The Joy of Drag Racing | Five Reasons You’ll Love the NHRA

When it comes to auto racing, Formula 1 is king worldwide and NASCAR reigns supreme here at home. That is, if you’re only going by the money and TV ratings. When it comes to pure racing, however, we’re convinced that NHRA drag racing can’t be beat.

Here are just a few reasons why we think the NHRA is the best game in town:

Heart-Stopping Action


How much action can you pack into 3.64 seconds? If you’re the NHRA, it turns out it’s quite a bit. That’s how much time the average Top Fuel race lasts.

F1 and NASCAR are long, slow burns lasting a few hours. NHRA races, on the other hand, start and finish before you can take a sip of your drink.

Given the short length, nearly every race results in a nail-biting photo finish, with merely a few feet between victory and defeat. Add to that the constant mix of flames, smoke and chrome and you have yourself something special.

Up Close and Personal

At an NHRA event, every single ticket is a Pit Pass.

People can watch the pit action from as close as five or 10 feet, meaning fans at these races have direct access to drivers and some of the most highly-skilled mechanics on Earth. Drivers more often than not will hang around after the race to personally sign autographs and take pictures with their fans.

Mechanical Greatness

NHRA dragsters are feats of engineering. Here’s a little math:

A top fuel dragster accelerates from a standstill to 100 mph (160 km/h) in as little as 0.8 seconds (less than one third the time required by a production Porsche 911 Turbo to reach 60 mph (100 km/h))[1] and can exceed 280 mph (450 km/h) in just 660 feet (200 m). This subjects the driver to an average acceleration of about 4.0 g0 (39 m/s2) over the duration of the race and with a peak of over 5.6 g0 (55 m/s2).

At maximum throttle and RPM, the exhaust gases escaping from a dragster’s open headers produce about 900–1,100 pounds-force (4.0–4.9 kN) of downforce. The huge airfoil over and behind the rear wheels produces much more, peaking at around 12,000 pounds-force (53 kN) when the car reaches a speed of about 330 mph (530 km/h).

If math isn’t your thing, here’s the short version:

Top Fuel cars go faster than any car you’ve likely ever driven, by a lot. To do this, they need to be very light. However, because they are light, all that force can lift them right off the ground. In addition, all that downforce and g force can literally tear the car apart.

Therefore, Top Fuel cars need to be incredibly well-engineered to hit all their marks on speed, safety and durability.


An All-Day Affair

Most sporting events last a few hours, meaning you’ll often spend more time getting to and from the event than at the actual event. Not so at a day at the NHRA races.

NHRA events are an all-day family affair, or even an all-weekend one for the dedicated. With lots of downtime between events, there is always plenty to see and do around the stadium.



Fun For The Whole Family

Most sports have pretty limited demographics. Not so with the NHRA.

Those unfamiliar with the NHRA might not know that women are well-represented in the sport and compete right alongside the men.

One great example of this is the Force family. NHRA legend John Force is 16-time Funny Car winner and one of the most dominant racers of all time. At 69 years old he still participates in nearly every major event of the season. Three of his daughters, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney, are major players in the sport as well.

This is reflected in the stands, too. NHRA races are multi-generational and popular among both men and women. This means everyone has fun at the events, not just Dad.

At Strutmasters, we love any and all auto racing, but the NHRA will always have our hearts. That’s why we sponsor.

Go Clay! Stomp that loud pedal!

Strutmasters is a proud sponsor of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance Racing Team.

Why We Love Clay | The Man Behind the Wheel

Earlier this month, we at Strutmasters decided to up our sponsorship of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance Racing Team. While it was a very easy decision for us, we wanted to share some of the reasons why we decided to “go all in” on our favorite Top Fuel driver and team.

His Incredible Story

By all accounts Millican has had a love for drag racing his entire life. From the time he was 16, Clay raced cars as a hobby throughout his adult life.

