Dave Schroeder Returns From 2016 Crash to Dominate Drag Week 2017

By: Todd Veney l Images by Hot Rod Magazine09/26/2017 < Back to Blog Home
Dave Schroeder made a triumphant return to Hot Rod Drag Week with a stiffer chassis, a new front half, and noticeably more power than his incredible '66 Corvette had a year ago, outrunning eight other vehicles to win the Unlimited class title in a landslide with an average of 6.81 at 207 mph. Schroeder ran a best of 6.57/217 in Cordova, IL; 6.60/214 in St. Louis; 7.04/199 in Byron, IL; 6.75/196 in Union Grove, WI; and 7.08/209 back in Cordova to crush the competition by more than a full second and 30 mph.

Last year in Columbus, Ohio, Schroeder had just crossed the finish line on the quickest and fastest run of his life at the time when his parachutes failed to deploy. With the end of the National Trail Raceway shutdown area – one of the shortest in the country – getting closer and closer and his car traveling 300 feet per second, Schroeder, who had just run a 6.85 at a tick below 200 mph, got on the brakes and the car veered into the wall. "I remember thinking, 'Oh shoot, the chutes won't open,' and grabbed too much brake," Schroeder said. "Carbon brakes take a second to work, but when they get hot, they really grab and I was into the wall. After the wreck, everything in front of the firewall had to be replaced."

Chris Terry Racing in Alabama performed major surgery and took care of most of the final welding. Schroeder's cousin, John Ens, working out of his three-car garage in Winnipeg, Manitoba, put in a lot of crazy hours to get the car back on the quarter-mile, engineering virtually everything on the car. The massive 800+ cubic-engine engine was originally built by the legendary Reher-Morrison shop of NHRA Pro Stock fame, bought from former Pro Mod star Khalid alBalooshi, and reworked by renowned Canadian drag racer Ken Murray. It's got a host of Holley products – the entire EFI system, coils, street fuel pump, race pump, dual drive-by-wire Holley Dominator EFI, and an NOS dry nitrous system. "It wasn't hard to set up at all," Schroeder said. "Everything was pretty straightforward, and anything that was peculiar, Doug [Flynn] and Robin [Lawrence] from Holley took care of. They were fantastic help throughout the process and know the system inside and out."

The late Monte Smith, a former championship driver and renowned nitrous guru who passed away March 7, was instrumental in getting Schroeder and crew to step up to the Unlimited class and build more power. "The car used to have a hard time getting 'up on the tire' because the guy who originally wired the system had only half of the coils wired right," Schroeder said. "Four were grounded to the head and four weren't. Tom Warga fixed everything that was wrong with the wiring, and Doug was amazed that the car used to run as well as it did without having the coils grounded properly. With this new system, we noticed as soon as we fired the engine the first time how much better it was running."

Schroeder made a couple 330-foot hits at Cordova Dragway, and the difference was immediately apparent. "It's a shame Monte wasn't there to see it," Schroeder said. "He built the nitrous system, did everything. We struggled last year, couldn't get the car to run hard for the first 60 feet. It would shake the tires and it just kept right on shaking until the transmission broke. This year, from the very first test run, the car really got up on the tire. It felt like I was in a completely different car. It'll take some work – we're just getting started with this thing – but I really think that with a little more time we can get in the 6.20s."

If you're going to be at the SEMA show in Las Vegas or the PRI show in Indianapolis this year, be sure to look for Schroeder's amazing machine right across from Holley in the Gear Vendors booth at SEMA and in the Holley/MSD booth at PRI.