FFR Customer Kerby S. Details the Ups and Downs of Hot Rod Magazine Drag Week 2011

Factory Five customer Kerby Suhre from Howell, MI (home of the Factory Five Hot Rod and Mk4 Build School!) took his ’33 Hot Rod on the grueling 2011 Hot Rod Drag Week Tour and he sent us this report and cool photos of his week of highs and lows on the hot roads of Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. He also posted a cool YouTube video at Great Bend Dragway in Kansas. Everyone at Factory Five is hugely impressed with the toughness and grit driving hundreds of miles from race to race to race. In recognition of this accomplishment, we have given Kerby a $500 parts credit at Factory Five.

Congratulations Kerby and thanks for the inspiration.

Dave Smith

“2919 Drag Week 2011 – by Kerby Surhe
September 19, 2011:
Well, we wanted to test the hot rod and see what it could do, and Drag Week 2011 was one heck of a test. Here is a quick rundown of the week.

Sunday Sept. 11 – Check-in: The hot rod was only tech’d to run down to 11.5 for the 1/4 mile because it does not have a driver’s side door bar (somehow missed that in the NHRA rule book). The car is faster, but will have to try to get as close to 11.5 as possible without going under.

Monday Sept. 12 – Racing at Heartland Park Dragstrip, Topeka, KS: Very first run is an 11.595 @ 117.40MPH, even with breaking loose all thru first gear. We got a late start due to the drivers meeting and I figure it will be hard to get a run closer to 11.5 without going under, so I called it a day and turned in my timeslip. We then started the 242 mile journey to Great Bend. The afternoon and evening temps were between 98-102F and it was brutal inside the hot rod. Even with the windows down, it was at least 120F in the car. Stuck my non-driving hand in the ice in the cooler and drank a ton of water to survive. The hot rod performed great in the heat, the engine was running warmer than it ever had before, but there did not seem to be any loss of power and absolutely no problems.

Tuesday Sept. 14 – Racing at SRCA Dragstrip, Great Bend, KS: Very first run is an 11.507 @ 121.70MPH, just about perfect. Turned in the timeslip and then made some more passes for fun and to get a video. Even with a slow launch (1.8sec 60 foot), the car is running an 11.4 flat. Another hot afternoon and evening with temps around 95F as we drive 336 miles to Amarillo. This is where the next test begins. Texas road repair leaves ALOT to be desired. Their idea of re-paving is 1/2” diameter stones thrown down with some tar. Went through one section that was raining rocks all over the vehicle and into the passenger compartment. By the time I got the windows up, there were probably more than 100 rocks inside and the paint on the sides of the car was trashed. Had a few choice words for the Texas road repair crews, but I won’t share them! Despite the abuse, the hot rod performed well again in the heat and back roads.

Wednesday Sept. 15 – Racing at Amarillo Dragstrip, Amarillo, TX: We had been warned that this track was in rough shape and they were working on it. Well, that was a huge understatement. This dragstrip was a mess. No traction, not enough glue (VHT). Uneven surface. Rocks everywhere, including the burnout box peppering the cars lined up in the staging lanes. Rocks all the way down the track. And a return road that can only be described as a farm lane, and that is being generous. Initial pass was a mess, tires loose all thru first and second gear. Second pass was going pretty well until a rock from the car in the other lane hit square in my vision at 120MPH near the end of the track. It sprayed some small glass fragments in my face and caused me to jerk the wheel a little (not something you should do at 120!). After many more choice words about the Amarillo Dragway, I turned in my 12.080 @ 113.88MPH and started looking for someone to repair the windshield so I could continue. I got someone to come out and repair it the best they could and started on the 403 mile journey to Tulsa. This was the longest segment ever on a Drag Week, but the temps came down into the 80s and the Oklahoma roads were good. The hot rod performed well again.

Thursday Sept. 16 – Racing at Tulsa Raceway Park Dragstrip, Tulsa, OK: After some rain delays and several track oil down mishaps, we finally got to racing. I tried to launch hard and broke loose at the starting line on the first pass. I quickly came back and ran an 11.399 @ 120MPH with a very slow (1.828) 60ft time, so I knew that with a few more passes I could get very close to the 11.5 index with a very slow launch. But, on the next pass, as I went from 2nd to 3rd, all hell broke loose in the trans and I lost power and the clutch went limp. I coasted off the track as I heard parts clanging around in the transmission. I made a few calls to some local transmission shops, but quickly realized that replacing the trans/clutch on this custom hot rod would be damn near impossible to complete before racing the next day. I called it quits and some great new friends and fellow racers (Nyla Dowell and her brother Jerry) helped me get a U-Haul Trailer and towed the hot rod back to Topeka (they were racing a 3/4 Chevy diesel pickup!). It is people like Nyla and Jerry that make Drag Week special, so a heartfelt “Thanks” to both of them!

Now we have some work to do to get it ready for next year.
1.) Beef up the clutch and transmission
2.) Install a driver door bar so we can go faster than 11.5
3.) Change some rear suspension components to allow weight transfer for a harder launch
4.) Fix up the paint and then protect the entire sides of the car with Trac Wrap
5.) Make some minor adjustments to the calibration and MAF sensor for a little more power.

The car did very well in a brutal test this year and I am sure we will complete the route next year. The car is definitely capable of running the high 10s range and that is what we will shoot for next year.”