KEN LOWE  RACE CAR Hardware
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In Championship Drag racing it doesn't take long for things to become obsolete. That does not mean that we do not have fond memories of the "old cars".
The following are some of my recollections of the great time I have had drag racing. It starts at the bottom in 1963 and goes up to the top here in 1987. HOMEPAGE

US Nationals 1986 - Low ET Qualifer.jpg (29989 bytes)
"No packy parts"
More car 35 info
This car was raced from 1985 to 1988. The car ran a best of 6.266 at Dallas on Oct 2 1987. That made it the quickest Chevrolet (non Hemi) ever. Today it is still the quickest standard helix non hemi ever. My good friend Mike Kosky came very close with a 6.269. Today all the cars use screw blowers and the performances reflect this.  Some of the stats of the car and team are listed above in the inset.
The car was 245 inch wheelbase and weighed 1810 lbs. The engine was a 437 cubic inch Rodeck big block Chevrolet style engine. Ron Backman and Fred Mandoline created the billet heads. We ran both Gene Moonyham and Mert Littlefield  blowers. Power was applied to the Lenco transmission via a L&T clutch. The car had several innovative features for its day. One was the body panel you see in front of the wheels was actually the fuel tank. At the time of this cars construction no other alcohol cars had fuel tanks in front of the front axle. If you have a look at our current car built in 1997 you will see the forward tank in this car as well. Why would I give away a secret? Well this trick is a little old hat now and our new car is just chock full of tricks. Maybe I will discuss some of those tricks in twelve or fifteen years.

What are packy parts? I'll give you a tip. This is a phrase I first saw on the side of Jim Buchers dragster. Since Jim is no longer with us I thought I would borrow the phrase. If you can figure it out email me. If you can't and want to know email me and I will tell you. You will love it!!! 

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We raced a lot with UDRA and loved it. The racing and the pay was both good and the true "Chicago style" eliminator format was good. The UDRA format is one that more promoters should consider. Here we have just won at US131 at Martin Michigan.

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On the banks of the Mississippi near the Quad cities in the heartland of the US is Cordova Drag way. Here my crew is Tim Osgood and "Rughead" Robbie Helton. That is a very fat Ken Lowe in the middle (before the diet). The diet cost less than a titanium bellhousing and chopped off twice as much weight, better for me too......

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It is always good to win at the hometown track. Edgewater Park in Cincinnati is a great place to race. The track is well run by Dick Wienle "Wiggles" and TJ. This night we had just beat Al Dapozzo in a very close race 6.43 to a 6.45 and in doing so we just set the track record and the UDRA record for ET and speed. Note the engine is a NON hemi.

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UDRA race at KilKare in Xenia Ohio (near Dayton) Good crowds were a UDRA trademark.
I know everyone will point out the very dangerous single lane guard rail but these were small local tracks that struggled to make a profit except when the UDRA show was in town once or twice a year.  As a racer you learned how to get a race car down the race track the first time and make a profit. One shot qualifying and first round at 6:30pm and final round at 9:30 made for a very fast paced show that left little time for the crowd to get bored. UDRA promoted a package of supercharged dragsters, supercharged funny cars and mountain motor ProStock with a exhibition package of jets, wheel standers or similar promotions. In my memory, never at any one of the dozen different race tracks that UDRA   ran their events did they ever fail to fill the stands.

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Byron Dragway, Byron Illinois. The little short guy in the middle is me. Tony Fritz is just to the left and all the way over on the right side is track announcer Bret Kepner. I am going to offer a very biased opinion here but it is based on my observations over several years. Bret Kepner has to be the worlds best track announcer. Three times in my driving career have I had a standing ovation from everyone in a 1/4 mile of full grandstands. And it was everytime Bret was announcing. I do not know what he said because I was in the car or being towed back to the pit but it worked. I have won races before this and after this but only when Bret was announcing did this response take place.   I have won races and set track records and sometimes it seemed like no one cared but when Bret was announcing they did care. I know as racers all of us in the UDRA group were doing our job of providing the racing but Bret made the fans know they were seeing something special. My hat is off to Bret Kepner.

