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Did you ever see this Front Engine Dragster

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by McGurk, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. McGurk
    Joined: Jul 13, 2011
    Posts: 85

    McGurk
    Member
    from Mid West

    [​IMG]

    Edit:

    I added a picture of the dragster when Norm Gingrass owned it. I had previously stated that the dragster on the left was owned by the Gingrass & Dearmore Top Fuel team. That was in error because the team had split up and John and Norm were competitors at that time. I had the full Tom Hanna body but, the lettering had been removed prior to my ownership and race car history was not what it is today so it was not important to me at the time.

    Original Post:

    Hello,

    Yeah the picture is terrible. Polaroid was the technology at that time so the picture is actually a digital picture taken from an old Polaroid picture.

    The dragster left Wichita, KS when it was sold at the end of the 1978 racing season. It was purchased by a couple of guys from the Kansas City area. As I recall they said that they ran a gas station. The last report was that the dragster was seen at KCIR. It was a 175" SPE chassis with a full Tom Hanna body.

    The engine was a 364ci blown (Hampton MAG) alcohol SBC Chevrolet. The transmission was a clutch TH400 conversion that I built and it was coupled to the clutch can with a light weight adapter. The TH400 had to have been the world's shortest TH400. The tail housing was made from a piece of 5/8" thick aluminum plate. The tail housing was just thick enough for a rear seal which ran on the OD of the pinion side of the Greek coupler. The transmission had a ratchet shifter that was mounted directly on the transmission selecter shaft and the whole assembly weighed less than a 1/2 pound. I was a machinist by trade so the dragster had a lot of custom machined parts.

    The original owner of the SPE chassis was the Gingrass & Dearmore Top Fuel team. I did not purchased the chassis from G&D so I did not know that at the time that I owned the chassis. I ran across a picture of the dragster with the full body mounted and I recognized the paint scheme that was on the body panels when I purchased the chassis.

    The last race was a KCIR and it was the weekend that John Osborn was killed. He hit a 12" diameter guard rail post when his engine blew as he was going through the lights. It was actually the opening for the first track exit. The next morning several of the racers including myself set out to round up all of the pieces. We could not find the engine. However after going considerably further we finally located the engine. You would not be believe how far the engine was catapulted. John was best known for driving the Tulsa Oiler funny car. John had just returned to drag racing and he was driving a car named the 'Frantic Ford' which he had just purchased from Jim Fox and Fred Fry.

    I did not drive my dragster and after John's death I decided that I did not want to be involved should my driver have a crash. The race prior to KCIR was at St. Louis International and there was an incident during qualifying that could have been fatal.

    Jim Tice, director of AHRA at that time was running the tower and he sent my driver and Frank Bradley on a qualifying pass while Shirley Muldowney was sitting in the shut down area of the track with a broken chassis, in the dark and with no tail lights on. Her crew was attempting to use a pull strap to pull the broken lower frame rail up so they could get off of the track. Fortunately Frank was further down the track so my driver was able to switch lanes. My driver was MR. COOL, that's why I wrenched and he drove.

    When I saw what was going on I turned my truck back toward the starting line and started flashing my head lights. The next pair were doing their burnout. Fortunately the track officials saw my signal and they hauled a$$ to the big end. I wish I could remember everything that Shirley Muldowney said to the officials. However I had never heard some of the words before. Shirley also went to the tower and vented on Jim Tice.

    When my dragster was back to the pits I discovered that the outer lip on the left rear wheel was damaged and there was asphalt in the center of the wheel that had been scooped out of the track surface. My driver literally put the dragster in a cross slide at 200+ MPH to avoid hitting Muldowney's Dodge crew cab pickup. Two races in a row, both with serious incidents, one of which took the life of a fellow drag racer. Fun can be fatal and I did not want blood on my hands so I sold my dragster.

    You probably can't tell it but I miss the Good Old Days. I would like to know what ever became of the dragster and associated pieces such as the clutch TH400, the ratchet shifter and the clutch can.

    McGurk
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  2. aircap
    Joined: Mar 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,512

    aircap
    Member

  3. aussie oldie
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 400

    aussie oldie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    No, I've never seen it, But I would love to see a better quality shot. That is one of the best proportioned feds I have ever seen.
    Thanks for the shot!!
     
  4. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,188

    edweird
    Member

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  5. DRAGSTER_JOHN
    Joined: Jan 12, 2010
    Posts: 63

    DRAGSTER_JOHN
    Member

    175 inch wb is a great length for feds, thats what mine is... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  6. RICKY MCGREGOR
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 148

    RICKY MCGREGOR
    Member
    from wichita ks

    The car was Ron Beckers and I was the driver.
     
  7. Butch M
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,510

    Butch M
    Member

  8. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 18,545

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    I'm still waiting for the picture to load up....:rolleyes:
     
  9. Jebo
    Joined: Apr 24, 2007
    Posts: 136

    Jebo
    Member

    Ill try to get some pictures of dads collection here soon. Cool story was that they would give him extra money if he did a half track durn out or something along the lines
     
  10. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,247

    oj
    Member

    Those SPE cars were special, very well made and high quality.
    thanks for posting.
     
  11. Jebo
    Joined: Apr 24, 2007
    Posts: 136

    Jebo
    Member

    ImageUploadedByTJJ1369019888.873359.jpg ImageUploadedByTJJ1369019901.058672.jpg ImageUploadedByTJJ1369019915.508498.jpg here's some pictures of the car. I dragged my feet on them


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  12. RICKY MCGREGOR
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 148

    RICKY MCGREGOR
    Member
    from wichita ks

    The good old days. McGurk can you still run like that?
     
  13. RICKY MCGREGOR
    Joined: Sep 16, 2006
    Posts: 148

    RICKY MCGREGOR
    Member
    from wichita ks

  14. Jebo
    Joined: Apr 24, 2007
    Posts: 136

    Jebo
    Member

    What was the best time for the car?


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  15. V4F
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 4,080

    V4F
    Member
    from middle ca.

    i had a 200" fed , didnt realize it was longer than most !
     
  16. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,213

    296ardun
    Member

    Here are a couple of pictures of the original car, from Don Ewald's site, both by Pete Garrimore when the dragster ran Denver:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And at Green Valley:
    [​IMG]

    and back in Denver, 1971...beautiful car!

    [​IMG]
     

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