Drag racing is just as much an engineering challenge as a driving one. For years, innovative participants have tried to build the 'better mouse trap' – and Sydney's Russell Mills just might have done it.
After racing a unique Ford Crown Victoria Pro Alcohol Funny Car for many years, Mills decided on building a new, lighter car to make him more competitive. Together with NSW chassis builder Richard Botica, Mills came up with the 'Funster', a combination of Dragster, Altered and Funny Car chassis technology that is unique in the world.
“Richard knew of a similar car (to the 'Funster') that went okay in the USA,” Mills explained. “It's all a weight and balance thing. You can see how even guys like Gary Phillips will top qualify and then lose first round, because consistency is hard at a high level in the Funny Cars. Mine is a little bit easier in the driving and I'm not the best driver so I need all the advantages I can get in that area!”
At over 150 inches in wheelbase the car runs on the Pro Alcohol Dragster ruleset and handily comes in right on weight. Speaking of weight, the car was engineered so weight could be moved around to make for the best handling on race day.
Fans at Santo's Super Thunder on Good Friday, March 30 at Willowbank Raceway will get to see Mills' 'Funster' in competition for the first time in Queensland. Mills has made runs in the car before at Willowbank Raceway, but he hopes the lead up to Santo's Super Thunder will be much smoother than his last trek north where he intended to race at the City of Ipswich Winternationals.
“I sprained my ankle a week before we got there when the car ran me over while we were pushing it,” he said. “Then we got into the Winters Warm Up for some testing and I damaged my engine, we torched the number one cylinder.
“We didn't even make it to the Winternationals before we were on our way back home.”
Despite his short amount of track time at Willowbank Raceway, Mills is confident the fantastic track surface will suit his set up. Currently he is second in the 400 Thunder Pro Alcohol points.
“We would be at Willowbank Raceway anyway to get to know this track with the car but being second in the points we really want to make sure we can stay in the hunt for a championship,” he said.
“From our last eight runs, apart from one wheelstand, they have been all very good runs, around the 5.5 second mark. Now that we have got it consistent we can afford to stand on it a little more. These motors have plenty left in them, you just need to learn how to apply it.
“For me this is a hobby. I am 66 in a few months, no spring chicken, so I get my work done and then I can devote time to it.”
Santo's Super Thunder on Good Friday, March 30 at Willowbank Raceway will feature not just Pro Alcohol, but also the ground shaking Top Fuel Dragsters, nitro-fuelled Top Bikes and the 400 Thunder Sportsman Series.
Tickets start from just $35, for more details head to www.willowbankraceway.com.au.