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Nitroholic Racing – The Wild Bunch

By Al Heisley

During a June call to Richard Townsend you can guess how blown away I was when he casually mentioned that they were building a Big Show funny car! I mean, I hadn’t heard a word about it from anyone; not even through the usual rumor mills. “What? What the hell are you talking about,” I demanded.

Richard explained that he and Nitroholic Racing partner, Dustin Davis, decided to live their lifelong dream to campaign an NHRA Mello Yello Nitro Funny Car. Their plan is to attend roughly 6 Big Show events and race their nostalgia funny car as time permits.

“What brought this on, Rich?” I asked.

“Well,” Richard went on,” Dustin and I have talked about running a program like this for some time, now. Anyway, one day I hear that the Lucas’ are selling their entire engine program. So, I contacted Morgan Lucas right away and he told me that they are selling most of their engine program consisting of 2 complete blower sets, 11 complete sets of AJPE Stage 7 heads, and boxes full of pullies, belts and front-of-engine hardware. Anyway, as soon as it could be arranged, Dustin and I traveled to Lucas’ shops in Indianapolis and purchased almost everything we’d talked about and then some. We also abought a Strange center section and rear plus other miscellaneous parts. The Lucas’, who have treated us like gold, will also be sending people from their shop to two or three races to help us with the set up and combination and make sure we understand the basics.”

I wanted to know everything about the deal. So, we set-up an appointment for me to travel to Townsend’s new shop in Oakdale, CA, near Sacramento, to see firsthand what they’re doing.

When I arrived, Richard was the only person there to speak with me. Dustin was out of town on business and crew chief, Lance Larson, was stuck back east due to a cancelled flight. However, since then, Dustin and I have spent a lot of time on the phone discussing details.

Anyway, Richard and I spent time talking in their 40-foot trailer that was attached to their Renegade Totter. He told me that he, Dustin and the rest of the team were making good progress on both the Big Show and the nostalgia car programs and hoped to have the Big Show car ready for testing before too long.

Richard showed me around the new 7,500 square foot shop which houses their new chassis fab shop. The shop has been constructed so that almost any truck and trailer will easily fit inside leaving ample room for all race related activities.

In addition to the Lucas’ purchase they bought a Murf McKinney chassis and two bodies from Larry Dixon that had belonged to Tony Pedregon.

When they returned home with their purchases, they immediately front halved the chassis and fitted it out for Richard, who is larger than Tony. The only original pieces left are the cage itself and the clutch cage.

The bodies are in great shape and weigh within a pound and a half of each other. All the tin work is done in both. About the only thing left to do is the wrap.

The guys are going to be using Alan Johnson Performance Engineering TFX blocks, heads and parts. Like Gary Densham, Rich and Dustin will be using the same basic engine for both the Big Show and nostalgia cars. Of course, some parts will have be changed out such as the heads, blower and other miscellaneous parts but the same basic engine will be used for both. They’re using Boninfante wear parts and for the nostalgia car, a Lenco Transmission. They also purchased a Mark Williams rear for the nostalgia car. In other words, they are using the best parts available for both cars.

Through their current focus is the getting the Big Show car ready for testing, their fab shop is getting busy, too.

They recently sold the nostalgia car to Dave Gallegos in Kansas so they’ll be building a new nostalgia car for themselves. They have a new nostalgia body coming from Kebin Kinsley, the same guy that built bodies for Jason Rupert and John Hale. Nevertheless, Richard and Dustin delivered the car to Dave at the Funny Car Chaos race in Denton, Texas so Gallegos could make a few laps in the car while the guys were there to help with the set-up. And while they qualified for the show they went out in the first round. Still, everyone was happy with the cars performance and Dave’s driving.

Townsend and Davis have also taken a deposit from Rick Ackers, owner of the Dream Weaver Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car, for a new chassis. And they’ll also be front-halving Wally Giavia’s G-MEN nostalgia funny car. In other words, all three areas of their company are quite busy.

Richard Townshed
Nitroholic Racing, LLC