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Why is the front end so high on gassers?

From the info I can find, it has to do with weight transfer on takeoff. I guess that makes me wonder why the front high stance went away and we don't see that anymore. Are cars better balanced weight wise today that they don't have to lift the front ends?

Thanks.

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There are gas class vehicles (according to NHRA, or whichever sanctioning body, rules) and there are "gassers", the latter of which have the look, but don't necessarily follow the rule book. Good place to start if you wish to build one of the former: 

 

Here are a few existing topics to peruse:

 

 

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Tire technology has a lot to do with it. Horsepower ability was soaring while tire technology and the ability to "hook" was lagging behind. If you look at old footage of the NHRA in the 50's and 60's, dragsters would spin the tires the entire quarter mile, and still win, because hardly anyone could get traction. But in general, if you're spinnin, you aint winnin, so all this was to try to get traction. 

So yes, putting the nose in the air helps the weight transfer and allows the car to squat hard on the rear tires during the launch.  People would go to further lengths by altering the wheelbase, sliding the wheels forward so more of the car hung over the back, putting more weight on the rear wheels. I've attached an Altered wheel base drag car. 

The nose high stance and altered wheel base went out of fashion in the 70's because tire technology caught up and they were finally able to get the cars to hook. I've also attached a recent gasser build of mine.

awb.jpg

IMG_1299.jpg

IMG_1298.jpg

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Much of the impression of the high front end is false. It was common back in the day to run magazine pics of these cars leaving the starting line, where/when the front end would be rising on acceleration making it look like the front end was higher than the car actually sat at rest. 

Also, it was common back then to photograph the cars in "features" from low angles from the front quarter, which also accentuated and exaggerated the high nose. 

Not that there weren't nose-high cars in those days. There were. I'm just saying that the effect has been a bit exaggerated over the years.

The NHRA rulebooks of the day specified that the cars should sit level, or with a slight "rake" (front end lower than back), and said that the lower line of the body could pass no higher than the axles' centerlines (or lower than the lower edge of the wheels). I concede that not all cars ran by NHRA rules, and even some that did didn't follow this rule, which doesn't seem to have been strictly enforced except maybe at NHRA national events, or if records were involved. 

You'll also notice that as cars started running much above 140 mph, the front ends started dropping for aerodynamic reasons at the top end. You saw this happen with the funny cars, and then with the gassers, the Pro Stocks, the MPs and Super Stocks, and on down into the Stock classes as the cars went faster and faster and aerodynamic drag became more important.  

Interesting relevant anecdote: About 30 years ago I worked with a guy who showed me pics of the Willys gasser he'd crewed on in the mid-'60s. I specifically asked him why the gassers all sat so high, "for weight transfer or what?"

"Yeah, there, was that," he saiid, "But it was mainly so we could crawl around underneath and work on them without having to jack them up." As good an explanation as I ever heard. B)

 

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Very interesting stuff here.  As has been mentioned, the weight transfer thing was what I always thought the reason to be. It does give the car a pretty cool look tho.

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Somewhere on here is a posting of an old NHRA rule book. One of the spec's mentioned is the centerline of the crank shaft can't be higher than a specific height off the ground. Many other things have had a great effect on the cars and their ride height in the Gas classes as Dan Hay mentioned.  

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Mr. Snake pretty much nails it.

"Much of the impression of the high front end is false. It was common back in the day to run magazine pics of these cars leaving the starting line, where/when the front end would be rising on acceleration making it look like the front end was higher than the car actually sat at rest. 

Also, it was common back then to photograph the cars in "features" from low angles from the front quarter, which also accentuated and exaggerated the high nose. 

Not that there weren't nose-high cars in those days. There were. I'm just saying that the effect has been a bit  WAY  exaggerated over the years.

The NHRA rulebooks of the day specified that the cars should sit level, or with a slight "rake" (front end lower than back), and said that the lower line of the body could pass no higher than the axles' centerlines (or lower than the lower edge of the wheels). I concede that not all cars ran by NHRA rules, and even some that did didn't follow this rule, which doesn't seem to have been strictly enforced except maybe at NHRA national events, or if records were involved. 

