Let’s Get Itchy!

May 17, 2014

Made progress on the dragster by fiberglassing the two tail section halves back into one piece. This was my first time working with fiberglass. My friend Eddie Stein has experience so he came over to help out and walk me through the process. 

Mark and I had purchased this King Chassis tail from Roger Lee who originally bought it for his Masters and Richter dragster recreation. He had narrowed it, and then riveted the two sections together with aluminum strip on the backside providing support. In time he decided to have a tail section made from aluminum and passed this one on to us for a great deal. So I drilled out the rivets and mocked it up on our dragster by clamping the halves onto the frame. Cut a few braces from 1/8″ strap to keep the two halves spaced correctly and then waited until I could line the stars up to do the fiberglass work.

Still more work to do- I need to raise the sides with new glass, and then extend the floor where it had been trimmed, but it’s progress. Lots of sanding, filling, and finish work to do to make it pretty and get it ready for paint, but onward and upward!

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Get Shorty!

March 14, 2014

After scoring a screaming deal at the Sacramento Raceway Swap Meet in November on a powerglide that came out of an altered that made almost double the horsepower the dragster will be putting out, the fly in the ointment was that it was a stock length, which was too long to fit in the dragster. At the time I didn’t know how involved the conversion would be- you have to disassemble the trans to swap the part out, and if this were a street car I was goofing around with as a toy on the side, (and if I had more than a single car garage) I might have attempted it myself. But with so much to learn about driving a dragster, and not wanting to second guess my first trans rebuild job while I’m strapped in and whistling towards the top end at 140 MPH, I figured it’s a job best left to someone with experience. I was able to score another screaming deal on a clean used short planetary and bearing plate, and my good friend Keith knows the owner of a trans shop that among other things, builds racing powerglides.

So now the previously too-long transmission, has been converted to a short powerglide. (the parts laying behind the trans are what needed to be replaced.) The owner, who is a drag racer himself, did the work and gave me the good guy deal, thanks to Keith. Said everything checks out inside so the trans is good to go!

Jim Rodarmel also donated the B&M shifter from his front engine dragster, which is cool on a lot of different levels. His car was one of the very small handful that made me believe that running a dragster that looks as close to period correct was possible. So now Rocinante has the original headers from Brian Fox’s Zorba’s Ghost, and the shifter from Nitro Jim Rodarmel’s digger. It carries the DNA of the two biggest inspirations for the entire project.

This means that parts-wise all the big chunks needed are accounted for! I’d say that I’ve got probably 80-85% of the actual total parts I need, with the 15-20% being a lot of small stuff. The vast majority of it is now labor and fabrication. Onward!

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A little chassis work

February 17, 2014
Hung out at Michael Edick’s today and got some bonafide work done on the dragster. (thanks for the welding and fab work Michael!)When the frame was built, I had mentioned to Brian Fox that I wanted the front hoop of the roll cage to lay back at the same angle that they did in the 1960’s. The only problem was in the ’60s the roll cages only had one hoop, and today’s rules require two.

To find the space to do what we wanted in order to have “the look” I had Brian add about 4″ to the frame behind the center axle. Mission accomplished on the cage, but it created two challenges I hadn’t taken into account. 1.) with the longer overhang in the back, it meant that the front wheels only had to come up a foot or so before it started scraping the rail under the seat. This also meant it made it more difficult to roll the car onto a trailer. 2.) sitting farther away from the rear axle also meant that rather than the axle resting under the crook of my knees, my calves were resting on them. This would make pedal placement a little tricky.

There is no way I wanted to shorten the back section at all, and it turns out the rules allow 1 1/2″ x .125″ flat bar stock to be used under the seat as well as tubing. So I decided that even buying a couple extra inches of clearance would help. So today we got that job done and welded it flush with the frame rail. We also had to cut the seat bottom out, because we’ll have to shorten the seat. There is still plenty of clearance in the roll cage area with the helmet on. I have no intention on changing Brian’s work – the chassis is everything we wanted. It’s more of making a practical adjustment to make the car more comfortable and usable. But that will be the only change to it as-delivered. From here on it will be adding things like the belt anchor points, and the chute bracket and cockpit controls.

