Red Deer’s Barry Daniluk made history by going faster than any drag racer in his class has gone before.
On March 11, the 63-year-old drove 660 feet (an eighth of a mile or 201 metres) in less than four seconds in a vehicle with a naturally-aspirated motor. (This means his engine had no power-added Supercharger, turbocharger or nitrous oxide systems).
Later the same weekend at the Professional Drag Racer’s Association Southern Extreme Nationals at the South Georgia Motorsports Park, Daniluk beat his own record of 3.989 seconds, by racing the same distance at an even quicker 3.979 seconds.
Either way, he’ll go down in history as the first racer in his class to cover an eighth of a mile in less than four seconds — a feat his competitors have been attempting for decades.
“I’m thrilled to achieve what nobody else has done,” said the retired oilfield service worker, who credits his fine tuning of his car’s chassis, its solid components and massive 978-cubic inch motor, built by Ron Miller of Lebanon, Ohio, for allowing him to make that kind of time.
He hit a top speed of 183 miles per hour. Although buckled into a seven-point harness, he still felt G-forces as his car accelerated down the short, straight track, before two parachutes deployed to prevent his custom-built ‘68 Camero from over-running the raceway.
Daniluk had been tinkering with muscle cars for years before starting to race nine years ago. “I love drag racing because I like the competition. The level of competition is extreme,” he said.
Daniluk has had a few close calls just because a few drops of water or oil were left on the raceway. “Things can go very wrong, very fast… but it’s exciting.”
While he started racing in Western Canada, he now competes in the Eastern U.S. because it provides the best opportunities to race in his class. Daniluk keeps his race car, worth about $275,000 US, in the States, so he doesn’t have to haul it down for each event.
Of the 30 “very, very, very fast cars” that arrive for competitions, he said only 16 will qualify to race. Drivers compete from all over the U.S., so for a Canadian to not only do well in their ranks, but to break a record is a fulfilling achievement,” said Daniluk.
“There was a tremendous amount of congratulations,” he said. “My Facebook (page) went insane!”
His next race is in June. But Daniluk looks forward to competing in the fall, when the air is denser — hopefully allowing his car to go faster still.