Throughout the update, we’ve taken pains to ensure that the Challenger II stays old school. But we’re traditionalists, not Luddites. Electronic systems are a major component of contemporary racing, and our team has embraced that. Leading this effort is Donny Cummins of RacePac, a really smart guy with a proven product. He’s been collaborating with A/Fuel Dragster guru Jerry Darrian to come up with our engine monitoring system.
As those of you who’ve been following us for a while know, the Challenger II is a four-wheel drive vehicle with dual engines. The power plants interface with each other via Hadley Boxes, which are basically bespoke gearboxes that mechanically balance output. Given that the two engines are being built of identical parts by the same group of people, they should be perfect doppelgängers. But they’re not, and that’s where the electronics come into play. Donny’s products allow us to measure twenty different variables simultaneously and identify even minute inconsistencies. That data helps us maintain uniformity during the run, and reduces the load on the Hadley Boxes, which rely on difficult to repair metal gears rather than easily rebootable ones and zeros.
We also have the ability to monitor the status of the chassis. This is absolutely essential, as its characteristics will change markedly over the course of the run. For instance, at the starting line, the nose of the car will contain nearly sixty gallons of nitro blend. By the five mile mark, most of that volume will be gone, reducing the vehicle’s curb weight by over five hundred pounds. If everything is going well, we’ll be going over 400 mph at that point, every yard of which will cost us front traction in the form of reduced weight. If we don’t properly compensate for that with aerodynamic down force, we’ll be in a world of trouble. The electronic monitoring, in combination with extensive testing, will allow us to fine tune the adjustments necessary to predict changes in the car’s attitude and lift over the course of the run.
In short, although Donny may not have been around in 1968, we’re very glad that he’s here now. As the struggle for sponsorship continues, we’ve been exploring a different approach that we’ll discuss in the next article. See you then!