I’m still going to have to “hide” a caster wheel that will be mounted at the back of the chassis and placed in a position to protect the bottom frame rail, but tucked under the body work and not readily apparent, unless you look at the car from a low angle.

At this point I’m going to look into pushing the bottom of the seat forward 3-4″ inches in order to get my legs in the position to put the axle under my knees. Even though this will put me in more of a reclining position than the original design, with the seat bottom up higher a couple extra inches it should not be an issue. This will allow us to mount the pedals lower in the cockpit and not run into clearance issues. I just need to check to make sure there are no rules that state the seat back needs to be flush with the frame rails.

Here’s photos of  the day’s proceedings.

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Touching Base

December 22, 2013

It has been a long time since I’ve updated the blog. This year has seen me distracted with another major project involving music. I wrapped that up and it’s time to get back on the dragster after the holidays. I was able to pick up a powerglide with all the shields, and an 8″ converter for a good price at the race car swap meet at Sacramento Raceway in early November. The only bug is that it’s a full length and I didn’t realize how involved it would be to convert it to a shorty. Not impossible, but more work than I anticipated. I will have to call on the talents of my friend Will Rogers to machine and install a new short output shaft on the planetary. But that will happen in Jan/Feb.

The dragster has been stored at a friend’s shop an hour or so away since late summer and will be come back in February some time to have some progress made. The goal by the end of 2014 is to have the glassing done, and tail section mounted, the rear end gears and brake setup completed, the trans modified and installed, the cockpit controls fabricated, the new cam/lifters/valve springs installed and the oil pan and pickup modified.

It’s a lot to do, and I would hope that I could find a way to have the car track-worthy by this time next year, but I’ll have to wait and see. Even with the big chunks done, there are a ton of nickel and dime jobs and parts – the fuel injection setup needs to be checked and gone through, it needs to be plumbed and wired, a fire bottle setup bought and mounted, and so on and so forth. I still may do a Kickstarter campaign in order to get the financial horsepower to totally complete her and get the driving gear I need in order to make a pass.

Before I go, I need to mention the savior of this project – my good friend Don London. His contribution is what allowed me to get the trans and some of the other parts that are on my shopping list. He is a full partner in the dragster now, so it will be “Havery, London, & Seavers”

Watch this space in the upcoming months for regular updates once Roc is back in my garage.

Thanks for all the interest.

Dean

Torn…

March 26, 2013

I have no idea how many regular readers I have out there, but I’m going through a little bit of existential angst when it comes to the dragster.

Some issues in my personal life have surfaced that brought other feelings to light – just about priorities, self-imposed pressure, simplifying life in order to have some peace of mind.

Since Mark’s passing I can look at myself in the mirror and say I’ve done my level best to move the build forward on sweat, creative bush- beating, and no budget.

But after much soul searching and feelings of intense self-imposed pressure, I have come to the conclusion that I have taken the dragster as far as I can on my own. I am at a crossroads. For the first time since it started, I’ve seriously contemplated letting the project go. Some folks I’ve talked to who are rooting for this to succeed have encouraged me to stick with it and try to find an alternate source of funding.

So after doing some research, I’ve looked into the possibility of a Kickstarter campaign to see if I could “crowdfund” the project. For those who don’t know, Kickstarter provides a platform for a large group of people to make small donations to endeavors that appeal to them—often art, film, design, or music projects—and those who donate get something from the person doing the project that is related to it, in exchange for their financial support. Say, if you help fund a film, depending on how much you donate you’ll get things ranging from private web links giving you access to outtakes, to a DVD copy of the film, to your name in the credits.

