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Early Drag Racing Classes ?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by InjectorTim, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    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?
  2. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    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
  3. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    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?
  4. Smokin Joe
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    Smokin Joe Member

    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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  5. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    Cool thanks its still confusing, but now maybe I can kinda figure them out.
  6. Bruce Lancaster
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    Bruce Lancaster
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    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...
  7. Smokin Joe
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    Smokin Joe Member

    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?...
  8. The37Kid
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    The37Kid Member

    I've got a 1964 NHRA Rule Book if you have a specific class question.
  9. Bruce Lancaster
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    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.
  10. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    Naw just a general curiosity. Here are some pictures from the issue of Rodding and Restyling that got me wondering

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  11. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    What were the differences between altered and modified? and what were the outlines for Modified Production?
  12. Bruce Lancaster
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    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...
  13. C9
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    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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  14. InjectorTim
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    InjectorTim Member

    Thanks guys
  15. Jim Marlett
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    Jim Marlett Member

    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.
  16. Mutt
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    Mutt Member

    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
  17. a boner
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    a boner Member



    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



    J
  18. hotrodihc
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    hotrodihc Member

    thanks guys
  19. swade41
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    swade41 Member

    a scan from an old mag

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  20. RichFox
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    I ran in C/Alt. As I remember I had to weigh about 1900 lbs and I had 260 cid
  21. Dolmetsch
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    Weight breaks changed continually as bigger engines came out and

    Weight breaks changed to keep chevy in the limelight . for instance, a prostock hemi car eventually carried an almost 750 pound wieght penalty over a chevy or ford. Actually had to carry more pounds per cubic inch. This is why Chrysler pulled out of racing eventually . They also got the stick from NASCAR on the Hemi. I have a 68 rule book here somewhere and a mid seventes one too. I worked inspecting at Mohawk before it closed. Now NHRA puts the Super stock Hemi cars in their own class (SS/HA ) so they dont run against the oher brands. Nascar does not alow Chrysler to run the new hemi. Back in the day it turned me off racing for a bit. So what would have happened if they had not done it? We would have had a whole load of exotic engines that would have been designed and built to maintain supremecy of all brands instead of protecting the status quo (forever it seems)What ever happened to run what ya brung !? Fair would be here are the weight breaks universal (, not brand or engine specific. ) Go at it and may the best man win. if you win cause of the rules that make it impossible for your strongest competitor to win againt you then you won zip nada nichts. I was told it was because Chevy was the top seller and if they dint win chev guys would stop going to the races. I hope that aint so but I am suspicious it was.
    Ok I will go back in my cage. Just the memory of it gets me going! sorry
    D
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  22. tubman
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    We ran D/A (Altered) the summers of '61 and '62. That was the class for flatheads and inlines. We ran a '41 Merc with finned aluminum heads, dual carbs and a modified ignition in a 36 Ford five window coupe. By scrounging at the local junkyard and other places, we built the car fo less than $200 total. The first time we went to the dragstrip (Minnesota Dragways in Coon Rapids, MN), reality set in and we were informed we needed a scattershield, safety hubs, and a rollbar! (They let us run that weekend though; there was a two week exemption for new builds). We turned a 16:44 et that first weekend. If I remember correctly, I got the safety hubs and scattershield from J.C. Whitney. The guy that owned the local welding shop was really helpful; he did the rollbar and installed the scattershield. The car had a maroon velvet bucket seat out of a Cadillac hearse and seat belts we "liberated" from a friend's folks new car (his dad didn't believe in "those sissy things"). We still had less than $400 in the whole thing.:)

    It was slow and probably dangerous as hell, but we were 18 and clueless. Hey, we had a real "drag car" and thought we were kings of the world.:D

    Try that these days.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  23. Dolmetsch
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    Dolmetsch Member

    Tubman got any pictures? Sounds like a good memory of the early days.
    We had a turboed slant six in a 32 Austin bantam in what seems a hundred years ago. (mid seventes) They wanted my pal Stu to have a fuel license and medical to match because the car was supercharged. Wouldnt let us run. I phoned Gerg X -- I have forgotten his name. He took care of it and said with bracket cars if it looks safe and is within reasonable guidleines let it run. We ran 13s and eventually low twelves with that engine , A well used 170 slant six with a corvair turbochager and carb and pushbutton trans. That was the beginning of the demise of the old class racing this bracket thing.
    Don
  24. tubman
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    tubman Member

    Licenses? Medical? I've been out of it for a loooong time. Y'a know, I think I do have some pictures somewhere. I'll try to dig them out. Prepare NOT to be impressed, however; red primer, black painted wheels, piecrust slicks.... :rolleyes: Hey wait! I'm right back in style again!:D
  25. Dolmetsch
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    Dolmetsch Member

    Ours was flat black. Imagine that?!
    here is a pic. I am anxiuos to see your pics. You beat me to the track by about 5 years! Oldest time ticket I have is july 1966 (C/MP 58 Dodge)

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