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Old 04-30-08, 01:27PM   #1
prodigal son
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Default WHY we don't see Ford Boss 429 engines in NHRA competition

NHRA really f-cked up here, DRAG RACING is supposed to be open to any North American production V-8 engine- yet they snuck in this 4.84" bore spacing rule on the fastest classes (which just happens to match the Chrysler Hemi and corp. BBC bore spacing spec)- this specifically makes the Ford 429/460 "385" series blocks ILLEGAL and unable to run these classes- it also makes the Cadillac 472/500 (5" bore spacing) and GM DRCE (4.9" bore spacing) illegal as well. WTF ?? !! I could see if Ford was releasing an all-new engine that went beyond current specs, but specifically changing the rules from 5" bore spacing to 4.84", was done just because the Austin team decided to dust off the old Boss 429 and modernize it- this rule was made just to eliminate everyone but the Hemi and corp. BBC is just assinine IMO. It would have been cool to see Hemis racing Boss in those classes again just like in the 1960-70's, it would have been much better for the FANS. They are squealching honest competition and engine development in the sport, and favoring CHRYSLER in the rules- I often wondered why the Boss 429 was not more visible in professional drag racing. Now it makes sense...

Walt Austin article.

Boss thrown for loss
TODD MILLES; The News Tribune

The excitement in Walt Austin's voice quickly turned to fed-up disgust.

Austin, of Tacoma, has been one of drag racing's most innovative car builders for a half-century. His son, Pat, is a four-time National Hot Rod Association Alcohol Funny Car champion, and was voted one of the all-time 50 greatest drivers when the NHRA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001.

After nearly a three-year layoff from full-time racing, the Austins were due back for the 2004 season in the NHRA Alcohol Funny Car class, debuting a Ford Mustang Boss 429 Hemi engine as their power source.

When word of the Austins' new vehicle reached racing circles, the project quickly met resistance - so much, the NHRA passed a new block-specification rule that rendered the Ford engine obsolete.

Even though the rule does not go into effect until the 2005 racing season, the Austins aborted their plans to return to the sport they have so greatly benefited, both as racers and spokesmen.

"We were going to upgrade (the Boss 429) with the latest technology with state-of-the-art stuff," Walt Austin said. "Word of what we were doing got out. The NHRA wants to keep a level playing field, and they were nickel and diming us on some of the changes anyway ... but then they came out with this big deal, saying the specs have changed."

The rule specifically deals with the spacing of cylinders in the engine block. To bore a cylinder is to enlarge it to accommodate a bigger piston, which allows more fuel and air to pass through, thus creating more horsepower.

In the 429 Boss engine, the spacing between cylinder bores, from center to center, is 4.9 inches, which is what the NHRA has previously regulated as being legal. Since the Austins revealed their designs, the new dimension will be limited to 4.84 inches, starting in 2005.

The Austins said they have not received a clear explanation why the rule was passed, although many of the association's recent decisions have been to stem rising costs. Attempts to reach officials in the NHRA national technical department this week were unsuccessful.

What is clear is that two of the sport's primary aims have been affected - innovation and history.

First of all, the Ford engine has had a place in the sport for a long time.

Carroll Carter is an engine builder and Ford supplier from Manassass, Va., who has been a consultant on the Austins' project for the past year. He has been involved in the sport for 35 years, and has manufactured the Boss 429 engine and parts since 1995.

Primarily, racers in the sportsman classes such as Alcohol Funny Car or Comp Eliminator have used the 429 Boss. But so did Bob Glidden, the famed 10-time Pro Stock champion from the 1970s and 1980s whose 85 professional victories rank him No. 3 on the all-time list.

"Several (drag) racers have been racing it, off and on," Carter said of the Ford engine, which was first raced in NASCAR in the late 1960s. "In the last 1 1/2 years, people have showed (moderate) interest in it, but then Walt really got interested in it. He tested the engine on his dyno in his shop and that is how he got familiar with it. He wanted to do a new project, and got an idea to build a Ford."

