Jeff Arend wasn’t shy about letting Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car team owner/driver Dale Pulde know if the opportunity presented itself he’d love to drive his famed War Eagle Pontiac again.
For Arend, the bold approach was the best.
This boldness enabled Arend his second shot at driving the classic Funny Car since last March when he filled for Pulde, who was and continues to recover from a severe case of Valley Fever, a respiratory ailment.
“I let Dale know that I had so much fun doing this last year that if the opportunity presented itself again, and I had an open weekend, I’d like to do it again,” Arend said.
The opportunity presented itself when regular driver James Day left the team to drive Gary Turner’s Pedaler Plymouth Arrow.
The team staged a test in the days prior to Bakersfield for Arend to become re-acclimated with the car. Success in the test was limited with no runs making it to the finish line under power.
Arend’s first run at Bakersfield was exactly the opposite. Not only did the car reach the finish line under power but also as the second quickest run in qualifying with a 5.82 elapsed time.
“It was kind of funny because the first time I made a run in the car last year, it went a 5.82,” said Arend.
Though he’s made hundreds of laps in big show Funny Cars, driving a nostalgia Funny Car is a delightful and educational experience wrapped up into one.
“There’s not that much difference except the fuel shutoff is backwards,” Arend explained. “Every other car I’ve ever driven, you pull them back to turn them off. This car has two of them and they have to be pushed forward. You just have to think a bit and put it back in high gear before you run. After the burnout, I always take it out of high gear. There’s not a lot of stuff you can goof up too much.
“They are a lot of fun to drive. Maybe its not as fast as my DHL Toyota but it still runs some impressive numbers. You have a shifter between your legs. There’s no tach or shift life, and it’s usually screaming about 9,000 rpm. There’s no side window; it sounds loud. Plus, there’s no downforce and the car is all over the place. I really love doing this.”
Arend said he’s still gaining the feel of the seat in the Nostalgia Funny Car.
“I haven’t driven these cars enough to know what is a really good run,” admitted Arend. “It could go a 5.80 or a 6.20 and I wouldn’t know.”
One thing he does know is he’s found a stress reliever for off weekends.
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