Judas Priests’ famous hit “Breakin’ The Law” features the lyrics, “You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have a clue. If you did you’d find yourselves doing the same thing too.”
Seasoned import drag racer Brian Fitzpatrick knows what it’s like to push the outer limits of his Lucas Oil-backed dragster, chasing performance benchmarks rather than win-lights — an approach few of his peers in the NHRA’s Top Dragster class share. If they did, they’d probably find themselves doing the same thing, too.
During the offseason, in an effort to keep the Top Dragster category inside the 6.00-second chassis certification standard, the minimum elapsed time was moved from 6.00 to 6.10. Conversely, the NHRA announced it would be instituting a zero-tolerance policy on sub-6.00 runs; those running 5.999 and quicker in qualifying or eliminations would be immediately disqualified from the event and lose all points accrued at the event. Even if you win the round on a breakout, you’re out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
The penalty, of course, now deters racers like Fitzpatrick from utilizing qualifying to make all-out runs for the sake of testing as they had in the past (his dragster is certified too 5.00-seconds, but is nevertheless disallowed from running 5.99). But that didn’t stop him at last weekend’s Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“We don’t have a delay box or anything in the car, so we don’t have a fighting chance of winning the race anyway. But Shane’s [tuner Tecklenburg] on the West coast, I’m on the West coast, and I knew he was going to be busy this season tuning the Elite Performance Pro Mods, so we better get him onboard and get our tune-up down while we have the opportunity. He also loves Pomona, so it made sense for us to go there, “Fitzpatrick shares.
“Unfortunately they changed the rules so if you go too quick now they’ll kick you out. Before we could go make runs and go 5.90s or whatever and they wouldn’t say anything because our chassis was certified for it. They were fine with it,” he adds. “But now we can only do it once and we get kicked out, so we knew going in we were going to get kicked out.”
WINTERNTIONALS FEB 8, 2019 TOP DRAGSTER E1 Brian Fitzpatrick RUNS 5.841 @241.11 MPHPosted by Richard Gutierrez on Friday, February 8, 2019
Fitzpatrick holds the world record for import-powered dragsters with a 5.87 from his Toyota 2JZ-powered, Precision 98mm turbo-boosted machine. With outstanding atmospheric conditions at hand, Fitzpatrick and Tecklenburg opted to take advantage in an effort to supersede their own benchmark.
During Thursday qualifying he shut the car down short of 1,000 feet and coasted to a 6.22 at just 169.23 mph, good for third on the sheet. On Friday, he again slowed to a 6.35 at just over 140 mph, setting the stage for what he and Tecklenburg planned to be a kitchen-sink run in the first round of eliminations.
With the combination backed down from the 60-plus pounds of boost it was at in qualifying, Fitzpatrick rolled to a 5.841 at 241.21 mph, compliments of a 1.008 short time and a 3.820 at 195.62 mph. Fitapatrick was dead-late against opponent Mike McBrair and barely caught him in the lights, but it was all for naught, as NHRA officials, fully aware of his intentions, would have tossed him no matter the outcome.
And Fitzpatrick says you haven’t seen anything yet.
“This run was with the 98mm and the three-core intercooler, but we’re switching over to a 106 and a four-core, pretty well like everyone else has that’s running fast with a 2JZ, and with that I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to get the outright import record back. We’re intending to run 5.60s and 5.50s once we get the bigger turbo on it.”
Because the venues he can run his one-off dragster are few and far between — even for exhibition, much less actual competition — opportunities to make runs on a good track are likewise a rarity. So much so that Brian’s wife has proposed purchasing a full-bodied car to contest the fledgling import drag racing programs in various locales around the country.
I’v always raced dragster, I raced them on the sand in the past, so it’s what I like, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. If we had someone with a door car that we could team up and I could drive it, I’d be all over it.”
The 2JZ-powered ‘digger, with new JE Pistons house in its six inline cylinder walls, is backed by a BrunoDrive transmission and an ATFSpeed billet lock-up torque converter. And it’s a bad hombre.