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World's fastest MGA surfaces in Germany
German automotive engineer Jan Hardekopf has Top Fuel driver/race promoter Rico Anthes to thank for introducing him to the delights of drag racing. Jan was a spectator at the inaugural 1/8-mile event held at the Hockenheimring in 1986 and after watching the weekend meeting, returned to his home in Leingarten with the thoughts of running his own car.
Jan later purchased a 3 litre Opel Manta that was to be campaigned as an ET (Elapsed Time) bracket car. This made its competition debut in 1991 at a small event in the former East Germany and in the year following was duly entered for Rico’s race at the ’Ring.
“I quickly found out that it was too slow for what I needed, the fuel-injected engine was pretty much stock and the best Elapsed Time clocking I achieved was 13.8 seconds.”
The ET class was later removed from the Hockenheim schedule and with Jan realising the Opel wasn’t going to make the grade in, say, Super Street, he made the decision to acquire something with rather more urge under the hood.
A 1986 Chevy Malibu replete with tube chassis and the necessary go-faster goodies fitted the bill nicely – “ this was my first V8-engined racecar” – and straight away Jan was carding low-ten-second passes. This was in 1994. One year later, he went on to annexe top honours in the 9.900-second Super Gas ranks, with the car running comfortably in the 10.1-second zone
Although a so-called mouse motor initially motivated the Chevy, this small-block was later removed in favour of 496 cubic inches of big-block motivation. Set up with an ACD throttle stop, this potent combination led to another championship crown in 1998, by which time the car had clocked a best elapsed time of 9.4 seconds.
But this powerhouse was just too much for the chassis set-up and the torque output such that it made driving the Malibu somewhat of a handful. So this engine was put aside and a 468ci installed in its place, making matters more predictable for the driver.
“This set-up was all well and good but after a while I began to think about getting something different. It had to be a lightweight car in which I could use the small-block that was stored in my garage. Some fellow racers told me about Hans Schreiber, a gentleman who had a British MGA racer parked in his barn for a few years. I contacted him and subsequently found out that Geof Hauser, a well-known name on the drag racing scene and with a good reputation for all manner of fabrication work, had built the car in question for him in Rushden, England.”
Hans had taken his original 1955 roadster along to Geof in ’93 and asked him to make a drag race version. No easy undertaking, but by using the road car as a template, Geof was able to create the unique quarter-mile machine that’s featured here.
The cloned race car sports a mild steel tube chassis and glass-fibre bodywork that’s instantly recognisable as an olld MGA, albeit modified as necessary to suit the Tarmac-torturing role. For example, the rear wheel wells have been enlarged to accommodate 14x15 Center Line rims mounting Hoosier 32/14 slicks, a rather large roll cage was incorporated for driver protection in case of mishap and a Stroud parachute mounted on the rear of the car to assist the Strange Engineering disc brakes in bringing it to a swift halt at the end of the track.
Geof used Strange strut suspension up front and a coil-over 4-link set-up at the rear, encompassing a Strange narrowed 9-inch live axle outfitted with Richmond 4.86:1 gears. Motivation currently comes from a 355ci V8 that’s outfitted with a Crane roller cam, 12.5:1 compression Manley pistons and Summit Racing steel rods. Induction chores are handled by a Barry Grant Demon 825cfm carburettor mounted atop an Edelbrock Victor intake manifold, an MSD 7AL-2 ignition system provides the spark of life and a CSI electric water pump keeps the engine coolant circulating.
Backing the mighty mouse motor is a Coan Turbo 400 automatic transmission replete with an 8-inch, 6000rpm stall-speed torque converter.
The tin-trimmed interior has a single Sparco high-back bucket seat with RCI restraints, a trio of Auto Meter instruments (rev counter, water temperature and oil pressure), switch panel and even a rear-view mirror in order that the driver can keep a close eye on his opponent. There’s a passel of other pertinent points, but suffice to say Messrs Hardekopf and Schreiber are well pleased with the Hauser Racing standard of workmanship.
Hans campaigned the car for just one season before suffering engine breakage at the ’Ring race in 1996. Lacking the necessary funds to acquire a replacement, he was forced to park the wounded warrior in a barn where it languished for some years until Jan heard about the tale from some fellow racers. He went along to see the vehicle and agreed to buy it (less engine) in 2001. Jan’s old small-block was duly installed and a couple of modifications made in order to comply with revised class rules – extra weight was added and the driving position lowered – prior to his putting the revitalised car through some test paces. With some pretty successful runs under his belt, the deal was sealed and ownership passed from Hans to Jan.
In 2002, the car competed in the 5-round German championship series and the owner was delighted when he ended that season with the title. This run of success was repeated in 2003, during the course of which year he was particularly chuffed when garnering victory at Hockenheim against a tough 32-car field of Super Gassers, the win being instrumental in his clinching championship laurels for a second straight season.
Although Jan was unable to defend the title in 2004 – “ we had an engine problem and I missed two rounds” – the novel English/American hybrid race car dubbed Outlaw and sporting an attention-grabbing paint scheme inspired by US racer K.C. “Hollywood” Spurlock’s Fruit of the Loom nitro Funny Car, will be back with a vengeance in 2005.
Although Jan plans to cut back on his racing endeavours in 2005 in order to test some new stuff on the car, here’s hoping the Fatherland’s sole MGA quarter pounder will be back with a vengeance in 2006, though that’s something his Super Gas colleagues probably hope will not be the case!
In the meantime he’d like to thank his loyal crewmen - Roland Mumm, Hans Schreiber, Jörg Goede and Thomas Hirning - for their unstinting efforts in helping him secure the aforementioned championships.
Story & photos: Andy Willsheer