Ian Tocher on the catastrophic events of his last race meet

Ian Tocher on the catastrophic events of his last race meet

By Martha Maglone:   The abruptness of Ronnie Davis’ crash and subsequent death will live with Ian Tocher forever. Tocher, the most delightful of men, has survived horrendous injuries, but happily, his appetite for life remains undiminished. The noted scribe and photographer for the acclaimed magazine Drag Illustrated says, “It was ironic that of the 150 racecars at Rockingham that weekend, the one I wrote press releases for is the one that hits me!” Davis, 66, was an experienced race driver, a five-time IHRA and reigning PDRA Top Sportsman champion, who would normally have qualified among the top runners. But that weekend in April he had not yet qualified because his 1963 Corvette was not running up to potential and, not surprisingly, it was on his last qualifying run that the catastrophic accident occurred. “The car shook immediately, meaning Ronnie’s run was likely ruined in the first 60ft,” Ian says. “But he tried to salvage it, which turned out to be a fatal error for him and catastrophic for me.” Clearly it was more than an unfortunate accident and remains mysterious for several reasons. “It was a perfect storm,” recalls Ian, “everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.” When the car crossed the one-eighth mile under full power it didn’t appear to slow, according to observers. If the throttle had jammed you might have expected the ignition to be switched off, yet it seemed to remain under full power until it crashed. Also, activating the parachutes is a proven practice that stabilizes the car but they weren’t deployed either. Was he incapacitated in some way on that fatal...
Welcome to ididit’s Car Show & Open House

Welcome to ididit’s Car Show & Open House

The 2016 ididit Car Show & Open House will be held on Saturday, October 1st and it’s gonna be big! Pre-register by September 23rd or register the day of the show (registration closes at noon.) Ididit will have loads in store this year to help celebrate their 30th Anniversary:  a special Michigan vendor area with some of the best names in the industry, from Classic Instruments to Woodward Fab and many more! The crew from Masters Entertainment will be on location shooting an episode of the “Dustless Blasting Car Show” which will air on MAVTV & REV’N networks. Plus the State of Michigan’s shop local campaign “Buy Nearby” is holding their yearly weekend celebration with great deals at some of our unique downtown Tecumseh shops. And once again the Lenawee Humane Society will be raffling off a custom golf cart and will announce the winner at the car show (during the ididit Awards Presentation.) You can purchase your raffle tickets in ididit’s showroom or at the Lenawee Humane Society. Tickets are $5 each, 5 for $20, and 15 for $40. 100% of the proceeds benefit the Lenawee Humane Society. While you’re there, be sure to tour the charming little town of Tecumseh. Indulge in shopping, antiquing, dining, and whatever else tickles your fancy. For further information and directions contact: ididit LLC Tecumseh, Michigan (517) 424-0577...
Crown Jewels for SB Fords:

Crown Jewels for SB Fords:

Premium Hemi heads with Boss-style valve covers and Jesel rocker system for small-block Fords. Hemispherical-style combustion chambers have earned a formidable reputation for power generation. How did this come about? The Hemi head broke fresh ground in several areas, including skillfully uniting superior air flow with larger valves. Generally, Hemi head valves are placed across the head compared to Wedge head valves, which are placed more longitudinally along the head. As a result the Hemi air flow route is easier, it has fewer bends, and the transfer of incoming and outgoing gases is more efficient. Also, the Hemi head usually employs larger valves because they are naturally inclined in their hemisphere and hence open toward the center of the cylinder. Their operation, therefore, generates freer air flow—not shrouded— resulting in easier cylinder filling.   Greg Brown’s new company, Hammerhead Performance Engines, is entering the final stages of production of unique Hemi heads for Fords. By some margin it is the most important news for small-block owners in several years. Indeed you might gauge it more notably than this. With an emphasis on completeness, the innovative head kits will include cast aluminum Hemi-style valve covers, a Jesel 1.7:1 ratio rocker system and all the necessary valve and spring assemblies as well as gaskets. The aluminum head kits can be directly installed on all small-block Fords: 289, 302, 351W and, with some modifications, even 351C engine blocks. As you might expect there is more than one dimension to the introduction of this new technology. Following two years of development and testing, all of the mechanical details are now available. Importantly, the...
Mistakes that weaken a supercharger’s performance