Walt Austin has been experimenting with the engine for three years.

"We knew it had a lot of potential, but it had a lot of problems," Austin said. "We were going to eliminate the problems. But it wouldn't be something that would be a half-second faster than the (Funny Car) class."

The Austins had their engine block built by John Rodeck of California, a builder they've used for 15 years. They claim the cylinder spacing of the Boss 429 engine allows for a thicker sleeve to give the block more stability and protection from wear during high-speed runs.

Sure, the bigger block creates more horsepower, but Pat Austin said his car already had more horsepower than the tracks they race on will hold.

"What we did was take the combination of the 429 Boss and have made it more user-friendly," Pat Austin said. "It is a cosmetic change, really."

Early in the year, word of the Austins' project spread. The NHRA asked to review the blueprints, Walt Austin said.

In late March, several racers, including the Austins, were sent a letter by the NHRA stating that engine specifications for the Alcohol Funny Car class had been changed.

"I'm not angry at anybody," Pat Austin said. "It's their playground, and they make the rules."

The Austins are not the only ones affected by the rule change. Greg Hunter, a native of Canada who now lives in Sheridan, Wyo., was planning on racing in NHRA divisional competition full-time this year with the Boss 429 engine in the Alcohol Funny Car class.

Hunter tested his car in Las Vegas, got mixed results (6-second range on a quarter-mile track) but was pleased enough to start scheduling divisional races.

That is, until the NHRA stepped in.

"It blindsided me. I've been putting my Ford combination together for two years," Hunter said. "When I first heard it, I thought there was no way they could do that ... to completely outlaw the Ford engine."

The first weekend of April, Hunter went to the NHRA stop in Las Vegas, circulated a petition of protest among the drivers and even tried to talk to NHRA officials about the rule change.

"They haven't given me a reason whatsoever," Hunter said. "I went to one (tech official) to ask, and he turned his back on me. It was sort of like, 'Oh my God, what's going on here?'

"I even talked to Bernie Fedderly (pro driver John Force's co-crew chief with Austin Coil) just to see if somebody from Ford would help me on this. Bernie said their crew was doing the same sort of (testing), putting parts on the car that would handle the force and make them run better ... but that the NHRA stopped them as well."

Hunter, 33, went to the crew of another prominent engine builder in the sport who told the racer what the Austins were building would make everything else "obsolete" and dominate the sportsman class.

"I don't know how (the NHRA) can base their input on what somebody else is saying," Hunter said. "We have a ways to go."

The rule change has affected all parties involved. Carter said his business has declined - drivers who were going to purchase his engines and parts now don't need to, and the builder has a garage full of Ford engines.

Walt and Pat Austin still plan on racing, but not under the NHRA umbrella. Instead, they will enter some open events for match racing.

The NHRA? The motor sports association is losing one of its best drivers ever - a driver who does not expect the differences to be reconciled anytime soon.

"When you take innovation out of the sport, it is just not appealing to us," Pat Austin said.
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Old 04-30-08, 01:45PM   #2
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John Force is now running a Ford hemi in all of his funny cars.
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Old 04-30-08, 03:43PM   #3
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Originally Posted by EC View Post
John Force is now running a Ford hemi in all of his funny cars.

yes, I heard about that, but it's not the same motor, not using original Boss 9 architecture....Force and Ford built an all-new Boss 500 that fits the new bore spacing rule- it's a "spec motor" built specifically to fit the new NHRA rules. Apparently NHRA did not budge on the new bore spacing requirement, so they built a new engine- if someone has a new '08 NHRA rule book, look this up and see what bore spacing is listed for top fuel, funny car, and alcohol classes


this is a perfect example of what can happen in racing, when parts vendors get too much power, the entire racing organization becomes entrenched- NHRA is becoming a bullshit racing series just like NASCAR- they don't want to compete with anything innovative, so they squealch innovation- and Ford had to waste a ton of money to build a new engine to fit a dumb-ass stupid rule change- instead of using their old engine that would have worked just fine- what a crock of shit this is:

