By 7:00, I couldn't stand it much longer. I wanted to know what this new manifold was going to do. Russ and Fred Flagle and Kenny Lazzeri had set up the Indy Cylinder Head display and were also waiting for the time to test this new manifold. When the track finally announced they were setup and ready to go, I jumped in the wagon, hit the starter, and the engine backfired and blew the top off the manifold. The Indy guys must have used a paper gasket between the upper and lower halves of the manifold because all of a sudden there was smoke and confetti floating through the air. It bent the hood, messed up the linkage on the carburetors, and ruined about two weeks of Russ's work. Needless to say, it scared the hell out of me. I had to go over to the Indy display tent and tell him what happened. I wanted to crawl under a rock. Russ came over, looked at it, and coolly said, "no problem." He would drive back to Indy, make the necessary repairs, and be back by morning. That didn't sound good to me, since the Indy shop was probably 250 miles from St. Louis. About that time, a gentleman showed up that had a machine shop close by that Russ could use to make the repairs. So, off to the machine shop we went. Fortunately, it was a well-equipped shop. Russ, Fred, Kenny, and our unknown friend went to work to fix the mess I had created. With repairs completed at 11:00 p.m., we headed back to the track and reinstalled the manifold. Kenny pretty much glued it together with RTV. We would let it set overnight and test it first thing in the morning.
Kenny and Russ explained to me that an intake valve happened to be open, and the rotor on the distributor just happened to be pointing at that same cylinder. When I turned on the key, a major explosion.
The next morning about 9:00, they opened up the event, and we were able to make our first time run. The wagon, up to this point, consistently ran a 9.95 to 10 flat e.t., and would generally run 132-133 mph. The very best it had ever run was 9.92 at 133 mph. When it was time to make the first run, I staged the car, brought the engine rpm up slightly, and when the car left the line, I could tell there was a difference. The car didn't spin a tire, and I knew it was going to be a good run. When I arrived at the time card shack, the young guy handed me a slip that read 9.584 at 138.97 mph. Russ's manifold had just picked the car up over three-tenths of a second and 6 mph in the quarter-mile. I drove directly to Indy's display and jumped out of the car to show Russ the ticket. He said, "I think it will go better than that." I went and cooled the engine down to get ready for the second run. About an hour later I made the second run, and Russ was correct. It went a 9.564 at 140.29 mph. The manifold had helped the car pick up over three-tenths and 7 mph for its best run ever. I took the time slip over to Russ, and he started asking questions about idle characteristic, drivability, flat spots, and so on. it was my opinion there were no problems. It really worked great.
While I knew the sheetmetal manifold was not legal for Nostalgia Super Stock, I wasn't quite ready when Russ said, "When you get home, take the manifold off, and ship it back." Ouch! I thought I'd be able to play with this thing a little bit longer, oh well.
Indy Cylinder Head has its own pattern shop and in-house pattern maker. As soon as I returned the intake to Indy, they immediately started making the mold for a cast manifold. To show how fast an idea can become reality, Indy Cylinder showed the new manifold at their spring show in February, and we had the first cast manifold on the wagon for the first event that spring. The cast version ran just as well as the sheetmetal version.