Mistakes that weaken a supercharger’s performance

Bertie S. Brown: Though they don’t cater to the Corvette market or late-model Ford Mustangs—none from 1994 to present due to congested engine bays—TorqStorm Superchargers’s product manager, Rick Lewis, has dealt with hundreds of incoming queries in the first decade of the firm’s history. Here are five of the most common: 1) Compression ratios and intercoolers “The compression ratio for pump-gas engines is crucial,” says Rick Lewis. “TorqStorm recommends ratios of 9.1 to 9.5:1.” Higher ratios usually require an intercooler. “But if you are running less than 12psi of boost and under 10:1 compression ratio with aluminum cylinder heads, and a blow-through carburetor or venturi-style throttle body fuel injection,” insists Lewis, “ you can still achieve significant power increases without an intercooler, even on pump gas. Blow-through carburetors do a very good job of controlling intake charge temperatures.” 2) What increases in power can I expect? “Our single centrifugal supercharger, which supports 700+hp and generates boost of 6-8psi., increases engine power by about 40 percent over stock performance,” claims Lewis. “Add a second unit, which collectively generate 12-15psi., and the engine’s power output potentially doubles.” Note that the fuel pump must support 21psi of fuel pressure and it relies on a return line to the tank. 3) Carburetors and regulators The fuel delivered to a carburetor on a normally aspirated engine operates at 6 or 7psi. But the blow-through carburetor is designed to operate from 5psi to boosted pressures that can reach 18psi on a forced-induction engine. This task is achieved by the introduction of a boost-referenced fuel pressure regulator. Via a small-bore hose, the regulator is connected to...
Art Chrisman

Art Chrisman

By Fergus Ogilvy:   Henry Arthur Chrisman died on July 12, 2016 at the age of 86. He was a driver, fabricator, race engine builder and pioneer in post World War II speed tests and drag racing. Based at Chrisman and Sons garage in Compton, California, and working with his father, Everett, and his brother, Lloyd, he was renowned for three cars: his racy coupe for Bonneville competition and for contests on dry lake beds, his number 25 dragster and later his Hustler I. All were liveried in his signature golden-brown tones with contrasting white added to the Hustler. From the late 1940s and throughout the ‘50s, he campaigned a series of highly competitive race cars. He became synonymous with the development of the Top Fuel dragster at a time when nitromethane fuel revolutionized the class. His Hustler 1 dragster, which he co-owned with Leroy Neumeyer, claimed the first U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships, in a 64-car field at the March Meet at Bakersfield in 1959. His résumé as a driver included multiple wins and speed records at the highest level in a career that lasted around 12 years. Art Chrisman’s innovations led many to recognize him as drag racing’s first statesman. Greg Sharp, curator of the NHRA Motorsports Museum, said upon his induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame, “Art Chrisman is truly a renaissance man. Rarely can one man build a racing chassis from the ground up, do the metalwork, paint it, build the engine that supplies the power for the record-breaking performance, tune it to its maximum potential, and drive the results of his handiwork to a...
Garlits on Nitromethane

Garlits on Nitromethane

By Titus Bloom: “To my understanding,” says Don Garlits, “it was the Germans in the late 1930s that pioneered nitromethane. They empowered their 12-cylinder rear-engine race cars with it—presumably the Auto Unions. These cars were used on closed autobahns in speed record attempts and they operated with Roots-type superchargers and zoomie headers—those that point upward to generate down pressure. “I first heard of nitromethane in the nineteen-forties from a guy representing Autolite spark plugs, Fran Hernandez, who had a carbureted flathead. Hernandez had challenged another guy to a race. The other guy, whose name I can no longer recall, had a blown flathead. They met on a perimeter road of the old airport at Santa Ana, which later became the drag strip. It was a big race for money and Hernandez, who had introduced nitromethane to his fuel, didn’t start his car until the last moment—so there was no noise, no smell, no hint of cunning. But when the race was initiated, the flathead propelled by nitromethane outran the blown car by the broadest possible margin. Unfathomable! “The Bean Bandits from San Diego got wind of the miracle fuel and developed carburetors to use it in undiluted form. Emery Cook who was married to one of the Bean Bandits’ sisters found out about it and he told me. Cook, who was associated with the famed Cook & Bedwell car, was the first to exceed 160mph over the quarter-mile – 98% nitro!”   What’s Garlits working on? “I’m rebuilding my electric dragster. I’ve been 185.60mph but a guy in Texas has run 188mph, so I’m behind the ball. I’m still...