Features

A monumental lossTuesday, May 17, 2011
Posted by: Phil Burgess
Searching through the James Warren photo archive, I was struck by this photo, showing Warren, center, in the Irwindale Raceway winner's circle with Roger Coburn, left, and Steve Evans. Hard to believe we've lost all three of them.

I had a whole other column ready to go this morning, copy edited, photos prepared, and was ready to hit the publish button when the phone rang. With a few other obvious exceptions, there couldn’t have been tougher news coming from the other end of the line.

James Warren, an early boyhood idol of mine and of many of you, a legendary Top Fuel racer beyond the bounds of his normal West Coast haunts, passed away last night.

The caller was Loren Wood, who had called about six months ago to tell me of the dire condition of Warren's tuning partner, Roger Coburn, who passed away a short time later.

This morning, the Ridge Route Terrors are together again, no doubt doing Dry Hops in Heaven.

Those of us in the community had known that Warren had not been well lately, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but he apparently also recently had contracted pneumonia. I spoke to his second cousin Kenny Warren this morning, and although that's the most likely suspect, a cause of death obviously has not been determined.

As I was growing up at SoCal dragstrips in the 1970s, Warren and the Rain for Rent team were huge favorites of mine. Their distinctive orange dragsters stood out not only in their overpowering performance but visually, too. They ruled the West Coast with an iron fist and definitely earned their "Terrors" moniker.

I know I wasn't alone in my idol worship. Already, tributes are pouring in on message boards and newsgroups, saluting one of drag racing's all-time greatest Top Fuel pilots.

I'll have more Warren stuff later this week. Throughout the years, I've run quite a bit of Warren-Coburn-Miller material here, so I'll work on digging that up. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your Warren stories, see your photos, and listen to your words about the man.

Part of the column I originally planned for today included more sad news that I received while I was in Atlanta. I was stunned and saddened to learn of the passing of Texas fuel-racing veteran Ed Mabry last Friday. Mabry, whose racing career spanned the late-1940s drag racing to present-day Bonneville Salt Flats, had contributed a memorable piece for this column a few years ago recounting the great Texas shootout where Don Garlits came to Wichita Falls to take on the best of the Lone Star State.

Mabry, a member of the Texas Drag Racing Hall of Fame, half of the famed Hunt & Mabry team that terrorized Texas in the late 1950s and early 1960s with blown and unblown fuel dragsters, a chassis builder, and most recently a Bonneville motorcycle racer, also was inducted into the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame in September 2004.

You can learn more about Ed on the Team Texas Triumph website, which has photos of his Salt Flats bikes and a ton of links to Mabry history.

You can also revisit the Insider entry, 50 Years Ago in Texas, to which Mabry contributed comments and photos in March 2008.

It has been another tough week in what has been an incredibly tough year.

This sucks.
 

Hot times in ol' Hot-lantaTuesday, May 10, 2011
Posted by: Phil Burgess

Fair warning that this will be this week's only Insider column because come Thursday, I'll be in the air again (surrounded by an airplane) on my way to Atlanta for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at good ol' Atlanta Dragway.

The race has been part of the NHRA calendar since 1981, making it the seventh-oldest event on the schedule, behind only those in Indy, Pomona, Gainesville, Englishtown, and Denver, and it has seen its fair share of NHRA history in its 30 installments, much more than people easily remember.

Atlanta Int'l Dragway was built in 1976 but didn't become an NHRA member track until 1980. With NHRA's only other presence in the Southeast on 1980's 10-event schedule being the Gatornationals, adding the Southern Nationals in the heart of IHRA country was a major step on NHRA's behalf to stake its claim south of the Mason-Dixon line (a claim that now includes Bristol and two races in Charlotte) and added the name of another well-recognized marquee metropolis to its marketing portfolio.

In much the same way that Texas Motorplex is said to be in Dallas and Morrison-based Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Atlanta Dragway isn’t in Atlanta but in Commerce, about an hour north. The town of Commerce sure has grown up around the track since I first went there in 1986; I barely recognized the place last year after its extended absence from my travel itinerary. The track, too, has undergone change, with a major reconstruction in 1987 (so much so that the owners dubbed it "The New Atlanta Dragway"), and in 1993, NHRA purchased the facility and has continued to upgrade it since.

