We Took The Torino Drag Racing!

Ready To Race

With the auction heating up, we wanted to take the Torino out for one last fling… er, I mean we wanted to make sure everything was functioning properly! I had previously mentioned that I really wanted to drag race the Torino at least once before selling it. Time was running out though. The auction was already underway and there weren’t any test and tunes on the schedule at our local drag strip. There was an entry for a club race though so I decided that Josh and I should drive out there to see if they would let us make a pass or two.

Tech Inspection

Everyone at Firebird Raceway was very kind and one gentleman even gave me a quick rundown on how to not make a fool of myself. I must not have listened very well, but we will get to that later. First, we waited in line for tech inspection. The requirements for a car that runs slower than 13.99 are pretty slim. Good tires and a coolant catch can are really the only necessities. I had picked up a can of Coke on the way to track so rigged it up the under the hood while we waited. Some serious machines were in attendance, but our Torino was not at all out of place.

Well-Loved Mustang

All the racers were divided into groups so we could each get a chance to make a run or two before the actual race started. After passing tech we went and found a spot to park and were lucky enough to get some pointers from the owner of this Mustang. He has been racing it since 1988 and was eager to have a newcomer to the sport. He wrote our number on the windshield for us and even let us be honorary members of his club. We then watched a few races while waiting for our group to be called up.

Wating for fun

When the time came we headed to our car and drove down to staging. Josh jumped out to take photos and I tried to keep my cool, but honestly I was a little nervous. This was my first drag race and I really didn’t want to mess up. The time finally came! I pulled up to a little puddle of water and did a burnout to warm up the tires. That, I was good at. So I pulled up to the tree feeling confident. Maybe a little too confident though because I pulled right past the start! Your supposed to light up the first two lights, but I went so far forward that the second one came on and the first one went out. So, I threw it in reverse and the next thing I knew the light was green!

I knew I’d messed up, but my hand instinctively moved the shifter into drive and my foot went to the floor. As you can see, I almost caught up with that Ford Explorer! The whole experience was a rush and it was all over much too quickly. I grabbed my time slip, picked up Josh, and left that parking lot feeling slightly embarrassed, but completely satisfied knowing that I had tried. It’s experiences like this that make classic car ownership so much fun. We have been able to meet so many great people on all our adventures and we are grateful to all of you for being part of it. The Torino performed wonderfully, so the next owner can be assured that they are getting a good car. Let’s just hope they are a little better at drag racing it than I was!


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  1. Howard A Member

    Hi Jesse, that’s awesome. It’s very intimidating on the “line” and even the most seasoned drag racers get the butterfly’s. Actually, you did nothing wrong at the tree. That’s called “deep staging” ( as long as you don’t go past the last beam, which would turn the red light on) and John Force is famous for that. It gives you a better reaction time, ( yellow to green) but for some reason, it detracts from the total time. While 17+ in the 1/4 is no top fuel funny car, it is somewhat typical of that type of car. BTW, when you said, Firebird Raceway, I thought, in Phoenix? Guess there’s one in Boise, too. Great post.

  2. Aaron B.

    Yeah.. It’s too bad no one told you about deep staging… You might have got the whole shot! Oh well… Personally I LOOOOOVE drag racing! It’s LITERALLY the only sport I have any interest in at all in any way, shape or form. I’m actually sort of jealous… the one and only time I had the chance to go racing myself, a mystery rain cloud came over head and boom.. down pour!

    Thanks for posting the video! Maybe sometime you can get back out there and get some more experience! :)

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Aaron, that’s kind of creepy about the cloud, like you weren’t supposed to do it. Huge fan myself, mostly for top fuel. Been to several events in California, Winternats, Joliet, several times, Brainerd, Mn, and W. Palm Beach,Fla. I love the pits when they start the cars up for warmup ( they rebuild the engines after every run) The nitro fumes will make you puke, but they smell sweet. I’m up to about 20 seconds before I have to run. Once, during John Forces warmup under the canopy, he blips the throttle,( something they don’t have to do, but John knows the fans love it) and it blew the sunglasses off my head. Check this out. The reason they stay there to endure that, is the engine jiggles your guts standing there. Right at the end, you hear it run out of fuel.BTW, they start them on alcohol, and slowly add the nitro. If they started it on nitro, they’d blow the heads off! If you’ve never seen them in person, I strongly urge you to go. You won’t forget it. (ears ringing)Oh, don’t forget the earplugs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TckjCGMfBvw

  3. Cory

    Spent many hours at firebird. I used to hear the races from my dad’s house in eagle. Did you guys wander over the hill and check out the super oval?

  4. Dave57210

    A 17.50 is not gonna help sell that car! Back in the day, there were 6 cyl cars in the 18’s. With a 351, I would have expected mid-high 15’s since even the 428 CJ version would likely have been in mid 14’s. (428 had same advertised hp as 383 dodge and less than 396 Chev)

    Fords always had the reputation (sometimes unearned) of being the slowest of the “big 3” at the strip, but many of the “mid-size” musclecars of that era would run in the high 14’s/low 15’s right off the showroom floor. Fast by standards of the day but bog slow in today’s world.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Trust me, it wasn’t the car’s fault. Did you see how late I got off the line?

      • Howard A Member

        Actually, I just looked up the car on automobile-catalog (great site, btw) and while I haven’t followed what’s in there, but a ’69 Torino with a 302, 2 bbl. automatic, from the factory, did 17.2 in the 1/4 @81 mph. So you weren’t too far off.