I could come up with some pretty cool things related to a dragster kickstarter campaign if it’s viable to go that route. Any small donation would get buttons and vinyl decals, next step up would get hand silk-screened t-shirts and posters  – I’ve already talked to Jeff Norwell about a potential T-shirt design. For those in my area, finding ways to involve them with the car somehow – having a BBQ the day it’s ready to fire up for the first time, allowing folks to have a seat in it while it’s fired up, all the way to pit crew for a day and even their name painted on the car in a “thanks to” section.

BUT my apprehension to it is how a Kickstarter campaign might be received by those who would have an interest in such a thing. Part of me feels like “hey, people fund their own hot rods, and they would feel that if you can’t afford it on your own, you have no buisness doing it.” Worse yet, I’d hate for people to think “he’s got a lot of nerve for even thinking of asking for financial help.” I’d be mortified if folks who saw the Kickstarter campaign thought that was that I was some clueless mooch just trying to con other people and get a free ride by having other people pay for my car.

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I’m a divorced Dad of a teenager, and I’m still dealing with the economic ramifications of the divorce, and will be for the foreseeable future. I rent. If I was in better shape financially and owned a home I would take out a second to finish this, it’s that important to me. But I can’t. I’m usually scrambling to scare up side jobs, or selling things in order to make ends meet each month. I’m not trying to paint a sob story; it’s a reality that I know many of us face. I fully understand that a dragster—especially one that is much more of an art project than an actual race car— is a luxury, and that no-one is “entitled” to such a thing.

These feelings of angst all surfaced a couple of months ago when some big challenges hit hard, and ever since I’ve just been constantly turning it over in my mind, trying to come to some kind of resolution that I can be at peace with. I think about it constantly, which is why I finally need to write about it, hoping I’ll get some kind of clarity and feedback.

In the process of thinking of all of this, another truth has come to light just in the last few days that I hadn’t realized: doing this without Mark specifially, but in general terms without a true partner, has made the dragster project a terribly lonely pursuit.

By nature I’m a pretty introverted guy, but with something this big, sharing that dream – and working as a team with Mark- was a huge part of the enjoyment and made it all seem feasible. We had a plan, we had our roles in the project, we would feed off of each other’s enthusiasm – especially during the down times when we had to wait to be able to afford the next step.

Also from a pragmatic sense, two guys can run a dragster, one can’t. Mark had the truck and trailer, and we would have taken the car out to the track together with equal amounts of enthusiasm. He’d tune, I’d drive, and we’d both get equal enjoyment from our car.

As it is now, I would have to bug one of a couple of friends who have trucks and trailers to do me a favor and either let me borrow their rig or give me a tow. I’d have to bug other friends to help crew out at the track, and when it’s not their project or main interest, my worry is just this feeling that I’d be imposing. I don’t know how often you can ask folks for that kind of help when it’s not really their deal. None of the close friends I have who I would typically ask are drag racing guys. They can appreciate it on some level, but it’s not an enthusiasm they own. So that adds some seeds of doubt and stress as well.

I really, really love the car, and just about the time I make the decision that it probably would be best if I sold it, I’ll look at an old drag racing video or see a photo of a cool 1960’s digger and I’ll go 180 degrees out and think “no, I’ve got to find a way to finish the car” and get all jazzed abut it again. But in time, I’ll think about the magnitude of the project compared to my resources and I feel that kind of depressed stress again. It just goes back and forth, and frankly it’s driving me a little nuts.

So dear reader, if you are so inclined I would be interested in your opinion. Just another voice that is not my own, because I’m not doing a very good job at coming to my own conclusion. What would you do if you were in my shoes? How would you feel about the Kickstarter idea?

Thanks for bearing with me- I know you are looking at this to find out about a dragster project, not read a soap opera.

Where it stands

November 27, 2012

Here’s a couple photos of where the car is at now. The money tree is exhausted, and I will probably be storing the digger at a friend’s place for the winter and spring to give me the space to do some side jobs that will hopefully generate some cash for Roc. Still on the lookout for a super cheap shorty powerglide and 9 or 10″ converter with a 4500 stall speed. I don’t need a trans brake and I’m only putting out an estimated 425 HP, so it doesn’t need to be a zooty high horsepower deal. If you hear of anything, please keep me in mind. Thanks for reading!

