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Old 08-08-2009, 05:18 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano
The Tale Of A Drag Strip Virgin

As with everything in life, we all get a first ‘crack’ at something. Well, with pretty much everything actually. And traditionally that effort is pretty crappy, but we get better with learning & practice.

Along these lines, I recently popped my ¼ mile cherry, and at the risk of looking like a noob, thought a few people may find some mild interest in reading about it here. And that risk is fine by me, coz I had an absolute blast so care factor is zero : )


I never considered drag racing as something I would be keen on. I‘ve circuit-raced supersport bikes at a national level for years, and frankly, my adrenaline threshold is pretty high, so 400m of straight line wasn’t a big attraction in my mind. Even doing a 10.6sec on my GSX-R600 racebike was not a big deal, as I was used to hard launches at lights, but 150 knee-down corners afterward instead of a finish line. And my Camaro project was purely for cruising (albeit ‘enthusiastically’ at times), and if I wanted a speed fix my 150rwhp/163kg GSX-R750 was ready & waiting.

But in the mere 6 months of owning this ’67 Camaro (my first muscle car) plans for increased horesepower were never far from my mind. But before throwing the wallet at performance upgrades, I thought it would be a cool idea to do a run on the ¼ mile and also a dyno. Basically so I’d have a ‘base line’ for its current spec, and after future runs, have a tangible record of what the upgrades (& my hard-earned cash) delivered.

My current spec is: 70’s 2-bolt 454 - 750 Holley vac sec - Holley intake - Absurdly mild cam (type unknown) - Std internals - One-off extractors - 2.5” system - Crane elec ignition - Kitted T350 - 9” LSD with 3.5s & billet 31sp Curries - Old school traction bars - Alloy radiator. Overall it’s VERY mild, in need of a proper tune, but with plenty of potential.

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About this time, the annual Marsh Rodders / USMuscle.com.au Drag Fun Day came to my attention. What a perfect opportunity to have a squirt down the quarter without any real performance pressure, and check out some cool cars in the process! So forms were filled out and the (very useful) Heathcote Raceway website poured over to learn all I could. One small hiccup came in reading that my 2-point lapbelt would not cut it, so I bought a (bargain) 4-point harness, but it was not required for this particular event after all.


Without question, my main concern for this event was reliability. My run of bad luck since ownership has been incredible – Starting with blowing the diff the day after purchase, the radiator the following week and then a never-ending string of braking, cooling, suspension and electrical woes. So my worry was not just surrounding the runs themselves, but the 4.5hr round trip from Melbourne to Heathcote. And there was no way I was going to trailer it – The whole point of my car is to be a driver :-)

In the week leading up to the event I spent every spare hour I had under/inside the car checking the tension of bolts and fittings. Before I found it, this car had been sitting engineless for a couple of years and had not been anybody’s ‘pride & joy’ for decades, so TLC was WAY overdue. And the number of loose components I found scared the snot out of me.

I also lashed out on a new K&N filter to replace the aging Holley one and dumped a leaky valve cover breather in favour of a PCV into the manifold. And when not working on the car, I was on the web trying to learn about drag racing – The lights, launch techniques and any other tips to help me out.

In terms of what to take with me, I had no idea. For bike racing I have an enclosed trailer full of stuff. So I filled a tub with any spares & fluids I could think of, grabbed a trolley jack, wheel brace, folding chair, car cover (in case had to leave broken overnight), toolbox, spare wheel, 2 full jerrys, CB radios and a couple of video cameras. They all just fitted with enough room for a (more experienced) mate to come along - Somebody had to film me, eh!

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With everything ready just in time, the day arrived with me being woken up at 4am by my girlfriend heading off for a snowboarding trip. All good, except some breed of butterfly had mysteriously cocooned in my stomach overnight and was now running rampant with anticipation of the Christmas tree’s green light. Somehow they allowed me another hour’s unsettled rest until hitting the road at 8am.

At the start of the Hume we met up with a workmate who has been ribbing me that his $10k ’84 TransAm could give my 43yo $$$$ clunker a run for its money. (I was punting mid-15s, so was still somewhat concerned). In convoy we headed up the freezing, foggy highway to the tune of the only 2 cassettes I have (both Iron Maiden) and light rain spitting on & off. The lowered rear suspension couldn’t cope with the heavily laden boot and 275s, so in addition to some 80’s metal, the cringe worthy sound of rubber-on-guard was a regular one for the trip. But that aside I was stoked to arrive at the track a couple of hours later without hassle.

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And what an arrival it was. The sound of heavily cammed bigblocks, superchargers and complete lack of mufflers shreaded the calm country morning air like a napalm drop. Suddenly those butterflies arrived once more with the realisation I was completely out-gunned and about the only ‘standardish’ streetcar in sight. Having forms filled out in advance made checking in a breeze, and after a nervous wander around the muddy pits to get my bearings, I joined the line for scruitineering - After 20mins was out the other side. Maybe due to the long line, or my car’s solid, standard appearance, it was just a 2min checkover - Basically just asking if the boot was empty & seeing if overflow bottle was there. Not that I was concerned about passing.

