Last month I gave a recap of getting my Super Gas roadster back on the track. I plan on finishing my column on Saturday nights--between two-day races more often. Sunday went well, with us going seven rounds and winning Bracket 1 at the PSCA/Edelbrock World Finals. To top off a great weekend, the car ran 8.47 at 156.60 mph in the semis en route to the finals. The only thing that could have made it better would have been Daniel joining me in the winner’s circle photos with the wagon. Unfortunately, he fell during the fifth round of seven. After the race, we immediately started preparing the cars for the upcoming Vegas Bracket Nationals.
Our friend Ian Smith flew in from Australia to join us at the Vegas race. We had never met in person and had only communicated over the Internet and telephone. Ian and his son, Warren, are Super Gas racers in Australia, and Warren won the Australian World Championship several years ago. Back in 1998, the NHRA asked if I would help a fellow Super Gas racer in Australia and teach them the ins and outs of throttle stop racing. Ian was the chairman of the Australian NHRA and retired to start racing with his son. I was honored to be asked to help and gladly gave them my advice on how to pull your hair out Super Gas racing!
Ian wanted to come up to the United States to see how a big-buck bracket race was run to take that knowledge back Down Under to start, as they call it, Dial Your Own racing for good money. Most of their racing is class racing, and Super Gas is at the Sportsman level. There are bracket events and interest is building. Here in the States it’s the largest motorsport with participants from all over the world. On any given weekend, more people are bracket racing than any other form of motorsport.
Ian got a full dose of what Las Vegas had to offer. Mainly it was cold temperatures and nasty winds, giving us a very slick racing surface. The track was great on the starting line, but down the track it got treacherous. Sadly, over the course of three days of racing we lost six cars, five of them dragsters. Every crash resulted from trying to tighten up the finish line (eighth-mile) by getting on the brakes. With all my years of experience I found myself dead sideways in the lights when I hit the brakes and went for the slide of my life at 127 mph. No one in my camp thought that was fun--especially my wife, Lisa.
Ian is already back home, safe and sound, and I’m sure that his fellow promoters in Australia will look at him oddly when he explains what we do at these races. Hopefully, one day I can return the favor and drive a car at one of their races; it would be an honor and a lot of fun. Until next month, be safe.
Q: I have owned an original ’69 Z/28 since 1974. I have rebuilt, replaced, and restored almost everything on the car except the steering gearbox. The steering is manual and seems to have a lot of play in the system now. Is there an adjustment I can make to eliminate the 4-5 inches of play in the steering wheel? Did the ’69 Z/28 come with a different steering gearbox than other Camaros? If so, how can I get a replacement for the steering gear? Can the original steering gearbox be rebuilt? What do you recommend?
The car runs like new, but the sloppy steering makes it feel like you’re herding goats.
A: Boy, do ’69 Z/28s bring back some memories! The ’67-69 Z/28s were equipped with a quick-ratio manual steering gearbox with a ratio of 16:1, which, with the addition of aftermarket wheels and tires, made them almost impossible to park.