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The “Pollution Packer” Runs 311 MPH At Cecil County Drag-O-Way In 1973!!!


America was not in a good mood in 1973! It seemed like we were fed up with everything. The Vietnam War, the hippy culture, inflation, high unemployment, Nixon’s Watergate situation, the death of muscle cars, sky rocketing car insurance rates, and the first Arab oil embargo all weighed heavy on our minds. Even NHRA was cranky. Fire burnouts were becoming popular and NHRA issued a ban, stating that any NHRA track that allowed racers to do the nasty deed would be in jeopardy of losing their sanction. Jet cars were still illegal too. It just seemed like no matter where you went, you couldn’t have any fun.

Tony Fox got the bright idea to take a hydrogen-peroxide rocket motor and put it into a short dragster. There were two or three rocket cars that toured the country making exhibition runs at national events and local tracks. In the summer of 1973 we booked the “Pollution Packer” rocket car for two runs at Cecil County Drag-O-Way. I had read the stories in “Drag Racing USA” and “Super Stock” magazines about the car and wondered about the car’s validity. They were reporting some very low et’s and very high top speeds.

When the Pollution Packer team unloaded the car, it didn’t look like much. It was about the size of a sportsman class dragster, it sat up a little high, all four tires were like the tires funny cars used as front tires, and there was a goofy looking rocket motor behind the driver. It just didn’t look “tough.”

The schedule was to have driver Dave Anderson make his first pass at 8 pm before our regular racing and then another run at the end of the evening. The whole thing seemed kind of surrealistic. The basic operation was rather simple. Water was pumped into an expansion chamber along with hydrogen peroxide where it expanded. To launch the car, the driver sort of pops the cork and ZOOM! No revving engine, no burnout, no flames. The crew pushed the dragster into the burnout area and Anderson popped off a little burst to test the rocket. It was a loud hissing sound. Then the crew pushed the car into the staging lights. All of the regular cars were had their engines off and everyone was watching. The track was basically silent. It looked like nothing was happening. The tree blinked down to green and we all got to hear an extraordinarily LOUD HISS and a WHOOSH! At first the car didn’t seem to move off the line very fast. It was more like a very brief coast. Then with a poof for white steam the dragster turned into a horizontal 1320 cruise missile.


When the Chrondex timers stopped, the Pollution Packer had run a 4.99 et at 311 mph! The crown was stunned in silence for about a second them exploded in cheers! We had out track photographer come up into the tower and photograph the timers as proof of the car’s run. The following week the photo and a short report was in the NHRA’s National Dragster magazine.

To put the run into its proper context. At the 1973 NHRA Winter Nationals, Don Garlits was running 6.5’s at around 230 mph. Don Schumacher’s “Star Dust” funny car was running 6.1’s at 220 mph and the “Mopar Missile” Pro Stocker was running 9.2’s at 148 mph. Between the car’s quietness, its odd looks and unbelievable numbers it was a very strange car. A very unexpected but much enjoyed after effect was that all of the racers said how much better the traction on the track was. Everyone was really hooking up.

Most of the rocket cars eventually crashed and after NHRA lifted their ban on jet cars, no one was interested in rocket powered cars. No one wanted to see whooshy little rocket dragsters when they could watch fire breathing, fearsome jet cars. Drag racing has always has a circus-like aspect, and the rocket cars were one it the sport’s oddest acts.

Into nostalgia drag racing? Then check out my huge collection of nostalgia drag racing & muscle car art at: http://www.Precision-Illustration.com


2 Responses to “The “Pollution Packer” Runs 311 MPH At Cecil County Drag-O-Way In 1973!!!”

  1. As mentioned in Infinity Over Zero, someone said the Pollution Packer was a little t-o-o fast…

  2. Actually, it was A LOT too fast. If you recall, 300mph in the quarter-mile in a “regular” dragster was a long way off. One thing I forgot to mention in my story was that at the end of that evening, racers were commenting that the usually good traction at Cecil was EXTRA GOOD after the Pollution Packer made its runs. I wish I had saved the National Dragster report of the event.

    One of the Pollution Packer people emailed me last year with a few corrections and details about the car that I will post later. Of the stories I posted on the website, http://www.Precision-Illustration.com , this story and the one about Captain Jack McClure get the most comments. I’ll post some updates about “Captain Jack.” Yes, he did over 200mph on a go cart MANY times and lived to tell the tale! – ST

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