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DRO: You were known for innovations when you drove cars like the "Speed Racer" flopper and that Nova with no top. Tell us something about those cars. Did the "Speed Racer" have a four-speed?

ARMSTRONG: No. In fact, the most it ever had in it was a regular 2-speed. I mean, I never even ran a 3-speed. It was just a little odd in that it was a 2-speed car which had a 45-percent gear box and a 410 gear which was geared pretty low in comparison to all the other cars. That gear made it a shaker too. Those were the days when tire shake was terrible but you just drove through it, I mean, people didn't peddle or anything. They would be in low gear and the thing would start to shake and the only thing you could do was either shift it or ride it out. I think it killed one guy - in the Top Fuel - rattled him so hard -

I forget his name right now, but, I know it knocked Richard Tharp out, you know, unconscious. [Ed. Note: It happened at the U.S. Nationals while Tharp was driving the Candies & Hughes Top Fuel car.] When I drove that "Speed Racer" I used to wear elbow pads on my legs -- on the sides -- because the shake would beat your legs against the frame so bad. Then you just kept the throttle down; you didn't lift, and some days it would break the motor mounts and the motor plate, you know. You look back on it now and it would have been easy to fix, but we didn't know. Nobody knew.

DRO: Didn't you at one time run nitrous and Nitro?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, when I was first with Ken. I didn't do it with "Speed Racer," but when I was with Kenny, we put a system on Kenny's car and Billy Meyer had one. A few guys had 'em. I mean it was, legal, you know, you could do it. We put eight nozzles down in the manifold and we only ran 30 pounds of Nitrous pressure and we had that thing turned on actually just when it was idling. We had different sizes of nozzles all through the manifold; eight different nozzles. In those days, before two fuel pumps and two barrel valves and this and that, we used to put about sixty percent of the fuel through the injector and the port nozzles. When you took the fuel and shot it through the injector and the blower, you didn't have much control of where it went, so you had wet cylinders and dry cylinders. We used nitrous to solve that problem.

What we did with the nitrous was look at the pipes, especially at night and see how they were operating. If you had like a damp (rich) hole we'd put a larger Nitrous nozzle in that hole, and it'd just even it out. Using nitrous evened out every cylinder, at idle; it just made it so that when you hit the throttle, all the cylinders where the same temperature and not rich or lean. We kept the nitrous pressure down to about 30 pounds at the nozzle so that when you hit the throttle and the manifold boost came up to like 35 pounds or so, the pressure would effectively shut off the nitrous.

DRO: You used it just to even out the cylinder temperature?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, it was a really neat deal, If you remember those cars, they'd be idling, they'd have wet pipes and they'd have cold pipes, especially in the back ones; you'd bring it up just off idle and the back pipes would go out and you know they'd be cold. So it just was an aid, a good way of keeping all the cylinders at an even temperature so when you did hit the throttle you'd have a better chance of keeping the cylinders alive. Because those were the days also of weak magnetos and dropped cylinders, so you know it was really just a fight to keep all the cylinders lit.

DRO: Speaking of nitro and nitrous what can you tell us about the Canuck car?


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