Thursday, October 14, 2021

When Turbochargers Entered The Drag Racing World With Potential

86 Buick Pro Stock Turbocharged




It was back in 1986 when Buick started to master the turbocharger game. Turbochargers have been around for quite a while before the first 1984 and '85 Buick Grand National and T-Type turbos came out. The '84 and '85 Buick turbos lacked the power that the 1986 and '87 Buick turbos did due to lack of an intercooler and other things. But even with the success of the two-sedan being faster than all of the other American sports cars at the time, no one expected to see one compete in a Pro Stock class. 


Read all about the '86 and '87 Grand National success here. 


700+ cu.-in. Pro Stock Engines Racing Against A 286 cu.-in. Buick Engine


 Buddy Ingersoll Buick V6 Pro Stock

This is when the drag racing world started realizing that not always is it all about big blocks and displacement. This race was from 1986, but later the Buick setup would be deemed illegal in the Pro Stock classes. Of course, the reasons for the outlaw were a bunch of smokescreen excuses to hide the real truth - old-timers didn't understand it and didn't want to believe a V6 could beat a V8. 

To me, it sounds much like when Nitrous Oxide exploded on the drag racing scene - if you didn't understand it or you couldn't figure it out, it was easier to just say using NOS was cheating. 


Early '90s GS Nationals in Kentucky 














It was in the early '90s when I attended my first Buick GS Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway for a week (a week off school - a week at the drag strip)! That's when I saw the first single turbocharged Grand National break into the sevens (1/4-mile), and when I saw a T-Type in stock trim ride its bumper halfway down the track while still turning in a time of 10: something. That was when my cousin and I, best friends, knew we were watching something the drag racing world wasn't ready for yet. 

Buick Regal T-Type Doing Wheelie
















Slowly but surely, the drag racing world caught up, and now you'd be hard-pressed to see a drag car that isn't racing in a highly regulated class that doesn't have at least one turbo under the hood or another kind of power adder.  

Beech Bend Raceway







The lineup to get into the GS Nationals - all Buicks and the track entrance is quite a ways away.