Remembering John Lingenfelter…

Throughout the many years I spent at Edelbrock, we were always on the lookout for racers with whom we could work to derive mutual benefits.  For example, at the time the company had what was arguably the most advanced engine dyno facility in the specialty aftermarket and performance industry, staffed by highly-skilled people who could help racers improve their vehicles' performance.  Leading racers and race teams would provide engines directly out of their cars for dyno evaluations, thereby enabling them to explore parts combinations that optimized performance while allowing the company to develop race products on true racing engines.  Everyone benefitted.

I clearly recall Jere Stahl telling me about one of the drag racers with whom he was dealing at the time who was the hardest working racer he’d ever seen, and that Edelbrock needed to explore a relationship with him.  It was John Lingenfelter.

In fact, for an extended period of time, John was a virtual member of the company.  The relationship became close as we provided him dyno time and he allowed us to test a range of induction systems on his various engines.  It became almost a ritual, during the drag racing season, that I would expect a weekly Sunday evening call during which we would discuss his weekend’s racing activities and reflect on what might be done to improve them.  His ability to sense problems with his race cars was remarkable, almost as if he was programmed to detect even the smallest of issues.

But there was another side to John.  He had a completely open mind when it came to configuring engine packages with no pre-determined reasons why something would or would not work.  Furthermore, it seemed like the bigger the challenge the more engaged he would become.  The word insurmountable wasn’t in his vocabulary.

An example of this was played out during a particular NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis.  He had come to the event with a Super Stock Corvette and proceeded to become the #1 qualifier in this Eliminator category.  This position was secured by the end of qualifying on Friday before the Monday Labor Day finals.  Still experimenting and trying to improve his qualifying position by a greater margin, he made a hard pass on Saturday morning… during which time he destroyed the engine.  Having come to the event with only one engine, he set into motion a dazzling string of events to assemble another engine in time for the Monday finals.