Back Motor Car


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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 Car" obsolete.


Lions, 1964 with Bill Alexander driving.














1965 Fuel & Gas Championships AA/FD Qualifying























Sutherland at San Fernando in 1965. Check out the drag link here on the top end.






Having crewed for over 30 years from Top Fuel to Funny Cars, I was always wanted a Front Engine Top Fuel Dragster. With the invent of Cackle Cars, the time had come to have one, but which one ? I had made up a short list if FEDs I would like to have. With my first choice, being already done by Pat Foster. It was important to me that the car I would own would have to have a lot of history and a fueler that the Racers and Fans from the mid 1960s would remember. Seeing for the first time in January 1968 in Drag Racing USA December issue was the " Grenidiers", about Jim Brissette's Woody Gilmore built Fueler. Just Mean and Nasty ! I still had the same copy of Drag Racing Magazine and I started collecting pictures and information about Jim Brissette Fueler in 1996.

With the aid of my computer I search for information and contacts. After being "Cackled" in the Frantic Four Fueler at the 2007 March Meet, the time had come to start. With over 150 pages of reference, my choice was to have Pat Foster to build the "Roller". The deal was for me to do all the leg work and get all the era correct parts for Pat to build the chassis.

Then when Pat was hospitalized on Thanksgiving 2007, my plans were to change with Pat making his last pass at the end of March 2008. In one of our many long phone calls, Pat said, "You can build this car, even though you don't know how to weld." Thanks Patty, we miss you.

It took me months to think about what do do and the direction to go. I made the decision to build Jim Brissette's "Back Motor" Fueler myself. Using the knowledge from talking with Paul Sutherland, Pat Foster, Woody Gilmore, Kent Fuller, John Shoemaker, Ron Attebury and Dave Uyehara, July 5, 2008 was the first day of this project with the first hole drilled for the Chassis Jig Fixture in my garage.

This Big Car Model was going to be a challenge and I felt up to the task. The few things I didn't make for the car was the Doug Kruse Fuel Tank (he made the original one), Long Block Nitro 354 Engine by Pops Bradford, paint by Lo-Lo Custom Paint and lettering by Nat Quick. I had drawn a Blueprint of the Woody Chassis and went over to Paul Sutherland's house for him to approve it. Paul had built the original chassis while working for Woody which was the 5th racecar out of Woody's Race Car Engineering. After about 1/2 hour, Paul said I was good to go. The whole "Roller" was built in my garage with hand tools, belt sander and a garage sale bought drill press.

By New Years Day 2009 the whole car was complete with mockup motor. The 2009 March Meet would be the first public appearance and the first time I met Jim Brissette. Jim asked me " Why did you want to build my Piece of S_ _T car for?" My answer was " Because your Piece of S_ _T car HAULED ASS" ! I had one Fan asked me if this was Brissette's car he watched racing at Lions back in the mid 1960s ? Where did you find it ? I told him yes, but it was a replica. " TOO COOL" he said.

The next few months, all the painting and the motor was done. The were a few bumps in the road before the CHRR, and those challenges were handled for a successful outing at the 2009 CHRR. I want to thank all who have contributed to my dream, friends, suppliers and my Julie.

Roger "Riceman" Lee





































Donovan coupler is a tight but exact fit designed to disengage for everything but push starts.



Lee did all his own tin work and in fact would end up making two bodies for the car. One with the familiar red paint job and one left bare tin as it was when Brissette and Alexander were RU at the 1965 Winternationals.













































October 16, 2009 - 18th California Hot Rod Reunion marked the official Cacklefest debut of the Brissette & Sutherland "Charger" .


Friday night at the CHRR is one of drag racings major social events of the year. Hosted at the DoubleTree Hotel, the Honoree Awards Ceremony always draws the who's-who of drag racing. It's a great time to see old friends and meet new ones. It is also the official start of Cacklefest featuring a handful of the best debut cars of the year in front of the hotel. One of the cars chosen this year was the Brissette & Sutherland Charger with Paul Sutherland in the seat.





On Saturday night Roger Lee himself was in the car for the Cacklefest parade and push start.





Roger Lee: A Man on a Mission

By Bud De Boer




2021 National Hot Rod Reunion

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