  5. Rick

    Dave’s right that the old muscle cars are slow when compared to what’s on the road today. Case in point: I race my totally stock 2009 KIA Spectre at the local drag strip in nearby Mission B.C. where they have Street Legals every Friday night and I consistently run in the 16.70s, my best time so far is a 16.74. My friend races her stock ’07 Mustang GT 4.6 and it runs in the high 13s. Back in the late 60s my next door neighbor had a heavily modifed ’66 Chevy II Nova L78 (factory 365 horse 327 w/ add on cross ram 2X4 etc) anyhow his best time was 11.81 and the world record at the time for his class (held by Grumpy Jenkins in a similarly equipped Nova) was 11.71, only a tenth of a second quicker. Several cars that race at the Friday Night Street Legals at Mission run in the 8s and 9s, and these are cars that are driven on the street (or can be anyway). But yeah cars are way faster than they were 40-50 years ago!

  6. randy

    I’m not sure how I’d feel if the car I was bidding on was out being raced by amatuers. No offense intended.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks Randy, but honestly, one pass wasn’t any harder on the car than taking it on the interstate. By the way, I’m not an amateur driver, just a beginner at drag racing.

      • randy

        I am quite sure you are an excellent driver, but like me, never been in a real drag race other than the illegal kind. My thoughts are that once you put a car up for sale, and have bidders, it’s no longer your car to abuse, yes drag racing is abusive to cars. I also understand the reserve is not met. Just the way I like to treat people and expect the same from others. I love your website and the history I’ve learned. I have broken and seen lots of stuff broken on other’s cars by racing them.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        No harm, no foul.

      • Howard A Member

        Sorry Randy, I agree with Jesse, you are going a little overboard, here. It’s not like Jesse was doing neutral drops, or standing ‘er up on the brakes, or missed a shift and the motor went to 8 grand, all, I agree would be detrimental to a stock car. But like Jesse sez, this is no different than waiting for the green light on an entrance ramp, and TRYING to get up to speed, and even then, it’s white knuckles. Besides, you can rest assured, the next person that buys the Torino, isn’t going to take it to church once a week, they’re going to run it, and quite frankly, if I was buying it, I’d kind of like to know what it did in the 1/4 mile.

  7. Howard A Member

    You think that went by fast, hang on for this. Top fuel dragster. the lever in their right hand, is the brake, lever down low on left, is the F/R lever, the black handle up high on the left, is the fuel pumps. Parachute deployment lever location varies, usually near the brake. Just before they take off, they open the pumps, which is like a fire hose, ( you can hear the engine drop a little in rev’s). They use 16 gallons of nitromethane/ alcohol per run ( including warmup, burnout, and run). They blow the motor up after every run. Amazing machines. They are down to 3.75 sec.@327 mph in 1,000 feet( boooo) Don’t forget the volume, 1/4 mile shown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb2vf_ZYFMo

  8. jim s

    glad you took the car to the track. i hope you will go back for more. that a local to you track allows ” run what your driving ” events is great. i hope next time everyone gets to make passes in the same vehicle so we knows who is better.

  9. randy

    That’s just the way I roll, you do not have to agree, thanks for the conscientious reply.
    Cars last longer when they are not raced, I am sure we can agree on that.

    I really like you guys, and girls!

    • Howard A Member

      Hi randy, I hear where you are coming from. Imagine the horror of the new owner coming across that clip, OMG, that’s my car!! :)

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Sorry but you are entirely wrong.

      THEORETICALLY you can shock the driveline perhaps breaking parts but the horsepower and traction here are both too low.

      The only thing being sacrificed is fuel.

      This was, as mentioned simply a sprint to highway speeds.

  10. BMW/Tundra Guy

    Ouch! I am quite particular about my rides but I find no harm in Jesse’s “20 seconds of fame”! Loosen up a bit. Life is for living. Cars are for driving.

  11. jim s

    sold for $5999, you were right on the money. great job. so now maybe a hint on the new BF project vehicle.

  12. randy

    I like to go fast, and have torn up plenty of stuff to be sure. The only point I was trying to make was, I would not take someone else’s car to the races. Cars are for driving!!

    Imagine if the car had dropped the driveshaft, easily done, ask me how I know, how could you continue the auction? How would you tell the bidders you broke the car?

    I try to always put others first, I am not going to go out and race a car I’m trying to get top dollar for. I do realize the car had not changed hands at the time, but may have well had. Is that proper english? I guess you guys and girls can tell I am kind of touchy when it comes to other peoples stuff. Take care!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      No one had won the auction yet and if anything had broke, I would have fixed it before shipping it out. Give me a little credit. Just talked to the high bidder and he is very excited to get the car.

  13. randy

    I understand that Jesse, sometimes when things let loose, they cannot be put back perfect. Say the front u-joint let loose and the car pole vaulted on the drive shaft?

    That is why there are diminished value claims being paid by insurance companies AFTER the car has been repaired by a body shop.

    I just don’t see 20 seconds of fun being worth the risk. How fun could it be running a 17 second 1/4 mile anyway?

  14. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Well, if something that drastic had happened, I would have cancelled the auction immediately. It was a lot of fun actually. Who said you have to be the fastest to have fun? There were guys there in minivans with big smiles on their faces. And honestly, who would want a car like this if it’s going to break the first time you do a burnout?

  15. randy

    Maybe I am just an old fuddy duddy! Having fun is important. Keep up the good work friend! These talks do me good.

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