 

More meaningful progress

July 27, 2012

In terms of big pieces left to get, the engine and transmission were (obviously) the biggies – through a twist of fate, one of those puzzle pieces is now sitting in the car!

The original plan when Mark was alive was to buy one of the 350 Chevy “crate” motors that an area speed shop offers and just drop it in. Well, now there just wasn’t the budget for it. As you read in my last post, I figured I’d have to build a budget SBC myself, and I have been trolling for parts just to price things out, and I’ve also been looking for engines as a starting point.

Last week I spied an ad in the local Craigslist for a built 327 Chevy with 2500 miles on the short block, and 0 miles on the heads- which are not camel humps, but 305 heads with some bowl work done and larger 1.94 intake valves and 1.50 exhaust valves fitted. So I called. Talked to a guy named Dave who races circle track up at the Roseville Speedway, and we tentitively planned on meeting up on Sunday. Well, long story short, we met up on Monday night and I drove home with a 327 in the back of my truck for WAY under what the parts bill alone would have been!
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The specs are small journal 327 (which means factory forged crank!) and running the number shows that it was built between ’62 and ’65 and was used in trucks and Corvettes. Perfect! There is something awesome about having a period engine in the car that I’m trying so hard to make look as close to 1963 as possible. I know the 305 heads aren’t period, but what the hay. Anyway, it’s been balanced and has Pink rods in it and TRW pistons at 11:1 compression and a Milodon high volume oil pump. Right now it’s got a Comp Cams camshaft in it, but it’s hydraulic and more of a street grind, so that will come out and a Schneider 299F cam and solid lifters will go in once the money tree grows again. I was also able to talk Dave into swapping the stock stamped rocker arms with a set of roller-tipped rockers, so that was also money in the bank!

 

Tuesday evening, the engine got a new red paint job

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 And last night I was able to wrangle help from my neighbor Chris and we dropped it in the car!

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Of course I couldn’t resist putting the headers on and test fitting the Hilborn manifold and Vertex. I am going over to a friend of both myself and Mark, who was able to snag the ram tubes for the Hilborn from Mark’s garage before they inadvertantly got packed and shipped back to North Dakota with the rest of Mark’s stuff. But it’s getting there and starting to really look like something!

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I’ll push it out onto the driveway to take more photos this weekend with the stacks on and the tail section on as well. I’m going to have to pie cut the oil pan in order to get the right amount of ground clearance, and that’s what they used to do back in the early 60’s, so it’s appropriate. It’s a GM racing pan so it has a windage tray and baffles in it. I’m going to try to make that work. Even used, those Milodon pans are pretty pricey,and while I don’t want to take any unneccesary short cuts, I have to be realistic about the budget. If this was a stock pan, I’d stay forget it and go straight for the Milodon, but at this point, I think I can make this work and have a good pan out of it. 

In the short term I will probably get back on the tail section- I’d like to have that all done by fall.

So if anyone has, or knows of a shorty powerglide, rated to 600 HP (just a typical entry level bracket racing type) and perhaps a 10″ converter that is sitting doing nothing and needs a good new home for not too much money, please get in touch!

Thanks for reading-

Dean

Progress report

June 21, 2012

Well, even though I haven’t blogged it, there has been a bit of progress. Since the last post, I was able to pick up the correct Hilborn 150-A fuel pump, and then found a matching Hilborn front timing cover and fuel pump drive spud. So everything is Hilborn in the injection system. I kind of like that sort of symmetry.

Also, while I’ve always loved the car, I had kind of wished the rear axle was narrower. Brian Fox also noticed this and without provocation told me to measure the distance between the sidewall and body, then take the rear end out of the car, box it up and send it to him with instruction on how much more it should be narrowed on each side.  I lose track, but this was last fall, I believe.

