SOUTH Australian NHRA Top Fuel pilot Richie Crampton was one of the quickest Aussies at Hot Rod Drag Week 2017. He is now based in Indianapolis and spends his weekdays building race cars at Morgan Lucas Racing, while weekends are spent steering the Kalitta Top Fuel car in the NHRA Championship – the highest level of drag racing in the world.
But as is often the case, top-echelon race car drivers like Richie cut their teeth on –and still enjoy – racing fast streeters. At the end of last year Richie was out of a Top Fuel contract, so he decided to enter Hot Rod Drag Week. Just like our Street Machine Drag Challenge, racers compete at five tracks over five days and drive their race cars between drag strips – it’s a recipe for total carnage when you’re dealing with eight, seven and even six-second cars.
Richie built himself a cool full-tube-chassis ’57 Chevy wagon out of a manky-looking old shell to take on the five-day, five-track epic. Power comes from a stock-headed 403ci twin-turbo LS motor with a small cam and twin Precision 68/70 turbos. It’s a fairly simple set-up, but with plenty of grunt and the trick chassis, it was bound to be quick. In testing it reeled off easy 8.50 quarters.
On Day One of Drag Week the ratty wagon laid down a best of 8.79@153mph. Richie battled through boost creep issues initially, which caused a mid-track shut-off on pass number one. The next pass still was well off the car’s potential, but with a long drive ahead Richie handed in his timeslip and hit the road.
Day Two was drama-free, with the Chevy wagon running an 8.29, a much more representative time, dropping Richie’s average into the 8.50s. On Day Three at Byron Dragway we waved goodbye to Richie, but not before he ran an 8.27@165mph. Richie had to hit the road back to Cordova to fly over to Charlotte to race Top Fuel that weekend.
We doubt this is the last time we’ll see Richie at Hot Rod Drag Week.