There it sat, waiting at the
staging line at Lions Drag Strip. Waiting for its last chance
to show the world and Fling Traylor that it could do as it was
designed to do. Its purposes was to be the fastest and most beautiful
of its kind. To fly earth bound, straight and true for 1320 feet
at speeds of 250 miles per hour and deliver its human pilot safe
and sound. This was the dream of one man.
Seems simple. Frank Huszar had
built its frame at Race Car Specialist. Its physique was hand
crafted by master bodybuilder, Doug Kruse. Its skin was bold
and clean, red, white and blue. Custom painted by master artist
Bill Carter. Its name proudly displayed on its sleek aerodynamic
body, US Turbine 1. The power plant, small in size at 85 pounds,
was built to test bearings and would produce in an instant 17,000
rpm's in 7 tenths of a second for short 8 second bursts.
Its diet of oxygen, propel nitrate
and nitrogen mixed into a space age jet chamber to propel it
down track made it even more exotic. Oh it worked, just as it
was designed. Only one problem, no human being had the guts or
skill to take the ride further than a few hundred feet. Until
Fling Traylor, the wealthy owner
was despondent and out of hope to see his dream creation ever
live again. All his money and pride couldn't make it go. He ordered
Frank Huszar at RCS to crate it up and send it into exile forever,
to be on public display at the Smithsonian for all to see and
Frank made the crate and it was
caged for the last long journey. The shop foreman circled the
large open casket. Marveling at its mystic charisma and beauty.
He inquired as to its fate. This redeemer, like the turbine racer,
was a one of a kind. Then the machinist boldly proclaimed to
Frank that he was the one who could make it live again. Frank
agreed and contacted Mr. Traylor with the news. The proclamation
was made to Mr. Traylor, that his shop foreman, who knew nothing
about the machine, and having never seen it run, promised that
if given just one more try, that he could deliver fresh hope
and life into this crate of broken dreams at the eleventh hour.
Frank Huszar lobbied hard for his shop foreman. He believed that
George Hutcheson in fact could do as he said. Fling said he was
against it but would think about it.
Fling was finished with the US
Turbine 1. He had tried everything with everyone and was done
with it. The mans ego could only be crushed so much. But the
more people he talked to from the drag racing community, the
more convinced that maybe George could. Fling had watched the
Stone Age Man drive and win over the years. He liked his flare
and showmanship style. Fling was told by many others that whatever
George drove, he could made it work. Fling desperately wanted
his creation to run. He was torn between his ego and not wanting
to be disappointed all over again.
A week later Fling called George.
When Mr. Traylor listened to the intrepid man who make such a
bold and promising stand on his word alone, he told him, "George,
I've watch you at the track, if anyone can do it, that would
be you. You have one and only one change to make it run."
If he couldn't, its fate was ordained. Mr. Traylor's faith in
George Hutcheson and his famous notoriety were enough for him
to pay the cost and time for one last stand. Words and promises
are one thing, delivering on them is reserved for the few who
have vision, strength, and the balls to do so.
George brought it home and rolled
the long turbine dragster into his garage. He went at the problem
like an engineer. Part by part, George inspected every line,
nut and connection to make sure it was sound and mechanically
fit. His conclusion was that it was not a design fault; it was
skill and driver confidence that was missing. But why? Seven
different professional drivers tried and failed to complete the
task. All of them walked away claiming the space age dragster
was "uncontrollable and dangerous". Had the dragon
slayer taken on one too many impossible tasks? Besides, George's
own beautiful AA/FD 'Stone Age Man' a crowd favorite was racing
and winning at the time. George couldn't resist the challenge.
Several meetings with the turbine
engine designers revealed a critical key as to the engines power
potential. So far it ran only at 60%. George wanted 100%. But
that put it close to overheating and a deadly explosion. So George
discovered a simple way to tell how close he could get to that
ultra limit of power. It came down to applying a temperature
sensitive white paint on the exhaust port. The extreme heat would
turn the white paint brown. The closer the brown color got to
the engine port, it would explode. 1200 degrees was the limit.
This measuring of the brown color gave George the advantage and
know how to adjust the mixture to get the maximum safe power.
More bang for your buck! This secret George kept to himself.
And it worked.
After George made several changes
and adjustments to the US Turbine 1, it was ready for perhaps
its most important performance. Now George had to prepare himself
for this dangerous and difficult challenge that he put himself
The US Turbine 1 sat quietly
in the garage as George put on his fire suit, face mask and goggles,
and finally his 'Hutch' helmet. He stepped into the cockpit and
lay down on his back. This was the design of the turbine dragster.
Behind his head was the powerful turbine engine and the tank
of liquid propel nitrate. At his feet were the tanks of oxygen
and nitrogen. A precarious position if something went wrong.
