issue of Rodding and Restyling that got me wondering





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Old 07-06-2005, 04:31 PM   #11
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

What were the differences between altered and modified? and what were the outlines for Modified Production?
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Old 07-07-2005, 08:34 AM   #12
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockabillyTim
What were the differences between altered and modified? and what were the outlines for Modified Production?
Altereds were cars with substantial setback and no street gear required. NHRA started modified production in the early sixties when Gas class, originally intended as a class for streetable hotrods, evolved into a strictly competition class dominated by pros. I believe it required stock layout with no setback or major modifications to body or chassis and full street equipment.

Altered and modified roadster were the same, just closed car body vs roadster. They were later lumped into one class under the name altered as hotrods were starting to disappear.
"Walt's Puffer" Topolino would be a good example of the high water mark of the traditional altered. "Wild Willy's" T roadster, which would have been a modified roadster under earlier rules, is a still-rumming late example of the class.
Early days saw many street cars become accidental altereds...street rods that were channeled and fenderless found themselves in altered class running against serious race cars! Altereds also had a fuel division, as in A/FA type designations. Fuel was widely popular in early days, sometimes even used in "weekend warrior" systems on street cars, then was banned in NHRA for a while, then became a strictly pro dragster thing. Note that I can't remember the years for anything anymore...
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Old 07-07-2005, 09:17 AM   #13
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

From memory:

Atereds were allowed a 25% engine setback.
Gas classes and street roadsters were allowed a 10% engine setback.

Setback is measured from front axle centerline to foremost spark plug hole.

% was figured using the car's wheelbase.
A 115" wheelbase Shoebox coupe would be allowed a setback of 11 1/2".
although most would go only 11" in case the inspectors measurement methods brought up a different number.

It didn't take too much of a setback until you had to recess the firewall.

The setback rule brings up what looks to be an interesting paradox I noticed when building my 32 roadster.
Wheelbase = 106".
So a legal - early days - NHRA setback would be approx 10 1/2" or 10 5/8" if you really want to cut things close.

In the street roadster class the engine would have to be brought forward from the ideal mounting point.
The 462" Buick in my 32 has the front spark plug hole at 15" from axle centerline.
An earlier mockup did get the engine in with the measurement reading 13".
(Crossmembers were removed and new ones built that sat the engine back 2" so I could use a mechanical fan.)

This side view of the Hugh Tucker roadster shows the Hemi sitting with the right side head just ahead of the front tires rearmost point.
Looking at a side view of my 31 roadster - also with Big Block Buick - has the head sitting about in the same place as the Tucker roadster.
My cars weren't built for the strip, although the 31 started out to be a dry lakes car and the engine setback (same 15" as the 32) is legal there.

I'm pretty sure that 10% was the setback rule for street roadsters.
Does anyone have an early enough rulebook that could tell me for sure?

1964 - 65 era should do it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note the 4 bars on the Tucker roadster.
4 bars ain't so new and neither are they non-trad....
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:03 AM   #14
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Thanks guys
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by C9
I'm pretty sure that 10% was the setback rule for street roadsters.
Does anyone have an early enough rulebook that could tell me for sure?

1964 - 65 era should do it.
No rule book, but my memory says 10% setback on street roadsters as well. Street roadsters were nothing more than topless gassers.

Now if you want to get really confused, throw in AHRA classes as well. Back in the day, AHRA was a much more serious competition for NHRA than is today's IHRA. I really preferred AHRA to NHRA. I wish it was still a viable option, but frankly, bracket racing killed all of that even though it probably saved the sport for the average guy.
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Old 07-08-2005, 01:14 PM   #16
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Tim,
The classes changed at a very rapid pace between 1955 - 1965.
To give an idea of classes, let's look at 1960.

There were three basic sections, or levels, of competition; Street, Moderate Competition, and Full Competition. All competition classes were set up with Weight to Cubic inches as the basis, and Stock classes used Weight to designated H.P.

Under street, you had:

Stock, designated by */S, with the class replacing the asterisk. A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,and I were the available classes
There was a class for stock, with automatic trans: */SA .
Stock classes could be nosed and decked, but had to have a grille (tube OK) and stock bumpers (No nerf bars). So a mild custom could run stock class.

Gas class; (*/G) was for street cars with engine swaps/modifications. They were required to have all equipment needed for legal street use, and limits were placed on body modifications such as chopping, sectioning, and channeling. Fenders were required, and bobbed fenders were allowed in the rear.
Street Roadster; (*/SR) was a class for roadsters that were built like gas class, and the same rules applied with respect to modifications and equipment requirements. Cycle fenders were allowed in front.
Gas and Street Roadster classes were for average hot rods as we know them, and also included the "late models", like what came to be known as "street machines" later on - '50's cars that had motor transplants, or serious engine modifications.
As an example, if you put factory 2-4bbls and Corvette cam in your '50s Chevy, you ran stock class - as long as you had a grill and bumpers as noted above, and the items were available for that year car. But if you put on aftermarket 3-2s, or cam, you went to Gas class, because you made modifications that weren't factory available.
As with ALL competition classes, they were based on cubic inches to weight ratio. The other details will depend on what year you want to imitate.

In the Moderate Competition classes you had:

Altered Coupe and Sedan.
This class, (*/A), was initially for hot rods that ran without fenders, and/or had too radical a chop/channel/section for Gas classes - in other words, fenderless rods, but usable for street duty. A lot of the competitors would drive to the strip, remove headlights and other weight saving items, and race. As the rules about engine setback, and other modifications changed, cars that were street legal were pushed out, and it became a competition only class.
The roadster equivalent to Altered Coupe and Sedan was Roadster Class( */R), and it morphed much like the Altered class, eventually being competition only, with no front brakes, center steer, greater engine setback, etc.

In the Full Competition classes you had;

Competition Coupe/Sedan (*/C).
These were usually dragsters with a coupe or sedan body added. Radical chops, channeling, sectioning - you get the idea.
Modified Roadster (*/MR) was the open car equivalent. The driver sat in the trunk or pickup bed.

And of course, the Dragster classes (*/D) were the top competition class.

Sportscar (*/SP) and Modified Sports Car (*/MSP) rounded out the classes.

Mutt
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Old 07-10-2005, 12:03 AM   #17
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Smile Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockabillyTim
Naw just a general curiosity. Here are some pictures from the issue of Rodding and Restyling that got me wondering







JUST MY OPINION
Drag racing with a flag man= FUN
Drag racing with christmas tree lights=$$$=LESS FUN
Bonneville still has a flagman=Still FUN

On a quiet night you can hear a Ford rust



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Old 01-08-2009, 06:49 PM   #18
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

thanks guys
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

a scan from an old mag
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:06 AM   #20
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Default Re: Early Drag Racing Classes ?

I ran in C/Alt. As I remember I had to weigh about 1900 lbs and I had 260 cid
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