For those of us in the drag racing world that have been around for a while, there is an amazing website called “Two to Go”. The site is a plethora of twin engine drag machines that evolved as a result of a ban on the use of Nitromethane racing fuel by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) from 1957 to 1963. The thinking of racers at the time was that if they were limited to running only gasoline in their fuel tanks then why not use two power plants instead of one.
Upon discovery of the site, I found that the few twin engine cars that I knew about and raced against here on the West Coast were a mere fraction of these high horsepower two-timers actually built. To my amazement, there were about three hundred throughout the country! Every combination you could think of: Chryslers, Chevys, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, V8s, Six cylinders, Four cylinders, both injected and supercharged (Blown), Motorcycle engines (see related article), some with two different makes of engine such as the “Odd Couple”, one blown Chrysler and a blown Chevy. Some were side-by-side and others inline, the whole thing was a remarkable fete of innovative engineering. By the way, I did drive the famed Freight Train – just long enough to blow it up.
Although my cars were always single engine, either blown or injected dragsters (see related article), I was always enamored with the sidewinders. A sidewinder is a shorter, dragster frame with the engine sitting sideways in back of the driver with a chain and sprocket drive to the rear axle.
My dream car
A good friend and sponsor of our dragsters, the late Lee Titus of Lee’s Speed Shop in Santa Monica California, decided to build a double engine sidewinder which I was scheduled to drive. I was thrilled with the whole thing as there were no twin sidewinders to date … at least that I knew of. This also was not your average sidewinder – it was gear driven, instead of a chain. Two large sprocket-like gears were attached to each side of a special machined axle with special bearings. The back end of each engine would have a gear and idler assembly matching with the two main axle gears and would be driven by two B&M Torque Master converters, powered by two blown small block Chevys. It was my dream to drive this thing. The car was very well engineered and was on four wheels in its final stages, waiting for the torque converters; when for whatever reason, Lee decided to abandon the project.
I was devastated. My partner and I didn’t have the means to buy the car and finish it, so it hung from the ceiling for a while in Lee’s shop but eventually it disappeared and I lost track of it. While perusing the Two To Go website, what did I find at the bottom of one page … that’s right, the gear drive sidewinder on its wheels with my old friend sitting in my dream car in front of his shop in Santa Monica. I was taken back and thrilled that there were actually some photos taken of the machine. It’s too bad because I’m sure it would have been the car to beat and I would have been in the driver’s seat.
See ya at the races