George had to know what it was like to rocket down the track,
flat on his back, in full safety suit, from the darkness of his
George brought with him into
the tight cockpit one thing. A well read and dog-eared book,
'Psychocybernetics' by Maxwell Maltz. This one book was the schematics
for George's life and way of thinking. George's young life was
one of uncontrollable stuttering speech, little formal education
with no guidance. With hypnotism his speech was clear and controllable,
and with the principals applied from the book 'Psychocybernetics'
George had found that, like the US Turbine 1, he was built for
conquest. He could do anything that he set his mind to do. It
was this mastering of his subconscious that made everything a
reality and a string of success like none other. This book was
The book by Maxwell Maltz 'Psychocybernetics' helped George learn
how to control his mind and see himself drive the turbine dragster
faster, further and successfully. He had to imprint in his subconscious
mind hundreds and hundreds of passes driving the turbine down
1320 feet of track and through the lights to victory. He did
this for two weeks before arming the space age turbine dragster
and applying all that he learned about the US Turbine 1.
Fling Traylor put his money where
his mouth was. He rented Lions Drag Strip for the day. Hired
an ambulance crew and gave George Hutcheson the 'Stone Age Man'
that one last chance to drive his US Turbine 1 dragster into
the history books. The dragster was rolled into the staging area.
The bottled fuel was checked again. The racing missile inspected
from nose to cone. Fling discussed with George what the turbine
dragster would do after the 'switch' was thrown. CJ Hart, Lions
Raceway manager and the ambulance crew of Tom and Dave listened
over the shoulders of Fling and George as they talked.
"After you hit the switch there is going to be a big explosion
and thirty feet of flame shoots out the back as full power is
transferred to the back wheels. Hold on and don't let off the
switch because it will shut down the engine, you wont be able
to restart once it is shut off." Fling explained.
Dave the ambulance driver questioned,
"You still going to drive this thing?"
George answered confidently, "Yes, I will".
He answered back, "Then you're crazy!" leaning over
to his ambulance attendant Tom, he mutters softly, "He's
George gave the two ambulance personnel instructions on how to
shut off the gas after removing the top nose cover, if anything
happened or if it crashed.
Dave thought out loud, "Your nuts if you think I'll get
anywhere near that thing"
Tom added, "Yea, I think so too."
The first run was to be a half
pass; this was required as a safety measure and a track rule.
George had never seen the turbine dragster run or seen film of
its runs. He checked the track conditions; it was hot and dry
with a cooling west wind. All seemed like good conditions for
its first pass. It was time.
The ambulance crew took a position
at the end of the track. CJ Hart stood way off to the side. George
suited up and got inside the sleek racer. Fling, who made millions
from buying end runs of rubber hoses and plastic tubing from
manufactures and reselling it, helped George get strapped in.
Flings last cautionary instructions
were given to George. "Remember, there will be a huge explosion
and a big jolt; this is only a half pass so
good luck George."
George was already deep into
his drivers trance gave a 'V' sign of assurance to Fling.
CJ Hart was wondering if it did work, it would be one helluva'
show. Fling was nervously pacing off side. His dreams and hopes
for the future of his dream child the 'US Turbine 1' was up to
George's skill and confidence. The ambulance crew sat in their
rig at tracks end eating smacks and exchanging their professional
opinion on the event on hand, "He's crazy ya know."
George had prepared his mind
for this run a thousand times over. He was ready.
The track seemed narrow as he lay on his back looking over the
front of the red, white and blue nose cover. He gave the signal
to start the timer. And green!
The turbine engine exploded out
the back end with a flame twenty feet long, white smoke encircled
the big Goodyear slicks as the front end jumped up wards. The
US Turbine 1 drifted sideways towards the guardrail on the right.
George kept his cool and corrected for the drift and kept his
foot in it. The G-forces were different than his fuel dragster
as all the force was on his head pushing his body back down on
his neck. It shook violently as the engine screamed its high
pitch like the mythical Banshee (the Irish omen of death and
messenger from the Otherworld).
Seeing this CJ Hart thought,
"That's a gold mine!"
Fling Traylor prayed, "Go George, go."
The ambulance drivers shouted in concert, "Holy shit!"
With the exposition and vibration, the G-forces and high pitched
screeching; George kept his cool and almost forgot to let up
at the half way mark.
George shut her down and coasted
to the end of the track. Hart and Fling raced down to meet George.
George said to Fling, "It thundered Fling, it thundered!"
A round of laughter and back slaps was given to ease the tension.
Now it was readied for its first full length run.
For George all his preparation
and careful planning had paid off. Fling Traylor was given back
his dreams, and CJ Hart was witness to history of a real show
Some adjustments were made, refueled and rolled to the line a
second time. This was make or break time. Just before George
put on his helmet and mask, he said to a nervous Fling Traylor
with a smile, "All the way Fling, all the way." Fling
looked to George hopefully and answered, "It's all yours
George, if you can do it." "Just watch me
George grinned coolly.
The lights were set and the switch
readied. George was ready. His foot pushed the switch, the liquid
propel nitrate compressed by the nitrogen mixed with the oxygen
streamed into the jet chamber and was ignited. The explosion
shot through the turbine blades and blasted out the exhaust port
some twenty five feet long. The Goodyear's spun wildly and grew
tall in a haze of white smoke as the front end drifted skywards.
