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The Lost Art Of Rowing Gears!

I write often about growing up a huge fan of NHRA’s Pro Stock eliminator and how watching the drivers actually shift gears really drew me to it as a “driver’s class”, despite being the slowest of the three main Pro classes. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, Pro Stock transmission featured individual levers that engaged each gear, a design that gave way to air shifters, then eventually the “Z-gate” style shifter used today.

Watching guys like Warren Johnson, Lee Shepherd and Bob Glidden dump the clutch and grab those levers, yanking each into position before grabbing the next and repeating unit they pulled 5th gear, then reaching for the parachutes as they covered the top half of the track with the engines screaming. The excitement went down quite a bit when air-shifted transmissions became the norm, but accusations of cheating by using timers or RPM switches to shift instead of the driver’s input brought back an actual manual shifter. The modern Z-Gate style shifter is a beautiful piece of equipment that allows the driver to keep his hands on the same lever and simply pull back to shift to second, then push forward to engage 3rd, pull for 4th and finally push again for 5th.

Noah Stickland is throwing it back to the good ol’ days behind the wheel of Rich Adkins’ Chevrolet Cobalt. While this car isn’t quite as powerful as a Pro Stocker, it’s every bit as cool to watch and, I have to assume, to drive as well! Powered by a 432 cubic inch small block with 18 degree heads and backed by a 4-speed Lenco transmission, Noah gets to grab gears just like WJ and Company did all those years ago. The car has an East-West 8” clutch setup and a small shot of nitrous to motivate the Willie Rells-built Cobalt to a best run to date of 4.61 at 150 MPH with an insane 0.980 sixty foot.

Strickland says the team plans to drop in actual nitrous pistons over the winter and up the jets to give the car some more power to compete in Top Sportsman. Check out Noah’s skills in the video below, showing him yanking levers just like the OG’s used to do it!


Noah Strickland pulling the gears!!

Posted by Rich Adkins on Monday, August 27, 2018

Talk about how most young kids can’t do it, how difficult it is, and all that stuff

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