FUEL altereds have a reputation as drag racing’s wildest ride – overpowered, ill-handling and nitro-burning. And many examples of this elusive species were present at Missouri’s Mo-Kan Dragway for the Labor Day Weekend Classic on Sunday, including John Umlauf and the Wicked Wedge.
The 1948 Fiat coupe-bodied altered runs a unique 451ci Keith Black Wedge/Indy cylinder head combination, pumping over 90 per cent nitro and delivering the power through a B&J three-speed transmission.
In the first round of racing at Mo-Kan, disaster struck for John, when the Wicked Wedge kicked the rods out shortly before the eighth-mile mark, spraying oil under the rear tyres. From there Umlauf was on a ride, as the car slid before heading right into the Armco guard rail, then spearing across the braking area on fire, turning over and sliding into the grass.
The altered finished upside down, as crews from fellow teams coming back along the return road rushed to Umlauf’s aid before safety teams arrived on the scene.
Fortunately Umlauf was unhurt, but the car appears to be a complete write-off.