Editors note: The advent of IHRA's Crate Motor Stock classes has opened up some great opportunities to race in Stock Eliminator without spending a bundle on finding and developing old parts. Myron Piatek was IHRA's Holley Sportsman Championship Division 2 Stock Champion in 2000 (he was Second this past season) and finished Third overall in the Summit National Championship for Stock Eliminator in 2001. We thought you would like to hear first hand some of his experiences and to also get an idea of what it takes to compete in this form of racing.
Most people in drag racing get their feet wet in the bracket divisions. I live in Holly Hill, Florida, and I began ET bracket racing in 1978. While I enjoyed every minute of it, I have always admired the Stock and Super Stock classes with their factory bodies, limited rules, and wheels-up launches. Like many bracket competitors, however, the time, money, and know-how to race in these class divisions kept me as a spectator of those cars.
As the years passed, there were occasional discussions of driving a class car for someone, but nothing ever developed. Regardless, I prefer to be my own boss, setting schedules, making changes, and so on anyway. I continued to bracket race, often twice per week during most of the year because of track points. However, the "itch" to go class racing was still there when IHRA announced the new legality of corporate manufacture, or crate-motor engine classes in 1995, and my interest was rekindled.
One of the most attractive features was the allowance of a four-barrel Holley 750 double-pumper or vacuum-secondary carb on small-blocks and the bigger 850 Holley on big-blocks. It must be remembered that most "regular" Mopar Stock and Super Stockers must use a Carter carb, which in turn must be carefully tuned for racing. However, my bracket experience had only focused on how Holley carbs work. Though the IHRA did not have any major races close to me, I was able to see the cars race on television and keep track of what was going on in its publication, Drag Review. After researching this new form of Stock class racing, I took the plunge.
What are the benefits to doing it this way? First, instead of chasing down specific carburetors, heads, and whatever, you simply buy a motor, or the individual parts, to assemble a legal combination from scratch, right out of the Mopar Performance catalog. IHRA has a list of the engine packages that are legal for the CM classes. Next, because you don't need to worry about breaking all that rare stuff, you can go out and bracket race the car every weekend locally-break something and the Dodge dealer or speed shop can get it. Practice is key to being successful, and the more you race your car, the better you will do. If you race only in Stock events, you limit that practice time. Finally, due to the way the cars are factored, you can move from class to class as needed.
I needed a good base to work with. My plan was to select a combo that would still make a good bracket racer between IHRA events or if class racing didn't work out. To that end, I purchased a '74 Plymouth Duster in 1998. This was an NHRA G/SA car that had never been competitive against the index. I was a little more anxious than I should have been, and being in a hurry to buy a car unfortunately meant that it took a lot more time, work, and money to fix, change, and repair the problems this vehicle suffered from. Nonetheless, my desire to go class racing was finally coming together.
Friend and fellow bracket racer Dwayne Hagle had built my last bracket engine at his recently purchased business, Racing Products in Ocklawaha, Florida, and he was eager to see how his talents would stack up in the IHRA Stock Eliminator arena. The CM emphasis had been on the later-release Chrysler Magnum engines, so I had decided on the 360/300hp Commando version for the car since no one else had run that combo. Helping me was the fact that I am more familiar with the original LA small-block components; I already had many parts on hand; and this engine would put me in the less populated, slower classes of J, K, and L/CM. Moreover, this would also minimize the chance of having to go heads-up against racers with more resources/faster cars. Being the first one with this engine would give me a head start on sorting it out before someone else began working with this combo. Conversely, in the more popular combinations, the racers who super-develop their blueprinted crate engines can run way under the index. This, in turn, gets the attention of the sanctioning body that will adjust the horsepower factor for that package (increase or decrease horsepower for a given engine package based on its performance against other engines in the same class). I was hoping the 300hp Commando would let me temporarily fly under the radar, so to speak.
Now, what class would the Duster fit into once we were ready to go racing? Classes are determined by dividing the published shipping weight of the car by the assigned horsepower of the engine, then adding 170 pounds for the driver to get the "race weight." So the particular weight and horsepower for models and engines must be taken from IHRA published specs. The classification guide states the '74 Duster shipping weight is 3,242 pounds. That number divided by the Commando's 300hp rating equals 10.806 pounds per horsepower, which falls into the 10.50-10.99 weight break for crate motors, "J" class. To get the best number the car can weigh, the minimum weight for J is determined by 10.50 x 300 = 3,150 + 170 = 3,320 pounds race weight.