Front engine dragster - Top Alcohol Dragster.jpg (24247 bytes)
Who said you cannot go TAD racing on a very small budget? We did. I guess times were different then. With the front engine car we weren't very competitive but everyone remembered us. Even with 150 lbs of ballast on the front it would still carry the front wheels so far that when it set the wheels down it would puff a bit of smoke off the front tires (like a airplane landing). Wow was she fun to drive. See photo below.  That white stuff on the ground is snow.
More info on car 33
Up, up and away in a front engine TAD.jpg (16735 bytes)
Standard hard launch.  Tim Osgood  in the background with his fingers in his ears. Check out the weight bar on the front axle. One thing that you may not be aware of is that this car had a Powerglide transmission. I would have to say it was probably the first Powerglide in a Top Alcohol car.

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Is this thing humping or what?? This car was a ball to drive.

Before we put the supercharged engine in the car we raced the car as a Top Gas car.
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Top Gas had no weight minimum and a front engine car weighs less is why we still had a FED.

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1982 Top Gas - look down on the engine balancer and you will see the first ever KLRC engine turner. See the tools section

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1981 Top Gas - Simple rules.  - more info on car 31
            No blowers
            No nitro
            No Lenco's
            No weight minimum
            Heads up - first to the finish line won.    
It is a big block Chevy don't let the front mount mag drive confuse you. It is a Summers Brothers unit that we found worked pretty well. The only problem was that it only fit a Summers Brothers gear drive and we had a Donovan gear drive. I made a adapter ring to connect everything and make it work. Today I make a FPMD (Fuel Pump Magneto Drive) that drives a Supermag off the fuel  pump drive. For a closer look see BBC engine parts.

Top Gas East Champion.jpg (27809 bytes)
1981 TOP GAS See the pressure gauge zip tied to the chassis rail... checking fuel pressure.  This was before data loggers and we were trying to find info anyway we could.

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1979 Partnerships with John Backus and Tom Runck put this BB/FC together for Pro Comp. Lack of serious funding prevented serious competition. But it looked good. More info on car 27

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1975 The sign on the front says B/FD but the blower is going on to make it a AA/DA

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1975 Insanity - two cars. B/FD and a AA/DA

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1975 Anyone who knows me and has been to KLRC today knows the red tool box and the wood cabinet in the background. I have a tendency to keep thing for a while. We are getting the AA/DA ready. Check out the wood tool caddy on the chassis rails, you can see the spark plugs on the top of the box and the side of the box marked indicating each set. Front engine supercharged cars had to have a onboard fire extinguisher and if you look at the cockpit of the car you can see the yellow cylinder fire extinguisher. It bears a strange similarity to the one out of the funny car doesn't it.

Two cars three times the work.jpg (35263 bytes)
It is three times as much work to race two cars - just don't try it. This is from someone who now has 4 dragsters - never learn do I?
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On nitro we had a hard time getting the engine hot without spending big dollars throwing fuel out the pipes we we made a "heater" that connected to the engine of the push truck. We would start the engine of the truck and let it run at a fast idle and it would pump the hot water through the race car engine and get it hot even before we started it. You can see the green garden hose running from the engine back to the engine in the truck. 

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September 1974 US Nationals B/FD the guy I am speaking to now has gray hair and not so much of it. You probably know him but don't recognize him. If you want to know who he is I built him a car in 1995. Go ahead click on and have a look.

David Hawke, Roly Leahy and Ken Lowe 1974 US Nationals.jpg (13472 bytes)
US Nationals 1974 That's me leaning on the tire with the clutch board in my left hand. Email me if you can recognize anyone in the photo. ken@kenlowe.com.au
This is the meeting that changed my life forever or at least the direction of my life.

Inside the B Fuel dragster.jpg (38591 bytes)
Front engine dragsters have a feel all of their own. Your drive a rear engine dragster but you experience a front engine dragster.  You wear all the oil that comes off the engine, you breathe all the exhaust and you get to see it all right before you. Now that is an experience. In 1974 the cars were more personal and less corporate.  Why doesn't any name their cars any more?  Who can guess why I named the car "For Sale"?  No not because it was for sale (it wasn't really) but because every Sunday night on the way home when I could not make it run the number I wanted the strong impulse was to sell the damn thing (as if). Then by Wednesday I would have "solved" the problem and was eager to get back to the race track to try it out.    How many injected nitro cars have you seen with collector headers!!!? No you don't want to try it. I had never seen one but it made sense to me ... I did not know enough about nitro. It does not work. Well they were on the car for a couple of races.

Love the Roell paint work.jpg (44344 bytes)
1974 Bill Roell gave me the best paint job my race car had ever had. I know it looks like a 70's race car because that what it was but I still like it even today.  If you understand race cars you will understand the name on the car.