This weekend I figured that I’ve got to get dirty and make some progress, so I dug out my chop saw, measured and shortened the axles an 1 1/4″ each so I could at least make it a roller once again. Plus I wanted to drill out the rivets from the tail section we had bought from Roger (he had narrowed it, trimmed the sides a bit, and then rivited it together using aluminum strips, but hadn’t gotten around to glassing it again) so I could clamp it to the car and start to figure out the gaps and the fit. It’s pretty close. Once I have it in the exact spot, I will rivet just a couple of aluminum bridge pieces across the gap to hold it in position for fiberglassing. I will have to add about 2″ on the sides to meet the sides of the cowl, and then taper it back to the rear radius behind the cage. This will make the car look even lower. My friend Eddie Stein has done a lot of fiberglassing, and he’ll help me to make the tail section one piece again, and weld tabs to mount the dzus fasteners. The goal is to accomplish this sometime in July.

In the meantime, here are photos with the narrowed rear axle and the mock up of the rear section- click on them if you’d like to see them full size:

Carrying on…

March 27, 2012

I’ve had nearly a month to mull it all over, and I’ve decided that I’m going to carry on with the dragster project. In the first few days after Mark’s death everything was overwhelming. I was torn between the thought of doing this without him making me feel empty and incredibly sad, and the thought of not seeing our project through and giving up making me feel incredibly sad. 

The first couple weeks of March were spent doing Mark-related things: making phone calls to friends who needed to know the news, sorting and packing Mark’s stuff with a couple of his friends to make it easier for his daughter and son-in-law to take it all back home with them, being the info center for the kart racing fraternity and rustling up photos to help with the memorial service. All this time the dragster was in the back of my mind, with me just going through this tug of war and trying to figure out what the best thing would be.

In the last two weeks, the answer I kept arriving at more often than not was to do my best to finish the dragster. It feels right.

While I know at times I will feel incredibly lonely while working on it without Mark, I also believe the build is a way to keep our friendship alive, and that friendship will always be embedded in the DNA of this dragster.

Logistically, this is going to be a big challenge since I’m working with no real budget, and it’s the biggest car project I’ve ever taken on. Rebuilding a stocker for the street is nothing compared to scratch building a race car. But a some amazing friends have stepped in and offered to help in ways that would otherwise keep me dead in the water. Roger Lee has offered encouragement and help if I need any weirdo parts made – which if what I’m thinking in terms of cockpit controls comes to frution, may have to happen. My good karting friend Michael is a race car welder and fabricator working with road racing machinery, and he has graciously offered his services, and my longtime dear friend Don has donated a nice ’74 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle for me to spruce up a bit, sort out the brakes, and sell to generate funds.

I don’t know that it will get the dragster finished, but I’m hoping that with careful planning and a lot of beating the bushes, it will get a running engine and transmission in the car. Then it will be saving and figuring out ways to get the safety equipment for both the car and myself.

The combo will still be modest- I’m going to build the engine myself – and I still have a target of 400-425 horsepower. I’ve done a number of stock rebuilds in the past, so this is not entirely new to me, although I’ll freely admit that I’m an engine assembler and not a builder in the way that race engine builders are.

But I am armed with a decent set of micrometers, a few David Vizard books, a desire to learn and to do this right, and a good relationship with a great machine shop in town. What I will need is some good, used, but usable engine parts – mainly heads, crank and rods. But I may be able to find some good used high compression pistons in the local sprint car world. Don is connected in that world and I know that the spec SBC engine they are using will be obsoleted at the end of this season as they move to a different engine package, and that could yield some good stuff for hopefully not too much money.

If you are reading this and you have, or know of anyone who has a good steel crank, rods that will work well in my combo, and either lightly-ported Chevy camel hump “fuelie” heads, or aftermarket heads, (both with preferably 2.02 valves and 64cc combustion chambers) that they would be willing to sell from cheap to reasonable, please get in touch. I have two ways I can go with the build, depending on what parts I can find- I can mimick Gene Kreuger’s build, or I have been in touch with Rick Holliday and he’s got a good set up for his first “mild” motor. In fact, if shipping wasn’t so darn expensive from Ohio to California, I’d probably just buy Rick’s engine, now that he’s built a hotter engine for his rail.  