You'll also notice that as cars started running much above 140 mph, the front ends started dropping for aerodynamic reasons at the top end. You saw this happen with the funny cars, and then with the gassers, the Pro Stocks, the MPs and Super Stocks, and on down into the Stock classes as the cars went faster and faster and aerodynamic drag became more important."

 

TWO ADDITIONAL NOTES:   1) Because of the tendency of idiots to try to stretch the rules to improve weight transfer at launch, the NHRA imposed a new rule that specified the engine crankshaft centerline could be no more than 24" from the pavement with the vehicle at rest. Check the rules for the specific reference, and when it came in.

                                                   2)  When the trap speeds got up around 140, as Snake mentions, noses began to drop. But "drag" wasn't the main factor. Lift on the front end could be so severe that the vehicles became dangerously unstable. Anyone who's ever driven fast will be familiar with the phenomenon on even relatively low and slippery cars. At 140, a DeTomaso Pantera is one jell of a handful, dancing all over the road.

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31 minutes ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

                                                   2)  When the trap speeds got up around 140, as Snake mentions, noses began to drop. But "drag" wasn't the main factor. Lift on the front end could be so severe that the vehicles became dangerously unstable. Anyone who's ever driven fast will be familiar with the phenomenon on even relatively low and slippery cars. At 140, a DeTomaso Pantera is one jell of a handful, dancing all over the road.

Ace is absolutely correct. It was lift of the front end more than drag that was the factor, and for the safety reason he mentioned. 

As I once heard the great Roseanne Barr say, "I didn't mean to lie, it's just that the truth woulda taken too long to explain." Thanks to Ace for taking the time to make the correct point. B)

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Great information guys, thank you. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the really high nose look. Even level looks a bit off to me, bit function over form when it comes to racing. It's really interesting to learn the history of weight transfer, tires and camera tricks.

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14 minutes ago, ksnow said:

 ...I can't say I'm a huge fan of the really high nose look...

Good.   :D

The "really nose high look" is generally favored by folks who know nothing about vehicle dynamics or drag racing history, and believe the endlessly rebleated wrong information on the interdwerbs.

One of the winningest, most consistent, and most famous gassers of all time was the original Stone-Woods-Cook '41 Willys, and all its later incarnations.

If you want to build a model of a period gasser that's set up right, this is the stance you want at rest:

Stone Woods & Cook Willys Gasser           B)

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6 hours ago, ksnow said:

Why is the front end so high on gassers?

From the info I can find, it has to do with weight transfer on takeoff. I guess that makes me wonder why the front high stance went away and we don't see that anymore. Are cars better balanced weight wise today that they don't have to lift the front ends?

Thanks.

Tires were junk back then compared to the tires today.. Chassis and suspension parts are way better now and nowadays the tracks are prepped with vht/pimp juice.. Makes you wonder how much some of those cars would pick up on a prepped track with a good set of soft sidewall slicks.

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One other thing about gassers that is often misrepresented now-NHRA gasser rules did not allow altered wheelbases. Match racers may have had noses high and altered wheelbases, but not class legal gassers.

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I'm thinking that crank centerline is a wee bit more than 24 inches off the deck.

Pardon my ignorance, what is the small tank on the front of many of these cars?

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52 minutes ago, ksnow said:

I'm thinking that crank centerline is a wee bit more than 24 inches off the deck.

Pardon my ignorance, what is the small tank on the front of many of these cars?

On a competition car it would be a fuel tank - just enough for a trip down the drag strip.  On street cars they are normally just decorative.

The car above would be consider a "Street Freak" in lieu of a competition "Gasser".

Another example of a Street Freak style build:

310 Gassers, Pro Stock, Pro Street ideas | drag cars, drag racing, dragsters

Edited by afx
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3 hours ago, afx said:

On a competition car it would be a fuel tank - just enough for a trip down the drag strip.  On street cars they are normally just decorative.

