Saturday, February 25, 2017

Slingshot Dragster 1954

The other day an old nightclub owner was denigrating the influence of Islamic thought on civilization.

"They really created nothing."

"What you mean nothing?" I didn't mention that algebra succinctly meant 'reunion of broken parts' in Arabic.

"No rockets, no telephones, no TVs."

"That's all crap."

"Crap?"

John and I liked to argue.

"Yes, plus everything man has invented is adapted from nature."

"Nature?" John was keen to avoid a discussion about global warming.

"Yes, nature." And I was trying to stay on subject.

"The car?" John had driven a DeLorean during his Danceteria years and rightly considered the automobile as the height of Western Civilization.

"I remember your cars. They were fast."

"Pure American ingenuity." John thought girls came with hot cars. He was right, but so was I.

"The internal combustion engine is derived from fire and the natural circle provided the wheel, but I have to admit the first dragsters were a sight to behold."

"And a shock to your ears."

"A volcano is louder."

"If you're standing on one."

John had his beliefs and I had mine.

"Hot rods were the epitome of loud."

"Especially Mickey Thompson's first slingshot dragster."

John knew his cars.

"You're right about that."

Mickey Thompson had broken the 400 mph speed limit at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

He understood that all hot rods shared the same problem of producing enough traction on the rear wheels.

Mickey moved the seat behind the back axle and widened the tires.

At the time a Santa Anna hot rodder Leroy Neumeyer said to Mickey, “You know what that beast reminds me of, Mick? A slingshot. You know, the way the driver sits back there like a rock in a slingshot.”

At the inaugural 1954 NHRA Nationals Mickey Thompson and Calvin Rice met in a head-to-head slingshot dragster final.

I couldn't find any online mention of that result, but I'm sure John and I will argue about it one day. He is a master of getting the last word and I'm a good enough listener to drink the last beer.

Zrrroooom.

To see the film of Mickey Thompson breaking the 400 mph speed record at Bonneville, please go to the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pClv-XwBVOs

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