As I mentioned, one thing that has never been in short supply is memorable moments. It was the site in 1982 of NHRA's first all-team Top Fuel final, between Lucille Lee and her TR-3 Resin Glaze campmate Steve Hodkinson, and the site of Lee's only win. Lee was just the second woman to win a fuel dragster title after (of course) Shirley Muldowney, but she came from pretty much out of nowhere to star for a brief time on the NHRA stage. She famously beat Muldowney in the 1982 March Meet final, then Muldowney turned the tables on her in the first all-female national event Top Fuel final at the 1983 Springnationals in Columbus.

The 1982 race also was famous for having a Top Alcohol Dragster win the Top Alcohol Funny Car final. After initially racing them head to head, NHRA separated the alky diggers and Funny Cars to race among themselves in 1982, and the winners of each faced off for the overall Pro Comp title. There were so few Funny Cars at the 1982 event that NHRA inserted some of the nonqualifying Top Alcohol Dragsters into the Top Alcohol Funny Car field and two of those drivers, Jeff Jones and Scott Kalitta, reached the final, where Jones beat Kalitta.

The 1984 race will always be remembered for future Top Alcohol Dragster champ Bill Walsh's skyscraping wheelie in the final round against Bruce McDowell, and 1985 will be known for Butch Leal's stunning Pro Stock victory – he became the first driver other than Bob Glidden, Warren Johnson, Frank Iaconio, or the late Lee Shepherd to win in more than half a decade – but the 1986 race may go into the books as the most amazing Atlanta event ever.

After all, it was at that event where former NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini won his only national event title in Top Fuel, defeating Gene Snow in the final – and the race was also the scene of Glidden's terrifying semifinal top-end rollover after beating Leal to the stripe. I remember watching this one from the starting line in disbelief as Mr. Pro Stock went on his head and over and over again. Wife Etta's shrieks echo in my ears, and the sight of Chief Starter Buster Couch trying to console her is forever burned in my brain.

Glidden's Thunderbird rolled six and a half times in the shutdown area, and Glidden famously emerged unhurt from the car and had the presence of mind to cover his cracked-open intake manifold with his firesuit jacket to keep its secrets from prying eyes. Warren Johnson earned his first Atlanta win on a bye run.

W.J. has won the race four times since – most memorably in 1993 – when he defeated his son, Kurt, in the first father-son final in NHRA history, but he's not the winningest Pro driver in the event's history. Nor, surprisingly, is John Force, who has won the race seven times. That honor still belongs to the late Dave Schultz, who owned the event aboard his Pro Stock Motorcycle, winning it eight times, including six straight (1990-95). It probably shouldn’t surprise you that Frank Manzo is the event's all-time winner.

No driver has had more success in Atlanta than 10-time Top Alcohol Funny Car champ Manzo, who in 2008 won for the 13th time in 14 final rounds. TAFC has not been contested in Atlanta since then, so he's still the reigning champ. Interestingly, Manzo scored his first of 92 wins at the inaugural Atlanta event in 1981.

More history and trivia for Atlanta? Sure thing. The event was the site of Del Worsham's first win in Funny Car in 1991, a feat that earned him the still-standing record for youngest class winner at 21 years, 2 months. Worsham scored his win in just his seventh start, but Randy Anderson went that one better when he upset Force in the final in 1997 in just his sixth start.

Atlanta has been good to Force, though. He won his milestone 75th race there in 1999 – interestingly, W.J., won his 75th in Atlanta as well, in 2003 – and Ashley Force Hood made NHRA history as Funny Car's first female winner in 2008, when she defeated her father in the final round,

Ron Capps made it to his first Professional final in Atlanta in 1995, behind the wheel of Roger Primm’s Top Fueler. Despite three more trips to the final in Atlanta (in his more familiar Funny Car), he has yet to win the race. Capps has good company. Atlanta Dragway is the only current venue on the tour at  which his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher has not won.

In 1992, less than a year after Pat Austin became the first to win in two classes at the same event (1991 Topeka, Top Fuel and Top Alcohol Funny Car), Edmond Richardson became the second by scoring in Super Comp and Super Street. That amazing feat has only been accomplished 18 times in NHRA history, and Richardson has posted five of those doubles.

Echoing Pastorini's Atlanta heroics, IndyCar racer John Andretti -- nephew of racing great Mario -- made his Top Fuel debut in 1993 and drove Jack Clark’s Taco Bell-backed dragster to the semifinals. A year later, the late Darrell Russell scored his first national event win in Top Alcohol Dragster in Atlanta. As recently as 2009, Atlanta was serving up memories: Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle scored their first wins, breaking respective final-round jinxes of five and six losses.

