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Seat Time - Shop Talk

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If you've learned anything about me by now, then you know I love speed, power, and adrenaline. Unfortunately, some of this has gotten me into trouble. Back in 2006, I compressed my spine and fractured a couple of lumbars when I was out riding my dirt bike in Glamis. No worries, I've bounced back from that for the most part. (Oh, it tends to remind me when I get just a little bit out of control.)

Still, there's nothing greater than the pure rush of adrenaline, whether it's taking part of an autocross, drag racing, or open-tracking … and it doesn't stop there. I've been in all sorts of cool rides, from two to four wheels: shifter karts; a Cup car at Bristol Motor Speedway (also dubbed Thunder Valley); both small-tire, heads-up door-slammers and big-tire bracket rides; even an off-road Trophy Truck. I have to admit, just thinking back to some of these memories is enough to get the blood pumping. Now, the one type of ride I'd never had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of was a dragster … at least not until recently.

Weeks ago, our buddies at Mickey Thompson Tires invited a few of us to a media day with Frank Hawley at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California. Having earned my NHRA competition license through the Frank Hawley Drag School, I was pretty well versed in its offerings. But this was for a new program, one that emulates a heads-up race with a full competition ladder, called the Dragster Adventure Challenge. That's right, you can now drive a Super Comp dragster side-by-side with others. Obviously, you have to show that you're competent enough to handle the ride, but if you are, you'll have a fun-filled day that you'll never forget.

These dragsters are powered by 750hp Chevrolet Performance 572ci big-blocks and more than capable of running into the 8-second zone at full boogie, but this course isn't about that. Instead, during this session, the throttle-stop is in place and will slow you down into the 10-second range. Still, for those with limited experience, this is a great way to get a better feel for what we're so passionate about, experiencing the thrill of the launch, the acceleration, and the trials and tribulations between winning and losing a round to possibly talking the win. Trust me, it was a blast—and it's pretty affordable, too!

For me, this was more about driving a rail, since I've never done it. Getting in is a little snug and felt a bit awkward at first. I did like how there was an instructor helping you put on the arm restraints and strapping you in; pretty awesome to get a brief hint of what it must be like to be a big dog with a full crew focusing on you and your ride. Yeah, I loved it. Fast-forwarding to the drive, you really have to anticipate driving into the waterbox with a 240-inch-plus wheelbase. Beyond that, once you drop the hammer, we're talking an incredibly smooth ride! It's deceptively smooth and nearly runs down the track by itself. What I liked most is how they're so predictable and any change you make, be it the launch rpm or how you stage into the beams, you can see how it affects your e.t. and mph. This is something I can't say about my personal favorite: small-tire racing, but that's a story for another day.

I'm sold, and I can see why these can easily be the bracket racers' choice of rides. They're deadly consistent, pending the monkey behind the wheel (I'm talking about me being inconsistent), and they're just flat-out fun to drive. My only question is, what's it like to drive a Top Alcohol Dragster that runs 5s in the quarter-mile at 230 mph? I don't know, but I sure would like to find out. Hey Frank, have room for another student? Maybe I'll get lucky and get a response, but until then, write in to me at the address above and let me know your favorite ride to wheel.

Flame me: chevyhiperformance.com



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