Racers continue to dream of running quicker and faster, stepping up through the drag racing ranks breaking elapsed time barriers, for many though it remains in the realm of fantasy. However when Australian Super Street National Champion Rob Harrington decided it was time to chase that need for speed, dreams quickly became a reality.
"The super street car was getting a bit dull, a bit boring you could say,"Harrington told Dragnews.
Harrington’s idea of making life less dull is racing a low 6 second sedan, but as that reality is still a little way off and the itch to go faster was ever present, an opportunity came up to acquire a dragster to play with for some fun.
Harrington went about the process of sourcing an ‘in-between’ race car. Whilst trawling through the many classifieds on American website racingjunk.com, he discovered what he was looking for.
"At the time and even in my wildest dreams now I never imagined what I would be getting myself into, let alone that I was going to step straight into a low 7 second dragster,
“After I found the car, I contacted Greg from Geezers Classic garage on the Gold Coast for some advice and help with the purchase and import."explained Harrington.
“When the car got to Australia, Dad (Tony Harrington, two times Australian Super Sedan in the mid-eighties, also one of the original Wild Bunch with the Bad Influence Chev C-10), good friend Blaze Hansen (of C/MD fame) checked the car over from front to back and figured out how everything worked on the car.
With everything checking out it was time to focus on the driving aspect. The experience of stepping up from a super streeter to a state of the art modified dragster would always present some challenges for the even the most diligent racer. Harrington was not leaving anything to chance.
“Before heading to the track, dad made me do about 300 or so practice runs in shed just so I was totally comfortable in the car,” Harrington said.
“He made sure I knew where everything was off by heart and could do it with my eyes closed.
These practice runs in the shed would prove valuable for the new dragster pilot come race day.
“When we got the car to the track we dropped the launch RPM, rev limiter and shift point for my first runs,” he continued
“I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous but I was quietly confident the car was going to behave, I did the burnout and with no dramas thereI was guided into the beams, checked the burnout limiter is off, roll into pre-stage and hit the logger.
He made sure I knew where everything was off by heart and could do it with my eyes closed
“I then rolled into stage and onto the trans-brake button, the same routine as the Super Street car, putting my foot flat on the first amber and let go on the last amber, only difference the delay box,”
“So I’m sitting there and in that split second I looked down ‘BANG’, the car launched and my head got jammed into the cage and everything was blurred. I didn't know where on the track I was until 150ft out,” he said.
With 3G’s of force off the start line, a Modified dragster certainly gets the attention of anybody sitting in the driver’s seat. Harrington’s fun had just arrived and dull moments a thing of the past.
“The speed and acceleration in one of these cars is unparalleled.
“Words cannot describe to the average punter the feeling of raw power and total sense of awe for these machines,” he said.
Harrington was keen for another shot at the quarter, so the team turned the dragster around and took to the staging lanes.
“On the second pass we bumped the rev limiter up and dropped the shift point by .2 of a second, I left off the top amber this time and the car launched with only a .040 light left on the tree.
“Everything was blurred again and the car started skating about 500ft so I gave the throttle a stab which straightened the car up but I pulled the chutes at halftrack to be sure.
“Having never pulled a parachute before also meant I had no idea how long it took for them to come out,” he continued.
“By the time the chute came out it was 900 ft. But I was still into the throttle still waiting for it happen.
An early chute slowed the car to a 7.77/111MPH, but Harrington’s fun still continued.
The speed and acceleration in one of these cars is unparalleled.
Harrington’s first passes in a dragster had been complete. The agonising wait for the next opportunity to race was still a little way off, but it was a wait that was well rewarded.
“We went to the next test and tune and got in my first full track pass in the dragster,” he said.
After a few stout passes and with some finessing and fine tuning of the jets as well as adjusting the launch RPM, rev limiter and shift points, Harrington managed to get the car down to respectable 7.18/185 MPH.
The A/MD record currently is held by Jon Sting at 7.070/189 mph, which whilst still a little way off, Harrington decided to see what his new toy could bring.
“After skating down a very dewy and slippery track a few more times trying to better the 7.18 we hopped the car up on the last pass hoping to find its limit and get the tires to spin.
Words cannot describe to the average punter the feeling of raw power and total sense of awe for these machines,
As with just about all new cars, the learning curve canthrow a few spanners at you. Harrington was about to experience another first, violent tyre shake.
“We put the launch RPM up again and we went for it on the last pass of the night,” he recalled.
"We thought it would either spin the tyres or it would take off and fly, but nope neither, the car went into very violent tyre shake.
“I didn't know what it was at first but I jumped off the throttle and smashed the throttle again. The car took off then instantly lost power, the tyre shake had broken the throttle cable on the air solenoid, leaving me to coast to a 12.5 second time.
“As well as shaking off a few other parts nothing major was damaged other then it left me with a massive headache.
Harrington’s plan at the moment is to make the dragster as consistent as possible whilst learning the skill of handling a quick and fast car.
“The car will be tamed down for bracket racing and run consistent 7.2's,” he said.
“At the moment the car is getting an engine rebuild and gearbox rebuild to our specs, I don't believe the car will go any faster, but I will be happy just to go a few rounds in Modified.
Back to Harrington’s original idea for making his life less dull, the sedan. How does a running a 620ci big block Chev, topped with a PSI supercharger and backed by a Bruno Lenco-drive slammed into a Monaro sound?
“It’s still in the build phase at the moment, so we are racing the dragster,” said Harrington.
“I thought it would be a good idea to get a fast car and allow me to get used to the feel before taking on the new Monaro. Jumping into a potential 6 second car which has never been run and is brand new is a pretty daunting thought.
Harrington’s plans for the sedan are pretty straight forward and if his accomplishments in Super Street are anything to go by, he will be a serious customer out there on the track with this new car.
“I'm hoping the Monaro will be a real threat in Outlaw 10.5 and Supercharged Outlaws (Top Sportsman if it is brought in),” he said.
“I'm building it to be a ‘drive back car’ at mid to low sixes when it is in bracket racing trim. This new car will most likely be wild while we are sorting it out,” Harrington laughed.
Rob Harrington would like to thank the many people who have supported him on his journey so far.
“I like to thank Mum and Dad, everyone who came to the track and gave me guidance and reassurance. Gav and Blaze Hansen from Wizard Racecar Fabrications, Craig from Craigsted Performance, Pete Wells for paint, John from Performance Trans in Melbourne, Dwayne from TCE, Mark from Aussie Diffs, Greg from Geezers Classic Garage all for their valued support with the Super Street car and onto the Modified car."
DNA will keep you in the loop when Rob's real fun arrives.....stay tuned.