Drag Illustrated Issue 176, May / June 2022 - Page 24

Dirt

DAN PARKER
How does one dig out of the depths to reach soaring heights ? You ’ re about to find out as we dig into the details of Parker ’ s record run at Spaceport America .
THE TECHNOLOGY First and foremost , Parker ’ s record attempt is assisted with a GPS-based guidance system along with the presence of a co-driver with duplicated driver controls . Primarily , Parker uses a pair of earbuds under his helmet to listen for a risingpitch tone out of the left or right side , which indicates to him how far off-center he is while on course . If things go too far sideways , then his co-driver , ECTA racer Jason White during this record run , can grab the duplicated controls and bring the Corvette back in line , something that had to happen a few times during the week as winds blasted the plains of New Mexico while storms pushed every which way .
Patrick Johnson is responsible for developing Parker ’ s guidance system . Based on Linux , the system takes high-speed GPS data along with input from various motion and direction sensors to accurately locate Parker within a few millimeters of reality , and provide feedback that helps to guide him back on course . It ’ s a system that began development with Parker ’ s AMA record run during the 2013 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at Bonneville , but stands in contrast to the system used by the National Federation of the Blind ’ s original haptic feedback system , which utilized vibration motors in a glove to indicate which inputs a blind driver needed .
Speaking of which , the NFB have been one of Parker ’ s largest supporters , not just giving him the skills to reclaim a normal , daily life , but also in pursuing this land speed record on the heels of their Blind Driver Challenge , where current NFB president Mark Riccobono became one of
Along the top row is the race crew , while members of the NFB who came to witness Dan ’ s runs surround him .
the first to drive a vehicle totally blind during an exhibition at Daytona International Speedway .
A 440ci LS3-based unit from 3V Performance belches out 785 horsepower and 645 lb-ft naturally aspirated . To fine-tune the power delivered for the record run , a 150-shot can be toggled to be auto-triggered by the Pro EFI ECU in second and third gear , relieving Parker of the additional attention budget . An air-shifted TH400 is also controlled via Pro EFI , built to handle the additional power while dolling it out smoother with the taller gearsets , compared to the closer-ratio factory 6L80E .
THE ATTEMPT At the end of March , Parker and his crew trucked to Spaceport America , an aerospace testing and launch facility near Truth or Consequences , New Mexico . Parker and White , along with Parker ’ s wife , Jennifer , drove in with the tow rig from Columbus , Georgia . Meanwhile , his crew – consisting of Clyde Carlson , Mark Dalquist , Mike DeFazio , Simon and Patrick Foley , Patrick Johnson , Jeremy Lehr , Errol McCollum , Rick Head , Kevin Peckam and Jeff Pope – descended from all over the US to the wild west .
The motley crew of gearheads came from many places in Parker ’ s life – some friends from before the accident , others that joined along the way , many meeting each other for the first time as they began setting up shop on the apron of Spaceport America ’ s runway . Loring Timing Association ’ s Tim Kelly provided the timing equipment and helped certify the run along with Guinness ’ Official Adjudicator , Michael Empric .
The first passes were made without Parker , with White behind the wheel , as the crew practiced their mechanical routines while sorting out
The service cart contained everything needed for the turnarounds : a generator and inverter to keep the battery topped off , a coolant pump attached to a radiator for bringing the water reservoir temps down , or coolers for ice water to outright exchange the entire volume of water .
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