Much in the same way that the land speed racing of Bonneville and the sport of drag racing have always been inextricably linked – after all, the quarter mile sport was born on the salt flats and the dry lake beds of America – drag racing and the corn fed sport of truck and tractor pulling have also shared close ties to one another; like a pair of closely related yet very different cousins.
Truck and tractor pullers utilize components from the likes of Brad Anderson, Alan Johnson, Keith Black, Rodeck, and other manufacturers primarily in the drag racing market for their supercharged, alcohol-burning powerplants, forming a crossover of technology between the two sports. Nevermind that some prominent former drag racers, including Ken Veney, who ranks No. 46 on the NHRA’s Top 50 driver’s list of all-time list, is a champion puller. But at times, the pulling world has borrowed directly from the strictly pavement-locked missiles of the drag racing world, both to try something new and put on a show.
Back in 1988, Saxonburg, Pa. native Bob Bauman campaigned this front engine dragster that closely resembled a Top Fuel or Top Alcohol Dragster chassis of the time period, with a supercharged, 500 cubic inch Rodeck on alcohol providing the power. Like Don Garlits’ mid-80′s streamliner, it featured the canopy-like body work around the roll cage, a wing, and aerodynamic fairings in front of the treaded rear ‘swamper’ tires – all for looks, of course. At this United States Hot Rod Association (USHRA) event in Albany, Georgia, Bauman even performs a burnout on the dirt for the crowd, which even a novice tractor puller will tell you is purely ineffective.
That same year, fellow puller Mike Hollingsworth also debuted a similar dragster backed by Busch beer and known as the Buschmaster, that while similar to its drag racing counterparts, actually tips the scales at some 6,000 pounds. That’s an awful lot of mild steel tubing and appropriately placed lead weight. In this clip from the Budweiser USHRA Triple Crown at the Superdome in New Orleans, Hollingsworth takes on Tim Arfons of the legendary Arfons family in a turbine-powered Funny Car very reminiscent of the Jet Funny Cars that we’re accustomed to on the quarter mile.
These days, you won’t find any dragsters or turbine Funny Cars competing on the Lucas Oil or ATPA pulling circuits, both due to rules restrictions and the fact that a rear engine dragster can’t equal a front-engined Super Modified truck in terms of weight transfer, but hey, it worth a shot, right?