Saint-Lazare dragster taking to the track
PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS
Scott Preston poses with his purple pride and joy, showing it off on his quiet Saint-Lazare driveway before towing it down to make a lot of noise at Napierville Dragway this weekend.
Saint-Lazare’s Scott Preston isn’t going to let the pandemic slow him down, at least not behind the wheel of his new dragster. As an airline employee, like many others, he has found himself with a lot of extra time these days - time that he’s been putting to use by getting finishing touches done on the 1,800-pound rear-motor dragster he’s been working on for over three years.
“It’s just about ready,” says Preston. “I’m going to finish it up and this weekend I’ll be taking it out on the track for the first time to run some trials. We’re going to see how it goes.”
It will be this car’s first run but far from it for Preston who’s been working on and driving dragsters for 45 years.
“I started when I was 16,” he said, “and I’m still going.” He acknowledges with some pride that there are, “…not a lot of 61-year-olds,” pursuing this kind of racing but he does it for the love of the sport.
In Preston’s case, the sport means sitting atop 850 horsepower, created by a 500-cubic-inch engine that will propel him and the machine he’s strapped into at speeds of up to 185 miles per hour (that’s about 300 Km/h for those counting in metric). The goal for these NHRA Super Comp cars is to go from a standing start to crossing the finish line on a quarter-mile track in as close to 8.90 seconds as possible, without going under. Says Preston, “The only rules are for safety equipment, and elimination for any racers that go under the 8.90 index.” Other than that, any modifications and customizing are allowed.
PHOTO BY SCOTT PRESTON
Starting with just the frame, Preston’s impressive dragster was built entirely by hand in the driveway and the garage over a period of years – from constructing its transmission to machining all the panels it’s clad with.
A long time coming
Until now, all the driving Preston has done has been in other racers’ cars. “I’ve always been crew, starting back in the day I’d work on the cars at the speed shop in Montreal and other places, and I’d take them out on the track to push them and test them for the other guys to race. We won a lot of races that way, even some national championships, but now it’s my time to be the guy driving in the event.” That also means it’s Preston’s time to be the guy who owns the dragster and pays all the bills.
“It isn’t cheap,” he says. “I figure it’s cost about $35,000 to $40,000 for the motor and the transmission and everything else.” He’s also needed to get a trailer (it isn’t exactly legal to drive a dragster casually along a Quebec highway) and of course a truck to tow it with. And while the prize money can get into the thousands for a bigger championship, that isn’t what Preston says he’s in it for. What he’s really excited for is to get the car down to Napierville Dragway (about 15 minutes north of the U.S. border) this weekend, and get behind the wheel to see what his car can do. As for this year’s run for the quarter-mile championship, says Preston, “I can’t wait.”