Our old diesel demon buddy Gale Banks recently catapulted his lil' Duramax pickup into the 7's (smokelessly!) but has his sights set on bigger numbers. How does 6 second ETs on plain old #2 diesel fuel strike you? So when he called last week and said he was going to be in Indianapolis shopping for donuts and dragster chasses, it was an offer too good to pass up. Up in the dark of early Saturday AM, I bombed down I-65 to meet him at the venerable Spitzer Enterprises dragster shop east of Indy.
On the left, here's Spitzer in your eye: Mike Spitzer, to be precise. Mike is somewhat of a legend among the drag racing community, having developed one of the first modern rear engine dragsters, one of the first to use wind tunnel testing, and one of the first to use composite materials like carbon fiber. He'll soon be putting together a chassis to hold a nasty Banks-ified diesel. On the right, Buzzcut Banks grins with visions of 6's in his head.
Spitzer's office: Wallys galore.
Mike Spitzer points out the struts on the rear wing, bent in the last wind test. "Now that's some serious downforce," he grins.
Enough of the toys! Let's see the real stuff. First up a couple of street rods in the main display room, sporting bodies designed right there at the facility. Being a fool for traditional iron, I was bowled over by the sprint car-inspired yellow & blue modified.
In the shop: a totally tubular Road Runner under construction.
And the reason it needs all that bracing: a monster crate Hemi that will pound 800+ bhp out of a single 4 bbl naturally aspirated intake.
Some more street rods: a '41 Buick ragtop and a Chebby custom sporting Olds bezels and Halibrands. Other customs in the shop included a '56 Ford tudor, and a '56 pickup for fuel racer Paul Romine.
Next stop, Spitzer's real milieu: the competition shop. About a dozen race vehicles currently under construction.
Spitzer's bread and butter: the dragster chassis. By my count, eight under construction, all up from raw tubing. Some amazing design features like sleeved joints that allow the chassis to arch - like a cat - under full speed with full downforce.
Elegant rear suspension design.
Business end of the whole deal. I assume the carbon fiber seat is custom designed for big cojones.
Banks and Spitzer talk turkey. With luck, you'll be seeing a Banks-powered, Spitzer-framed diesel dragster shock the record books later this year.
on the carbon fiber dash: good advice when you're cruising at 250 mph.
Famished, we bid farewell to Spitzer and boogie into Indianapolis to sample the celebrated toruses of Long's Bakery. Verdict: daaaaamn, those are some kick-ass donuts. Banks and I polish off a dozen in 10 minutes.
After the pastry pigout, Banks headed to the airport for a flight to Detroit. Me, west on 16th Street for the I-65 onramp. But not before seeing this excellent coda on an excellent day: