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Building a 750 Honda Rear Engine Dragster

Building a 750 Honda Rear Engine Dragster




Building a 750 Honda Rear Engine Dragster
By Dave Brackett



In June of 1972, I was working at "AEE Choppers" and building rigid chopper frames on the side. Looking for dummy motors to build jigs for Honda rigid frames, I had contacted a friend Bill Hahn, He and I had been involved in drag racing earlier. Bill was now partners with Jim Dickinson in a business "Action Fours", building performance Honda bikes and engines. I asked Bill if he would like to be partners on a mini rear engine dragster with a big Honda four motor. He agreed, I would build the car and they would supply the engine.

   I had recently received my license from SEMA to build drag racing chassis. Dean Moon had helped me get that license, as I had helped him with several projects and wanted to do more projects leaning toward racing. I had built several drag racing chassis before, but now you had to be certified to be legal. It was now time to use that license to build the chassis for the mini dragster. I got a dummy motor from Bill and started laying out the frame.

   Dragsters generally have locked rear ends, so I took an extra go-cart axle I had, mounted it on pillow block bearings adding a sprocket to drive the axle. I mounted the motor ahead of the rear axle and finished the frame and roll cage. The chassis was very small and light, we had a driver that weighed under 100 pounds. I made a tube front axle, machined spindles, made wishbones and built a very small light center steering box. Friction shocks finished the front end. I formed an aluminium body and belly pan, adding a safety plate between the driver and engine. I made light aluminium hubs for the front, steel for the rear, and had wheels laced up, 1.75 x 16 in front, and 4 x 18 in rear.

    A wing was added with oil and fuel tanks and a battery mounted behind the seat, the motor was electric start. Shifting had to be quick and easy, so I built a lever attached to the shift fork and had a motorcycle clutch lever mounted on that. I built headers and added a megaphone for more power. Disk brakes were added and the package was complete. The driver had right foot on gas, left foot on brake, left hand on shifter/clutch lever and right hand on steering wheel. Bill supplied a 750 Honda engine that was over 1100cc. The car had a 126" wheelbase, front tread width of 44 inches and rear of 24 inches. The car was only 32 inches high and wieghed under 500 pounds with the driver.

   We were ready to go racing, our first race was August 19, 1972 at Lions Dragstrip. The tech people were very confused, but when they saw my SEMA stamp on the frame, all was OK. Our first run was 120 mph in the 11's. Not to bad, but the motor "Action Fours" supplied was way to powerful for the rear axle and the laced rear wheels were somewhat suspect. We didn't break anything and made several runs, but I soon replaced the rear axle with a chrome moly tube axle, and added bigger rear slicks on aluminium wheels.


Vehicle Type: Rear Engine Dragster
Wheelbase: 126”
Front Thread Width: 44”
Rear Thread Width: 24”
Height: 32”
Weight: 425 Pounds
Front Tires: 1.75x16 Tires
Rear Tires: 4.00x18 Avon Slick
Chassis: SEMA approved Space Frame
Engine: 750 Honda Four
Drive Train: 5 Speed Chain Drive
Front Axle: Tubular Steel
Rear Axle: Live Tubular Steel
Body: Aluminum
Brakes: Airheart Dual Disk
Clutch: Hand Operated Shifter
Fuel Capacity: 2.5 Quarts
Oil Capacity: 4 Quarts 

We wanted to name the dragster, but didn't know what to call it. Jim's wife kept a list of the first comments people made in the pits when they saw the dragster. The results of that survey gave us our name, "It Had to Happen". The best we did was 128mph in a 10.28 et. The car handled well, we initially used all five speeds of the tranny, but found out we could go faster and quicker by putting more air in the tires and using the top two or three gears.

   Bill and Jim became busy and lost interest in the car, so I bought the engine and redid the car. I added upholstery by Whitey Morgan, new paint with a new name "The Fourgery", redid the wing and tanks and got a new driver Dave Cayer. I enjoyed taking it around Southern California and even to Phoenix to race. I built a rack for my El Camino that held the car in the bed with the front wheels over the cab, real easy to load and carry. The car was a great advertising tool for my business, there was always a crowd around it. I sold it with the business, and always wondered what happened to it. What great fun

"It Had to Happen"