So, as you can see, "Hot-lanta" has a sizzling history of firsts and milestones in its record books. I'm betting more are in store this year.

I'll see you next week.
 

Let's get smallFriday, May 06, 2011
Posted by: Phil Burgess

Honestly, I don't know where and how some of you find the patience to craft incredible machines out of just about thin air, but follow-up to last Friday's report on the from-scratch efforts in plastic of British artist/modeler Mark Gredzinski unleashed a flurry of responses, photos, and links to your projects and those of others, and the work is simply breathtaking in design, scope, and execution.

As I've alluded, crafting miniature valves from tiny scrap pieces of plastic is not my thing, never has been and never will be. I prefer to do my creations in writing, and, in a weird sort of way, I can see the parallels. I take everyday items – 26 letters, 10 numerals, and a bunch of punctuation marks – and fuse them into my work of art. I can glue the letters together in any number of accepted combinations and orders to create words, which serve as my parts. I can heliarc those parts together using conjunctions (everyone sing … "hooking up words and phrases and clauses") and punctuation to create the frame upon which I build the body of my story. It's practically the same thing you are doing (minus the X-Acto scars, solder burns, metal cuts, and fine-motor skills). OK, so that's a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift, and you also get my overwhelming amazement at what a person can do with enough imagination, skill, parts, and time.

You have to see the bigger picture to appreciate it

Like Gredzinski, reader Dave Sherman is solidly in the build-it-yourself category when it comes to drag models, with the notable exception being that Sherman's models are huge, 1/8-scale monsters, like this amazingly detailed fuel altered at right.

"These models contain virtually no model-kit parts," he stated. "I strive for the utmost in scale accuracy and detail.  The parts are handmade or hand-machined in my garage.  I have a small machine shop, but it is all hand screws, no CNC equipment. Each model can take as many as 2,000 man-hours to accomplish.

I had planned a more extensive look at Sherman's supersize machines, but work emergencies on his part kept us from doing so today; he has promised to update me in the near future. (Just as a caveat, I probably won't feature any more models beyond that; I donlt want to turn this into a column on everyone's models, so hold those submissions.) 

(Above) Roger Lee constructed a Halibrand center section from .016 brass sheet with a brass center tube for the axle. The center section is detailed right down to the rubbing. In all, 67 pieces of brass and 20 hours of construction went into the rear end alone. (Below) Detail on the supercharged engine is equally exquisite.

Working in plastic, as Gredzinski does, is one thing, but working with metal is another, and you won’t believe the level of detail that Roger "Riceman" Lee put into a one-of-a-kind brass 1/16th-scale model reproduction of Ron "Big Yohns" Johnson's Shubert/Herbert front-engine dragster.

The car is made up of 1,131 pieces, 94 percent of which are brass. The tires, for example, were fashioned from Black Delron and the seat-belt material from 3/16-inch-wide cloth ribbon (the seat-belt hardware was made from brass, and the shoulder adjusters actually work!). He used only a couple of pieces from actual model kits (seat and parachute). In all, the piece took approximately 920 hours of work spread over six months.A detailed write-up of the project is on Johnson's website here.

I can’t fathom the amount of time that went into the build, but here's an excerpt from Lee's commentary talking about a part of the car most will never see -- the two universal joints connecting the steering wheel to the steering box -- and the extreme length to which he went to make the car as authentic as possible.

"This used up some more brain cells. WARNING, do not try this at home! I first cut a slot 1/8-inch deep with a .005 razor saw into the end of a piece of 1/16 x .007 wall brass tubing. I then placed the tube on a flat surface and with an X-Acto knife, I worked it into the cut slot. Pressing down, I flattened one side, rotating the tube to the other side, I flattened that side, which created the two ears for the universal pivot shafts. I clamped the tube into my small vise, inserted a short length of .047 brass rod into the tube so the ears would not collapse and drilled into the center both ears a .021 hole. I then shaped the ears to the edge of the .047 rod and cut off the universal end .090 long from the ear slot. Four pieces were made. Four pieces of .047 x .007 wall x .090 long brass tubes were soldered into the ends of each universal. I found some .045-diameter black plastic-wire insulation and inserted it between the universal ears.

