A Pair of Budget-Conscious Birds Square Off
The 11th Annual Pontiac Heaven event played host to this month's Pavement Pounder's Shootout at Speedworld Dragstrip, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Though mechanical maladies sidelined three participants, these two Second-Gens were able to stick it out.
At first-glance, our Pontiacs appear to have little in common beyond the fact that they were built on the same platform. The "'81 Formula" is an NHRA class car running a Turbo 301 and was built to be quick in a straight line, while the '72 "T/A" has a 462 and was built to road race and drive on the street between bracket races.
Where they do cross paths, however, is at the mindset of their owners. Both performed very budget-conscious builds. Money was only spent where deemed absolutely necessary and the owners did much of the work themselves. Another strange coincidence is that both Pontiacs are clones. The "'81 Formula" is actually a '79 Trans Am and the '72 "Trans Am" is actually a '72 base Firebird. More on the reasons why will follow later.
Rick Unterseh of Phoenix owns the NHRA O/SA record-holding Turbo Bird. After some mechanical hardships the last time the car was to compete in the Shootout, this year, it's dialed in and ready run 12s with its 301 turbo engine, Turbo 350, and 4.10:1 rear.
Les Iden is no stranger to HPP Shootouts, as this is his third competing with a different Pontiac. His '72 Firebird has a mild 462 under the hood, a 4,430-pound race weight, a Turbo 400, and better-for-Bonneville 2.73 rear gears. How will it handle the quarter-mile? And will Les be able to drive it home to Hacienda Heights, California, after the race? Stay tuned.
In August, Phoenix can reach 113 degrees or more. In April, however, it can be balmy, in the mid-60s with 25 percent relative humidity, and show 29.93 inches of pressure on the barometer, as it was for our Shootout.
The track elevation is listed as 1,500 feet. Figuring in the weather resulted in a density altitude near 2,600 feet, so our factors to figure the theoretical best pass at sea level are 0.9773 for e.t. and 1.0218 for mph. We'll apply these to the best pass for each participant based on e.t.
Yes, we have heard it said that turbos are less sensitive to air density changes so the correction factors are less valid. Worry not, as always, we still provide the raw numbers so you can draw your own conclusions.
Strip Tuning Log
|Run/Tuning ||Launch RPM ||Shift Pt. ||60-ft. ||1/ 8-Mile ||1/4-Mile |
|1. K hanger, AY rods, 5.5psi ||3,200 ||5,200 ||1.76 ||8.21/84.59 ||12.82/106.81 |
| fuel press. 23-deg timing || |
|2. Same, 6.0psi fuel press. ||3,800 ||5.200 ||1.85 ||8.17/86.42 ||12.69/108.54 |
|3. Same ||3,600 ||5,200 ||1.74 ||8.10/86.06 ||12.65/107.63 |
|4. Same, smaller downpipe ||3,600 ||5,000 ||1.76 ||8.14/86.06 ||12.69/107.63 |
|5. Same, back to large down- || |
|pipe, 6.5psi fuel press. ||3,400 ||5,000 ||1.65 ||7.87/87.06 ||12.39/108.25 |
|6. Same ||3,400 ||5,000 ||1.65 ||7.86/87.51 ||12.35/108.88 |
|BEST PASS CORRECTED || ||12.06/111.25 |