My first big block.jpg (20929 bytes)
1973 We had just blow up the good engine at the Gatornationals and had no money to build another one so we borrowed this big block from a friend. I think the scoop was a mail box at one time.... if it wasn't it could have been. Like the funny car headers ... we were never afraid to try something even if it was ugly.

I don't know why I am smiling.jpg (19157 bytes)
1972 Whoops! I was working 40 hours a week at a night job and carrying 12 credit hours at University at the same time I was racing the car. Something had to give and it was the maintenance on the engine. I knew I had to check the bearings but just ran out of time. It was a steel rod 310 that went 10,000 rpm in each gear. It was fast but it also needed attention. Shame on me. For the life of me I cannot remember why I was smiling. It must have been the perpetual optimist coming out when I discovered the damage was repairable.   Since I was a struggling university student I did not have any money to rebuild the engine.  Gordon Campbell had a replacement engine built and we went to the Gators in 73 with it. It spun  a rod bearing on the third pass (too tight clearance). That is when I borrowed the big block with carbs and went racing with that. 

I was renting this garage for $25 a month because it was close to school and between classes I could run down to the shop and get some work done.

Bowling Green Ky staging lanes.jpg (22757 bytes)
1972 Everyone from Winchester Kentucky will recognize the soft drink bottle but no one else will. Note the bar on the front of the truck behind me, this is how we used to start the cars. Give it a push and let the clutch out and the engine starts.I think this car had about 4 feet of wire total and that was to shut the mag off and kill the engine.   This race track is Bowling Greek Kentucky and was one of the very few race tracks that had rollers built into the ground on the starting grid. The rollers were powered by a small block Chevy (stock). You would push the car forward where the rear wheels of the race car were on top of the drive rollers and the push vehicle would come up behind the race car and provide something for the race car to rest against while the rollers were turning the tires on the race car. The roller operator would rev the engine up and the roller would start turning the wheels. The driver would let the clutch out and the car would go back against the push truck push bar and the engine would start turning. Quick oil pressure check, open the throttle, close the throttle, flick the mag switch on and the engine would fire and the driver would drive away from the rollers ready to do a burn out. Some where in my old photos I think I have a picture of the rollers. If I can find it I will load it up on this page. 

This was a grand time in drag racing. During the 1970 -1971 season I made enough money from winning in Competition Eliminator that I almost paid for my first house at 540 South Maple Street in Winchester Kentucky.  In all fairness though things were different then. In 1978 I paid more for my Chaparral trailer than I paid for my first house... and that did not include the truck which was nearly as much money. Of course I still have the truck and trailer but not the house.
You have to have your priorities.

Up-up and away!!!.jpg (17455 bytes)
1972 On the very next pass I stood the car up so far the car went back up on the parachute pack and almost went over. This was a set of chrome collector headers I borrowed from Billy Canter when the car came down after the big wheel stand it scuffed up the bottom of the pipes. The problem was that on Billy's car he installed them the other way with the pipes going up. This put the scrape mark on the top on his car. When I gave them back to Billy I told him to get them fixed and let me know how much it cost and I would pay him. I did not see him again for many months and the start of a new season we met at the "Gators" in 73. When I chased him up to find out what I owed him he said "no charge". I pressed him for an explanation and he said he had had too much fun with it. The  story he was telling was that he had rolled his car at Ohio Valley raceway and it did a complete 360 and the headers was the only place it touched. It never happened it was just Billy's way of having a good time. 

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Up on blocks ready for maintenance. Do you like the economy ramps - concrete blocks and some 2x6's - works pretty good.. 

This was the way we used to start the engine.jpg (8566 bytes)
Getting ready to push start out of the "hot pits" at Bluegrass Dragway. It is now an industrial park. The push truck driver had to have some skill to make the push and the starting smooth. You might notice that there are no car numbers on the race car. Before 1972 NHRA did not have permanent numbers and each track would issue you a number on the day. The number was put on the windscreen of the push vehicle which could be more easily seen.

Good car - cheap trailer.jpg (17769 bytes)
How about converted boat trailer for a race car trailer. See the push start bar on the back of the trailer. The hydraulic cylinders on the front of the trailer would tilt the trailer without the necessity of unhooking the trailer from the truck. The caddy on the front of the trailer was to put the front axle of the car in while you were towing the car back to the pits.