"Using the .021 drilled holes in the ears as a guide, I drilled through the plastic insulation, inserted a short length of .020 brass rod through the holes to secure the plastic tubing. I then cut the plastic tube off 1/32 longer than the ears and pressed another universal end into the slot and plastic tube. Again using the holes in the ears as a guide, I drilled through the plastic tube behind the first, inserted .020 brass rod, and inserted another short length of .020 brass rod. I cut off the excess lengths of the .020 brass rods, filed the ends flat, and touched the ends with my soldering iron, leaving a spot of solder on the ends so the .020 brass rods would not come out. I soldered in a 1/4-inch length of 1/32 brass rod into the end of the universal, which went into the steering box. The steering shaft mount on the rear axle housing was copied, and a short length of 1/32 brass rod with a 00-90 stud soldered to the end was inserted into it and pressed the other universal joint over the other end of it to check the length of the shaft. The length between the two universals was measured, a piece of 1/32 rod was cut to the needed length, and on each end, I soldered on the universal joints. I reinserted the shaft of the steering-box universal into the steering box, positioned the second universal in line with the steering rear end shaft mount tube, and pushed in the steering wheel shaft. A mocked-up steering wheel was made to check the positioning. The steering wheel is next to make. This was a real brain-burner, but the results were satisfying."

As Lee kept getting more and better photos of the car, adjustments were made to the body, roll-cage height, axle width, and other key items, and he made other corrections after seeing the actual reproduction of the car. All of the hard work has paid off with several People's Choice awards at huge modeling shows.

Reflected Lee, "In my 40 years of building car models, the Shubert & Herbert replica has been my best effort to date. Obtaining the research of this car was as much fun as building it. I had the honor to talk with Zane Shubert at the CHRR last year, and many emails [were exchanged] between 'Big Yohns' and myself. I wanted this car to be different and challenge myself to make a replica that hasn't been built yet in this style, all brass (94 percent), and of old-world style of preserving a piece of history."

You have to see it to believe it. Here's the link again. Lee also made a 1/22 re-creation of the famed Loukas-Pressing AA/Fuel Coupe, whose buildup you can find here.
 


I received a couple of suggestions to check out the site of Conley Precision Engines, which makes the Stinger 609 engine (6.09 cubic inches, or almost 100 cc). According to the website, the small-scale, fully opertional engine is the culmination of almost 30 years of knowledge gained in the designing and construction of model engines. The engine weighs about 11.25 pounds and measures approximately 14 inches long by 6 inches wide by 8 1/4 inches tall. A supercharged version is about 10 inches tall. The engine has a dry-sump pressurized oiling system (wiuth a user-replaceable oil filter) and a full ignition system. The engines start at about $5,700. Father's Day is coming up; point your loved ones to www.conleyprecision.com/ and hint hard and heavy.
 

Weber Precision makes a similar product with a 5.65 displacement that weighs even more (25 pounds) because the engine block was machined from 6061 T6 aluminum. It's a one-third-scale engine of original design. "It is not based on any type of scaled-down full-size engine; no castings were used in this engine," the owner reported. "This engine was constructed based on ideas I thought would look neat and be fun to machine."

Four pages of very detailed photos show the engine's internals. It's wild to see the mini camshafts, pistons, supercharger rotors, valvetrain, and more. The work was done on a CNC machine, and you can’t help but be awed by what a determined person can do, but, as the website says, "Anything you can dream up can be built, with patience and a little time of course."

Just looking at the miniature camshaft and knowing that the lobes have to be accurate enough to make the motor run, let alone live, just makes my eyes want to blur. I can’t imagine the skill, knowledge, and patience something like this takes. I also was pointed to online video of Ron Bement, who has made small-scale running engines of Ardun and Offy design. You can Google him to find them.

The "infinite monkey theorem" states that given an infinite amount of time, a monkey hitting keys at random on a keyboard could type the complete works of William Shakespeare, but there's no way that an army of apes could ever build one of these, let alone tune it.
 

On a semi-related note, I was passed a link to the Quarter Mortar site, which builds and sells 1/4-scale radio-controlled drag racing cars as shown in the video above. The cars are constructed of sheet aluminum and precision-machined billet aluminum with interchangeable parts, thanks to its modular construction. Because weight is the enemy of acceleration, the cars weigh just 23 pounds.