For a moment the entire US Turbine 1 launched up off the black
top into the air as a missile destined for its target. It touched
down and screamed down the track almost sideways with George
holding it as straight as he could. Finally it found the center
track and rocketed down track through the lights. A full run
at 192 mph. It rolled silently to a stop at tracks end. George
struggled free from the belly of the fire-breathing monster.
Stood over it and said, "Don't mess with the Lone Ranger!"
CJ Hart and Fling Traylor drove
up jumping for joy like small kids witnessing their first fireworks
show. Fling rushed up to George crying through his tears of joy
"It's all your George, take it on tour. You did it! You
did it!" CJ Hart announced wildly, "George you have
got to bring this to the PDA meet in July, it will be the greatest
show ever at Lions."
Much had to be done. There were
test runs to make. The dragster body had to be modified to accompany
the 'Stone Age Man' special helmet with its plums. At this point
Fling gave George Carte Blanche as to whatever George wanted
to do. The US Turbine 1 went on display everywhere. From custom
car shows to auto dealerships all over town. High schools and
Juvenal Halls. Everybody from cops to kids sat in the sleek dragster.
The newspapers had stories all about the US Turbine 1 being at
the PDA meet at Lions Drag Strip. The show never ended. As time
and exhibition runs mounted the AHRA sanctioned tracks banned
the US Turbine 1 from its tracks. Deemed it too dangerous. The
NHRA gave its blessings; do to the money draw it produced. The
turbine dragster and George drew huge crowds at the few tracks
that he race at. That meant big money and bigger crowds. It was
as CJ Hart said, "It's a gold mine!"
George and Todd at
San Fernando Raceway for test runs.
Finally, the day had come. Lions
Drag Strip, July the big PDA meet. Every Top Fuel, Funny Car,
Fuel Altered and super stock hot rod was there. The crowd attendance
was at an all time high. Newsweek Magazine had a photographer
meet with George. A camera was mounted on the front of the turbine
dragster. It had a cable release in the cockpit for George to
trigger the camera's shutter during the run. A crowd of 25,000
fans gathered to see the Stone Age Man pilot this space age turbine
dragster down the track. George had given away a US Turbine 1
'Crew Jacket' to one very lucky kid in the stands. The track
announcer went on and on all day about the turbine and George
'Stone Age Man' Hutcheson driving the US Turbine 1. The air was
thick with anticipation of the event. There was also a major
PDA drag racing meet going on to add to the day's excitement.
George, however got all the ink and attention.
The beautiful patriotic red,
white and blue US Turbine 1 sat ready at the staging lights.
The track announcer continued his monolog. It kept the fans pumped
with excitement. I stood there with my Uncle George as he got
suited up. George walked out past the staging lights to the track,
knelt down and felt the track condition. The track was warm from
the day's heat and racing. It was sticky too. This was a good
sign. The track lead down to the vanishing point. In deep thought
George walked back to the turbine car. The mixture was pushed
to the maximum. Now the beast was at 100% power. George had his
toes just over the danger line, and it concerned him greatly.
He stopped and looked down the track again. Then like someone
had tapped him on the shoulder, George looked up and around at
the 25,000 watching him in silence. As he spun around slowly
he could hear the fans calling out;
"God's speed Stone Age Man."
"Love ya George."
"Stone Age Man, Stone Age Man!"
George paused and said, "Are they all looking at me, Todd?"
I answered, "I'm sure it's not me. They came to see you
George was so deep in thought
that the time and event got misplaced in the thousands of calculations
and preparations needed for this very important run. It was hard
enough just to concentrate on driving this explosive missile
for the length of the track and keep it straight somewhat. But
George also had to trigger the camera release for Newsweek's
camera mounted on the front end. Adding to that the entire drag
racing world was watching. If all went right, it should go well
over 225 mph.
In the crowd of thousands of
fan on that hot July day at Lions were three of the seven drivers
who tried but failed to make the turbine dragster run. One of
them was John 'The Zookeeper' Mulligan. A great driver and champion
to be sure. The difference between those seven and George was
that they went at the problem like a driver would. George took
it on as an engineer, designer, and mechanic, with a good measure
of pure self-confidence. George had no doubt that he could do
it, he had done his homework. He taught his subconscious how
it was done. The biggest problem was not the US Turbine 1. It
was overcoming the fear of this very different and beautiful
I handed George his fire mask
and goggles. I held the most famous racing helmet in history
close to my chest. When he was ready I gave it up. I said "Good
luck Uncle George
" But I don't think he heard me.
All prepared George stepped into the waiting missile. Strapped
in and rolled to the lights, the thousands of fans held their
breath. George gave the 'V' sign from both sides of the cockpit
and held on tight. The only sound was from the track announcer
and the 25,000 fans counting down the amber lights, 5-4-3-2-1....
End of part 1
The Last Stand: US Turbine 1
By Todd Hutcheson, 2008
Special message to all drag race fans: If you have any photos
or home movies of the US Turbine 1, the AA/FD Stone Age Man dragster
or the AA/FA Rat Trap fuel altered, please contact George Hutcheson
or me at:
More Todd Hutchenson
"The Time of My Life"
A Gathering of Long Trailers
Working for Pink
Stone Age Man
Taming of the Rat Trap