Our Track Is Back!
Hopefully, by the time you're reading this, we've been peeling out and doing wheelies at our home track: Fontana, California's Auto Club Dragway. As you may know, Fontana closed more than two years ago because of issues with local neighbors and organizations over noise. About a month ago the Auto Club Dragway and local homeowners came to an agreement. This past week the final OK was given and the construction of a 1/2-mile-long sound wall began to protect the local neighborhood from the music that comes from our internal combustion engines. This was the final requirement from the San Bernardino courts to get us back to racing. This wall reaches almost 30 feet into the sky and wraps around the staging lanes, behind the tower, and well past the 1,320 mark at the top end—at a cost of more than $1 million!
The decision to move forward with the construction and expense of the wall didn't come lightly. This facility is owned by NASCAR, and the bottom line is that the track must be a profit center. With this track being the only 1/4-mile track in Southern California that is operated on a regular basis (Pomona is open twice a year for NHRA Nationals), the aftermarket, SEMA, Auto Club of SoCal, and NHRA came together to support the track with fundraising and support. With Southern California being the home of the drag racing, we must retain at least one active 1/4-mile racing facility.
The track is also a major help to the local Southern California area to give the young people a place to race that is off public roads. Auto Club believes in the "Street Legal" program, which runs once a month and attracts more than 500 cars per event with everyone coming together with a common passion of having fun and going fast safely.
What this means to our local racing community is huge. The tentative 2014 schedule has been set with eight Summit ET series events, four PSCA, two NMCA, an NHRA National Open, and four association weekends. These association weekends will include SoCal Pro-Gas, SoCal Super Street, SCEDA, and SoCal Super Comp. SoCal Pro-Gas is the longest-standing private racing association in the country, and my family is one of the founding members. We attended and participated in the first event, back in 1975! In the late 2000s it wasn't uncommon for us to have 60 to 70 cars for a race, paying great purses for a local event.
If you're ever in our backyard, please come by and check out our track. We'd love to see you and talk about racing and how to be good neighbors with your local community. We need to stop losing racetracks around the country. We're very lucky that ours is re-opening. This is not the norm. Wish us luck. I'll keep you posted.
Q I believe your column is the best in the magazine industry. Your depth of knowledge has amazed me for years.
I just installed a new Dart-based 421 small-block making 581 hp at 6,400 rpm and 549 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm in my street/strip '67 Camaro. I'm looking for advice on chassis setup for my drag racing adventures. The Camaro is equipped with a 10-bolt diff with a spool, 4.11:1 gears, an aluminum support cover, Strange 33-spline axles, and 275/60 M/T Drag Radials on 8-inch rally wheels.
It hangs on CalTracs bars and split-mono leaf springs. A 350 Turbo with a 4,000-stall converter transfers the power. To tie the car from front to rear, I've got bolt-on subframe connectors to offer support.
Up front, it's got unknown coil springs with one coil removed, stock control arms with urethane bushings, three-way adjustable shocks, and the stock sway bar. The battery is in the trunk.
It's a 4-mile drive from home to the dragstrip, with my priority being dragstrip results over street manners. I really look forward to your recommendations. Thanks in advance!
A Wow, thanks for the kind words. Yes, drag racing is our passion, but we hope we can keep it mixed enough for everyone to take something from each column.
Your new small-block is making some good power for a street/strip combination. If we were to venture a guess, we bet it runs on pump gas, too. A man after our own heart! Getting the power to the ground with the least drama possible is our goal. Most of your suspension package is spot-on and will work well in a street/strip application. First, we would swap out your front springs for a set of Moroso Trick front springs. These tall, small-wire-diameter front coil springs have a spring rate of 213 lb/in on the small-block applications, and 240 lb/in on big-blocks. They hold a great amount of stored energy for instant weight transfer, placing the load on the rear tires, where it's needed. These springs are listed for racing use only, as they will not last forever with such a low spring rate, and can be a handful to drive with shocks set for weight transfer. The springs for your small-block application are PN 47150. Your polyurethane bushings will allow the control arms to move freely. Also, install polyurethane sway bar bushings with your stock front bar.
You need a good set of racing shocks all around, for the adjustability to fine-tune the suspension and control all the torque you'll be throwing at those rear tires. The 4.11:1 gears, with the 2.52 First gear in the TH350 gives you a First gear ratio of 14.47:1! This, in combination with your 4,000-stall converter, is going to hit those 275 drag radials. Unless you control the extension of the rearend, you could hit the tires and then blow them off with wheelspin. Regular three-way adjustable drag shocks won't give you the control needed for this type of power. To give you the adjustability you need, we recommend AFCO double-adjustable racing shocks. This will give you independent adjustment for both compression and rebound. Most single-adjustable shocks give you rebound with a fixed compression. With your high power and running stock type suspensions, you'll need to stagger-adjust the shock rates from side to side on the rearend to control the torque rotation of the rearend housing. This is something you just can't do with a single-adjustable shock. The AFCO shocks are PN 3840F (front) and 3870R (rear) in your application. As for a baseline setting for the rear shocks, we would set the compression at two clicks off full soft, and the extension around the midpoint of the adjustment. This will give you a tuning point to gauge from. Also, if the double-adjustables are just too spendy to put them all around, the rear shocks are going to be the more important. Up front you can deal with a standard three-way in a 90/10 setting at the strip, and the 70/30 for extended street use.
The bottom line is we dig your package. It's been years since we've had our '67 and '68 Camaros. We raced the '68 for the five years before we sold it. Those were the days. Enjoy your toy, and hope you find some serious daylight under your front tires. Hanging the fronts is very cool.