dates : 9th January 2005
13th January 2005
Drag Racing received a major
boost over the past year as Wesbank Raceway played host to a
drag race just about every weekend through the 2004 season.
But the major meeting of the year was undoubtedly the finals
of the national championships, where the street cars made way
for some of the fastest supercharged purpose-built racers in
The driving force behind Wesbank Raceway is Peter Lindenberg
and his long-time business partner Jan Johnson. The pair cut
their competitive teeth in powerboat racing and water-skiing
many years ago. And this year Jan followed Peterís
wheel-tracks into the Ėland-bound motorsport arena as a
The close co-operation between promoters at different drag
strips has been a major reason for drag racingís resurgence
in the past 18 months.
The car that Jan ran in the final round of the nationals is
this fuel-injected, V8-powered monster, known in drag racing
jargon as a rail.
The rails run in various classes and Janís machine is
designed to run the 400 metre strip in the nine-second
In fact Jan upset the establishment earlier this year by
winning a round of the nationals against vastly more
Unlike the Supercharged drag cars, some of which run on
explosive nitro methane, Janís car runs on cheaper methanol,
which nevertheless produces considerably more power than
The V8 is a genuine aluminium Ford Motorsport block, very rare
in this country, and is good for some 800 horsepower or 600
The engine uses titanium con-rods and special pistons giving a
compression ratio of 12 to one and displaces just over six-litres
The idea of a rail is to keep a high-horsepower car such as
this as stable as possible, hence the very long length.
This car is some eight metres in length, but just 1,4 metres
wide. And the cockpit area is a tight squeeze.
Power to the rear wheels on Janís car is via a three-speed
automatic gearbox culled from an old Fairmont GT. And the rear
differential is a drastically shortened Ford Nine-Incher,
almost the standard recipe for Rails in the non-supercharged
The power meets the earth through special soft-walled drag
slicks that provide exceptional grip off the starting line.
Janís youngest daughter Laura is her line-lady, playing a
vital role in the starting procedure on race day.
The car is prepared by Janís crew headed up by Edwin Theron
(big blonde dude in Powerade gear with Moses Phamodi as chief
To prepare for a blast down the 400 metre strip at well over
200 km/h, it helps to be in good physical shape. Here Jan does
a weekly Yoga workout accompanied by her eldest daugher Kirby,
under the watchful eye of Alex "The Great" Kassel.
Car Torque is