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DRO: Tell us about the Darlington race itself, the 1987 IHRA Winter Nationals and the 202-mph pass.

We drove down to Darlington and the thing I remember at first was the lines. The long long tech lines. You just sat in the car and waited. I also remember the looks my car got; it had a 16-inch wing on it and those racers looked at me like I was nuts. I mean it looked like I was running "the wing from Mars."

Not only that, but in my working with nitrous, I learned that it paid to keep the nitrous warm. The temperature at Darlington was in the 40s, so I bought a kerosene heater to keep the nitrous oxide bottles warm and up to pressure. Pretty soon everyone had them.

After all the tech crap, I made my first run and fried the clutch. On Saturday, we hurt another clutch, but we also ran 191-mph, which caught 'em all off guard. That was top speed for the moment. Despite that, I was like Rodney Dangerfield - couldn't get any respect. So I wrote on the side of my trailer in shoe polish, "191-mph and more to come."

Sonny Leonard was at the track and was hanging out with Bob Glidden. Since I had one of his motors, I went over to Sonny and introduced myself, I said, "Hi, I'm Bill Kuhlmann and I bought one of your kit motors and I'm gonna go 200-mph." He nodded, and then went over to Glidden and said something like "That silly son-of-a-bitch think's he gonna go 200-mph," and they both had a good laugh.

I came up for my last run and I was alongside Doug Kirk. I launched well, but the car kept driftin' on me, spinnin' the tires. I knew I was going real fast and I stayed in it. When I hit the 'chutes, they hit like never before and I knew I had run very well.

On the return road, a guy comes running up to my car on the turnoff road and asks, "Are you the guy from Missouri?" I said, 'Yes," and he said, "Well I am too, and I want to be the first to congratulate you on going 200-mph."

A lot of people thought it was a fluke. You know, the Gliddens, the Rickie Smiths and all were a lot better known than I was. But I ran 200 at the next IHRA race in Rockingham (N.C.) and went 200 at nearly every other IHRA track. When I beat Buddy Ingersoll at Milan that year and went 200, I think the nitrous guys and the Mountain Motor people began respecting me and that felt good.

I think the reason some of the other guys didn't go 200 at first was because a lot of them didn't want to risk a $30,000 engine with the nitrous oxide. For me, it was a great way to go real fast, cheap.

I know Bob Glidden could've done it very easily. He's one hard working racer and hard racing guy, a great racer really. I had a video of his 199-mph run that he made just before my 202 at Darlington. He was so close. If he could've seen his own car run, he might've been the guy.

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