If you've ever taken your car down the quarter-mile, you know what it feels like, but have you ever ridden in the shotgun seat while the car is making a banzai blast? With the blessing of track owner Steve Earwood, as Sonny Hart made his Sunday morning time trials, I jumped into the passenger seat of his car for a quick ride down to the timers. Normally, while drag racing, you're so busy driving, you don't really "sense" what's going on; this would be a new one for me.
To say that Sonny was not afraid of breaking the car would be an understatement. He did several wheel-spinning dry hops to warm up the tires, and we staged up against a Viper. At the green, with the engine rpm roaring, the car broke traction briefly when the clutch hit, but Sonny feathered the throttle once and grabbed Second with the Pistol Grip. The car leapt forward; by now, the Viper was ahead of us, but that was OK because the idea was to get the laps in.
Using the tach for guidance, Third came and went, and from inside the 'Cuda, one feels big-time motion: the unique Mopar rattles, the sound of spinning gears, and the rumbling exhaust and induction noises. At Fourth, it was flat-out and things were moving much quicker through the windows; Fourth gear at speed is a lot different from the first three due to the gearing. The car is accelerating harder and part of your brain is already going into "fear react" mode when you're not the driver. The radial tires and torsion bars would transition at the shift changes, and the car wanted to dance around a little bit as the top-end speed trap came near. We were traveling more than 100 mph as the finish line came and went; now it was time to get on the binders to slow the 'Cuda down. Sonny brought it to a stop as I took my first breath since the 13.90 blast had begun. The fear was fading away quickly, however, replaced only with that addictive sense of "Let's do it again..."