In 1962-65 I
built and drove gas and fuel dragsters and I will provide a picture
of the car I drove in 1964. It will be the color picture (below)
before the long story about one of the 6-7 cars I built while
living in CC,Tx.
by: Ellis Brasher
In late '64-'65
my friend Bill Rogers inquired about building a HEMI(R) powered
dragster and having built about 4-5, I already had most of the
required equipment and material on hand. This first picture is
of the roll cage and the bending required, but only tack welded.
The car assembly requires bending all four frame members, front
axle, roll bar and brace and the steering box mounting bracket.
The first car I built, the tubing was hauled from CC, Tx to the
Rio Grande valley for bending and it turned out looking about
like exhaust tube bending. I then started think about how to
make decent bends in 1.5" O.D. X .050" wall frame rail
tubing and 1.625" O.D. X .125" wall roll bar and front
axle tubing. Actually I always used 1¼" IPS SA-106-B
steel pipe for roll bar and axle, it being 1.66" O.D. X
.140" wall. I wanted the bends to be about 7" inside
bend radius so I started thinking about bending it around a piece
of 14 " pipe, but I knew it needed something to prevent
it from collapsing/kinking. I solved the collapse/kinking problem
by machining a solid steel, egg shaped object that would barely
fit inside the frame or roll bar and axle tubing. It was set
up on a steel welding table with a piece of 14" pipe about
4" long mounted on an axle vertical to the table so that
the tubing could be secured to the 14" pipe and the 14"
pipe rotated in order to cause the tubing to bend. To prevent
collapsing and kinking the "egg" was welded to a 20'
piece of 1/4" pipe and the "egg" inserted inside
the tubing to the point where the bending occurs and the 1/4"
pipe secured so the "egg" would remain where located
while the tubing slides over it during bending. The entire bender
was made from 4-5 pieces of scrap and was manually operated;
I will draw, scan and post a sketch of the bender if anyone wants
to make one, email@example.com
The back end
of the car. The scatter shield was made from a steel, 1/4"
min. thk. 14" pipe cap with a flange welded on to fit the
engine bolt pattern. Look close at the bottom and note the clutch
release fork shaft that sticks through and through; drilling
the 3/4"+ holes on either side for a smooth fit of the shaft
ain't very easy. You may notice a new scatter shield pipe cap
lying in the background.
This shot shows
the 392" HEMI(R) block. The object between the scatter shield
and rear end housing is a homemade lineup jig made from pipe
and machined to fit the main bearing saddles, scatter shield
bearing housing and rear end pinion bearing housing. The rear
end is an Oldsmobile, junk yard variety that was narrowed by
torch cutting and welding. A lineup jig was used to keep it close.
Some axles were shortened by torch cutting and welding; some
were resplined and heat treated.
This shot is
from the engine to the rear. Here it gives an idea of how the
frame tube bends look and keep in mind that no two of the frame
rails are alike. The uprights were fish mouthed to fit the rails
using a hole saw the same size of the tubing; the fits must be
good in order to stick weld .050" wall tubing. I would normally
put the first pass with a 3/32"Lincoln Fleetweld 180 rod
and then cover with a 3/32"Lincoln Fleetweld 37 rod.
The car frame
full length and as I recall it was 180" wheelbase. The torsion
bar was made from a junkyard VW torsion bar that came laminated
by using stacks of 1/8" X 3/8" steel bars, but the
normal was to use the correct number to make a 3/4" square
bar and then use 3/4" drive sockets welded to the arms bolted
to the axle. The trick was to locate and weld the sockets on
to get both sides built with the same setting on each arm.
The front end
and lots of hours in hand making each component including wheels;
hubs machined from solid aluminum 3.5"diameter bar so as
to accept tapered roller bearings, spokes were intended for wheel
chairs and the hub caps were freeze plugs. The spokes were installed
and tightened using a dial indicator so that very little balancing
was needed. Negative camber was about 3 degrees and caster about
30 or so. I still have the spoke hole drilling jig.
The car on a
borrowed trailer for the first time and I think it went to the
old Houston track on the Gulf Freeway. As I recall the car ran
3 runs at 215+. The guy with the white hat on and with the big
bulls eye is the owner/driver. Any doubts he could get in it.
to be a very important conference; the two guys with writing
on the T-shirts are the co-owners; guy with the shades is Blackie
Blackard (RIP), Blackie. I took the picture, but don't know where,
probably Houston. I think the guy with the funny looking hat
is Tom Crowley who I built a car for which appears on the near
side in the match race 2 photos below.
Next is a 2 out
of 3 "match" race between Gary Watson, near side and
Bill in his first ever and Ford powered race car. These "match"
races were like the WWF in that no one ever won the first 2 and
back then the money was slim pickins.
The race was
at old Rodd Field at CC, Tx where I and many others saw their
first ever big time racers that would come and put on 2-3 exibition
runs, the likes of Garlits, Eddie Hill and the twin Pontiacs,
Bobby Langley's SCORPION and once with an aluminum channel framed
car, Bob Sullivan in Pandemonium and of course half a dozen locals.
Next is Bill
on a run at Victoria, Tx, I think, and at Victoria Bill hit the
ET/MPH lights etc. and laid the right half of the front axle
back about 30 degrees, had to cut it off and install a new end.
Bill and Blackie
waiting in the push to start line; I think at Green Valley near
Fort Worth, Tx.
This is probably
at the Green Valley Spring Nationals which Bill won over the
best diggers in Texas. The race was billed as a $5000 dollar
race which was probably more than the cost of Bill's car. There
was much torn up equipment at the race with two cars becoming
entangled at about 200 mph and the Cortines car flipping 7 times,
but he walked away.
Last is a little
about the Green Valley race and win. Hope you enjoyed this little
dab of drag racing history and one of my biggest regrets is I
never spent the time or money to photograph things I have seen
since seeing my first ever drag race at Halls, Tn. in 1957 or
so where I saw what would later become the "Tennessee Boll
Weevil" get beat by Lewis Carden's SBC, NHRA record B gas
dragster. A friend and I pulled the Boll Weevil trailer back
to Memphis to Ray Godman's home where we met him and I first
learned of him being in a wheel chair.
& '55 sbc; a class of their own.
"One Day At A Time"
The 12th root of 2 = 1.0594631
A good dog don't sing on a covered trail.
As in Cool Hand Luke, "What we've got heah is a fail-ya
"Shakin' it over here, boss".
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