Influential Drag Racer Jim Lytle Jr. Dies
The golden age of drag racing is now long behind us, and those who can still remember with fondness and clarity are fewer in number every day. It can be hard the gauge the influence of any particular drag racer or engine builder on the whole sport, but there can be no doubt that certain individuals left an indelible mark on the sport of drag racing.
One cannot doubt the contributions of the mechanically-crazed Jim Lytle Jr., a man who is perhaps best known for driving some ridiculously powerful, multi-engine drag cars that redefined the sport. Hemmings Auto Blog has a nice piece on Lytle’s contributions to drag racing.
What caught our eye, however, was Lytle’s quad-engine Big Al IV, a drag racing hot rod with four, yes four Allison airplane engines attached to a custom frame.
Not only that, but it had all-wheel drive, and for reasons beyond our grasp, the control cabin was a small Fiat coupe with the roof chopped and a section cut out to fit Lytle’s helmeted head.
It is said that officials from Mercury noted the flip-up body of one of Lytle’s earlier Allision-powered creations, helping lead to development of the first “funny cars.”
Not that it was ever actually driven; Big Al IV was supposed to run at the Bonneville salt flats, but the proper gears would have cost more than the whole rest of the drag car combined. Today all that is left is the frame, which is in the process of being restored (using dummy engines.) Hopefully Big Al IV will be put on display on day as a testament to the determination and influence one mad drag racer can have on the whole sport.