I’ll also be looking for a used, but hopefully recently freshened up shorty powerglide and torque converter- with the Schneider 299 cam I’m still planning for, I would be looking for a 9″ converter with a 4500 RPM stall speed, or at least close to that. Again, if you have, or know someone that is moving up to more horsepower and wants to sell of their stuff, please get in touch.

I promise future posts won’t be a downer. I just felt that since without Mark this project would have never gotten off the ground, this was the forum for me to be honest about what his loss entails. I apologize if I made anyone uncomfortable. 

IN the mean time, I need to finish a couple of other smaller projects that are on the bench before I can get the Triumph ready to sell, but on the dragster to-do list concerning parts I have already I’ve got:

  • shorten the axles 1″ 
  • drill and tap the 3rd member for the anti-rotational device bolts
  • install spool, gears, bearings in 3rd member
  • fabricate brake master cylinder tab
  • fabricate brake handle
  • install disc brake setup
  • plumb brake lines
  • weld the M/C tab, brake handle pivot tabs, shifter handle tabs, and filler and drain bungs to rear end housing 
  • fabricate and weld the fuel tank mounts to the frame
  • drill out rivets on the chute pack tail section so I can clamp halves to the frame and figure out how much it needs to be widened
  • brace and fiberglass the tail section at the new width
  • sort out tail section mounting and weld dzus tabs to accommodate

I’ve already got everything I need in order to accomplish what is on my list so far, so it will be a busy summer and with the help of my friends, I can gather the right pieces to do the engine build this fall. I also need a Hilborn 150-A (or B) fuel pump, although the Enderle 80A will do, a drive spud for the fuel pump, a shut off valve, idle bypass valve, and a set of Hilborn 14AS nozzles. I have a full set of 20A nozzles in good shape to trade if anyone is interested.

Thanks for reading and being interested in this blog. The next post I make will actually cover progress made on the dragster. 

Be well-
Dean

For inspiration and entertainment, here’s a video of Gene Krueger’s US Mule dragster. This car NAILS exactly what I’ve always envisioned, and what I’m trying to do with Rocinante. Gene’s car strives to maintain the period look as closely as possible while still passing tech: it got a 135″ wheelbase (same as Roc!), vintage stack injected small block chevy on alky, plenty of engine dump, no wheelie bar, high gear launch with a powerglide, and runs the kind of ETs I want to run, so it is as close to being the blueprint for Rocinante as I could imagine. It’s perfect!

I’m writing this with a heavy heart…

March 1, 2012

I received a terrible phone call this evening to let me know that Mark Havery, one of my very best friends, and my partner in pursuing the dream that has been the subject of this blog, had passed away.

We last spoke on Sunday about shortening the axles and the Schneider camshaft I had researched for our combo. We were getting ready to order the engine and transmission in the next week or two, and as I had alluded to in my previous post, things were happening fast and furious and boxes were showing up on my doorstep almost daily with the goodies we needed to move forward. We spoke about the next step of fabrication and how we were going to do the cockpit layout. Our conversation ended with Mark telling me to call or email after I talked to Mike at Alkydigger about the Hilborn fuel pump he found for us, and after I called Schneider to get their opinion about the cam we wanted to put in the engine.

I made those calls Tuesday morning, and then emailed Mark. I didn’t hear anything back- which seemed odd- but Mark worked the swing/graveyard shift as a machinist and with the floating days on/days off, I could never keep track of what his schedule was. So I figured he must be sleeping in preparation for his shift later that evening. I kept checking email today during work, and still no reply. When I got home I called and left a message just asking if he got the email and making sure everything was okay.

Turns out nothing was okay.