The cars are available in either Top Fuel or Funny Car configuration, and you can buy them turnkey with a 29cc two-cycle engine that runs on a gas/oil mix or as a roller to add your own engine (see above!). Power is transmitted to the rear via a cog-style belt and gear setup. A two-shoe centrifugal clutch helps to keep the motor on power band and not lug the engine.

A 4-inch aluminum disc/copper pad braking system slows the car, and you can add an optional parachute. The Funny Car sells for $2,000 ready to run or $1,400 minus motor, clutch, and drive pinion gear with belt.

The dragster features a monocoque-style nose mated to a billet aluminum rear subplate that holds the rear axle bearing carriers and the motor mount and goes for $2,500. The car is equipped with a two-stage rear wing and a front wing and comes with the parachute as standard equipment.

Remember, Father's Day is Sunday, June 19. Tell your family.
 


Mickey Bryant, coauthor of Don Garlits, R.E.D., the story of the creation of Swamp Rat 14, had received from Garlits a CD of 201 photos of the chassis build of Tom McEwen's first rear-engine dragster in Garlits' Seffner, Fla., shop and offered to pass them along. Dave Stiller, part of the Mastercam nostalgia AA/FD team, also reached out to Gredzinski with info on Don Long chassis, and Mart Higgenbotham, former owner/driver of the Drag-On Vega Funny Car, sent detailed info to Gredzinski about Long's first Funny Cars; Higgenbotham's car is 002 in that line. Pete Everett had 001.

Remembered Higgenbotham, "At the Manufacturers Meet in November 1970, I had heard that Don Long was going to build Funny Cars. I knew about his dragster reputation and his amazing quality and innovations, so I went to his shop and met him and saw what he was doing. When Pete's car was finished two weeks before the '71 Winternationals, he took it to Lions to test it with Leroy Hales as the driver. On the first smoky burnout, he drove it into the right guardrail and crashed the front of the body and the front suspension. Everyone there said it was due to the design of the very light front suspension and blamed Long.

Steve Reyes photo

"I went back to Don's shop and told him what had happened and questioned him about my car. He responded that it was driver error and nothing was wrong with the design. He told me no changes would be made, and that that was the way it was. I asked him if I could test my car without the body, and he said that since I had paid him, I could do as I wanted but that he wasn't going to the test. He said the idiots criticizing him were wrong and didn't need to worry about anything going wrong. Don made me a parachute pack holder to bolt on the rear of the roll cage, and we went to Irwindale to test the car without the body. We told no one that we were going there. Everything went perfect. When I ran my car with the body on at the Winternationals, all went perfect."

OK, gang, enjoy your own perfect weekend. Be good to your mom, or someone else's mom.

And ... action!Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Posted by: Phil Burgess
"And then we put a cmera over here to catch my good side ...."

So, the news is now out, unveiled last Friday at the Anaheim Comic-Con during a panel discussion and officially announced yesterday on NHRA.com: They're making a movie about drag racing's Hot Wheels heroes, Don "the Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen.

I've been in on the secret for a little while and biting my lip every time I wanted tell the world, but now we can talk about it. Not counting the made-for-Disney story on current Pro Stock star Erica Enders that chronicled her NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League exploits, it'll be the first major biopic on an NHRA star since 1982's Heart Like A Wheel gave us the backstory to the life of Shirley Muldowney.

There have been other proposed movies about NHRA stars — Don Garlits talks openly in his new book about the film that almost happened to chronicle his career, and a John Force movie is high on the agenda for Ashley Force Hood in her new role at John Force Entertainment — but all of the ducks seem to have fallen in line that will make the "Snake"/"Mongoose" movie a reality. There have been other smaller films made, but to the best of my knowledge, the only one to hit the big screen was the ever-amazing Funny Car Summer, but that was a documentary that didn’t employ any actors and used real race footage.

The first two things I thought about — and I'm certain that the same ideas crossed through your mind — when the announcement was made were "Who will play the lead roles?" and "Where and how will they shoot the racing scenes?"

(Above) Shirley Muldowney, left, points out cockpit controls to Bonnie Bedelia on the Heart set. (Below) Bedelia and Anthony Edwards as Shirley and John Muldowney.

Personally, I thought that Bonnie Bedelia was an excellent choice to play Muldowney in HLAW. She looked very Shirley-like, but Shirley told me last year, in the interview we did with her for National DRAGSTER's "Most Intriguing People" issue, that she wasn't thrilled about the way Bedelia had portrayed her.

