Atlanta: Rodger Brogdon preview

The Revival and Resurrection of the Pistonator, an incredible time line of dedication and effort. Sunday 5/2 Before the car made its way back to the pit area at St. Louis, chassis builder Jerry Haas was inspecting his handiwork to see how it...

The Revival and Resurrection of the Pistonator, an incredible time line of dedication and effort.

Sunday 5/2

Before the car made its way back to the pit area at St. Louis, chassis builder Jerry Haas was inspecting his handiwork to see how it held up during Rodgers crash in round one. Once the car was back in the pit area, Jerry along with crew chief Tommy Utt started a full assessment of the damage. The car was determined to be repairable, but with only a 10 day window to get repairs done before it needed to leave the chassis shop for Atlanta, would it be able to be done in time? The decision was made Sunday afternoon that it would need to be an all out effort to have the Pistonator back on track for Friday qualifying at Atlanta, and so the work began.

By 5pm Sunday, the car was stripped of its drive train and anything that could be unbolted was also removed, and late that evening the remains of the Pistonator arrived at Jerry Haas Chassis shop.

Monday 5/3

By 8 am Monday the car was on the chassis jig and after measuring and double checking a plan of action was set in place. Everything in front of the firewall would need to be replaced, a complete new body would be needed, a complete re-wiring of the car would take place and all the wheels and tires would be new items as well, meanwhile the race rig departed Gateway International Raceway for Mooresville NC and Victor Cagnazzi's engine shop.

Tuesday 5/4

St. Louis, MO - The re-birth of the Pistonator was now in overdrive as Jerry, Dan and the rest of the Haas chassis shop crew were working feverishly on the chassis repair while Jerry himself hitched the shop trailer to his dually and set off for Rousch Racing in Livonia Michigan to personally pick up the new Pontiac GXP body.

Mooresville, NC --At Cagnazzi Racing the race rig has returned and the heart of the Pistonator is being examined, as the crash has damaged the engine as well. Virtually every external engine component is damaged including the carburetors. Internally, everything in the engine was exposed to water and foam from the fire being extinguished. Steve Johns and the crew @ Cagnazzi's engine shop immediately get to work on engine #9 of the Cagnazzi arsenal and the carbs are immediately shipped via overnight express to Bob Book for a complete rebuild.

Wednesday 5/5

St. Louis -- With Jerry Haas in route to obtain the new body, the guys at the shop work non-stop to have the chassis ready for the arrival of the body. While they appear to have escaped any damage, the front struts are shipped overnight to Roger & Betty Lamb for a complete evaluation.

Mooresville -- Work continues at Cagnazzi's shop on engine #9. With several engines at their disposal Steve Johns and crew know that this particular engine has special meaning for Brogdon and Steve Kent as not only was it the #2 qualifier at St. Louis, it's also the engine that powered the team to a 6.99 run at Bandimere Speedway last summer. It's proven to be a very good engine and every effort is being made to have it race ready for Atlanta. Obviously if #9 can't be ready Cagnazzi has several engines available for use, but with a little over a week to go optimism is still running high that #9 will be ready to go.

Thursday 5/6

St. Louis -- Haas returns from Michigan at 3am with the new body and by 7 am there are 3 guys working on getting the body mounted while the rest of the shop is continuing the revival of the Pistonators chassis.

Mooresville -- The carburetors arrive from Bob Book as final assembly of the engine is being wrapped up and by late in the day the freshly rebuilt #9 is loaded on the dyno ready for a Friday morning workout

Friday 5/7

St. Louis -- The front struts arrive back from Rodger Lamb and are installed along with the balance of the front suspension and the Pistonator is now a rolling chassis again. Body fitment is continuing along with the complete rewiring of the car. With so many people working on the car it gets a little crowded at times, but everyone knows that it is now looking like the rebirth of the Pistonator is well underway.

Mooresville -- Steve Johns and the rest of the Cagnazzi engine shop give engine #9 an early morning run through on the dyno and pronounce it ready for action. Steve Johns and everyone else in Cagnazzi's engine shop are to be commended for their diligence in getting the engine together even though everyone knew that there were other engine options available.

Saturday 5/8

St. Louis -- Final assembly of body to chassis along with wiring completion continues as everything is starting to come together and it's looking more and more like running at Atlanta will be do-able.

Mooresville -- Engine #9 is loaded into the race rig and driver Keith "Big Show" Graham gets the rig ready for a return trip to St. Louis & Jerry Haas chassis shop.

Sunday 5/9

St. Louis - Mothers Day, a day almost as sacred as Christmas, and a few of Jerry's guys VOLUNTEER to help finish up, and at 2 pm Jerry calls Rodger to let him know that the Pistonator is in the trailer and on its way to Jim Hookers body shop to get the body finished and primed.

Mooresville -"Big Show" climbs behind the wheel of his Kenworth and heads west for Fenton, Missouri.

Monday 5/10

St. Louis -- "Big Show" arrives with the race rig and engine while crew chief Tommy Utt also arrives at the shop. With the cars return from the body shop late in the afternoon, they are on hand to install the drive train and coordinate the cars final assembly.

Tuesday 5/11

Final assembly continues with Tommy Utt and "Big Show" setting the engine and transmission into place while Haas crew finalizes the rest of the cars restoration. By mid-day the Fineline Graphics team arrives from Denver and late afternoon finds them beginning to wrap the car in the now very recognizable "Pistonator" graphics.

Wednesday 5/12

The Fineline crew complete the body wrap and the reconstruction of the Pistonator is complete. The car is loaded into the race rig and "Big Show" hits the highway again, this time headed for Commerce Georgia and the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals.

Thursday 5/13

The rig arrives at Atlanta Dragway and pit set up takes place. The Pistonator crew arrives and begins to prep for this weekend's competition.

Friday 5/14

Round 1 of qualifying ends a remarkable 12 day resurrection and THE PISTONATOR IS BACK!

Rodger Brogdon and Steve Kent want to thank everyone involved in what has been a remarkable nationwide effort of over 100 people to accomplish what many thought would never be possible. The dedication shown by Jerry Haas and his staff along with Steve Johns and the crew at Cagnazzi Racing has been incredible. The support given by numerous others like Roger and Betty Lamb along with Bob Book and countless others to accomplish this feat has been incredible, and without everyone pulling together the Pistonator revival project could never have been accomplished.

-source: steve kent racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Rodger Brogdon , Jerry Haas , Steve J