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Joe Amato - 1998 Hemi-Powered Top Fuel Dragster

Joe Amato

Joe Amato (born June 13, 1944 in Exeter, Pennsylvania) is an American dragster driver, who won the NHRA Top Fuel championship a record five occasions and scored 52 event victories, most of them with crew chief Tim Richards. He was the first driver to exceed 260 mph and 280 mph in competition. Amato began racing cars as a teenager, when he worked at his family's auto parts store. He dropped out of high school to help run the store when his father had serious heart problems; eventually, Amato built the business into Keystone Automotive, a large and successful Automotive Wholesaler and Distributor. Between 1982 and 2000, he finished in the Top 10 every year. Eye surgery forced him to retire from competitive driving at the end of the 2000 season. He then participated as a team owner until selling the business and retiring permanently in 2005. On the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951–2000, Joe Amato was ranked No. 9. In 2008, Amato's record of five championships in the Top Fuel division was beaten by Tony Schumacher, who won his sixth championship that year.

1960's Slingshot Dragster

Slingshot Slingshot

These deadly machines ruled the dragstrips in the 1960s with unbeatable hemi power. This early Hemi engine is supercharged and injected.

Now considered obsolete, the "rail", "digger", or "slingshot" dragster is now used mainly in nostalgia drag racing. Models range in length from 160–225 inches in wheelbase. They were originally used in the highest class of drag racing, Top Fuel. The front engine dragster naturally came about due to engines for the most part, being in front of the driver. However they used and still do not use any form of suspension, so the top fuel and alcohol cars became very unstable. This due in part to their making 2,000–3,000 hp, plus having poor tire technology, short wheelbases, and very light weight. The driver sits angled backward, over the top of the differential in a cockpit that is situated between the two rear tires, a design originating with Mickey Thompson in 1954, as a way of improving traction. This position led to many drivers being maimed when catastrophic clutch failures occurred.

The slingshot was supplanted by the rear-engined car now standard when Don Garlits introduced Swamp Rat XIV in 1971. He designed the car while in hospital, himself suffering from severe injuries caused by an exploding clutch.

Roland Leong - Haiwian Puch Dragster

Hawaiian Punch Drag Car

Roland Leong is without a doubt on the same level in the history of drag racing as Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen and others of his generation. Roland switched from dragsters to Funny Cars and his long list of drivers is legendary, including Danny Ongais, Mike Sorokin, Larry Reyes, Bobby Rowe, Pat Foster, Butch Maas, Larry Arnold, Norm Wilcox, Ron Colson, Mike Dunn, Gordie Bonin, Rick Johnson, Leroy Chadderton, Jim White and Johnny West. He has tuned for the best and most successful race teams in a long career and now is back as a tuner on one of the premier Nostalgia Funny car teams.

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