As the old saying goes “necessity is the mother of all invention,” and if you’re a drag racer, winning is a necessity. Hanging weight behind the bumper of a racecar is, of course, nothing new in a sport in which everything has been tried at least once over seven decades, but street and no-prep racer Joey Hiykel certainly invented a better way to do it in the space in which he competes.
Nebraska native Hiykel raised eyebrows when he rolled his feared “Beater Bomb” Fox-body Mustang out of the trailer at a recent small-tire race at The Equalizer, a closed-down airstrip in Hutchinson, Kansas, with a unique set of bars supporting removable ballast several feet off the rear bumper. The grumbling only grew louder when he survived five rounds and won the race with his controversial new contraption.
Hiykel devised his plan last fall and set about fabricating the bars to the chassis over the winter, sharing that he “hoped nobody else would think of it and go out there and race before I did.”
“It’s just using physics, trying to use less weight to more advantage,” he explains. “Obviously the further out the weight is, the less weight you have to use to accomplish the same thing….versus putting the weight in the trunk. In my opinion, this makes the car safer, because a lot of people that are racing on poor surfaces are putting 250-pounds or more in the trunk. As far as mine is hanging out there, it’s a lot less than that.”
To counteract the dramatic pitch of the chassis under power, Hiykel sourced a pair of “not your regular front shocks” with a very lengthy amount of extension in order to keep the front tires in contact with the surface to steer it. “It’s extended quite a ways, probably longer than anybody else,” he says.
This, of course, creates a delicate balancing act of placing enough weight on the bars to keep the tires planted, but not so much — and not so much power — that it launches into a wheelstand.
“Right now, I don’t have many passes on it, so it’s harder to use it to my advantage, but once I get it manageable and get some more data, I think it’ll be a game-changer for me,” he says, adding, “It’s very sensitive…it definitely promotes a wheelie, but is the surface it poor, it helps you out a lot more. So far it doesn’t drive a lot different than before, and we have laser ride height sensors than can help us. On the pass that it wheelie’d, the sensor was dirty and it didn’t respond properly. Seeing a car wheelie at 400-feet on a surface like that is unheard of, so that’s obviously a lot of traction there. But that’s all part of getting it more dialed-in.”
Hiykel installed the bars, which are little more than solid-mounted wheelie bars without wheels, to the chassis at the bumper and the trunk, making it quite secure. He has competed three times in the young season with “Beater Bomb”, drawing a mixture of reviews on his concept.
“You know, people were very…in shock, I guess you could say. Some people were like, ‘wow, that’s awesome,’ some said it was dangerous….several racers that felt threatened by it thought it was dangerous because, I feel like they saw it’s advantages and felt it should be illegal and shouldn’t be allowed,” he says.
Hiykel says others in no-prep and street racing have replaced their parachutes with weightlifting-style round weights fastened to the parachute mount, but certainly none are as extreme as his. Whether for safety or parity reasons, he fully anticipates the bars will be outlawed at some events. But until then, he’s going to keep refining his combination in a sport that has been defined by outside-the-box creativity.
“I foresee them outlawing it at some places, but maybe it’ll just become a thing where, ‘man, that guy was crazy enough to try that, props to him’…I don’t know.”