Next, given the option, I chose to move down one class to "K" (11.00 - 11.49 pounds per horsepower). A little more math: 11 x 300 = 3300 + 170 = 3,470 pounds, and I determined this was the minimum race weight in K. There are other options as well. My A-Body can be redone to reflect other years and models. These cars may be classified with lighter or heavier shipping weights, and make the car legal for additional CM classes. We ran the car in L/CM for a time as well.
The option of racing in different classes allows one to avoid potential heads-up runs with like-classed competitors, particularly if they are faster, and also to move down one class and add the extra weight where it will do the most good for traction. Before getting to the track, it is always best to confirm your class and options with a tech official to avoid confusion and problems.
With the help of friends and the right combination of parts, the Duster was soon running seven to eight tenths under the class index (this is the minimum e.t. for a particular class in order to be competitive; the best cars are often a full second or more quicker than the index) in early '99 testing. Times were 7.70s in the eighth-mile and 12.30s in the quarter-mile. My first national event at Darlington, South Carolina, was rained out and postponed. It wasn't until my third national event in Rockingham, North Carolina, that I won my first round in competition. I went on to be a semifinalist that weekend, then I became the first Mopar crate motor racer to win an IHRA divisional race in Mooresville, North Carolina, the following weekend. At the season-ending Mopar Parts World Finals in Shreveport, Louisiana, I became the first Mopar CM winner, and I finished my '99 "rookie season" Third in the nation while setting several quarter- and eighth-mile records. I again finished very well in 2000, crowded the HSC Division 2 Champ and Fifth in the overall Summit/Earl's Stock division points, and reset some additional records.
Carefully setting up the car makes a big difference, and a small-block engine package is great to work with due to the Stock class tire limitations. We have converted the car to create a '76 Dart Sport with the help of Darren's Custom and Restoration in Green Cove Springs, Florida, to give me the advantage of a functional hoodscoop. These changes worked well enough to again get me to Second in the Division 2 HSC standings and another Third-Place showing in the nation-wide Summit series.
So, for me, going to the Crate Motor classes has been very gratifying, and I couldn't have been this successful without the help of my friends and quality parts and services from several companies. As for how this stuff fits together, well, I'd tell you more about how I did, but then I'd have to kill you. Maybe after we win the World Championship.
Myron's 12 Tips to know before coming to the track
1) The Event Schedule-duh! It has been known to change before an event and from track to track.
2) Track location and, if possible, the track layout and track radio station channel. Many have Web sites and e-mail addresses for info, and nobody likes being lost in the country 400 miles from home.
3) Location of motel if staying at one. Try for the closest proximity to the track and ask around the pits to avoid "dumps." The sanctioning body will normally have a list of locations, but call ahead, because these will fill up fast.
4) Fuel prices in states you are traveling through and locations of gas stations, if possible. Sometimes, the prices vary enough that it would be worthwhile to plan stops accordingly, and towing makes fuel economy important.
5) Time zone you will be racing in. Adjust accordingly so you are not the proverbial day late and/or dollar short.
6) Weather forecast just to be prepared mentally. If it's not raining on that quarter-mile, it's not raining. (Forecasts and radar can be tricky, but if one is in a tight points battle, going and getting rained out may be better than not going and finding out they raced!)
7) Closest retail locations for vehicle parts, restaurants, and/or grocery stores. Computer research can be helpful here, and it beats driving around in the truck looking for it.
8) Travel options if race is delayed one day or postponed (i.e.: Can you take one more day off? Is there a place to leave the car if you have to return in one or two weeks? Is flying a feasible alternative to driving back and forth?). Not a pleasant subject, but it's best to have a plan in advance.
9) Current class info for the index, which class the car falls into, and other rules. Rules and horsepower factors change, so keep up with the latest info through Drag Review magazine or ihra.com.
10) Sanction membership and entry info. Know when your NHRA/IHRA membership expires (this is required to race in class and noted on your tech card), and be aware of the cost associated with the class you plan to run. Unlike NHRA, IHRA does not require pre-entry to national or divisional events.