The car above would be consider a "Street Freak" in lieu of a competition "Gasser".

Another example of a Street Freak style build:

310 Gassers, Pro Stock, Pro Street ideas | drag cars, drag racing, dragsters

They also built a falcon on that show.

Eye_Candy_1440x.jpg

Edited by Scott8950
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2 hours ago, Snake45 said:

I weep for cars like that. What did those poor cars do to anyone to deserve having THAT done to them? :(:angry:

I agree... Atleast the bodies haven't been altered or chopped up.

It can get worse though.

images (2).jpeg

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tumblr_mglitm9QDw1s1f10do1_1280.jpg

Edited by Scott8950
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I don't like when people call all cars with the front up in the air "Gassers", at least nowadays, most of them don't comply with the quite strict gasser rules and if you don't the cars are Altereds or something else.
Many drag racing cars , not just gassers, had the front a bit higher back in the day for better weight transfer in acceleration as been said before in this thread, not like today when all drag racing cars are low to the ground mostly to reduce drag and to prevent lift in high speeds.

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Great information guys. I admit I am woefully ignorant when it comes to drag racing history and classes and so on. I love watching drag racing, just never paid that much attention to the details.

Force, that bothers me also. Actually any time people use words for things that aren't accurate it bothers me. If a car doesn't meet gasser rules, its not a gasser. 

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If you want to know what old-school Gassers really looked like, I can't think of a better place than this: 

http://www.georgeklass.net/gassers.html

HUNDREDS of them! Ironically, the very first pic, the green Willys, isn't a Gasser but an Altered (no rear fenders, no headlights, etc.) 

You'll see many pics here of noses high, but notice that in many of those, they are "starting line" pics with the car under full acceleration. Also notice that even the real nose-high cars don't have the extreme nose-up stance too often modeled today. 

One other thing to remember about Gassers is that they were, at least nominally and in theory, "dual purpose" cars, meaning streetworthy. This means they had to have fenders, headlights, battery, radiator, full glass, (at least) two seats, "finished" interior, and so forth. Not all Gassers were street-driven or even legally registered, but the idea was that they could have been. The next class up, Altereds, were pure race cars. 

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1 minute ago, Snake45 said:

If you want to know what old-school Gassers really looked like, I can't think of a better place than this: 

http://www.georgeklass.net/gassers.html

HUNDREDS of them! Ironically, the very first pic, the green Willys, isn't a Gasser but an Altered (no rear fenders, no headlights, etc.) 

You'll see many pics here of noses high, but notice that in many of those, they are "starting line" pics with the car under full acceleration. Also notice that even the real nose-high cars don't have the extreme nose-up stance too often modeled today. 

One other thing to remember about Gassers is that they were, at least nominally and in theory, "dual purpose" cars, meaning streetworthy. This means they had to have fenders, headlights, battery, radiator, full glass, (at least) two seats, "finished" interior, and so forth. Not all Gassers were street-driven or even legally registered, but the idea was that they could have been. The next class up, Altereds, were pure race cars. 

Thanks for the link, I'll check that out.

I've been watching Southeast Gasser's Association stuff on youtube, very cool stuff.

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20 minutes ago, ksnow said:

Thanks for the link, I'll check that out.

I've been watching Southeast Gasser's Association stuff on youtube, very cool stuff.

In my opinion those SEGA cars DO NOT truly reflect true gassers!! To many "liberties" taken in the name of safety. 

Depending on what time period of gasser your talking as to what they looked like.

This is an Early gasser  From the GK web site.

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Edited by Painted Black
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28 minutes ago, Painted Black said:

In my opinion those SEGA cars DO NOT truly reflect true gassers!! To many "liberties" taken in the name of safety. 

Depending on what time period of gasser your talking as to what they looked like.

This is an Early gasser  From the GK web site.

 

 

Thanks for the headsup. 

That GK website is an absolute treasure trove of primary documentation. When I do decide to build one, I'll definitely be using that for reference.

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