Bernie Fedderly was asked by the Agent during a brief Q&A during last
weekend’s test session at The Strip at Las Vegas about the oft-rumored Ford Top Fuel motor. Fedderly said that R&D on the engine block and heads is going forward and they have people in shop working on them but are working on that project between making parts for the Chrysler Hemi they currently use. “We might have a engine complete by the middle of the year if everything goes right.”

Fedderly also stated that the blocks and heads were being built to NHRA specs. “All the engines are ‘spec’,” he said. He went on to say that specialized cranks for other internal components wouldn’t be required for the engine and that “off the shelf” pieces would fit. When asked if the block and heads would be available for sale to other racers, Fedderly said that John Force Racing was just doing the R&D and prototyping of the engine for Ford Motor Company and they would decide who would be able to get the parts once they began producing them.

Sounds like there has been a change in the atmosphere at the NHRA with the addition of Dan Olson as the nitro guru -- and that might be good new for teams developing new products.
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Old 04-30-08, 04:08PM   #4
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I haven't been following NHRA rules for some time, I gotta get a new rule book and see exactly what is what, it seems like they had quite a shakeup in fuel/alcohol classes over bore spacing- and NHRA choked it down for some reason. WTF happened ? This is getting too much like NASCAR where they have to build a spec engine every couple years to meet new rules.


Why are NHRA fuel cars limited to a 4.80” bore spacing block when big block Chevrolets are 4.84” and most new block development is 5.00”? Why not allow new block designs with more material to help strengthen the fuel motors to help thwart the constant parts breakage and oil downs? The current blown fuel motors are purpose built just for these classes so why not come up with a more bulletproof design? The cubic inch and other requirements could still be met but there would be more options for blocks and cylinder heads as more manufacturers could produce such parts.
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Old 05-01-08, 12:20AM   #5
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Facts are this; when a chevy doesn't have the upper hand in the rules, rules get changed. Why is there now all of a sudden another rule change on bore spacing? Because the new pototype Ford was also going to be able to run in the same classes as bbc's and whip them up and down the classes. So to avoid the embarrassment for chevy, rules were changed to a bore spacing that gm has already waiting in the wings. So what does that tell you? chevy only is what the nhra would rather have. Need more proof? Why is a SD455 rated a higher hp than a 1075 to 1 hi-perf compression bbc? What, you mean the 8.4 to 1 compression SD455 will kick a simular bbc's azz like always and nhra don't want that happening?
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Old 05-01-08, 10:50AM   #6
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what I don't understand is this- they changed bore spacing from 4.9" to 4.84"

that favored Hemi and BBC, and kicks the remarkable Ford Boss 9 in the balls and DQ's it

now this post said the bore spacing rule is 4.8"

well hell's bells, that makes the old BBC illegal by .040"

there has to be a misprint somewhere

I'm almost damn certain, this bore spacing rule was 5 INCHES at one time- which meant ANY American V-8 could compete

now they are starting to take their ball and go home- no wonder the stands are starting to look empty of spectators- who wants to watch Hemis race Hemis, and Chevys race Chevys all day ?

BOR-ING !!! this is why I put down racing sometimes- the sponsors and OEM's and NHRA wave some money at these racers and they sell right out for lack of any other means of income- the dumbest thing they do is put on that stupid f-ing sponsor hat at the end of a run, and thank them

"I'd like to thank Tampax Tampons Corp. for this great chance to race today, their car is super and really goes down the track..."


"This Trojan Condoms Chevrolet really handled great today and was obviously the superior car"

LAME ! I can see more exciting racing at the local 1/3 mile paved oval- at least there we can see SBC's smash into each other in an impromptu demo derby, er, I mean circle track race.
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