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Austin Photo Album


"If you don't make the dust...you eat the dust."


48' Austin, Lemon Twist, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1972 - Schmidt park, Gustine, California

I designed the Twist to be totally NHRA legal for AA/GS.  If you look, you will see that half of both doors opened and closed with door handles.  A Dutch door arrangement.  The fit by Bill Moranville was super.  The rules back then said that you had to, "...gain entrance from either side of the car."  It didn't say that the whole door had to work.  The top half's of the doors were glassed into the body to give it good strength to be a flip top design.  The engine was set back 10%, and the drivers location was on one side as per the rules.  I also used a chrome moly square tube main frame to resemble the stock frame.  I had Bill chop the top 3 inches in front, and 3 1/2 at the rear.  A lot of cars had their tops chopped 4 inches.  I felt the little extra vision was worth any very slight loss in aerodynamics.  I had Tom kick in the rear frame rails to accommodate large slicks, and keep them inside the body.  It used Koni adjustable shocks on the rear, and an adjustable coil-over, with an adjustable shock rate on the front.  I spotted the adjustable rate shocks in George Britting's (Britting Chassis) shop in Azusa, California.  When I drove down to pick up the body from my sponsor, 'Contemporary Fiberglass,' I purchased them from George.  I had a complete photo shoot done of the "Lemon Twist" by Brian Rosamond, a photographer and a good friend of mine.  Several magazines expressed an interest in doing a feature article on the car.



Mike Steinberg, Lemon Twist, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1973 - Fremont raceway, buildup area

Sitting in the buildup area at Fremont, strapped in and waiting for the signal to fire from 'Chet,' the starter.  What a feeling when he walked over and pointed at you, then spun his finger straight up.  You hit the starter button, flipped the mag. switch to run, and the pit man on the outside squirted raw fuel into the injector scoop with a squirt can as the motor turned over.  You'd hear the cylinders catching some fuel, and they would start firing.  The pit man would keep squirting fuel in until the engine's injector pump had taken over, and it started to really pulsate.  You racked the motor once, to make sure you had it, and then...It was "Lock 'n Load" time!  Sometimes, I had a few butterflies sitting there and just waiting...but as soon as the motor fired, they were gone, and were replaced with adrenaline and fire!



48' Austin, Lemon Twist, AA/Gas Super-charged, Mike Steinberg, Contemporary Fibreglass
Photo from Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973 - Gustine, California

I only scratched the surface of the of the "Lemon Twist"...I felt it was ahead of it's time.  It had a 95" inch wheelbase, which is a little longer than stock, and weighed 1874 lbs ready to run!  After tuning the Koni's and the suspension, the car ran like it was on a string.  You could drive it with one hand!  It was a fun ride.  It had one of Keith Black's first multistage dry sump oiling systems.  I used a homemade aluminum adaptor to fit onto the 57' Olds rear-end housing, and adapted 62' Buick aluminum front brakes on the rear.  I had the fins turned off of the drums, and they worked so well, that it was like having power brakes.  It was easy to keep the car staged in the lights at the starting line, and you didn't need a kangaroo leg to do it.  On the first few runs with this brake system on the 'Twist,' I learned to be careful.  I locked up the tires a couple of times with a minimum of effort on the brake pedal in the lights at over 160 mph.

For safety, I installed a Simpson on-board fire extinguisher system.  Everything I learned about building engines and cars in almost fifteen years of racing went into the 'Twist.'  I picked up a cam sponsorship from "McCullough Cams."  The late Charlie McCullough and I designed the cam on a paper napkin in Mels drive-in one night having coffee together.  I bought a blank steel billet master from Iskenderian Cams, and Charlie ground it for me.  Charles was also a whiz at Hilborn fuel injection.  I picked up two complete 1968 426 Dodge Hemi. engines through a friend who was an insurance broker, and started building one.  I used the Hemi. bulletins from Dodge that were out at that time, which gave very complete information on the engines, as well as high performance modifications.  When I checked the bore size of the lifters in the block, I found that the clearance was more than the 'Late Hemi. Bulletins' called for.  It was something that I thought could be easily missed!  I bought a set of Oldsmobile steel chilled iron lifters from Isky because dimensionally, they were the same as the lifters for the late hemi, only a few thousandths larger in diameter.  I clearanced them for the lifter bores in my late hemi block, and they worked great!  I drove the cam with a 'Donovan' Diamond gear drive, and set the cam at 2 degree's advanced.  The rods were BRC aluminum, and over length.  The pistons were +.030 over 9.5:1 compression, custom BRC, with an Ed Pink's .017 Dykes stainless top ring.  This made the engine 432 cubic inches.  The ring gap was .012, and that's pushing it with blown gas.  I have always believed that an internal combustion engine is nothing more than an 'Air Pump.'  And "...he who builds the most efficient air pump, develops the most horsepower."  