While he was campaigning an IHRA Modified eliminator entry, Clay worked as a forklift driver for Kroger supermarkets. It was at this time that he caught the eye of Peter Lehman, an investor who chose him to drive his Top Fuel Dragster car.

Not being one to waste an opportunity, Clay started winning immediately. His love and enthusiasm for the sport was contagious. He quickly became a fan favorite and one of the sport’s rising stars. The rest is history.


Triumph Over Tragedy

The Tennessee-born driver’s passion for racing extends into his family. Dalton, one of Clay and his wife Donna Millican’s sons, was already establishing himself in the racing world at a young age. He raced ATVs and was the owner/driver of Blue Thunder truck in the Monster Jam series.

In August, 2015, Dalton passed away at the age of 22 in a motorcycle accident. His passing sent shockwaves throughout the sport. NHRA president Peter Clifford saying, “Clay is a well-liked and well-respected racer with all the competitors in the NHRA. This loss will be felt by everyone in our sport.”

Since that time, Clay and Donna have dedicated much of their off time to improving the lives of young people around the country.

A little more than a year after Dalton’s death, Millican announced the creation of the Dalton Millican Scholarship. The scholarship awards $2,500 to two students each year towards tuition at the University of Northwestern Ohio’s College of Applied Technologies, Automotive/ High Performance Degree Program.

Millican has also been a major proponent of the safe teen driving program known as BRAKES.

The NHRA world was brought to tears when Clay won his first ever national NHRA event at the Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day, June 18th, 2017.

Forever Fearless

As much of a good guy as he is off the track, one might be hard-pressed to find someone as ferocious and fearless as Clay Millican on it.

Adorned on Clay’s t-shirts and other merchandise is the motto, “Stomp that loud pedal!” Ask anyone who’s followed the sport for any amount of time and they will tell you that that motto has been well-earned.

Brian Lohnes, part of the NHRA’s Mello Yello Series broadcast team said of Millican, “Clay is as kind and fiercely competitive a man as you’ll ever meet. You don’t go from being a forklift operator to a Top Fuel racer on luck. You do it on guts, heart, and ability.”


A True Fan Favorite

Every once in a while, a sport has an athlete that completely captivates the fan base. Through some magical combination of charisma, skill, and success, fan favorites often go beyond the scope of the sport.

In the world of the NHRA, where many fans feel a close connection to the athletes, none are as beloved as Clay Millican.

Maybe it’s his story. Maybe it’s that smile. Maybe it’s that he wins and wins and wins. Whatever “it” is, Millican has it in spades.

We’ve been fans for a long time and now we get to part of the team. It’s more than just an honor, it’s a dream come true. Here’s to even more success in the future! STOMP THAT LOUD PEDAL!!

Catch Clay Millican and the Strutmasters-sponsored car  this weekend at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Strutmasters Ups Sponsorship of Clay Millican, Stringer Performance, to Become Co-Sponsor

Roxboro, NC

North Carolina-based suspension manufacturer is increasing its sponsorship of the NHRA Top Fuel racing team Stringer Performance. The move makes Strutmasters a co-primary sponsor. They will join longtime Stringer Performance partner Parts Plus.

The company has continually increased its marketing since it began its partnership with Stringer Performance in 2017. What was at first an associate sponsor relationship has grown in 2018. Strutmasters was the co-primary sponsor for five separate events during the 2018 season.

Clay stomps that loud pedal in the race car all the way to another victory.


“An Exhilarating Ride”


Founded in 1999 by Chip Lofton, has emerged as one of the industry’s leading air-to-non-air suspension conversion kit manufacturers and suppliers. The company produces affordable solutions to problems caused by air, magnetic, hydraulic and electronic suspension systems. The company started when Lofton needed to repair his family’s only vehicle. It was then he realized he could help others with the simple, yet innovative solution he had found. Since that time, Strutmasters has grown from a small regional operation to delivering suspension conversion kits all around the globe, earning the moniker “The Suspension Experts.”

