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Could have the front engine dragster survived?, PT.1:

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by c-10 simplex, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. c-10 simplex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,331

    c-10 simplex
    Member

    Being that funny cars have continued in the same front engine configuration even to the present day with the same drivetrain as a dragster, i theorize that they (the dragsters) could have continued as well in the same configuration.

    List reasons why or why not they could have (should have) remained front engined?
     
  2. 40streetrod
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 477

    40streetrod
    Member
    from nj

    I would say, don't ask us, ask the man himself
    Big Daddy Don Garlit's.
    you may find his FED crash (1970 -- ? ) on you tube in which he lost 1/2 of foot and then drew up plans for the RED as we know today.
     
  3. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,676

    Larry T
    Member

    I'm gonna guess that if they would have survived, they might look something like this. :rolleyes:
     

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  5. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 17,257

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    Front engine floppers might be on their way out also.... Unless they start mounting the engine in back of the driver... Kinda like the Reath & Dunn flopper 'Cuda from???...1970
     
  6. They are still being built in back yard shops around the country,,but mainly for nostalgia racing.

    When Don Garlits had his catastrophic accident and lost part of his foot he didn't roll over and quit he put on his thinking cap and designed something that was completely out of the box.

    There is no way in this world the top fuel guys could be cranking out the times they do today with a front engine dragster. HRP
     
  7. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    The harder the car accelerates, the further forward the car's CG needs to be for maximum traction. Front engine doesn't facilitate that as well.

    Not that rear engine cars are all that safe, in a number of ways front engine cars are potentially more hazardous for the driver.
     
  8. Lobucrod
    Joined: Mar 22, 2006
    Posts: 4,076

    Lobucrod
    Alliance Vendor

    If Big Daddy and nobody else had lost a body part by now due to the FED design then they might still be around. Sanctioning bodys pushed the RED till the FED was fazed out. Garlits made it work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  9. Yeah,the design wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms. HRP
     
  10. firingorder1
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 2,139

    firingorder1
    Member

    Rear engined cars have been around since the start and successfully raced. As someone said about Tony Nancy's car "But for three feet more on the wheelbase. Who knows what might have happened." The way current engines are exploded on such regular basis I'm not sure I'd want to sit behind one.
     
  11. bobscogin
    Joined: Feb 8, 2007
    Posts: 1,674

    bobscogin
    Member

    No room for nostalgia in professional drag racing. You've got to be ahead of the innovation curve, not living in the past like all of us here.;)

    Bob
     
  12. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,122

    296ardun
    Member

    Remember that Don Garlits wiped up the field at Lion's and then the next week at the '71 Winternationals with his first back-motored car...it clearly accelerated harder than did the slingshots...doesn't prove the point (Garlits could wipe up a field with a lawnmower when he was hot) but moving the center of gravity back probably made the difference, as CutawayAl noted above.

    Having ridden out a bunch of explosions in a slingshot, safety alone dictated the move, though as noted earlier in this post, the funny cars remained front-engined to this day
     
  13. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,795

    tfeverfred
    Member

    Natural progression due to better engines was bound to happen sooner or later. Having a major contender lose 1/2 a foot, moved things a little quicker. I was young at the time, but remember reading all the stories in HOTROD about that crash and Garlits new idea. Funny, when he introduced it, it seems like everyone was, "Damn. Why didn't I think of that?".

    It's also amazing that with most Indy cars and sports cars already being rear engined, it didn't happen sooner. More power over the rear wheels. How ingenious. Porsche, Ferrari, etc.
     
  14. GEEZZER
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 295

    GEEZZER
    Member

    Eventualy one of those terrible engine explosions js gonna cause a death and they will go to the rear engine funny car.
     
  15. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 3,956

    Marty Strode
    Member

    This one was built in 61, it ran 180!
     

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  16. Rocky Famoso
    Joined: Mar 30, 2008
    Posts: 3,015

    Rocky Famoso
    BANNED

    The initial thinking of how the slingshot developed, was to move the weight of the driver back as far as possible for traction. But, this was with fairly light weight flatheads and with carburetors. As weight kept being added to the front with superchargers, etc. this concept became less important. Then, with the advent of the monster HP motors (on heavy loads of fuel), it became increasingly less important, and far more dangerous for the drivers when these potential bombs exploded showering the drivers with oil, shrapnel, and of course, the driveline explosions. While I dig F.E.D. I understand why the change came about. But, to me the Kings of Drag Racing will always be the front engined dragsters.
    .
     
  17. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,795

    tfeverfred
    Member

    Was that considered a dragster back in '61?
     
