DRAG RACING'S A MARATHON: UNCHARTED WATERS FOR NHRA SPRINTERS CRAMPTON, DIXON
If it's got wheels and will go reasonably fast, Richie Crampton will drive it.
Reasonable is all in the interpretation, as Crampton races at three-seconds to the 1,000-foot mark in over 320 miles per hour during his return to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing,
With this said, running an 8.27 at 165 miles per hour pales in comparison. However, when taking into consideration Crampton recorded this in a 3000-plus pound, 1957 Chevy 210 4-door station wagon with rust on the quarter-panels -- it's definitely a noble accomplishment.
Crampton was one of two drag racers participating in last weekend's NHRA Carolina Nationals who took part in the Hot Rod Drag Week competition. The event which requires participants to drive from track to track in the same vehicle they race down the track is a combination of endurance and high performance.
Many participants began planning for Drag Week as early as the week following the most recently completed event.
"I bought the car December 16th, just an old rusty beater, me and Jonnie Lindberg drove up to get it," Crampton explained. "I found it on Craigslist, and he and I went and picked it up in the snow. Myself, and Jonnie and Rod Centorbi, my old assistant crew chief from Lucas, put the thing together in eight months."
In eight months they created a monster of a sleeper car.
"We added a 2008 6-liter LS Chevy motor out of a Silverado. I basically, I put a four-inch Callies crank in it, Manley pistons and rods, the stock cylinder heads with Manley valves and springs, and that’s really it," Crampton said. "Little hydraulic roller cam. It was given the Holley EFI system, and two 68/70 Precision turbos made it run exceptionally well on the road on E85, so it ran very cool in the hotter weather as well, and then made big power at the race track, so I was happy."
It's a sleeper car until it fires up and rolls down the interstate, luggage rack and all.
"I think 90 percent of the people just love the fact that I haven’t touched any of the original paint," Crampton said. "It does look a little rough, but once you open the doors and you see all the carbon fiber interior and the chromoly, and all the cool stuff, you know. I got a great response on the car, driving on the highway as well as people would come and check it out at the race track. They couldn’t believe what was actually inside that old body."
For the record, those luggage racks were fully functioning for this oddball freeway runner.
"Surprisingly the car rides exceptionally smooth on the highway," Crampton explained. "It’s a little loud, but you’re going to have that with a race car with no mufflers. But really it was a lot of fun. You know, we put about 500 pounds worth of spare parts and tools on top of the roof rack I had on it, and all that being said, it still drove great and basically ran flawlessly. So I’m hooked, and I’m looking forward to doing it again."
Two-time NHRA champion Larry Dixon also participated in between Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events. Dixon, who raced a Chevy II, was in unison with Crampton in describing the event as an ultimate experience.
"I love it," Dixon said. "I mean, you’re on the road with 400 other hot rodders, they’ve all got their idea of the ultimate street machine. It’s a great event. I mean I call it an Iron Man triathlon for hot rodders because it really is an Iron Man. You try to do the things you’re trying to do, and then drive and put over a thousand miles on your vehicle. There isn’t a person there that’s rude; they’d give you the tires off their car to help you get down the road. It’s just a really neat event, and a lot of great people."
"It was one of the cooler experiences for me to date you know. Drag Week is something I’ve always wanted to do," Crampton added.