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'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:30 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano


The intimidation factor got worse when in the queue for my first run – Everyone looked so chilled out, seasoned and confident. In stark comparison, I was physically shaking and barely able focus on what was going on. And THIS was the biggest surprise for me of the day. By far. As mentioned, racing is nothing new to me, and while nervous energy is always present at any meeting, the fact I was now deadset crapping myself was a complete mystery. I now put it down to the most common fear of all – “The Unknown”.

The creeping-forward wait of anguish seemed to take an eternity. After hurridly dropping my pressures to 22psi, I was suddenly at the start of the grid, alongside an angry red 10sec rod. Somehow I remembered to push record on the video camera, clicked 2nd & dropped a burnout. “That bit was fun at least” I thought to myself. But maybe I should have been thinking about where the staging beacons were. Both lights were on, but from my rear wheels, not the front. DOH! Took a while to figure out what was happening, as the rod did the same... Meanwhile the video camera died.

I honestly can’t remember the first launch. I was admittedly a complete ball of nerves, just punched it in drive (3rd) on the last yellow and held on, not knowing how the car would react or what would happen. But she held in there and was over before I knew it. “WOOOO!!!! HAHAHAHA!! That was f’n cool!!” It was the first time I’d taken the car past 120km/h, and when getting my timeslip I was WRAPPED to get a 14.3 @ 101MPH!! The smile would NOT come of my dial for ages. (The TransAm running 17s didn’t hurt either..)

Cherry popped. And loved it.

EXT VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...ernal-Run1.flv
CABIN VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...Cabin-Run1.flv


So here’s the funny thing. As soon as my first run was over, the nerves were completely gone. The ‘unknown’ factor had passed and so I could relax and enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I was still pumped, but more coherent.

I decided to do another run launching in 3rd just to see if the first was a fluke. I was against a little turbo’d rod (I said ‘Anglia’, but dunno). For some reason, about 0.5 - 1 second after launching the forward drive just cut out for about 0.5sec. Felt to me like fuel starvation, but I’m no mechanic. And also a bit blind apparently, as I had no clue where the finish line and just kept on the gas until near the turnoff road. Got a 14.4 but slower at 92.6MPH, maybe due to the cutout.

EXT VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...ernal-Run2.flv
CABIN VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...Cabin-Run2.flv

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The track got closed for ages near lunchtime due to engine blowups, but come arvo and a bit of stuffing around in the line, I managed to line up against my buddy in the Transam. His son wanted a ride and the officials changed their mind several times (at the grid) about if he could go. He got booted eventually as we were now bracket racing (for fun). I dialled a 13.8 & the Tranny was on 16sec. The plan was to try going though the gears this time, but at the last second I chickened out in case I got beaten.

With no high stall converter, I was not really loading it up or anything and she bogged a bit for a sluggish launch, yet curiously delivering yet another 14.39, this time at 98.1MPH. At least I beat the sucker!! Haha..

EXT VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...Cabin-Run3.flv
CABIN VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...Cabin-Run3.flv

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This time I wanted to click through the gears, but wasn’t sure what technique to use. I just booted the bugger in first and got BIG wheelspin, but at least with forward movement, so was actually a pretty cool powerslide. By the time she hooked up it definitely felt faster (the 12sec nitrous Evo was not a good gauge), but amazingly when I got my time, it was ANOTHER 14.3 – The exact same is my first run, but 1MPH faster (102.1)

EXT VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...ernal-Run4.flv
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This was it. Every run had been the same ET, but all with differing launches. I HAD to give it one last crack through the gears. More interested in the radio volume that the Christmas tree, the launch was OK but cut out for that fraction yet again. But I kept the hammer down and was absolutely PUMPED to get my time of a 13.8!! (At 101.7)

EXT VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...ernal-Run5.flv
CABIN VIDEO: http://s410.photobucket.com/albums/p...Cabin-Run5.flv

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We packed up & hit the road home around 5.30pm. I’m happy to say the trip home was equally uneventful. The car has a big vibration on neutral throttle above 70mph which I’ll have to investigate along with the cut-out syndrome, but otherwise all good. No need for that car cover : )

To say I was satisfied from my first day at the drags is a massive understatement. As mentioned at the start, I never gave much mind to drag racing before getting this car, but now I can feel that The Bug has been firmly planted and I want to be back real soon.

The number 12 sure has a nice ring to it. Hahaha...



#1 - 0.53 - 2.17 - 14.34 - 101.15 - Had no idea. Just punched in ‘3rd’ on last yellow.

#2 - 0.63 - 2.16 - 14.40 - 92.61 - In 3rd. Cut out.

#3 - 0.67 - 2.16 - 14.39 - 98.15 - In 3rd. Sluggish launch.

