Drag Racing with Jim Hand – Part 1: Introduction to the Series
This complete series of articles was prepared in the time period 1995-1996, and there are various references to my wagon and it’s performance. Please note that the wagon serves as a sort of test bed, and we occasionally change parts, rpm, shift points, converters, cams, etc, so driving styles, engine rpm, and especially performance may be different today. Please read these articles in that context, and if there are questions, contact me directly through E-mail.
A few words about this writer are in order so that you may better understand our approach to the sport of drag racing. I certainly qualify for the somewhat questionable title of “graybeard”, because I am on the downhill side of 60. However, I still regularly compete at sanctioned races with my ’71 LeMans wagon, and do win my share. My racing “career” began in about 1950 when I challenged my neighbor of about the same age for a top speed race. He was driving an International F-30 farm tractor, and I was on a Ford 9-N tractor. Of course, I won! My brothers and I fairly regularly ran each other’s ’37 Ford sedan, ’41 Pontiac 6, and ’39 Ford coupe in that time period. Since we ran on graveled roads, the winner was always the one who got in front first! My first trip to a real strip was in 1958, and my first sanctioned race was in 1960.
Since that time, we have had the opportunity to race at many strips in the Mid-West, and have always ran Pontiacs. While we have won some money purses, we are in no way professional racers. The primary purpose of our racing during the past 9 years was to satisfy the urge to compete while trying to find the lowest cost methods to obtain competitive performance with the LeMans wagon.
This series will attempt to provide enough information about drag racing to allow each of you to make your first trip to the strip without fear of destroying your car, or embarrassing you or your fellow racers. We will not discuss whether racing is appropriate, or when it should be held, but rather how to do it, and how to enter your pride and joy in this aspect of competition if You decide to do so.
All members are encouraged to contact me, preferably via letters, to suggest what you would like to see discussed in this column, or to review specific questions for you about drag racing. Experienced racers are especially encouraged to write so that we will be familiar with all the aspects of the sport.