The 1980 NHRA GatorNationals “Best Appearing Car” lives on.
Rodney Fazekas, Pottstown, Pa., is the new owner and driver of Al Hanna’s 1980 Eastern Raider Nitro Funny Car. He’s brought it back to life after nearly 30 years of cold Connecticut storage.
Quite the “barn find” one may think, but the car’s location was always known by its original owner, Al Hanna. Hanna always kept tabs on this car, as it was special to him; it was the last Funny Car he owned before leaving the nitro circuit to focus on his growing Jet Car program, according to a press release.
The car’s restoration began in September 2009 at Rod’s Custom Fabrications in eastern Pennsylvania, close to many of the drag strips that saw Hanna campaign his Eastern Raiders throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The 1980 body, paint, chassis, rear and many other original components remain.
While in its ’80s nitro-burning race trim, Hanna recorded bests of 6.13 ET and 232-plus mph. Fazekas will be running a Keith Black blown alcohol combination in 2011, but has his sights set on a nitro-burning Hemi for the future power plant.
“My goal, while rebuilding the car, was to keep it as original as possible. Modern safety regulations prompted a few changes, but it’s essentially the same car Al climbed out of, and now I’m the lucky driver that gets to strap back in,” said Fazekas. “I look forward to experiencing the wicked ride and challenges that the Funny Car pioneers, like Al, had faced.”
After many years as a custom car builder, race car fabricator and crew member with Hanna Motorsports Jet Cars, Fazekas is now following his passion by becoming a professional drag racer. Simpson Race Products, MD Race Cars, Doug Bari, S&W Race Cars, Carroll Hine & family, the Hannas and other friends and family are lending support.
More information and 2011 dates are available at www.rodseasternraiderfunnycar.com.