#4 - 0.68 - 2.33 - 14.34 - 102.09 - Launched in 1st with wheelspin for several secs/metres

#5 - 0.74 - 2.20 - 13.86 - 101.76 - Launched in 1st. Cut out on launch again.

Huge thanks to all involved in organising this day including Mash Rodders and SirGeo Steve for his help with everything.

Cyaz next time! Deano

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(More pix of the day here: http://www.usmuscle.com.au/Forum/showthread.php?t=3369)
'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.

Last edited by RAW454; 10-08-2009 at 09:37 AM..
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:25 PM
69coupe 69coupe is offline
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Excellent report, loved reading it ! Brings back many fond memories.
Enjoy that car !!
69 Camaro
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:42 PM
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Nev68 Nev68 is offline
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That's a good read.
Brings back some memories for me.

Will you have another go?

CAUTION. Will spontaneously talk cars
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Old 08-08-2009, 07:08 PM
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What a top write up Deano..

Ever thought of becoming an automotive journalist?

Sounds like you had an absolute blast too.

"I usually downshift when I'm near a Prius so they can hear me hurting the environment"
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Old 08-08-2009, 08:37 PM
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1968SS 1968SS is offline
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Top rightup Deano, sounds like you had a ball.

1 Vote for Deano for us muscle reporter.
68 ss camaro,396 big block, 2 speed, 9" with 3.7'.
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Old 08-08-2009, 08:46 PM
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elky1968 elky1968 is offline
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That was a great read Deano. It took me back to my first run in an LJ Torana along side a blown altered. I couldn't hear myself think let alone hear my fire breathing 202
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:42 PM
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Excellent read Deano, by the sound of it there will be many more to come.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:00 PM
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dazzad888 dazzad888 is offline
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Great story bro ,cant wait to run mine now
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Old 09-08-2009, 07:53 AM
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gke60 gke60 is offline
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top report, reminds me of my first nostalgia meeting at the motorplex, well done & if you are now hooked, welcome to poverty, lol.....
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:04 AM
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cluxford cluxford is offline
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Deano, very cool read, glad you had a lot of fun.

Have you set yourself an ET target ? Get into the 12's
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak
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Old 09-08-2009, 09:21 AM
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Deano that was REALLY good. I enjoyed it heaps. Good to hear you had no major mishaps. Now...what's that you're thinking?...bigger cam...head work....12's....11's. Keep us posted
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Old 09-08-2009, 03:29 PM
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OHHH No,now you`ve done it bud,that 12 will turn it to,if I can just crack the 11`s which turns into ,bugger now I gotta get a roll cage Man as it was said before ,great write.
Budgets are for treasurers not car builders, words of a man that learnt the hard way Ken
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Old 09-08-2009, 05:04 PM
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BlackoutSteve BlackoutSteve is offline
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Great fun and a great read Deano..
Now I'm even more annoyed that I didn't make it up there to watch.

As far as the cut out goes, if it's right at launch, try lowering the Holley's front bowl float level. Quite possibly it's too high and the inertia from launch is causing the fuel to slosh into the primaries and momentarilly flood the engine. Very common symptom in reverse where hitting the brakes causes the engine to stall. Do you know the the setting?

Your runs are fairly consistant which is good. What rear gear ratio do you have and do you remember what your RPM was over finish the line?
I'm thinking a cam swap, mid-sized converter, rear gears and perhaps an intake would really wake this baby up. Even without the cam, I reckon there's more in it.

Well done Deano.
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Old 09-08-2009, 09:47 PM
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RAW454 RAW454 is offline
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Name: Deano
Cheers for the positive words guys Yeah, a had a blast & writing comes pretty easily to me, so thought may as well whack it up .

Although this car is no bitumen burner, I'm keen to upgrade things like the convertor, intake, cam, maybe carb and either some headwork to the cast iron jobbies or alloy Edelbrocks if coin allows. Some hyper pistons for about 10:1 would be nice too.

So hopefully with some improvment (& consistency!) in technique, the above should deliver a mid-high 12 on street rubber. And that's more than fine by me But with $42.50 currently left in the car fund, that is at least a year or two away, so will run it on the dyno in current form first to complete the 'base line' plan.

PS - Steve, I've got 3.5 gears and pretty tall tyres (275/60-15). The floatbowl thing you mentioned sure sounds like could be the issue I had. Carb is a 3310. No idea of settings. Really gotta find me a mechanic one of these days

PPS - How did this thread get 'Sticky'd? Don't mind, was just curious... Would have embedded the vids if thought would get many views...

Cheers again!
'67 Camaro: RHD - Fresh 454 BBC (Forged 10.4:1, Eddy Alloy Heads, Isky 280 Mega) - Holley 830 Annular - RPM Airgap - MSD - 3" system - 2500 HD T400 - 9" TrueTrac 3.5 - 15" Autodrags... with a bit too much heartache to update HERE.

Last edited by RAW454; 09-08-2009 at 09:59 PM..
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