In 1964, Drag Racing was at the
start of the era of 7 second runs and 200 mph speeds. Week- end
battles at Southern California Drag Strips to see who was the
fastest and quickest brought fans and fuelers to the gates for
the winning purses that were offered.
June of 1964, Jim Brissette with
Wild Bill Alexander driving, brought out his new Woody Gilmore
Race Car Engineering BB/FD. This was the fifth chassis out of
Woody's new racecar shop with a Doug Kruse built shorty body
and fuel tank with the seat done by Dick Russell. Paul Sutherland,
who Woody knew since the late 1950s, was Woody's first employee
and built the chassis.
Jim Brissette wanted his new
Fueler to have the motor as close to the rear axle as possible.
At 20 1/2 inches, motorplate to rearaxle dimension and what was
considered a long wheelbase at 144 inches were considered the
"Tricks of the Week". This put most of the Fueler's
1190 pounds was over the rearaxle for maximum traction. The dragster
was dubbed " The Backmotor Car".
By the end of June 1964, with
a 331 Hemi, Jim had Wild Bill running consistent 7 second passes.
In the beginning of August 1964, the first recorded speeds of
202.24 mph passes made this one fast Fueler. August 22, 1964
at Fontana Drag Strip, an unheard of 7.501 E.T stopped the clocks
and shocked the Drag Racing world ! Jim and Wild Bill was the
first to break the 200 mph barrier at Pomona in November 1964
made Jim Brissette's Fueler one of those dragsters in Southern
California that started the name "Southern California Killer
Car". The up coming year was no different.
With 9 different Drag Strips
to race at in the Southern California area, racing at 2 different
tracks in one weekend was very common. The weekly speed secrets
were happening very fast with E.T.s dropping and speeds increasing.
The "'Big Go West" NHRA Winternationals and the Smokers
March Meet would bring out the "'Top Dogs" in the sport.
Jim Brissette was being already
being known for making big horsepower. Wild Bill Alexander would
be runner up at the Winternationals to the Hawaiian that was
televised on ABCs ''Wide World of Sports". At the Smokers
Meet, Brissette and Alexander qualified in the top 8 in a 64
car field, but Brissette's motor was known for having a short
fuse and went out early.
During the Smoker's Meet, Paul
"The Kid" Sutherland would destroy his fueler "The
Charger" and would start driving for Jim Brissette. By the
end of May, "The Kid'' put down a 7.57 at Fontana, was runner
up to the Surfers at the Mickey Thompson 200 Mph Club race and
with a 354 cubic inch Hemi.
September 1965, Labor Day weekend,
at Lions would be the AHRA World Championship Drag Races. This
would be Brissette & Sutherland only Major Win.
Speed was King and Jim Brissette put in a 354 hemi in his Fueler.
On October 3, 1965, smoking the slicks though the lights, recorded
a speed of 219.51 mph ! With that kind of speeds, unknown chassis
reactions started happening. The Famous "Flying Drag Link"
photo was published. The picture showed the Drag Link and all
4 radius rods were bowing up at that 219 mph speed.
Paul Sutherland felt the front
wing was causing this effect, but Brissette didn't feel that
way and the wing stayed on. The next race at Pomona, the car
got loose at top end and drifted over. The plexiglass wing was
removed by an orange safety cone and never was replaced. The
next race was at San Fernando, another picture was published
in Drag News with the car running at 215.301 mph straight as
an arrow pass and no more Flying Drag Link.
Jim had the "Back Motor"
Fueler flying running constant speeds over 215 mph. On February
6, 1966, Paul shook up the troops with a 7.38 pass at Lions.
With the speeds and E.T.s, running this hard took a toll on lasting
into the the next rounds of racing. Tom Jobe of the Surfers stated
that facing Brissette in the early rounds was a fear of going
home early as Paul would smoke them right right through the Lights.
220 mph was the next challenge as Drag News put on it's next
cover " Brissette & Sutherland Do It Again ". It
was October 16,1966 at San Fernando when Paul ran a pass at 220.58
with Bobby Hightower also running a 220 mph pass.
In mid 1967 Kelly Brown started
driving for Jim. Running passes at 7.11 and speeds at 227 mph
with better clutches and slicks, Jim decided to build a new Woody
car and the car was sold. Progress made the "Back Motor