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“ After the burnout, I am looking at the groove, making a notice in my head if I have to make a move one way or another to get it back to the starting agate line. I check to see if I am in first gear two or three times so I do n’t leave it in high gear on the run. My guy pulls me within 6 to 12 inches of the start line, so I do n’t have room to wander. A set can happen here, and it ‘s easy to do something stupid. “ I drop the visor, turn on the fresh-air bottle, and light the first gear beam. Once both lights are on, I let off the clasp bicycle, and the cling to tugs the motive down, and I stage very shoal. At this point, my left field foot is on the floor and my properly metrical foot is on the strangle pedal. I try to leave when I see the yellow because with the clasp, the tire wrap-up, and a bit of tire slippage, it might take 1.5 seconds from wide open to get the car moving. It ‘s a very long prison term. I close everything out of my mind and focus on controlling the car. If the track is on a narrow groove, you have to watch it. On a good track I just rev it to 9,000 and let it fly. “ I hit 200 miles per hour at one-half track, and these little Nitro cars actually start pulling. I move my hand to the parachute lever in case I have a broken tire or something goes amiss. When I cross the finish up line, I give the brake a hard tugboat in case the chutes do n’t come out, hit the fuel shutoff, driveway around the corner, and jumpstart forbidden. It ‘s like a bull—if those things want to throw you off or crash, you are reasonably much in a helpless position. You try to be in control of the animal. “ I remember the inaugural fourth dimension in truth well, ” Rupert continues. “ A friend had an alcohol dragster. I was working with Gary Densham, and I went out to Palmdale for a license bye. I was trying not to be skittish. When you take something so dangerous and you ‘ve never done it before, how can you not be anxious ? run to the tune, I could n’t believe how reactive the strangle was. It was like, ‘Wow. ‘ Richard Bays and Gary Densham were there, and Richard told me to shut it off at the corner. I slammed the gas down. It was like a forge hit me in the back of the point, it was so fast. I thought if something happens, I am going to crash. It was much more than I thought it was going to be. With these cars, you never know what is going to happen. ”
Rupert ‘s father started racing Top Fuel Dragsters in the ’60s, finally teaming up with Richard Bays to campaign the Bays and Rupert Black Plague, the first Vega-bodied Funny Car. Of course, 5-year-old son Rupert wanted to play. Fifteen years late, he got the luck when he went to Australia with Gary Densham to operate a, AA/FC Funny Car. When he returned, it was straight to the racetrack for license passes and on to Top Alcohol Funny Cars. “ I was driving Charlie Marquez ‘s Top Alcohol dragster in the early ’90s, and we decided to build a car, ” Rupert says. Along with Ed Vanderwoude, Rupert bought Dale Pulde ‘s roll human body and an Olds Cutlass soundbox from Densham. The family put it together, doing most of the lying. The engine came from Densham, the parts from Valasco, and Mert Littlefield helped them with a cetacean and other parts for birthdays and Christmas. “ Everyone pitched in, ” Rupert says. “ We met Horace Lucas and got in on the earth floor with Lucas Oil. ” It was a fledgling sponsorship that got him the rest of the parts he needed, and through it he bought parachutes, a fire suit, and a critical dry-sump petroleum system. Rupert ran the alcohol cable car until the ’10 Winternats in Pomona, California, where he qualified and was defeated in the first attack. “ here enters Dave Schwartz from Infineon racetrack, ” Rupert says. “ He was trying to convince people that the Nostalgia Funny Cars were a lot of fun. ” Convinced, Rupert started collecting parts for a Nostalgia car. At first he was trying to make one car do both jobs, a design that was slowing down the process. Soon it was all nitro, and he has n’t looked back. At this class ‘s March Meet, the cable car qualified No. 1 and set the track record at 256.11 miles per hour. He repeated the feat with a No.1 at Boise and a read of 250.00 miles per hour. “ Boise reminds me of racing in the past, when it was a lot more fun. The crowd was great, small kids had me signing things, and it made me feel dependable. ”
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now Rupert is on an abridge tour, visiting Bakersfield, Las Vegas, and Boise, and is looking to join the newly reinvented Nitro Funny Car Match Race series. “ The alcohol car leaves harder, but the nitro cars pulls harder everywhere. now I get to slipstream Densham, Ron Capps, Jeff Arend, all the big names. It ‘s a bang. “ That matter freight trains everyone. It feels so good. ”
- Who: Jason Rupert
- What: Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car
- Where: Anaheim, California
- Body: Even though it looks like a vintage AA/FC Camaro, the body is new. It was built in 2010 by clandestine “local guys.” The rules for Nostalgia say the body must resemble a ’79-and-earlier Funny Car but have new safety equipment, like dual parachutes, hood burst panels, and a roof hatch. Otherwise, the rules remain loose.
