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One of the benefits of information retrieval such as that by the RacePak people was the lock-up clutch. Armstrong, Bernstein's Budweiser King crew chief, discovered from computer data that on all Funny Car (and Top Fuel runs) the engine was turning at least 10-percent faster than the clutch at all times during every run. This led to annoyances like smoking rear tires at certain points of the run. The lock-up was a better mousetrap in terms of controlling that. Armstrong contacted Tony & Lanny Miglizzi of L&T Clutches and came up with a two-stage clutch that was truly locked up in the final stage of every run. Tim Richards, Dave Settles, and Bob Brooks of AFT soon came up with a three-stage lock-up, and Austin Coil soon came up with a four-stage lock-up clutch, etc., etc., etc.

"Dale had Kenny's car in a Funny Car final at Bandimere Speedway in 1986 and got beat when the tires lit up. My father and I knew Dale, and he approached us and said something like, 'I've got this idea and I've always wanted to try it,' and that idea was the lock-up clutch. Dale knew the amount of clutch it needed to get the car down the track, but the trick was initially how to get it off the line. He trusted us to keep quiet because he wanted secrecy. If the idea of a lock-up got out, it would, you know, take away any advantage he wanted to get on the competition.

"That proved hard to do after what happened at Indianapolis in 1986 when we debuted the unit. Kenny pulls up against Roland Leong's Hawaiian Punch Dodge, which shuts off on the line. Then Kenny blasts off and runs Indy's (and the sport's) first 270-mph ru- 271.42. There were a lot of racers watching that run and because Kenny was alone on the track, they heard the car shift. They were smart, knew what they had seen, and they really wanted that piece and really besieged us, but we had a deal with Kenny and Dale not to go public with it until the end of the year. But the long and short of it was that Dale Armstrong got the lock-up clutch into drag racing. - Lanny Miglizzi


At the 1984 NHRA Gatornationals, Joe Amato shattered the 260-mph barrier with runs of 260.11 and 262.39-mph while winning the race. The reason he stepped up so much was the seven-foot plus high rear wing up and behind the engine. Designed after meetings between Indy 500 designer Eldon Rasmussen and Amato's crew chief Tim Richards, the wing increased the down-pressure and stayed above the turbulence created by the engine and the tires. It was quite a breakthrough given that the first 250 was run almost 10 years earlier.

"Timmy and Rasmussen both agreed that it was necessary to get the rear wing, which was standard on all fuel dragsters, above the turbulence of the engine and tires. Eldon had tons of experience in this area and we went with him on it. Up until that time (the '84 Gators), the cars had been trying to drive through that on the top end and they were stuck in the mid 250s for 10 years. The thing I remember most was when we made our first run, Timmy told me whatever you do, keep your hand on that brake during the run because this baby might take off, like in a wheelstand. First run was 259.36 mph and I felt we were on our way and we were." - Joe Amato.


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