Fair Knows Drag Racing Is Trial And Error


March 22, 1992|By Stanley C. Dillon

An integral part of drag racing has always been experimentation.

To go faster, the racer is constantly working on his car to obtain the maximum performance.

Willie Fair, a 23-year-old Westminster resident, uses drag racingto test the performance of his car.

He does not race for points or trophies, he races because he loves it. He also races to get as much speed as possible out of his car, trying to go as fast as possible with a street-legal car.

Fair's car is a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport, a so-called muscle car that was an outgrowth of America's fascination with drag racing's quarter-mile acceleration competitions.It is a small engine-block car that provides big-block performance.

Fair and his father, Whitey, found the car when Willie was 15.

"The car looked good, but when we began to work on it we found that it needed a lot of work," said Fair. "We had to replace the trunk floor, the floorboards and it was rusted all around the wheel wells."

The Fairs spent more than two years restoring the car. When the car was completed, Willie Fair had his license.

Ever since Willie beganto work on the car, he knew he wanted to take it to the drag-racing track. So he was ready to take the car out once it was done.

The first time out at the 75-80 Drag-Way in Monrovia, Frederick County, the clutch failed.

"My father told me it would happen if I tried to race it," said Willie. "I don't know how he knew it or whether he guessed it, but either way he did pretty good."

Willie continually worked on the car to make it go faster. After experimenting with the engine for two years, he replaced the 327-cubic-inch stock motor with abeefed-up 350-cubic-inch model.

Racing heads, roller cams and a special carburetor were some of the high-performance parts on the new engine. The motor produced from the start.

"The fastest I have gone is about 12.12 seconds elapsed time, or about 114 mph for the quarter-mile, not bad for a street-legal car," said Willie. "The fastest Iwent with the other motor was 13.7 seconds."

Fair looks at each trip down the quarter-mile as a test and a performance run. He is constantly making changes to coax an extra mile per hour or so out of hiscar or shave a fraction of a second off his elapsed time.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When he thinks he has achieved themost performance out of a particular setup, he experiments with something new.

Friends Craig Hahn, Danny Weller, Tony Young and RichieLawrence go with Fair to help make changes between runs.

Near theend of last season, Fair was experimenting with the jets on the carburetor. He wants to take the size to the limit.

If he goes too far, too much fuel will flood the engine. It is a challenge to find the right combination.

Fair is constantly improving the performance while keeping the car street legal. Although the car is not his only mode of transportation, he does drive it to the track to race.

One disadvantage of a high-performance engine is gas mileage. Fair uses nearly a tank of gas to drive from Westminster to Mason-Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown, Washington County, fills up before he races and again before he starts the drive home.

"I enjoy racing. I enjoy trying tosee what I can do with what I have, to get the most of what I have."

Although Fair does not race every week, he would like to. He loves the sport and hopes to have a dragster to race someday.

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