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Updates Updates

It has been a while for any updates on the team.

With the close of the last season, as a whole the jet car community was in some disarray. The last half of the year was a very costly one for jet cars; we had a number of accidents which a few paid the ultimate price.

We with the Invader Team, as well as other teams, tried to form a safety committee to become a focal point with the sanctioning bodies. But after a few months, and a limited number of positive responses, we just handled our own communications.

In the fall, I began to put together a new engine for an upcoming project. Completely disassembled and put only the best airworthy parts into it. Stripping down to bare metal and priming the case, hand polishing the pumps, gearbox, and starter to make not only a powerful engine but one of total show quality. It so far has been a long project, but one of small worthy steps.

During this time, the team also helped out a few other teams with some engine work, overhaul and maintenance work, and even entertained the idea of completing a chassis to a finished car but time soon ran out.

We also as a community felt another loss. Some one stole the Green Mamba!! Yes one of the most identifiable jet vehicles ever and some stupid person stole it. After a couple of week, the police found it but it was carved up. The chassis was cut into four or five pieces, the engine was damaged by a fork lift and all Doug’s tools and spare parts were missing. Like a lot of people across the country, we were doing what we could. We spent time scrounging through the bone yard, aviation scrap yards, calling every lead we could find for parts for the Mamba. After a lot of sweat and hard work Doug was able to bring the Green Mamba back to life!

Then just before the New Year, I was off for an overseas duty with my military unit. For those you don’t know, my full time job is with the Air National Guard. I have spent the last 17 year serving our country and have been deployed numerous times, even making it hard to run events. I don’t even know how many times we have had to turn down a race because I was overseas somewhere. One time I actually listened to my dad make a pass on the phone when I was in the United Arab Emirates! Even helped someone track down some parts while I was in France!! Talk about global service!!

So after spending the New Year in Spain and Turkey supporting our troops deployed, I returned to the states. My brothers, while I was gone, were not just sitting around idle. During this time they found, inspected, and negotiated a price for an airworthy, low time J-34 Westinghouse just like in the Original Invader and the Emergency 1. So, once I returned this made for a quick road trip for a final inspection and pick up for this engine. It is so complete it is still in the pod that it was installed on the aircraft.

Then a miracle happened. The missing body of the Emergency 1 surfaced! Complete! Our first jet car, one of the most popular cars of the 1970’s, is within our grasp. Guess what, another road trip!!!

While on the road, we get a mysterious call from a friend from the past. One of the guys that used to help us with the Emergency 1 had seen our website and wanted to talk about a project. He had gone with us to the races when he was younger, and was a stuntman at the time. We were racing Hayden Proffitt with the Hot Streak car doing fireballs and our friend would spit fire like a dragon. Pictures even made it into the magazines at the time.

But that was then, this is now, and he was looking for someone to a few passes for a television commercial. He put us in contact with the agency shooting, things were negotiated, and we were off to Pomona!

The first time jets have run at Pomona in almost 20 years! Being part of a television set was awesome! Rigging cameras, crews, equipment, food, everything was first class. Even the bathrooms brought in were trimmed with redwood and air conditioned! Being at the fairgrounds, and the fact that it takes so long to set up so many different shots, we had a little down time. The NHRA Museum was there but closed that day, but when we asked they opened it up for a private tour. It is breathtaking, from Forces funny car, to Enders Junior Dragster to the Armor All Rocket Dragster it is nothing but history!

After all day, we were finally ready for our shot. Cameras from six different locations, then action…. We fire up the Invader put on a huge fire show and made a pass. Cut! Came back around and the crew was jumping and screaming how cool! As we loading up, the director thanked us and said they would let us know if we made the final cut in the commercial. Cruising back to Arizona we were feeling pretty good.

When we finally returned home, I had a few messages waiting. During this off season I had been working with a computer game company who is developing a new Drag Racing game, and in it would be the first time ever that a jet power vehicle can be drag raced in a game. On top of that, you can drive or drive against the INVADER!! More about the game will be coming soon, with a due out around mid summer.