- Engine: The engine is from Brad Anderson Enterprises. It measures 496 cubic inches to keep with the under-500-inch rule for all nitro cars.
- Supercharger: It’s an LB20 6-71 filled with two-stroke oil and limited to stock GM standard lobes and 18 percent overdrive. Restrictions aside, it still makes 35 pounds of boost. The 4.500-inch Velasco billet crankshaft uses Mahle bearings, and the tin is from Williams Manufacturing. The 4.187-inch pistons are from JE, and the billet aluminum H-beams are by GRP. A Cirrello magneto fires one Autolite plug per cylinder. Get your headers made by Power Pros in Placentia, California.
- Heads: The billet fuel heads are by Brad Anderson and have a Manton valvetrain, PAC springs, and only two valves per cylinder. The intake is 2.450, but the exhaust valve is only 2.00. Any larger, and you can’t get it open against the cylinder pressure. The copper head gaskets are made by Hussey.
- Trans: The Funny uses a two-speed B&J transmission. These cars still go the full quarter mile, so you leave in first and go into high gear at about half track. Behind the Molinari clutch is the gearbox, then a pair of splined couplers connecting to the Chrisman 10.5-inch rearend and Moore axles.
- Chassis: The AA/FC chassis was built by Grant Downing at Worsham Racing in Orange, California. Rupert bought it from Chuck and Del Worsham after crashing his alcohol car in Woodburn, Oregon, during the finals.
- Wheels/Tires: Those are glorious 16×16 Center Line Convo Pros with Goodyear 34.5×17.0-16 Eagle Dragway Specials. The skinnies are 15×5-inch with a 23.0×5.0-15.
- Interior: On the left is the fresh-air bottle lever, and on the floor is the clutch pedal off a ProBell housing. On the wheel, the lower switch activates the Racepack. The shift buttons (there are two) are for the three-speed in an Alcohol Funny Car or the two-speed in a Fueler. On the right is the throttle pedal and the fire bottle activation button down by the hip; the kill switch is on the steering shaft. The big handle is for the brakes, with a hand grip for the fuel shutoff. To the far right is one handle for each chute. The only gauge is oil pressure.
- Fuel system: The Waterman pump is belt-driven at 1:1 delivering 21 gallons at 8,000 rpm. Then the throttle is depressed and opens the Enderly barrel valve up by the Bird Catcher (Bug Catcher is smaller, Buzzard is larger, and the Big Ugly is bigger than all three). Once the engine comes up, you get all or nothing—it’s a chain reaction, so hold on.
- Crew: Frank and Brenda Rupert, Ed Vanderwoude, Matt Bynum, Matt Rupert, Jennifer and Nickolas Rupert, Brad Littlefield, Devery Howard, Billy Payne, Brett Crowe, Richard Corbitt, Dave Schwartz, Craig McGee, and Richard Bays.
- Names on the car: Mert Littlefield had a Vega in the ’60s, and his nickname was Sparky, so it ended up on the car. Rupert worked for Littlefield, and their families were good friends. When he got sick, the car was red, so they decided to paint the car in his livery. Rupert is going to build another body with the Black Plaque livery. This is a family deal.
- Thanks: The Denshams, the Worshams, and Dave Schwartz.