“I am honored to come on board as sponsor of Clay Millican and Stringer Performance,” said Lofton. “It’s been an exhilarating ride this season and I’m looking forward to more during the finals and next season as takes a more predominant role with the team. Clay and this entire team are incredible ambassadors for our brand, both on the track and off and we have seen immense value from this relationship. I am excited to see this partnership grow into the future.”

“A True Partnership”


Doug Stringer, Stringer Performance owner, says he is delighted to see Strutmasters take a larger role in the team.

“ has been a great partner of our team over the course of the last two seasons,” said Stringer. “The NHRA is an excellent marketing platform for them. I’m excited for them to step into a major partner role in 2019. It’s a good opportunity to capitalize on the marketing value associated with primary sponsorship. Chip Lofton is a very involved partner and his excitement is contagious.  It’s a true partnership and we look forward to doing everything on our end to assist reach their marketing goals.”

How to Stop Worrying and Love Your High Mileage Car

You may not know the name Irv Gordon, but you will certainly want to listen to some of his advice. The retired schoolteacher was driving in Alaska in 2013 when his 1966 Volvo P1800s hit the 3 million mile mark. Yes, in case you were wondering if you read that wrong, that’s 3 million.

Gordon’s number one piece of advice? Read the manual.


“Do what the manual calls for, not what the dealer calls for,” Gordon said in an interview. “People who built the car wrote the manual.”

That’s some pretty sound logic. It’s also something we harp on constantly. Cars are not designed to be disposable. They are an investment and something you want to protect.

If you’re driving a high mileage vehicle, you’ll want to pay attention to Gordon’s advice. You may not be trying to push your car to 3 million miles, but if you’re like us, you’d love to keep that old friend running as long as possible.

Here are some of the steps recommended to keeping your car running well well into its golden years.

1. Stay on schedule

Your owner’s manual recommends having different services performed at specific intervals. These are decided on by your car’s engineers. Regular service will keep everything in tip-top shape and allow your mechanic to spot small problems before they become big ones.

2. Love your tires

If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times: your tires are (hopefully) your car’s only point of contact with the road. They are incredibly important.

Your owner’s manual and the driver’s side door jamb will tell you the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Keeping your tires at the recommended pressure ensures you will get optimal gas mileage and steering response from your car.

In contrast, driving on underinflated tires especially puts unnecessary strain on everything in your car from the suspension to the engine.

3. Change that oil

You will find loads of competing information about how often to change your car’s oil. Disregard anything anyone but the manual tells you when it comes to your car.
While advancements in fluid and engine technology have improved oil longevity, the old standby advice of “every 3,000 miles” still holds true. In fact, Gordon said that changing your oil at that interval is still, “your best insurance policy.”

Rest assured that you cannot possibly change your car’s oil too often. Once you’ve gone over the 75,000 mile mark make sure you change that oil every 3,000 or less!


4. Clean it regularly

While this might seem more visual than functional, keeping your car clean without a doubt will increase its longevity.

Dirt and grime work their way into paint and will eventually cause the car to rust. This makes the body of the car fragile and what’s inside a lot more susceptible to damage.

Particles on the inside of your car can get into the seats and dash materials and create holes and tears in fabrics, vinyl and leather alike.

Chances are, if you keep the outside of your car looking nice you’ll be paying attention to the inside as well.

5. Drive responsibly

We all know some driver who loves to stomp the pedals. While that can be great for a race car driver, it is absolutely devastating on your car.

Driving a car is a big game of physics. Your car can use only use and withstand so much energy over its lifetime. It takes a lot of energy to get a car up to speed, and lots to slow it down.

Maintaining a steady, consistent pace keeps your car running efficiently. Newer cars have gas mileage information on the dash screen that lets you see this in real time.

That fuel efficiency translates into how often your car is purring along and how often it has to grunt and strain to get the job done.

The lifetime of your car is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you don’t overdo it when you don’t have to.

Stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog for more tips that save you time and money!


