Building a Centre Drive Jet Funny Car
We apologise for 'War & Peace' but really hope this gives a good insight into what it takes to build a centre drive Jet Funny Car.
We successfully campaigned the original centre drive Pontiac bodied Firestorm for many years before it had a catastrophic coming together with the wall at Santa Pod Raceway. We made the decision that we would return but with a new car which is where this story begins. We were under no illusion that this was going to be an awful lot of hard work not only to build a new car but also to fund the project. We did however have a number of key people on our side who all went above and beyond to get the new Firestorm back on track. Not least being Big Al and Rich Hanna of Hanna Motorsports who offered advice and encouragement throughout the project. The centre drive jet funny car concept was Al Hanna’s brain child. Their current centre drive car is called Top Secret.
Once we got Firestorm’s new chassis on the build-up jig in our workshop in Rotherham, the build could start. Roger was burning the midnight oil fabricating, welding (and swearing a lot) as Firestorm had to be totally assembled with every valve, hose and wire in place before being stripped again to be powder coated. That’s OK if you are just doing a rebuild but we were starting from a blank canvas, many parts were new to this car and needed locating so they would work efficiently and had to be located in a way that would give access for maintenance or replacement.
As part of the upgrades to Firestorm – the original design of the fuel tanks and mounts were altered, new fuel manifold made, relocation of new operating valves, new hose work fitted, new fittings and mounting brackets were required. Much of this work was undertaken to accommodate the new inlet system designed by Hanna motorsport. An additional part was also required which connected the engine to the air intakes, after trying many different products, a mould was made by Roger, with the final part manufactured by John Hansell in carbon fibre. New tail pipe and tail pipe shield were also fabricated along with a new afterburner system. Fortunately, because of his engineering and fabrication background most work can be undertaken in our own workshop by Roger.
Roger and Graham Sykes of Graham Sykes Performance Engineering (GSPE) go back a long way and have spoken before about various upgrades to quite a few components. The new Firestorm would give us the opportunity to put the thoughts into practice. Graham and his wife Diane had crewed for us for 2 years and he knew the old car inside out. Graham designed and manufactured some really special components for the chassis and steering gear, all of which were a significant upgrade to the original Firestorm. We purchased new wheels from Sander Engineering in California not only are they some of the lightest wheels available but we also think that they are stunning. Roger did away with the centre’s on the wheels and Graham manufactured innovative new hubs incorporating wheel centres out of billet aluminium. He also manufactured new spindles and calliper mounts. The spindles look heavy, but they are made from 'Unobtainium' and hollow! Super light. When the engine position was finalised Graham designed and manufactured new mounts. Another masterpiece!