The starting crew at a drag strip can get pretty jaded. Every night at work, they watch all types of late models, muscle cars, and fully prepped race cars pull into the water box and burnout before taking off on another pass. You can bet that they are probably really good at guessing what ET a car will run based on sound and looks alone. They’ve seen it all, and if you can impress one of these guys you know you must be doing something right.
As usual, when Matt Happel’s 1982 Ford Fairmont rolls up to the starting line at Numidia Dragway, outside of Numidia, Pennsylvania, no one seems to pay much attention. But as soon as the turbo spools and the M/T drag radials erupt into a cloud of smoke, that all changes and everyone starts to pay a whole lot more attention to the unassuming 4-door Ford.
Happel recently sent us this video of his Fairmont coming ever-so-close to his goal of a 9-second ET, tripping the beams at a 10.19 at nearly 141 MPH. Happel has made a few changes to the Fairmont since we featured it back in July, and it now has a stock 5.3L LS truck mill with 706 heads, instead of the little 4.8L with mismatched heads he was running. The turbo set up and induction system remains the same, but the old TH400 with a sloppy converter has been swapped in favor of a beefy 4L80E trans with a billet lock-up converter. Happel currently has the Fairmont pushing around 18 pounds of boost, with a 75 shot of nitrous to help get the turbo spooled off the line.
“I don’t have many passes yet with the new transmission set up, and I’m getting the 60-foot figured out and the shift points where they need to be.” Happel says. “My best 60-foot so far was a 1.72. I figure just need to cut a 1.6 short time, and that 141 MPH trap-speed will do the rest to get the car in the 9’s.”
Think that’s impressive? It gets even better. Happel adds, “I drove 70 miles to Numidia, ran three 10-second passes and then drove home in the rain.”