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Dana Hard’s name is no stranger to the pages of BangShift. We hang out at his machine shop, Custom Auto Machine in Weymouth, Massachusetts (because he tolerates us) and we’ve showed you the build and progress of his Hard Guys Mustang nostalgia nitro funny car. What we haven’t done is updated you about the first year that the car turned its tires in anger on the match race circuit up here in the New England area. Hard wisely teamed up with Mike Smith, a guy who has literally been in the nitro business for his entire life to shoe the car and work on the setup. We say wisely because many, many people have entered the world of nitro drag racing only to see their bank accounts, race cars, personal lives, and common sense self-immolate in a swirl of smoke, fumes, and fire. The Hard Guys machine suffered no such fate. Starting with a conservative base line tune, the guys worked their way down through the six second zone until they clipped the 5s and then started to really throw some logs onto the fire.
There’s nothing cheap or budget-minded about racing with nitromethane, but Hard’s been pretty crafty and thoughtful in terms of getting his operation up and running. The vast majority of the hard parts that comprise the blown, nitro hemi engines are used pieces from NHRA “big show” teams purchased at a substantial discount. As tradesman are wont to do Hard worked some deals with local guys for the amazing paint and he muscled his brother for the lettering and graphics. Ok, muscled is a little strong, he just made thinly veiled threats.
Of all the things he did, having Mike Smith come on as the driver and lead tuner was (in our opinion) his best call. Mike’s dad Paul is known as one of the great bucks down crew chiefs of all time and pop taught the trade to both Mike and his brother John. Long story short, not one engine bit the dust in 2012 for The Hard Guys team. Sure they nicked pistons and used up consumable stuff like oil, the expensive nitro fuel, and clutch discs, but obscene carnage was not part of the program, a fact that Hard is all to happy to acknowledge.
Always on the lookout for good deals and solid parts on the second hand market, Hard has amassed a few more sets of components for spare shortblocks and he’s already gearing up for the 2013 season. Now that they have a solid year of running under their belt, The Hard Guys squad is planning on getting some more road miles under their collective belts in 2013. In the video below you can see that the car is capable of running hard and clean, besting two great opponents during a match race at New England Dragway. The first car to be felled by the Mustang is the Jake Crimmins owned and driven “Craaaazy Jake” 1979 Mustang. Smith rolls down into the top of the five second zone on that pass. The second lap is a solid run down into the 5.80s and more importantly, ahead of nationally known hitter Peter Gallen and his Poverty Stricken Vega bodied flopper. We’re going to try an angle ourselves onto the crew of this beastie once of twice in 2013 if Hard and the guys need help. We’ve passed oil pan washing 101, so we’re ready for the next step!
One of the coolest on-going stories we have been following here at BangShift over the last couple years has been the creation and evolution of The Hard Guys nostalgia nitro funny car team. Lead by car owner Dana Hard with expert help and driving ability by Mike Smith and a dedicated volunteer crew, what the guys have been able to do over a couple seasons has been nothing short of awesome to anyone who has been paying attention. They’ve also kick started a kind of wild funny car craze of their own up here in New England as their successes have inspired others to get in on the old school flopper fun.
One of the things that we have long praised the team for is their measured approach to performance and how they have decided to make the car incrementally quicker and faster, avoiding the urge to swing for the fences like some guys have done in search of heroic numbers. Those guys have looked past that and concentrated on making parts live, keeping race tracks dry, and getting a little better and a little quicker each time they appear at a track. They have been rewarded with elapsed times in the 5.70s with a pretty basic tune up that they have some plans to step on a little harder in 2014. Primarily a team that ran around New England, the guys ventured out to Maple Grove for their nostalgia “Geezer” event last year and promptly set the place on its ear with a number three qualifying spot due to a 5.815/237.59 mph laps which drew a collective, “Who the hell are THOSE guys?” From the rest of the racers in the joint.
You have certainly seen and heard Dana Hard’s name on the pages of BangShift before as we’ve shot lots of photos at his machine shop (Custom Automotive Machine – Weymouth, Massachusetts) and he has been a huge help on engine stuff with Project Buford T Justice. Outside of the Mustang, the guys run a blown altered and Dana’s right hand man Jon Wall campaigns his own blown alcohol nostalgia funny car the “Fireball Monza”.
With a bunch of fresh bullets, a newly acquired 48′ trailer, and confidence that they have enough car to be competitive at venues around the country, Dana and the boys are setting up their schedule to show the world what they are capable of in 2014. We’re pretty pumped up about that because it has been a loooong time since there was a New England based funny car team of chowderheads out there mixing it up with racers from other parts of the country. We’ll keep you posted on their schedule and progress. We’re planning to make The Hard Guys our “house car” for 2014 and provide you with a real world look at what its like to campaign a funny car on a “budget”. (Dana laughs maniacally when that word comes up). If you are around an area where the car will appear, you owe it to yourself to check it out because we’re maintaining that the machine is one of the, if not the finest looking nostalgia nitro funny cars in the world. Truth!