Mark was supposed to touch base with a friend on Monday, but never called. This friend tried calling on Tuesday to no response either. When he called the plant later that night and they told him that Mark hadn’t shown up for his shift, he knew something was wrong and he drove over to his house. After getting no response at the door, he called the police and they discovered the awful truth. If there is any consolation, the coroner said that he was sure that Mark didn’t suffer or even know what hit him.

I got the phone call about 7:30 tonight, and I just feel completely heartbroken and devestated.

You see, as much as Mark liked the idea of building the dragster, I don’t think Mark had been to the drags since about 1974. Mark did this project because he knew it was a dream I’d had since I was a little kid, and I didn’t have any way possible make it happen on my own. He was that kind of friend. That’s a big reason the dragster means so much to me – because it exists as a testement and tribute to a sincere friendship. Mark saw that I’d been going through a rough 5 or 6 years, where it just seemed that life kept kicking me when I was down, and this was something he could do to help a buddy get through them and find a reason to get up in the morning and to keep on keeping on.

Mark never suffered fools kindly, and after getting to know him, I learned that he had a lot of good reasons to be guarded. We became friendly through vintage kart racing, but there was a sitution where Mark got roped into putting out a club magazine and the help he was supposed to get with it bailed on him. I had done some of this kind of work before, so I volunteered and we worked hard at putting out a great bi-monthly magazine, and we had to do most of the writing, editing, build the projects for the “how-to” articles and so forth. That’s how we came to be really, really good friends. I think Mark appreciated that someone had his back, so when this opportunity presented itself almost on a whim, I think he figured he’d return the favor…100-fold. That’s the kind of friend he was. He wouldn’t let many people in, but once you were his friend, you were his friend for life.

If I have any peace right now, it is two things:

The last day we hung out was on Sunday the 18th when we drove down to Roger Lee’s place to buy the fiberglass body he’d originally purchased for his Masters and Richter recreation. Now that he had a Dave Tuttle-crafted chutepack tail created, the fiberglass version was surplus, and he gave us a good deal on it. Mark had never been through the delta, and I’d been told about a great mom n’ pop restaurant along the river, so we took the long way home. Had lunch and Mark raved about how cool Giusti’s was and how he’s going to bring some other friends there, and then we drove through all the small delta towns on our way back. He was amazed. By the time we’d made it back to my place in Sacramento, he was talking about looking at real estate because he wanted to retire to Walnut Grove or Isleton in a few years. I felt happy that I’d been able to introduce him to something that brought such obvious joy. 

Secondly, I had discovered a video of Gene Krueger’s dragster on you tube last week and was really, really excited because he’s doing EXACTLY what we are trying to do. The same era, look, and approach (and even ETs). I forwarded this to Mark, and once again he shared in my giddiness. In our back and forth email exchange over how cool this all was and how we were setting the stage to make a big push on the dragster in the next few months, I just happed to write that I was so grateful that he is so instrumental in making this dream a reality, and that I would never be able to thank him enough.

So especially now, I am so glad that I was able to express my gratitude. I know that Mark knew, but he was never one for talking about feelings much (and if you are reading this, you can see that I don’t have quite the same filter) but at the time, I just felt the need to put it in plain English. So I am glad that I don’t have to wonder if he knew how much this all meant to me.

What will happen to the dragster now? I honestly don’t know.

This is all so fresh, and I know that now is not the time to make any kind of decision. There is a huge part of me that so badly wants to press on and finish this car as a tribute to our friendship, and to see this thing through in order to honor Mark.  But I am at a loss as to how to make it happen, and while I am confident in my mechanical abilities, I am no weldor, machinist, or fabricator, and so much of that work still needs to be done. I also wonder if working on the car without Mark will just make me sad, or if it will bring a sense of peace.  

So for the time being, I will not make any decision,. I will grieve and mourn the loss of my friend and wait and see if some kind of answer about the car presents itself in time.

Godspeed Mark Havery, you were one of the choice ones and I will miss you terribly.


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