“Gentleman Joe” Schubeck Rides Again!

“Gentleman Joe” Schubeck Rides Again!


From the man who invented the Lakewood Hydro Formed Hi Tech Scatter Shields in the 1960’s comes a new starting system called “Twin Spin” for Vintage Top Fuel Cackle Fest Dragsters. While it won’t have the mass appeal of Joe Schubeck’s hugely successful Lakewood Products, this new system demonstrates that innovative products can spring from anywhere –at any time.

His new company “Schubeck High Performance Solutions” has commenced product development for the Vintage Front Engine Dragsters and again using the same test bed that he did more than fifty years ago, his classic AA/FD dragster, that he competed with for the last time in 1965. It is now beautifully restored and complete with the original 392 Hemi engine and supercharger burning Nitromethane and the same cool paint scheme. The car has been touring the popular Cackle Fests throughout the Country

Cackle Fest events generally require a stationary or static start, rather than the push start used back in the day. The most current method for starting involves an external electric aircraft starter that cranks the engine for the start

First, know that these engines are notorious for having fuel leaks that puddle into the cylinder when you are running nitro in these dense quantities.  Excessive liquid nitro accumulating in the cylinder can be very destructive and even dangerous during start up.

Only after a precautionary purging of the cylinders by a crewman, who with a long breaker bar, rotates the engine in reverse to avoid any compression attempt on left over nitro from previous running. The crewman then administers a generous squirt of alcohol into the intake as starting fluid from a squeeze bottle.

For Schubeck, this process became just another challenge to overcome.  The possibility of positioning two engine mounted starters became obvious. A reverse rotation starter mounted on the right side of the firewall (block Plate) to purge the engine and a standard rotation starter on the left side for starting seemed likely

The priming of the engine was fairly simple. A new fuel tank was fabricated with a two-gallon storage area for alcohol inside, but separated from the ten gallons of nitro fuel with a partition. An electric fuel pump is activated which primes the engine by spraying alcohol into the injector hat when the button is pressed.

A pair of 12 volt dry cell batteries were installed for power to activate both the starters as well as the electric pump

Starting the engine is simply a work of art.  Using his highly skilled bell housing knowledge, Schubeck built a special firewall that allows mounting of the two high torque starters. Key to the system is a flywheel with a smaller than standard ring gear which locates the starters in a new position closer to the block.  This new location and the smaller ring gear does two things;  it prevents modifying the bell housing which is necessary when a standard ring gear is used and, it creates a new ratio for higher cranking rpm.  This is very beneficial for starting with a magneto ignition

To fire up the engine, a cockpit mounted button is pressed to activate the clockwise starter. The engine, already primed, is rotated with the magneto activated.  The result is a backfire free start up all remotely controlled by the crew chief or from the driver’s compartment

When the warm up of the engine on alcohol is sufficient, introducing the nitro fuel from the larger section of the tank is obtained by pushing the fuel shut-off lever to the open position. This allows the race ready fuel system to feed the engine with the nitro fuel while at the same time shutting off the flow of alcohol. The resulting change over to nitro fuel is an earful of loud exhaust – maybe ten times louder than with alcohol fuel.  The same “thrill” goes for the eye-watering of nitro exhaust.  But then that’s why they all come out for a cackle fest in the first place.  It’s sensory overload.

Clearly Joe Schubeck’s inventive ways are still going strong –regardless of the decade- with a system that rewrites a portion Front Engine Dragster history.