"She's certainly a capable actress, but she played Shirley the way she wanted to play Shirley," she said. "She was very clingy. She threw her arms around every guy in the movie who came up to her. I did not throw my arms around Connie and say 'Oh, Connie, I was so scared' after my Funny Car fire. That was all dramatization, and I was just furious with myself that I didn't pick up on that when I read the script. I fast-read it, and I have no one to blame but myself. I was more concerned with what was going on with my racing then than I was the movie."

The choice of Beau Bridges to play Connie Kalitta also was curious because I didn’t think he looked a lot like "the Bounty Hunter," and as I remember it, everyone had a problem with Bill McKinney as the choice to play Don Garlits. All I remember about him was that he was eating bananas in the movie, which seemed rather odd. I liked a pre-E.R. Anthony Edwards as John Muldowney, though.

According to my sources in Hollywood (ha!), casting for the new movie has begun but the producers cannot reveal their choices just yet for who will play our heroes. What I do know is that the filmmakers have decided not to go with a big-name stars, which I think is a pretty good decision (and will preclude any guessing or suggestions by the Insider Nation). Sometimes it’s hard to separate established stars from their former roles, and I think that the world deserves to see Prudhomme and McEwen in a light not cast by previous movies starring the actors.

(Besides, we've already played this game before here, back when it was announced that a movie was in the works on "Jungle Pam" Hardy. Readers suggested who would play the role of drag racing's most famous and photographed crewperson and who would play "Jungle" himself. [Read here]. By the way, whatever happened to that movie project?)

For most of us, the on-track footage will matter more than the acting. Will the cars look and sound right? Will the director be able to convey the savagery and beauty of a 1970s Funny Car? Which track(s) will they use?

Heart Like A Wheel did get great creative and technical input from the Muldowneys and people like Brad Anderson, who built the alcohol-burning engines used in the film; stunt drivers Tommy Ivo and Kelly Brown; and "technical advisors" Pat Galvin, Bernie Lewis, and Rahn Tobler. The cars looked good, and the race photography (Orange County Int’l Raceway filling in for Indy and other tracks notwithstanding) was pretty darned good. The Kalitta wedge crash scene (right) was a little over the top but still looked good. Last March, Ivo described in detail how the crash was rigged using a cable that pulled the dummy-piloted car into the guardrail, and former Funny Car racer Jeff Courtie, now a Foley artist, shared with us the details of how the "sounds" of the crash were recreated. "The sound of Connie's car crashing into the guardrail was quite a complex sound," he said. "First the Foley artists ran a body grinder on a car hood, then scraped the hood along the floor, adding some dirt and debris. On another track, they banged and dragged a bunch of different-size metal pieces to simulate the sound of the car breaking apart. It was also sweetened with sound effects from the sound library."

I know that most of Prudhomme's impressive collection of his old cars do at least cackle, but I doubt he'd let his precious babies back on the track at speed (although there'd certainly be no disputing that the Hot Wheels 'Cudas were the real deal), and Don Trasin has a great circa-1978 McEwen Corvette. You can bet that the wonderfully restored ramp trucks will be used. One huge advantage the filmmakers will have is the huge amount of nostalgia Funny Cars that exist that would take little more than a vinyl wrap to transform them into pretty good-looking "Snake" and "Mongoose" replicas.

I've been trading emails with Robin Broidy, who will be the film's producer, asking for details, but she's not able to share a lot yet while details are worked out, but I will tell you this: Broidy is doing a lot of work to make things genuine. I was able to connect her with Jeff Mittendorf, whose extensive collection of "Snake" and "Mongoose" memorabilia I featured in this column. Mittendorf graciously allowed them to use his cherished "Snake" and "Mongoose" coloring book and comics in the movie, and I was impressed with the efforts and promises Broidy has made to make sure that the items are not damaged in their use. Mittendorf's name also will appear in the film's credits. Too cool!

Broidy has also promised to allow National DRAGSTER access to the set for some of the filming in the future, so you can be sure to get some sneak peeks in the months ahead. We're all really excited about the chance to see the life of the legendary duo recreated on the silver screen.
 

Friday's column about Mark Gredzinski's small-scale nitro engine brought a ton of response as well as links to and photos about other similar projects, including everything from actual running nitro engines to complete 1/8th-scale cars and engines built completely from scratch. I'm still pulling together all of the pieces of the puzzle and hope to have it ready Friday.
 

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