The crank started out as a stock 1968 Dodge street hemi.  I had center counterweights added by 'Ashland Grinding' in Hayward, and two 4360 fillets heli-arced in the front crank snout area by me.  I took the crank over to Sammy Hale, and had the reverse radius's welded up and ground.  The crank was normalized,  straightened, indexed, nitrated, ground, and the journals micro-polished.  Then it was back over to Ashland Grinding, to have the whole assembly balanced.  I used Clevite 77 bearings, with .003 on the the mains, .0035 on the rods, and 50 weight oil.  The engine oil pressure at idle with the KB dry-sump system would run at about 65 lbs.  The oil pressure in the lights would be 100 lbs.  I reengineered the oil galleys and the oiling system by drilling some out, and plugging some up!  I made my own shallow dry sump pan, with trap doors and had it cad. plated and gold irridated.  I used a Milodon pivoting oil pickup, with a braided aircraft hose.  The Keith Black dry sump pump didn't come with any bolts or studs to hold the six stage plates together.  I went down to my supplier, and bought some precision ground oil hardening rod, cut my own threads on my lathe, and tempered them myself.  The whole system worked very nicely.  MY reason for utilizing the dry sump was to get the bulk of the oil out of the engine.  I drove a race car for someone once, and blew the motor.  Oil went out of the engine all over the hot headers and I had myself a fire without an on-board fire extinguisher system.  Being strapped into a race car moving down the track at a pretty fast clip with clouds of black choking smoke (even with the face respirator) and roaring flames coming up through the firewall isn't my idea of a fun Sunday!  It left a pretty good impression...one I never forgot...along with some blisters on my lower legs, even with a 5 layer nomex Simpson fire suit!


Mike Steinberg, 48' Austin, Lemon Twist, AA/Gas Super-charged, Hilborn Fuel Injection
Photo from Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973 - Gustine, California

Mike Steinberg in the "Lemon Twist" Austin.


Lemon Twist,  48' Austin, Fremont Raceway, Mike Steinberg
Photo by Ted Stewart, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Putting the pedal down at Fremont Raceway!



Fremont Raceway, Official time slips
From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

The first two runs on the Austin at Fremont.  The chassis wasn't tuned yet, and the converter was hammering the rear tires.  It smoked the tires out of the hole in 1st gear...hence, no e.t.!  One of the runs was for my license, which I thought was kind of humorous at that point in my driving career.  But it was a good thing in the long run, because it helped legitimize our sport.  After tuning the chassis and the motor, the Austin ran a best of 164.43 mph 8.72 e.t., before it was totally destroyed in an accident, which almost took me with it.  I feel that the 'Twist' was capable of high 160's and probably 8.40's with the combination I had at that time.  I was getting it ready to convert to a B&M clutchflite tranny with a Crowerglide clutch, which would have put it in the 170's and the high 7's on gasoline I think.


48' Austin, Lemon Twist, Contemporary Fibreglass
From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973




48' Austin, Lemon Twist, AA/Gas Super-charged, 426 Dodge Hemi., Keith Black, Moon Racing Equipment
From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973




From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973


From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973


From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973

The Gomes sisters from Gustine, California.  Cuties huh?



From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1973

The "Lemon Twist" and me, in my 'business suit'.


From the Mike Steinberg collection, courtesy of Brian Rosamond - circa 1973

Pictures taken at "Schmidt Park," Gustine, California, by the late Brian Rosamond, my good friend.



From the Mike Steinberg collection, courtesy of Brian Rosamond - circa 1973




From the Mike Steinberg collection, courtesy of Brian Rosamond - circa 1973




From the Mike Steinberg collection, courtesy of Brian Rosamond - circa 1973

That's me...Mike Steinberg, in living color!



