Saturday, April 12, 2008

Drag Racing in MGB’s

While in college in the late 1970’s, we’d occasionally go drag racing. I had my Mustang, but didn’t race it but a few times.

One friend had a 1966 Mustang, but only raced a few times. Another friend had a 1966 Corvair Corsa.

That Corsa could run like crazy. Great Autocross type car. His family had about eight Corvairs. His dad collected the 1966 to 1969 models. He actually agreed with Ralph Nadar. See the early Corvairs, had drop / Swing rear axles. GM had copied that design from the early Volkswagen Beetle. My friends’ dad agreed that when cornering hard, the axles would swing under the car and literally flip the car. So, he collected the later cars. That Corsa had the four single barrel carburetors, the close ratio four speed transmission. It could scoot! Not a great drag car, but a lot of fun.

We also had a female classmate that drove a nice MGB. She would let us take it and drive it with the top down. Her family collected MGB’s. They had about five or six of them. Her dad and brothers all drove them. I think her mom wanted air conditioning and insisted on having a Buick or Cadillac. So the girl listens to us talking about racing out at the track and agrees to not only go with us, but to drive her car also. And she also will let us drive it down the track. So we get to Green Valley Drag track on a test and tune night. You can make as many runs down the track as you want. You can set it up to race someone, or just practice, tune your car, and have fun. I take the coupe down the track and record the time. The car is an automatic, so I just rev it up and nail the accelerator when the light ticks down from yellow to green. One pass, no major mistakes, and I’m done and happy. My other friends do the same with their Mustang and Corvair. We then take turns with her MGB. It’s a four speed, so there is shifting to deal with and mess us up. She had never been to a drag track and had no idea what to do. We tried to explain it to her. On her first run, she stopped at the “yellow” light, and then went! Never waited for the lights to tick down to green. Yes, she was blond. She admitted she was nervous. No worries, we told her to go try again. She goes to the staging lines. She stages. She waits for the green and takes off. We watch as she goes through the finish line and the scoreboard displays her time. We all look at each other in total disbelief. On her second run on a drag strip, she beat all our times. Had to be a fluke. Something must be wrong with the timing system. One of us goes out and takes another run in her MGB. We get a time close to the first time we ran. She runs it again. Beats our times again! She is calm cool and collected about this. She says how much fun it is and how many more times can she run it. We are drowning in young male testosterone fuel humiliation. No matter what we try, she beats our times.

The next weekend, I’m working at the auto store and another drag racer I know stops in. I question him about this novice “girl” beating our collective hineys into the pavement. He chuckles and informs me that it is NORMAL. Girls have better reaction times. They also don’t get all caught up in the psychological games and nature of competitive sports. She even told us what she did. Staged, watched for the green light, nailed the accelerator, calmly shifting about 500 Revolutions’ Per Minute (RPM) below the yellow line on the car tachometer. He then said that unless she was a gear-head, she’d also not worry one bit about the car. We’d be all worried about setting timing, putting in colder plugs, messing with this and that. She’d just get in and drive. If it broke, well that’s what dads, husbands and boyfriends are for. Fixing the car!

Drive it like you stole it. She did.

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