  18. Mad Mouse
    Joined: Apr 1, 2007
    Posts: 93

    Mad Mouse
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Guys, come on!!
    Funny cars will forever run with the motor in front. Dragsters have evolved into the rear engine configuration for two main reasons. First, the engine in the rear puts any fire in the rear. The 300 inch long cars puts the front to rear balance just where it needs to me. The three element wing (with around 7000 pounds of downforce in the lights) puts the weight wher it needs to be.

    Front engine fuel dragsters are like a model T, the served their purpose and allowed us to progress to the point where we are today, 3.67 seconds @ 335 MPH (@ 1000 ft)). Live on nostalgia!!
     
  19. Rocky Famoso
    Joined: Mar 30, 2008
    Posts: 3,015

    Rocky Famoso
    BANNED

    Your logic kinda escapes me, where does the fire go in a Funny Car?
    .
     
  20. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 17,257

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    Thanks Rocky!!....;)
     
  21. stlouisgasser
    Joined: Sep 4, 2005
    Posts: 669

    stlouisgasser
    Member

    Back around 20-25 years ago, one of the drag mags asked Dale Armstrong on what would be the ultimate Fuel car and his concept was front engined. It kinda looked like a Funny Car chassis minus the body but was stretched out a little more. They even had an artist draw it up and it was pretty cool looking.
     
  22. BobG
    Joined: Oct 22, 2008
    Posts: 350

    BobG
    Member

    Jr Kaiser from Denver ran a rear engine Top Fuel Dragster with success a year before Garlits did, but Garlits had the know how and a little more money to take it a step further and make it work.
    He went out and won the Winternationals in a brand new style car, that got him a lot of credit.
    You ever wonder what it would of been like if he hadn't qualified at a hand full of events with it??
    I really feel some of the reason why Garlits got the credit for the first Rear Engine Dragster is everyone recognized his name.

    I've drove several Dragsters and know what it's like to drive one, I'll bet Garlits car was a real hand full to drive without a rear wing.
    That was also one of Kaiser's problems, no rear wing... the steering box was another problem, some guys were using a P&S style like in a front motored car, it wasn't the way to go.

    As far as Jim Dunn and the rear engine Cuda.... There were several rear engine Funny Cars but Dunn was the only one that actually had success with it.
    You know it may appear to be safer but even he knew it wasn't the way to go because he switched back to a conventional car.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  23. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,013

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Well, sitting with your balls right behind the ring gear might be nostalgic with a 300hp flathead pushing the car but with many times that with a blown fuel engine it might raise your voice several octaves in a hurry if the rear end blows up. I'd imagine that back when they went to the rear engine cars it didn't take much convincing to get the drivers to change.
     
  24. chip chipman
    Joined: Aug 29, 2007
    Posts: 203

    chip chipman
    Member

    Garlits almost gave up on the rear engined design. It was very ill handling and scared the hell out of him. Jocko told him to slow the steering down and the next run after the fix
    it went straight as a arrow, and as they say the rest is history.
     
  25. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    Member
    from florida

  26. Straightpipes
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,085

    Straightpipes
    Member

    Us old farts like to see a rail with a couple of blown Hemis settin' up there going a real 1/4 mile. Safe or not, those were the day.
    Then there were the jet engines........I sat in the Green Monster once.:eek:
     
  27. Really, they didn't move the engine to the rear, they moved the driver in front of the engine.

    The engine pretty much stayed where it always was.

    Mick
     
  28. Rocky Famoso
    Joined: Mar 30, 2008
    Posts: 3,015

    Rocky Famoso
    BANNED

    FEDs still running at Bakersfield Famoso in the 5.50 ET 260 MPH range, gotta' Love It!
    These guys got brass balls.
    .
     
  29. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 3,602

    rooman
    Member

    Actually it was Connie Swingle who figured out that the steering was too quick.
    As mentioned by some others, Big was not the first to build a back motor car and also not the first to win with one but his stature in the sport was a major factor in gaining acceptance for the design (plus the fact that he kicked arse with it).
    The rear engine funny car concept has a lot of inherent problems--the cars already look like cartoons and getting the motor far enough forward to make one work would put the driver under the hood with his feet about in line with the front wheels. Sitting that far ahead of the rear wheels and that close to the fronts would make steering one an exciting exercise.
    And finally sitting over the rear end in a front motor car is no longer the problem that it was in the past as the use of spools removes the exploding spider gear factor and I have yet to see anyone spit any parts out the back of a housing in a late model front motor car. Also fire is not as much of a factor with the improvements in safety technology--Carbon X underwear, suit improvements, better gloves, helmets and visors etc. Sure, they are not totally safe but that is why some drive and some watch.

    Roo
     
  30. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 3,602

    rooman
    Member

    Dale and I talked about that concept quite a bit when I was on the tour full time and it may have worked back then but now getting sanctioning body approval and a budget to do the R & D to get it working right makes it impractical.

    Roo
     

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