Larsen Motorsports Jets Share Stage with Top Fuel Dragsters and ‘The Truck’
MARTIN, Mich. – When the Englishman, Sir Frank Whittle, patented his design for a turbojet aircraft engine in 1930, it’s unlikely that he imagined that one day someone would find a reason and a way to stuff his creation into a truck and engineer it NOT to fly.
It’s more likely that Sir Frank would be as astonished by the sight of “The Original Jet Truck” as the rest of the world.
Why Bob Motz believed there was a demand for such a vehicle is unclear. What’s important is that he was right. Jet airplanes today are commonplace. Jet-powered Kenworth conventionals capable of accelerating to 230 miles per hour in only one quarter mile of real estate are not.
As a result, the 72-year-old Motz, the man known as the “King of Quake,” returns to US 131 Motorsports Park this week (Aug. 11-12) where he will share center stage during the annual Northern Nationals with a slew of 330 mile-an-hour Top Fuel dragsters, nostalgic fuel Funny Cars and the Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters featuring Michigan natives Elaine Larsen and Jake Elliott.
Motz has tried the past two years to retire but the demand for “one more time” coupled with his genuine affection for a vehicle he conceived and constructed himself, have made it impossible simply to walk away.
So, he’s back this week at his favorite track for another encore, another assault on the senses at the wheel of a 7,000 pound, 1998 Kenworth tractor with sleeper that is propelled by the same GE J79 jet engine that provided power for the U.S. Air Force B-58 bomber and the F4 Phantom fighter jet. When Motz kicks in the afterburner, his truck sucks up jet fuel at the rate of 80 gallons per quarter mile.
If the truck doesn’t satisfy one’s need for jet speed, the Larsen dragsters certainly should.
Florida-based Larsen Motorsports is best known for its roster of female drivers including 50-year-old Elaine Larsen, who grew up in Middleton, Mich., but now lives with husband Chris in Melbourne Beach, Fla., and Kat Moller, 23, a graduate student at Florida Institute of Technology who is pursuing a Masters degree in Global Strategic Communications.
Larsen and Moller will be joined by the 29-year-old Elliott, a native of Cheboygan and graduate of Ferris State where he earned a BA degree in Welding Engineering Technology, and 34-year-old Dewayne Hill, an eight-year Marine veteran and one of the few black drivers licensed by either the NHRA or IHRA.
Topping the lineup of Top Fuel drivers is three-time NHRA World Champion Larry Dixon of Indianapolis. He will be joined by track record-holder Dom Lagana of Scarsdale, N.Y., Former IHRA World Champion Bruce Litton of Indianapolis, Ind., newcomer Kyle Wurtzel of Warsaw, Ind., veteran Pat Dakin of Dayton, Ohio and Todd Payton of Bristol, TN.
The undercard includes an eight-car field of nitro-burning nostalgia Funny Cars and six classic 1970s era fuel altereds. Nostalgia Funny Car qualifying is slated for 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday along with the track’s Lane Bracket Series test-and-tune session from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
General admission tickets purchased in advance are $20 Friday and $30 Saturday. Day-of-the-event tickets are $25 and $35, respectively. Children 6-12 are $10 each day and children five-and-under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
Two rounds of the Lane Automotive Bracket Series also will be a part of the show, one on Saturday and the other in the absence of the pros on Sunday.