From the Mike Steinberg collection, courtesy of Brian Rosamond - circa 1973



Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug-Sept. 1968 - Bill Moranville' garage/shop

Fresh off the assembly line, prototype No. 1.  The chassis was built by Tom Chambliss out of Mountain View, California.  The body work was done by Bill Moranville.  The aluminum work by Jack Hageman Jr.  All three of them, gifted craftsman!



Photo from Mike Steinberg collection, circa Aug-Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' shop



Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug.-Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' garage/shop

Another shot of the "Twist."


Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug.-Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' shop

Early on "Twist."  From an idea to a frame.  Being an expert welder, I can say that Tom Chambliss was one of the better welders I have ever seen.  I trusted my life to his welding ability!  He built the chassis for the 'Twist' out of his head, and just from our conversations, not off of any blueprints or drawings.  All the brackets, angles, bends...everything...were structurally strong, light, and had an proportionate aesthetic beauty to them.  It's a gift!!!


Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug.-Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' shop in Mountain View, California




Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug./Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' shop in Mountain View, California





Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug./Sept. 1968 - Tom Chambliss' shop in Mountain View, California

Taking shape.



Photo by Mike Steinberg, circa Aug.-Sept. 1968 - Bill Moranville' garage/shop, Mountain View, California

The "Twist" without the body.  All of the aluminum could be taken out of this car by flush Zsus fasteners, by my request to Jack Hageman Jr.


(Photographer unknown at this time) Kingdom Drag Strip, circa 1972

The burnout on the first run on a brand new car at "Kingdom" Drag Strip in Lodi, California.  The rear slicks were Goodyear dragster tires that someone had put on backwards on a car, and then ran them.  This broke down the metal wires in the casing.  I borrowed them, because I didn't have any good rear tires at the time.  Half way down the track, instead of both tires "growing," one grew, then went down, and then another grew, and then it went down.  Consequently, I couldn't make a full throttle run, because it was spinning the tires in every gear, and wanted to go sideways.  I shut it off before the lights, and drove it into the chute, because the car was all over the track.  I turned 137 mph on the first run.



Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

The "Twist" used the biggest Top-fuel tires available at that time.  It spun them, with noooo problem!



Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Doing a burnout in the bleach box at Fremont.



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway




Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Kingdom Drag-strip

Setting up for the burn-out at Kingdom.



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

"Contemporary Fiberglass" from Azusa, California sponsored me the all glass 48' Austin body.  Nice people, and they did quality work.  George "Scooter" Souza from Gustine, California did a beautiful job on the "Lemon Twist's" yellow lacquer paint job.  Glenn Wild from Modesto, California applied his magic to the gold leaf lettering.  Last...but believe me, not least, my old sponsor through the years, Vic Hubbard Speed and Marine from Hayward, California helped keep me and my cars out there competing.



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Pulling the front wheels off the ground at Fremont.  164.48 mph  8.72 et. on gasoline, with a converter and a Torqueflite transmission.  In 1973, I was 5th in the world in AA/GS.



Photo by Ron Burch - circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Launching at Fremont.  If you look close, you'll see daylight under the left front tire.



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

The 'Twist' and me in the lights at Fremont, doing over 160 mph.  Look at the tires grow.

Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Getting the chute out at over 160 mph.



Photo by Brian Rosamond, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

...KaaaThump!


Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Making a burnout, and getting a little crossed up.  The 'Twist' could be a handful at times!



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Stickin' 'em!  The 'G's were a good swift kick in the butt.



Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

The 'Lemon Twist' at speed.  Look at the rear tires grow!  When they started growing at about 3/4 track, you could actually hear the engine pull down a little, and it was like shifting another gear.  You could feel the car raise up at the rear, and start to accelerate more.  I shifted the engine at 8500 rpm, and went through the lights at about 7800-8000.


Photo by Brian Rosmond, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

The crew!!!  Is Tom McGowen standing next to me big or what?...I'm almost 6'-1.  I'm the one in the middle with the shades on.
From left to right; "Murph" McGowen; Tom McGowen; Mike Steinberg; "John John;" Donnie Hicks, 'Hicks & Son' "The Carrot" an A/Fuel Roadster (also a damn good sprint car driver).