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Bruce Howie's nitrous 1963 XL Falcon ute at Drag Challenge 2019

By Iain Kelly | Photos: Shaun Tanner, Michelle Porobic, Luke Hunter, 09 Jan 2020 Drag Challenge

Bruce Howie's nitrous 1963 XL Falcon ute at Drag Challenge 2019

Bruce Howie brought his nitrous-huffing XL Falcon ute back to Drag Challenge 2019 for another crack at the Turbosmart Outlaw Blown class

While he normally runs a 347ci Windsor up front, the stroker motor suffered a calamity just a fortnight out from DC, throwing Bruce’s preparations into chaos.

Ford XL ute drag challenge

“Two weeks before Drag Challenge the Windsor dropped a valve at Heathcote,” sighed Bruce. “So I fitted a stock-bottom-end 302 that I had in my panel van. It was from a Fairlane with a couple-hundred-thousand kilometres on it. I put some new Chinese heads on it and plonked the intake on from my other engine.”

Read next: Bruce Howie's XL Falcon ute at Drag Challenge 2018

Ford XL ute drag challenge

Bruce’s ute runs what he described as a “poor man’s Gear Vendors” overdrive to tame the four-speed Jerico manual on road legs. This is actually a spare BorgWarner diff loaded with a lazy 3.08 ratio, which he swaps in as a complete third-member for road legs. Before racing the car, he swaps in another BorgWarner running drag-friendly 4.11 ratios. “It’s too hard to drive with the Jerico and 4.11s, but the 3.08 was great as you could drive at 2500rpm,” Bruce said.

Ford XL ute drag challenge

Bruce and co-driver Cody Sutherland managed to surprise themselves at DC 2019, pulling a string of impressive times, from the 11.40@123mph on Day One, to the 7.19@96mph and 7.29@97mph at Mildura on Days Two and Three, backed up with a 7.76@97mph at Portland.

On Day Five they added more gas and pulled an 11.06@124mph, which had Bruce cheering and won him the Quickest Stick-Shift trophy.

Bruce Howie

“Going across the line, it was valve-floating at 6000rpm, but it got us through the week,” Bruce laughed. “I never thought it would go that quick; I was over the moon.

“We started off with a 50-shot, and stepped up to a 100-shot on Day Five. I want a visit from the ANDRA guys, because it doesn’t have a ’cage, but we didn’t quite get there.”

Bruce Howie

TROPHIES:
QUICKEST STICK-SHIFT

1963 FORD XL FALCON UTE
Class: Turbosmart Outlaw Blown

SPECS
Engine:
302ci Windsor V8
Transmission: Jerico four-speed
Clutch: 7.25in Tilton
Diff: BorgWarner, 4.11:1 gears
Power: N/A
Previous PB: N/A
Best DC 2019 Pass: 11.06@124mph

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