Bonneville 2013
1962 Ford Unibody Pickup “Jake” D/PP Land Speed Racer:
          By Tim McMaster 

2012 was a good year for the Unibody crew, we broke the 140 mark and bested the sbc powered ‘70 pickup that also ran in D/PP class but we are still a ways away from that record. 

2013 was to be the year we run the famed Mummert aluminum heads to see what they can do for us.  To do this a completely different short block would need to be built so it was back to the shop for some machine work. Being we are still restricted to 305ci there wouldn’t be any changes in bore and stroke but for the Mummert heads we would need a different piston head to fit the combustion chamber to get 14:1 compression.  I called Ted Eaton of Eaton Balancing to see what pistons to run.  For what I wanted to do a new piston was designed that would fit the head and give me the compression I needed.  It was a different  shaped dome than had ever been used before so it was going to be interesting to see just how well it worked

Things got off to a slow start, we had wanted to have the new engine in the truck for testing at El Mirage in May but there was a hold up with the pistons so we went out and just beat up on the engine from last year.  There is still points to be had.  Jake made a few passes at 133+ mph, ran real good but nothing better than the year before.  Same story for June, no pistons so just running the old stuff.  Side note on June is that the trip home was very interesting.  The days were very HOT and we had already been having some vapor loc trouble with the 460 in the our support/tow rig ‘77 F-350 on the way out but on the return we had noticed that one of the tires on the trailer was going flat so I found the screw that was causing the problem, pulled it, inserted a plug and aired it back up. Fixed right? Stopped for gas in Mojave, went to start the truck and nothing.  A little time diagnosing and found the starter was bad.  Called the NAPA up the road and at 3pm Sunday afternoon they had one in stock and were happy to deliver it.  Changed it right there at the island of the gas station and we were on the road again.  Even with problems I felt blessed that they were worked out so easily.  Over the pass at Tehachapi and descending down towards Bakersfield I glanced in the mirror to see one of the trim rings on the trailer fly off.  We’re running late now and I’m just gonna let it go.  Next I saw the tire disintegrate.  Not to bore you too much with the details, we didn’t have a spare, it was now 5pm and all shops were closed and all I could do was call a friend in Visalia to bring us the spare off his boat trailer. We got home at 10 pm that night. Ten hours to make a trip that normally takes four. I now have four new radials and a spare on the trailer.  Lesson learned hard.


Finally late in June I was talking with Ted and found out there was a mix up at the piston manufacturer and they had lost my order.  They apologized and said they would get on it.  Two weeks later I had my long awaited pistons in had and was ready to get the new engine together

Pretty straight forward 292 build except I decided to use a 239 crank that I had laying around just because.  Since I was going to have to grind the journals down to 1.888” anyway I figured I would offset grind to get 3.3” stroke.  The 239 has the oil holes on opposite sides of the journals to feed each of the rods next to each other, somewhere I had read that this was a little better way to do it for high rpm so I gave it a try. As with the last engine I “Indexed” the journals to get them exactly 90 degrees from each other and squared the decks on the block to be equal distance from the center line of the crank.  When the short block went together and I checked the pistons they came out exactly the same as for even with the deck and TDC.

The July “Elmo” meet came up and although I had a short block I had no heads so I went out as a spectator.  Kind of fun to get to watch for a change.  When I got home I let Ted know of my predicament and he agreed to loan me a set of his Mummert heads and a set of roller rockers to get me by.  Special thanks to Ted, you all know how helpful he is but he goes above and beyond. A real good guy to know!  Heads on the engine now and it’s ready to install two weeks before Speed Week.  I know there are guys that work right up to the last minute but this is really close for me. All I can do is set it up the best I can, load Jake on the trailer and head off to Bonneville.


After all the trouble I had with the F-350 (“Uncle Hulka” my big tow) it was comforting to know that everything seemed sound on the truck for the trip out, even the A/C was blasting 40* air across the 100* Nevada high desert.  We got to “the Bend in the road” with no issues on Wednesday, had dinner and a beer then went to bed.  Tech on Thursday.  When we got to “Tech” the fresh newly apointed inspectors were ready to find problems and they went over my truck with a fine tooth comb.

Although the truck had passed many times before they wanted to measure the tubing on my cage and took issue with the safety film on my windows.  They say “if you don’t find something wrong, you aren’t looking hard enough”.  We passed and got our 2013 sticker.  Take a break on Friday to see what everyone else brought and racing on Saturday!

Drivers meeting came around Saturday morning and everyone was eager to hit the course.  After the meeting and a drive down the “Combo course” we went back to the pits, I suited up and we towed “Jake” out to course three. Staging went fairly quick and we were at the front of the line in no time.  I had never ran this engine under load so the plan was to take it easy on this first pass.  The engine had been warmed up while waiting in line so when the starter gave me the signal I cranked it up and he cleared me for the course.

Ease off the line in first, feel the power come on. This feels pretty good I’m thinking to myself. Run it up to about 6k and shift to second.  This thing wants to GO!  Easy.  Run it up to 7k and shift to third.  Dang! we’re pulling hard! Run it up to 7k again and now we’re in fourth.  Still pulling strong I take it a little easy but why I think to myself, didn’t I come here to run?  The peddle is nailed to the floor!  Even in fourth this old “truck motor” is pulling harder than I have ever felt it. At mile two the ol’ Y was pushing the truck along at 137.698 mph, by the two and a quarter it was going 145.583.  Not a bad gain in a quarter mile at that point in the game.  When we tripped the lights at mile three 147.195 was recorded.  That was 5.2 mph better than my best the year before.  That’s no small feat in LSR.

When we got the time slip I was giddy as a school girl. “Let’s try it on the combo course, I know there’s more speed to be had there”.  That’s what I thought but after nine more passes I couldn’t better my first.  Sometimes tinkering and tuning edge you up but it seems everything I tried just went the other way.  Don’t get me wrong, the truck ran good every time, well maybe not so good the time two rockers backed off on me (oops) , but it was always fun.  It was also good to talk to the guy from Texas in his red Chevy powered D/PP truck, we all have a good sense of camaraderie out there but it was still nice to hear the all mighty scrub couldn’t get over 135mph this year.

No record for me yet but Keith Cornel and Ken Schmidt of Rolling Bones Hot Rods put up the Y-Block Challenge this year for the best improved speed over the year before in a Y-Block powered vehicle. Keith and I are the only two out there and I beat him by .2 (point two) mph so I came home with a trophy after all.  High light of Speed week for me.  Thanks guys!  I love my Y-Block friends


All artwork, text, design, and photos, are Copyright 2008 by Tim McMaster.
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