Gassers and Altereds Comparison

16 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

There has always been a lot of confusion of what the differences are between Gassers and Altereds, so I thought I would put together a small chart that shows the most important differences between the two.

The fundamental difference is the Gassers (the formal NHRA name is Gas Coupes and Gas Sedans), and Altereds is that the Gas classes were intended for "streetable" cars, while Altered were for non-streetable race cars. But in practice, the two classes had a lot of similarities and a lot of fans and model builders get them confused because of that.

Here is a short listing of the major differences between the two classes. This is not a complete list, and the rules did change somewhat over time. But for the most part, these rules applied through the heyday of the Gassers and Altereds.

gasseraltereds-vi.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Here's a link to a rough breakdown of the gasser rules through the years. I think the "level or with slight forward rake" stance may be a little misleading...if you look at period photos of gassers, a little nose-high was quite common. Some sanctioning bodies at various times had limits as to how high the centerline of the crank could be, or the center of the front bumper. The noses tended to get lower as top speeds increased over the years, because the cars could get very unstable with excessively high front ends at high speeds.

http://www.gassermadness.us/Gas_Classes/index.htm

The Stone / Woods / Cook Willys, arguably the most famous gasser of all time, with a slight nose-up stance...

swc1_kf.jpg

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I have a membership and current NHRA rulebook just as a reference for building better drag cars. What I remember as gassers and altered cars from the '60s still exist, but their classes have moved or been consolidated. Dragsters are split into Top Fuel, Top Alcohol and Top Dragster (gas supercharged or alcohol naturally aspirated) and Altereds run in T/D. Stone Woods and Cook would find themselves in either Super Street or Super Gas.

SECTION 6B - TOP DRAGSTER

Class is for dragster and open-bodied altered-type vehicles only. Altereds must have open front wheels. Full-fender and/or runningboard- equipped street roadsters or Funny Car bodies prohibited. Qualified fields with competition conducted in a dial-in E.T. format. Minimum 6.00-second dial-in; maximum 7.70-second dial-in (eighth-mile, 3.66 to 4.99 seconds).

DESIGNATION

TD followed by car number. Numbers must be at least 4 inches high.

Minimum weight at the conclusion of run, including driver:

Small-block dragster or altereds

Naturally aspirated: 1,450 pounds

Nitrous assisted: 1,550 pounds

Supercharged or turbocharged: 1,650 pounds

Big-block dragster or altereds

Naturally aspirated: 1,500 pounds

Nitrous assisted: 1,700 pounds

Supercharged or turbocharged: 1,800 pounds

Four- or six-cylinder dragsters or altereds

Naturally aspirated: 1,400 pounds

Nitrous assisted: 1,500 pounds

Supercharged or turbocharged: 1,600 pounds

SECTION 7 - SUPER STREET

DESIGNATION

S/ST, preceded by car number.

Super Street cars run on a 10.90 standard (6.90 for eighth-mile tracks) using a heads-up start and .5-second Pro Tree. Reserved for

full-bodied cars with full fenders, hood, grille, top, windshield, and functional doors. Sports cars, street roadsters, vans, and panel

trucks permitted. Open-wheel altereds, dragsters, Funny Cars, or motorcycles prohibited. Minimum weight, including driver:

8-cylinder cars, 2,800 pounds; 6-cylinder cars, 2,000 pounds; 4-cylinder and rotary cars, 1,200 pounds.

SECTION 8 - SUPER GAS

Requirements and specifications for Super Gas

are the same as those for Super Street -

Section 7 - with the following exceptions:

DESIGNATION

S/G, preceded by car number.

Super Gas cars race on a 9.90 standard (6.30 for eighth-mile tracks) using a heads-up, .4-second Pro Tree. Reserved for fullbody cars with full fenders, hood, grille, top, windshield, and functional doors. Bumpers optional. Grille may be replaced by flat panel. Left-hand-steering street roadsters permitted. Open-wheel altereds, dragsters, Funny Cars, and motorcycles prohibited.

Minimum weight, including driver: 2,100 pounds, except 4-cylinder

cars, 1,200 pounds.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Bill,

A lot of the pictures of early gassers are misleading. The combination of big racing slick in the rear and small front tire makes it look like the front is sitting high. So, if you look at the picture you show, yes, it looks like the front fenders sit high, but if you look at the running board, it is pretty level to the ground. If you look at true side shots of early gassers, they sit pretty level.

