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SLAMMIN' SAMMY MILLER:

The Quickest & Fastest Drag Racer in the Quarter-Mile
(part 2)

 
   


Sammy Miller would need to recuperate from a lot of runs. He would go on to be the first drag racer in the three-second zone, and to this day, is the only one to enter that rare air. However, it would be a few years before he cranked numbers like that. After his introduction to Fox at Irwindale, Miller chauffered the "Pollution Packer" and very briefly John Paxson's Armor All rocket dragster during the first half of 1975. When he had free time, though, he was preparing a car of his own and not just any car.

Miller's "Spirit of '76" Ford Mustang II was to be the first rocket Funny Car. The car actually featured a Frank Huszar funny car chassis, but had been radically altered by former NHRA Comp racer Eugene Terenzio to accomodate the rocket set-up. In August of 1975, he debuted the car at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip in Cicero, N.Y. and with the power not even on to half-track, he logged an effortless 7.00. For 15 months, he ran the car at all of the match race tracks.

There was a problem, however. The rockets were heavily scrutinized by the sanctioning bodies, especially NHRA, and with good reason. Two of the class' biggest stars were killed in them, Anderson and Russell Mendez (at the '75 Gatornationals), and famed Funny Car and Salt Flats racer Paula Murphy sustained a badly broken back when her dragster crashed. The accidents were usually very bad, hardly surprising when you consider how fast the cars were going.

Miller said that NHRA wanted to watch him make some checkout runs and they did so at Orange County Int'l Raceway in late 1975. The officials checked it out from all angles, how it launched and how it handled at mid course and on the top end. Miller had no problems, running "right around 300 mph" on every run, and even going so far as to wave at the top end NHRA official as he shut off in the traps on his last pass. Miller may have shown his mettle, but the sanctioning body was still uneasy about rockets.

In the summer of 1976, after running numerous low fives and 290-mph runs, Miller sold his Mustang II to a group who renamed it the "Chicago Patrol" and ran it as a regular Funny Car. Meanwhile, Miller was building another car, which he debuted in late 1977, his first "Vanishing Point" Funny Car, a 1978 Vega, in which he would run his first three-second run.

Actually, it was his first "unofficial" three and it occurred in an incident that probably soured the reluctant NHRA on the rocket cars even more. During a Division 1 points race in 1978 at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, Miller was told not to make a full quarter-mile run, but shut it off just past half track. He did, but the damn thing still ran a 3.94, a run that went unannounced and one that pissed off the officials.

In the 1970s, Miller was never able to really lay one down in the United States. When he debuted his Vega, he ran a 4.32 at Raceway Park and then 3.94 a little later, but the days for all-out runs in the U.S. - and, frankly, opportunities to run - were dwindling down in number. He could get work at match race tracks like New England Dragway and Great Lakes Dragaway, but he and the other half dozen or so rocketeers found it harder to display their wares. Add in the fact that time restrictions (4.50 or slower) were instituted by the sanctioning bodies at member tracks, and the picture was not rosy.



The powerful sparks of these ignitions will ignite high revving, high compression engines to produce great throttle response, a clean idle and incredible power throughout the entire rpm range
!



Capacitive Discharge design produces powerful sparks through high rpm.
Every spark is at full power, even each multiple spark, for complete combustion.
Adjustable soft touch rev limiter for engine saving overrev protection.
Multiple spark series lasts for 20 of crankshaft rotation.


3-Step Rev Control.
RPM Activated Switch.
4-Stage Retard System.
Start Retard Circuit.

 
 

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