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"Tinker Toy" the car was a light one at this point it was a 302" Chev with a aluminum flywheel and aluminum clutch and a front gear case transmission 4 speed. The car weighed 980 lbs. Who noticed that the drag link was coming out of the wrong side of the car? This was a photo from a reversed negative.

Ken Lowe May 1967.jpg (16293 bytes)
1967 was I ever this young?  This was the second car that Tom Richardson and I put together. We sold the first one for a small profit and started on this one. Tom and I raced it for the first part of the 1967 season before I had to take my government sponsored tropical holiday. Tom and I put everything we had in the car which means that we had no tow car. Good pal Joe Lindsey had a trailer hitch on his near new 65 Plymouth Belvidere and we talked him into letting us put a push bar on the car so we could push the Altered to a start. What a guy!

It is amusing to have a look at the different hair styles I have had over the years. Until I put this together I never had a look at that facet of my life.

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I really liked that blue metallic paint. I still have the moon fuel tank, it has pride of place in the lounge room and don't ask if I would sell it - not a chance.

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Looking over my first fuel injection. When Tom and I got the FI unit it was not working very good that is why we got it at a bargain. When we put it on our car it did not work very well either. We ripped it apart and figured it out and went racing. We were lucky as the problem was just an adjustment and not a faulty component. If you get a chance read the FI section of this site. See the kill wire switch on the brake handle.

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Are the pipes long enough? Check out the remote oil filter. The fuel pump drive we got with the fuel injection was a "home made" piece. Some one had drilled a plate to fit the camshaft and welded a 3/8" drive 3/8" six point socket to the plate to make the pump drive. When we installed it the pin in the cam was a little long and did not allow the drive to sit flush against the cam gear. The oscillating action of the tip of the pump drive would cause the fuel pump to unscrew itself from the front cover and fall off the car being only held on by the hoses. The abuse the fuel pump took and did not fail amazes me even more today.

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Do you like the translucent red fuel line from the tank to the fuel pump. That stuff was very popular back then. It was available in blue as well and if you ever had a small fire from a fuel leak the hose would melt immediately and then you would have a massive fire problem. But it looked good and we were young and silly.

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Is this the worst drivers compartment ever? The lawnmower throttle cable on the left was the fuel shut off cable. This drivers compartment was very uncomfortable and this car was a lesson in what not to do. When you are 18 years old you think you know it all.

E Gas 55 Chevy Ken's last dual use car.jpg (19037 bytes)
My 55 Chevy that I drove to high school and raced on weekends. 283 small block Chevy, two four barrel carbs, 4 speed 4.10 gear, dual point Mallory, "cheater" slicks and ladder bars. The car ran 14.3's when it wasn't breaking parts.
The maroon stripes made the car was easily identifiable by all the local police. The damn car was a ticket magnet and kept me broke. Parking it and going racing was the best thing I ever did. The dumbest thing I ever did was sell the car for $200.00 to Carl Gough...
Did I ever tell you about the time in 1972 John Christopher wanted to sell me his 58 Vette with a factory twin 4 bl  270 hp 283  for $200.00 Of course it had been in an accident and the right front fender was busted.  I must be dumb because I did not buy it. By the way, John if you are reading this do you remember those blue side cutters you gave me in 72 because they were a little rusty and stiff. I still have them today and use them frequently and think about you each time that I use them.
Did I ever tell you about the time Duane Hignite wanted to sell his pristine 61 Vette. 315 hp FI 283 all factory original 20,000 miles one owner for $2150.00  Am I thick or what? Rule of thumb, what ever deal I turn down, take it and make a killing.

 

 

 

Ken Says..... click here
















 

 








 

 

 













The 31 Chapter 200 page Fuel Injection book is here for  more info on what has been called "the best fuel injection book on this planet". Now only $99.95AUD If you only learn one thing it is worth it
The FI book has been this price for ten years now, my publishing costs continue to rise and soon I will have to raise the price.
Currently all orders are processed at the old price of $99.95 - don't miss out - order now.

I must point out that my printing house (and all the rest of them as well) have raised their prices so when this last printed batch of books are gone... the price goes up. Order now and save.
Can I point out it is less than 50 cents a page!!!


We ship the FI book inside Australia COD Australia Post. When the order arrives at your post office you pay the postman and he sends the money to us. Outside Australia we require a valid credit card to make the charges to.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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