I love running across a video that has very few views on it because it means that the thing has just been sitting there on YouTube waiting to be discovered. In the case of this 1965 newsreel footage starring none other than Don Garlits and Mike Snively who was driving Ed Pink’s Old Master rail at Fremont Drag Strip in California. This video was taken on March 18th, 1965 meaning that it was only a week or two after Garlits had slayed the field at the March Meet. Although the season had gotten off to a great start for Garlits at Bakersfield, Swamp Rat VIII would not prove to be one of his better creations, no so much because of the chassis but because Garlits was still working on a strong tuneup for the car. It was on SR VIII that he learned nitro engines liked LOTS of lead in them.
One guy who may have figured that whole lead situation out was Ed Pink, the owner of the car that noted shoe Mike Snively was driving. He was tuning the car on the day that this film was made and Snively was the meat in the seat. Mike was a really awesome driver who rose to fame driving for Roland Leong and then had his breakout season in 1966 winning the Winternationals and Indy. The next year he won the March Meet and multiple other high profile races. He morphed into a heck of a funny car driver after dragsters and was notching wins right into the 197os. In 1972 Mike drove “Diamond Jim” Annin’s top fuel dragster to the sport’s official five second clocking. The sad plot twist to the story is that in 1974 Mike took his own life.
This is a quick little newsreel video but the clarity is fantastic and the footage is absolutely awesome. A true window into the past!
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE THIS GREAT CLIP OF GARLITS TAKING ON ALL COMERS AT FREMONT DRAG STRIP IN 1965 –
Lots of lead,lead situation?
Ken, they are referring to Ignition spark lead or advance as it is more commonly referred to.
I’ve never laid a wrench on a hemi, but I believe the lead (say leed) comment refers to the fact that when nitro drag racers were making the transition from 392 hemis to 426 hemis the tuning parameters used on the 392 weren’t working well on the 426.
According to the article ‘Half Century of Hemi’ on page 58 of the April 2014 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, Don Garlits, at a 1966 match race in Illinois, in an attempt to destroy his uncooperative 426 and regress back to the proven 392, dialed in an amount of ignition lead that would have cracked the cylinder walls of a 392.
To his surprise and delight (imagine a delighted Garlits) the car ran a world record 214 mph and with more spark lead the next run it ran 219, each pass with no damage.
That, according to Garlits, was when the 426 surpassed the 392 and became the benchmark for Top Fuel racing.
I admire and respect Don Garlits, but the results of this race video indicate that Ed Pink may have figured out the ignition lead equation before Garlits and kept the secret to himself. Another possibility is that the Old Master was running a well sorted 392 against Gar’s still lame 426, the film nor accompanying article say.nothing about the mechanicals of either car, and I don’t know enough to tell just by looking. . . .or Snively might have just left on him.
Thanks Brian, I love this stuff.
Both running 392 early Hemis. Distributor at rear of engine gives it away.
Thanks Mick, I guess if I’d done a little more research I’d’ve figured it out for myself.
You’ve gotta admit though that it’s a good story, but boy is my face red.