The "Fighting Irish" maintain
their long green machine in "the cave" an out-of-the-way,
unmarked commercial building behind some other unmarked buildings
80 yards off one of the nameless back streets of Garden Grove.
A huge Overhead door yawns open to admit 200-inch-wheelbase cars
and all of the necessary support hardware. Shelves are stacked
with pistons, rods, cranks, gaskets- all, of course, for 392
Chryslers. Out back there is a collection of decimated blocks
and a larger collection of (hose awaiting preparation for a last,
short ride in the green car. A pay phone is lost on a once-white
wall. Thousands of hastily scribbled phone numbers surround the
well-used instrument. Don Prudhomme calls - there is talk of
raring. Jerry Ruth calls - there is an arrangement made to do
some engine work. McEwen calls - there is talk of tires. This
is a race car shop in the fullest sense of the term, despite
a hundred or so cartons of empty pop bottles shoved under a large
workbench. Mulligan is addicted to the soft drink, and in the
haste of racing work, the bottles do not got carried out as quickly
as the contents are consumed.
Beetle and Mulligan are in the process of moving to a larger
"cave," since drag racing is relatively a space-consuming
endeavor and business is booming. All of which would lead one
to inquire if Tim is thinking of slowly building a racing engine
"No, that doesn't
interest me. I like the racing, and I just don't see how you
can do right by several engines."
But the Ruth and McEwen cars are in and out
of the shop from time to time, and it's obvious more room is
needed. Tim may already be in the engine-building and tuning
business and not be fully aware of the fact.
what will fuelers look like five years from now, and what sort
of e.t.'s can we expect?"
that's hard to say. I guess it all hinges on the tires. If the
tires continue to get better, the cars will probably get longer,
but it's hard to say DOW (puck the cars will be running."
"Are you constantly experimenting
with various components and modifications in an effort to move
the car I little quicker?"
"Yes, we change a lot
of things around, but then . . . like for the Winternationals,
we went back to the same combination we had been running."
"Is this a give-and-take situation
between you and John as far as how the car is set up? Does he
have a sensitive feel tot how the car is performing, and can
he transmit this to you?"
I even tell him which lane we should run in most of the time.
The car is set up to be driven mechanically. That is, John slides
his foot off one pedal and pushes the other one all the way to
the bellhousing. We have the clutch set so it slips quite a
bit for the first eight to ten car lengths. Then the tires begin
to haze and the clutch locks up."
Moe said, "I think this is the only consistent
way to run the car. Anyone could get in that car and make it
go just as quick as I do, because it's mechanical. We go up or
down on the power to adjust for a good or bad strip.
If you start playing the clutch with one foot
and the throttle with the other, you might be able to get the
right combination of traction; but usually by the time you do,
it's too late."
"You do have a feel for how the car is
running, though, don't you?"
"Oh sure, and I pass things along to Tim
from time to time. I keep up with what changes he's making."
"Speaking of changes ... some of the
guys are beginning to campaign funny cars along with a dragster.
What do you think about that?"
"Well, I think you are going to see some
of the cars running a lot quicker because of this. We've thought
of adding a funny car, but for the time being we've sorta passed
on the idea. I would like to work the back of our car and maybe
put a top on it. Sorta like a coupe. I think the crowd would
really go for and it would make the car different enough so they
would remember you."
A flower power hat, a big cigar, soda pop by
the case - these sawed-off redheads with flat-tops called Moe
and Chops, who live at "the cave," are not exactly
suffering from any lack-of-identity problems. Anyone who can
currently run 6.65 and 233.85 has to be doing something right.
The list of people who have done this is a very small one indeed
- Beebe & Mulligan.