The noise involved in this operation sounds like it might crack open the earth, and the Fueler leaps away in a puff of bluish smoke. And, roughly seven seconds later, the driver throws out the chute. If it fails to open, "it gets a bit tricky out there," Beadle admits.
For the finals on Sunday, up the lone dirt road to the dragway came an estimated 9,000 fans, a crowd that, by Albuquerque standards, compares with Indy on a good day. And they sat patiently in the hot, bone-dry 90s under the sort of steely blue sky that only appears over New Mexico, waiting through the preliminaries for the grand finish.
Along about sundown, favorite Right-sell and the others were out of it and the race finally came down to a duel between Beadle and Wigginton. It was as close as racing gets—a matter of Beadle slamming his foot down on the gas just a touch too late. He exploded away and peaked through the clocks at 194.38 mph. Then along came Wigginton, shooting through the quarter mile in 7.2 seconds—hitting 216.86 mph for fastest time of the meet—and that was that.
That brief burst got him a first-place check of $1,600 to help pay his nitro bill and, more importantly, 600 points toward the world finals plus a first-place standing in the South Central division.
Everyone in drag racing knows that the odds of winning the world title are tough, no matter what the division. But one must never count Wigginton out. After all, at the moment he is the fastest foot in the West.