An Eastern Canadian dragster class enthusiast has revealed plans to go NHRA TAD racing in 2017…
Jeff Chatterson, from Brantford Ontario, who had for a number of seasons campaigned some unique Ford-powered dragsters in conjunction with his late father, Rick Chatterson, will get into some “stab and steer” injected nitro car racing beginning next summer.
Well known for his past efforts within Quick 8/Top Dragster type racing, Jeff began tooling around for the first time with a supercharged alcohol burning TAD locally last season. But he has now confirmed a change in direction from that initial class effort.
“It’s always been my preference to drag race on a heads-up basis,” Jeff explained. “But over the last few years it was getting hard to find events like that to attend. I’d always wanted to go and do some NHRA racing – so building a TAD became a next logical step.”
Jeff initially purchased a used but complete chassis a couple years ago. Then after he and his son Ryan completely stripped that car right down – they reassembled it with a number of changes and upgrades. He then tested that particular car two or three times last summer – with mixed results.
“That car had a supercharged KB motor with a PSI — it made great power — it was basically everything to go TAD racing,” he added. “But that chassis was in fact built for a injected nitro motor and we determined we did need a three speed transmission car. We then realized that there was no way to fit a 3-speed into that chassis (which was built for no transmission – just a reverser). In TAD with just a 2-speed – I didn’t think the car could be very competitive.”
So Jeff then made the decision to put that current dragster up for sale and to go a different route.
“This dragster would make a nice fit into Top Dragster/Q8 class racing for sure – it can easily run in high fives,” he continued. “We thought initially about putting an injected nitro motor into the chassis, but when we were looking around on the internet for that combination – we actually found a completely different car and operation with a motor. And the price for everything compared to buying just a motor alone was attractive and made more sense.”
Chatterson confirmed he has now purchased a tried and true injected nitro car which was formally owned by Colorado’s Dennis Drath and driven by “Dyno Dave” Heitzman. That turnkey car has a 433 CID TFX motor with Alan Johnson heads. The car in fact qualified #2 and went to the semi final round at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indy back in 2012 – but has been sitting idle ever since.
Going forward Jeff plans to take delivery of that new car soon and will then initially work towards completing his licensing upgrade in the spring. There is also a likely scenario involving the inclusion of Dennis Drath’s former crew chief (who actually assembled the car) being a consultant and tuner for Jeff’s transition period.
“This summer I plan to get my feet wet in the class and I’d like to attend a couple of NHRA Division 3 races,” Jeff summised. “Over the next couple seasons I’d like to try to make some sort of impact in the class.”
The new dragster project will also help to rekindle Jeff’s dragster racing aspirations which while deep in history were cut short following the untimely passing of his father Rick early in 2012. Since then his racing has been very limited – making only a couple appearances with his unique Ford-powered Spitzer chassied car.
“As you know Rick loved racing his dragsters and it’s pretty cool that we can now evolve forward in his memory,” he smiled. “He steered everything we did in drag racing before and I feel he is still looking out for us. He would definitely be all over what we are going to do now!”
Jeff will continue to fund his family racing, which includes his wife Janet, and sons Ryan and Jeremy, from his highly successful Chatterson Machine & Tool (established in 1985) and Chatterson Fabrication companies located in Brantford. Both those companies specialize in and offer a wide range of custom and versatile services for it’s customers.
Post and photos by Bruce Biegler