Bruce Howie’s nitrous 1963 XL Falcon ute at Drag Challenge 2019

Bruce Howie brought his nitrous-huffing XL Falcon ute back to Drag Challenge 2019 for another crack at the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class

Photographers: Shaun Tanner, Michelle Porobic, Luke Hunter

While he normally runs a 347ci Windsor up front, the stroker motor suffered a calamity just a fortnight out from DC, throwing Bruce’s preparations into chaos.

“Two weeks before Drag Challenge the Windsor dropped a valve at Heathcote,” sighed Bruce. “So I fitted a stock-bottom-end 302 that I had in my panel van. It was from a Fairlane with a couple-hundred-thousand kilometres on it. I put some new Chinese heads on it and plonked the intake on from my other engine.”

Bruce’s ute runs what he described as a “poor man’s Gear Vendors” overdrive to tame the four-speed Jerico manual on road legs. This is actually a spare BorgWarner diff loaded with a lazy 3.08 ratio, which he swaps in as a complete third-member for road legs. Before racing the car, he swaps in another BorgWarner running drag-friendly 4.11 ratios. “It’s too hard to drive with the Jerico and 4.11s, but the 3.08 was great as you could drive at 2500rpm,” Bruce said.

Bruce and co-driver Cody Sutherland managed to surprise themselves at DC 2019, pulling a string of impressive times, from the 11.40@123mph on Day One, to the 7.19@96mph and 7.29@97mph at Mildura on Days Two and Three, backed up with a 7.76@97mph at Portland.

On Day Five they added more gas and pulled an 11.06@124mph, which had Bruce cheering and won him the Quickest Stick-Shift trophy.

“Going across the line, it was valve-floating at 6000rpm, but it got us through the week,” Bruce laughed. “I never thought it would go that quick; I was over the moon.

“We started off with a 50-shot, and stepped up to a 100-shot on Day Five. I want a visit from the ANDRA guys, because it doesn’t have a ’cage, but we didn’t quite get there.”


Class: Turbosmart Outlaw Blown

Engine: 302ci Windsor V8
Transmission: Jerico four-speed
Clutch: 7.25in Tilton
Diff: BorgWarner, 4.11:1 gears
Power: N/A
Previous PB: N/A
Best DC 2019 Pass: 11.06@124mph