With the first race fast approaching, we could figure on us taking a small breather, no. We then committed to a new project, a complete restoration of Jim Deist’s original jet dragster. One of the original style, sitting in front of the front wheels, J-34 Westinghouse power plant, short wheel base, and boy is this going to be fun. It is completely old school, manual afterburner, full suspension it just does not get any better. We plan on a complete of chassis restoration, but also fully operational.

Then I get the call....It's on It's ON!! The commercial hit nation wide! We are in the Lexus commercial Fast ReImagine. About a two second hit, but hell we made it!! We have received some great feadback from it and some other possible interests.

The Firebird Raceway Monster Truck and Jet Jam were upon us. The team went out early to fire up the INVADER for the local channel 10 morning show. This was also the perfect time to test out the new and improved fire show on the INVADER. If you ever talk to the fans, the only draw back to a small engine car like the J-60’s or J-85’s is the size of the fire show. The small engine cars just don’t normally have the volume of fire that a J-34 can put out. Well the team had been working and calculating all winter on a way to improve the show. At the morning show fire up, everything worked great there was some major improvement to the show, with a slight dial in for improvement.

The Monster Truck and Jet Jam was a two day race this year. With a single pass planned for Saturday and two passes on Sunday. Saturday came with some down right HOT weather! The crowd was a good size, and the jet had come out in full force. Joe Zaccaro came from Los Angles with three cars, The Terminal Velocity, The White Lightening, and the brand new Detroit Dragon Corvette J-60 powered Jet Funny Car. All the way from Salt Lake City came Ken Marley in the Rocky Mountain Thunder J-34 powered Jet Funny Car. That car was the original Les Shockley Shockwave Jet Funny Car for you history buffs. Joe Douthit and his California Smokey J-85 powered Jet Dragster and Bob Geottle and his J-60 powered Jet Dragster rounded out the cars performing.

As the afternoon approached, the wind and dust storm from hell (or Tucson whichever) rolled in. After about 40 minutes, it rolled off and the temperature cooled down nicely. Ken Marley & Joe Zaccaro faced off as a warm up of things to come later. This match up shows the difference of a J-34 vs. J-60 fire show. Ken’s Rocky Mountain Thunder flames were enormous, but along with the larger fire show came more fuel consumption. At the launch, Ken’s Thunder was reduced to a cloud of smoke as he ran out of fuel.

As the Arizona sun set, crowd was prepared for the jet dragsters to roar across the desert. First out was the Terminal Velocity against the White Lightening, with the flicker of amber the pair was off. The Terminal Velocity edge out the win against the White Lightening.

Joe Douthit and Bob Geottle were the second set up, and Bob streaked to the win with a 5.41 to Joe’s 5.51. The crowd was on their feet, but failed to see the problem. Joe had a parachute failure which seemed to drive him into the wall. After sliding to a stop, Joe was able to get out of the car uninjured, but the California Smokey was totaled. She looked as if she was bent into a u shape. The cockpit was straight and fully intact, a testament to the chassis builder.

While the track crew cleaned up the debris from the track, the Invader sat poised on the line for a single. After the track was fully inspected and release for running the Invader. Now nice and dark, the Invader’s new fire show would be fully appreciated. The flames were so huge; the track personnel were backing up!! A nice solid single pass made, the funny cars were back to close the show.

Sunday brought more heat to the Valley of the Sun, and the first round was scheduled for 1 pm, nice and hot!! The two Zaccaro car were again paired up with the Terminal Velocity car making in two – zero. Bob Geottle was matched up with the Invader. The Invader put on a huge fire show, while Bob started after the Invader. Pulling into the staging beams, both cars readied for launch, but as the amber flickered, Bob was gone and the Invader motored down the track. The new fire show had rapid drained the fuel, and was unable to light the burner as the fuel ran out!!
As the jet cars refueled and readied for the last run, disaster struck again. The Monster Trucks while performing their show damaged the retaining wall. With this damage, the track was unable to allow the jets to make their final runs.
After that event, I had to have knee surgery and currently recuperating to be able to run the next event coming shortly. We also are in the process of cleaning the Deist Jet Dragster to have on display while we are performing at the Firebird Raceway Jet’s vs. Funny Car race in June.

Hope to see you there……

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