Las Vegas: Urs Erbacher preview

Recovering from explosion, Erbacher turns to back-up car LAS VEGAS (April 3) -- A massive engine explosion Sunday morning in the first round of eliminations in Houston that garnered a bunch of TV team but cost his race team upwards of $120,000...

Recovering from explosion, Erbacher turns to back-up car

LAS VEGAS (April 3) -- A massive engine explosion Sunday morning in the first round of eliminations in Houston that garnered a bunch of TV team but cost his race team upwards of $120,000 has forced four-time FIA European champion Urs Erbacher into his back-up Top Fuel dragster for this weekend's 10th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"With the short turnaround time between Houston and Las Vegas we just didn't have time to inspect the car as closely as I feel we need to for it to be ready to race," crew chief Wayne Dupuy said. "It needs to be put on a jig and checked with a laser before I put Urs back in the seat. I'm not going to take any chances.

"I told the guys to load up last year's car and we left the new one in our Houston shop. This one is heavier, which isn't great, but we'll work with it. We went to the semis in Pomona in November so it's a pretty good car. I'm just glad we had it pretty much ready to go because we really only had a day to prepare it before we had to leave."

As for the cause of the accident, Dupuy and Erbacher discovered the problem and have already taken steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"It stripped all the teeth off the bottom crank gear and the camshaft quit turning," Dupuy said. Consequently, the valves quit opening so the manifold filled up with fuel. With the new electronics the NHRA has us running it keeps firing so it ignited and we had that huge explosion.

"That exact same thing happened to Tony Pedregon last year in Pomona when he had that big boomer and burned himself up. It was the same parts by the same manufacturer. The blower snout is longer, so there's more torque on the blower belt. That pulls that crank gear up more than normal and it gets hot. After awhile, the heat treatment wears off and you have trouble.

"We're not really in the regular cliche of racers out here so we hadn't heard about this problem. Most of the other guys talked about it after Tony's deal and they've fixed the problem. We just weren't in that loop so we learned the hard way."

Erbacher will race this event and has plans to race in Chicago but unless he gets additionally funding, he may be sidelined after that.

"We are working very hard to stay and race NHRA," Erbacher said. "As we all have seen, it's very tough economic times right now so it is tough to get deals done. We're working as hard as we can. We want to stay and race."

Erbacher is the most successful European driver to compete in Top Fuel in more than 30 years.

-credit: uePR

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Urs Erbacher