Titanium Wheelie Bar Part of Jason Rupert’s Championship Equation
Jason Rupert is a six-time Nostalgia Funny Car Champion who is currently readying a Nitro Funny Car to compete in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. A welder by trade, Jason Rupert has utilized the materials and expertise at TMS Titanium to create parts on his Rolling Thunder ’69 Camaro Nostalgia Funny Car that set the IHRA records of 5.52 seconds and 262 mph in the quarter-mile.
One such component is the wheelie bar. Funny Cars use wheelie bars as both a safety measure to make sure their cars don’t launch into a wheelstand and a tuning device to control the ride height of the rear wheels on the launch.
Having previously run a wheelie bar made out of the same Chromoly steel tubing that the chassis is required to be made from by rule, Rupert decided that it would be advantageous to make a new wheelie bar out of lighter titanium material. Rupert worked with TMS Titanium to order the correct grade titanium tubing and the TiCON welding rod for him to construct the wheelie bar.
“They know what grades of titanium to use on brackets and stuff that has to flex,” said Rupert. “Being able to rely on their knowledge of the materials and apply them to our needs is what is so nice about working with Todd Harrison and everyone at TMS Titanium. We used 1-1/8-inch tubing with a .058-inch wall. I didn’t have to do anything but just make it.”
The weight savings translates into performance. With a car and driver that register above the 2,300-pound minimum weight in the category, having a wheelie bar perform the same function at approximately two-thirds of the previous weight eliminates mass that needs to accelerate from a standing start. Furthermore, the location of the mass is not beneficial to the weight balance of the race car.
“The wheelie bar hangs past the centerline of the rear axle,” explained Rupert. “It’s like a lever effect. If you have 10 pounds hanging past the car four or five feet, the ratio actually makes it heavier. It definitely makes a difference.”
The wheelie bar is just one of many areas where TMS Titanium supplies titanium for racing. Stay tuned for future installments.