The early rulebooks state "Bodies and/or frames may not be raised to gain weight-transfer to rear wheels.". But those rule were modified and made more specific to take into account that the rear slick would raise the rear of the car. But the late '60s the rules stated "Car must remain level at a standstill when equipped with competition rear tires, except those cars which have a forward rake, an acceptable modification."

While it wasn't specifically stated in the earlier rulebook, the intention as to not allow the gasser body or frame to be used in the improvement of weight transfer. There were other rules, such as the allowed total battery weight, rear bumper weight, and added ballast weight, that were also intended to minimize the weight transfer to the rear. If you wanted more weight transfer in your car, you made it an altered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

While it's hard to argue with the rulebook, it comes down to which year rulebook, the sanctioning body, and how vigorously the rules were enforced at any given meet. I DID say SLIGHT nose high. It's also hard to argue with photographic evidence.

The Mazmanian Willys shown here at rest in 1964 at Riverside shows an indisputable SLIGHT nose high attitude. A level placed under the rockers on this car wouldn't be level, OR nose down.

hrdp-1207-how-1960s-straight-axles-were-

And this older Willys period shot shows a car that's quite obviously been raised substantially MORE than is required for rear tire clearance, though it has just the slightest nose-down attitude.

998e469335a97bf24812deb98c469421.jpg

On the flip side though, the tendency for a lot of guys to build sky-high-nose cars, in both 1:1 and models, intending to emulate period gassers, is just plain wrong. I think SOME of the confusion may come from incorrect interpretations of photos of the cars' attitude during LAUNCH, which of course DOES pull the nose way up.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Bill,

Yes, both of those cars are higher than stock, but the frames have not been altered to do so, nor have the bodies been raised on the frames. All of that extra height comes from the suspensions. Obviously many people stretched the rules as far as possible to get any advantage that they could.

My only purpose was to clear up any confusion that many people have about the two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

For the visual folks, this is a vintage Altered:

TheBurkholderBrosFuelFiatblazesthehidesP

No way you ever street this dude... Out run the cops, maybe. Until the Moon tank runs dry. Moon tanks were so much cooler than fuel cells.

Dale

Edited by ScaleDale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Dale,

Altereds could be coupes and sedans too.

This was an Altered -

5943378508_8249cb21bb_o-vi.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Perhaps this great info shall help put and end, finally, to all of those altered wheelbase, tubbed, nose-in-the-air "gassers" :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Street equipment like tail lights are important factors in separating gas and altered. Fact is, if a Pro Stocker pulls the fuses for his/her lights, that car drops into the Altered group and runs with dragsters today.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Hey Neil, I just gotta say that I totally dug that High-n-Mighty that you built!!!!! Seen a couple of shots of it in the mags, loved it man!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Thanks Derrick, it was a fun build.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Perhaps this great info shall help put and end, finally, to all of those altered wheelbase, tubbed, nose-in-the-air "gassers" :D

I doubt it. It might be "wrong" but they just look so BLAH_BLAH_BLAH_BLAH good with the nose in the air.

Its a bit late to bolt the door as the horses have bolted anyway. Google "gassers", hit the images tab and you'll see that the majority of the cars pictured have the front higher than the back.

FWIW it was the done thing in Super Stock competition in the early sixties to lower the back of the car by 2 inches and lift the front by the same amount as it was thought to improve weight transfer on launch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

.... Google "gassers", hit the images tab and you'll see that the majority of the cars pictured have the front higher than the back.........

True, but part of the problem there is that the majority of cars that come up are pretend, re-creations of gassers, built NOT in strict accordance with the actual period rules. Many sanctioning bodies put a 24" height limit for the center of the crankshaft on the real race cars.

You also have to remember, and this is important...high-nose cars become EXTREMELY UNSTABLE at high speeds, and as the cars evolved to turn higher top-end trap speeds, the noses HAD to come down to remain drivable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Speed goes up, car goes down.

33willys.jpg

mustangeb.jpg

The '33 was/is in the Ford Museum.

Dale

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now