11) Car/engine legality. Don't tow out for nothing but trouble; make sure your car is legal. Blaming an obvious infraction such as engine spec, safety item, or car weight on your engine builder, helper, and so on doesn't work. Make sure THEY are doing their job. If you have any questions, call a tech official. Fixing something at the track isn't always possible. Also, carry extra LEGALLY INSTALLABLE (bolt-down or boxed) ballasts to compensate for possible scale discrepancies.
12) Contingency decals. If you want to get the money when you go racing, make sure you have, or can get, the rest of the applicable contingency decals at the track. The tech trailer does not always have them all, so get with your product manufacturers to ensure you have the proper ones on your car. Putting on any decals after the first round of eliminations is a BIG no-no and can cost you ALL eligible contingency payouts for the event!
Myron Piatek Career Highlights
- Stock World Record Holder
- Win at Northern Nationals-Stanton, MI
- Win at Jackson, SC, HSC
- Win at Farmington, NC, HSC
- R/U at Fayetteville, NC, HSC
- J/CM Class Winner at Northern Nationals-Stanton, MI
- J/CM Class Winner at World Finals- Shreveport, LA
- No. 3 in Summit National Standings
- No. 2 in Division 2 standings
- Stock Record Holder
- Win at Autumn Nationals- Rockingham, NC
- Win at Farmington, NC, HSC
- R/U at Ethridge, TN, HSC
- K/CM Class Winner at Spring Nationals-Rockingham, NC
- K/CM Class Winner at World Nationals Norwalk, OH
- Division 2 Stock Champion
- No. 5 in Stock National Standings
IHRA-1999 "Rookie" season
- Stock Record Holder
- Win at World Finals-Shreveport, LA
- Win at Mooresville, NC WCS
- R/U at Sports Nationals-Jackson, SC
- L/CM Class winner at Sports Natioals-Jackson, SC
- First Mopar crate motor to win IHRA national and divisional events
- No. 3 in Stock National Standings
Other: (NHRA, USCN, ET, and so on)
- R/U at World Finals 2001, Shreveport, LA, in Box/No-Box ET Combo
- J/CM Class Winner at Inaugural 2001 U.S. Class Nationals-Byron, IL
- Win at 2000 Drag Racing USA Magazine Footbrake Allstars Invitational- Montgomery, AL
- 14 ET Track Championships
- 1980 Pro ET Division Championship
- 1999 Sportsman ET 1/4-mile Division R/U
- 1983 Pro ET FL State Champion
- 1997 Division ET Driver of the Year
Locomotion's Associate Sponsors
- Holeshot Performance Wheels
- Ronnie Robinson Dodge-Jeep
- JW Performance Transmissions
- Lubricating Techniques
- KB Pistons
- ROL Gaskets
- All Seasons Pest Control
- Darren's Custom and Restoration
- Racing Fuels of Daytona/Sunoco
- Pheonix Race Tires
- K&N Filters
- Cloyes Timing Gears
- Pioneer Racing Products
- Gary's Driveline
- Volusia Drivetrain
- Hedman Hedders
- Griffen Radiator
- Al's Signs
And Special Thanks
- Terry Knott
- Don Dimeler
- Terry Bell
The Griggs Family / Ocala Tire
IHRA Crate Motor Indexes
This is the pound-per-horsepower for each class. Automatic and manual transmissions are not separate. Call the folks at IHRA to get the shipping weight on the car you wish to race (they all know Stunkard-tell 'em he told you to call!)
|Stock Crate Motor|
As mentioned before, indexes are basically a minimum e.t. for a particular class in order to be competitive. These are used to establish qualifying positions based on how far below the index a vehicle runs. One cannot dial slower than their index during eliminations. If you don't have the combination to run fast enough or have a mechanical problem, you will obviously be at a distinct disadvantage. When cars of the same class meet (K/CM vs K/CM, G/CM vs G/CM, etc.) "dialing-in" is irrelevant. It's heads-up, first one to the finish line without causing an infraction, wins. Run whatcha brung, and hope ya brung enough! Indexes are subject to change by the sanctioning body. Take your pick.
Look It Up
Useful Web sites to learn about and keep up with class racing happenings, rules, rumors, tips, classifieds, and so on.