What’s Up With my A/C? Common Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Cool


With summer now in full swing, the A/C in your car is about as necessary as the brakes. In many parts of the country, heat waves aren’t just a comfort issue, they’re a health risk too.

So when you find that your A/C is no longer cooling your vehicle down, it is important to figure out why and then how to fix it. Here are a few tips on where to look for trouble.

A bad fuse or other electrical system problem

Your car’s A/C needs electrical power to get and keep the compressor running. Many things can lead to electrical failure. It can happen from corrosion of wires, a bad fuse or even from just being overloaded.

Use your owner’s manual to determine where the correct fuse for the A/C unit is. This video will demonstrate how to inspect a fuse to see if its blown.

If this is your only problem, consider yourself lucky. It’s a cheap and easy fix to do at home, or more accurately, in the parking lot of the auto parts store.

A broken compressor clutch

The compressor clutch is part of your A/C’s compressor assembly. It is responsible for pressurizing the air and keeping the refrigerant moving through the system.

Every time you use your A/C, the compressor clutch goes through on/off cycles. This means it is prone to wearing down eventually. When the compressor clutch is broken, you will notice warm air blowing from the vents.

Unless you are very handy with small mechanical repairs, this fix is best left to the pros.

A leak within the A/C system

This is, by far, the most common ailment of an A/C system.

Leaks in the air conditioning system are often caused by a mixture of the refrigerant used in your A/C and moisture. This reacts to create an acid that can corrode valves, hoses and seals within the system.

Therefore, this will cause warm air to come out of the vents in your car because there isn’t enough refrigerant going through the system.

If you’re handy with a wrench, follow this video to inspect your A/C system for leaks and replace any parts that have been corroded.


A weak expansion valve

The expansion valve in your A/C system is what regulates the amount of refrigerant that goes into the compressor. Too much or too little can cause problems with the entire unit.

If the flow of refrigerant is blocked going into the compressor it could cause parts of the assembly to get so cold that ice or frost can form around or even inside the system. This will cause further restriction of refrigerant and failure of the compressor.

Too much refrigerant passing through can flood your compressor and also prevent it from pushing out cool air.


Even if you can’t fix the problems with your A/C yourself, knowing specifically what is wrong will help your mechanic diagnose and understand the problem quickly. It will also demonstrate that you know a thing or two about cars and their air conditioners.

As always, knowledge is power and knowing your stuff will keep you from being overcharged or having unnecessary services performed.

For more money-saving and enlightening car care tips, stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog.

Why You Should Never Let Your Gas Tank Run Low

One of the many great car debates has to do with your gas tank. In short, is it better to let it run low or to always keep it full?

While there are points to be made on either side, there is a definitive answer on what the best strategy is.

The pros of letting your tank run low

Truthfully, there is one major advantage to letting your fuel tank run low. That is gas mileage. How does how much gas you have affect your gas mileage? The answer is weight.

A car with less fuel in it weighs less and thus will require less power from the engine to move it the same distance. However, while this is true there is something important to consider:

Gas weighs just over six pounds per gallon. That means the difference between a full tank and empty tank is somewhere between 70 and 95 pounds, less than the weight of an average person or a few travel bags.

The only other benefit of leaving your tank run low is some sort of thrill seeking. This was illustrated perfectly in the Seinfeld episode “The Dealership.” Suffice it to say there are better ways to get your kicks.


Why you shouldn’t let your tank run low

“Peace of mind” is the first reason to keep your tank on the full side. The road is already an anxious and stressful place. Therefore anything you can do to keep yourself calm and relaxed is a good thing. Not worrying about how much further you can drive before you need to gas up will help you focus on the road and enjoy your ride a little more.

But the main reason lies with the fuel pump. Your car’s fuel pump is located inside the gas tank. In order to function properly, it needs to be completely submerged in gasoline. Typically, this means you need at least ¼ of a tank to keep it submerged.

Long-term exposure to air can lead to early deterioration of the fuel pump. This is not a cheap or easy fix. When properly used and maintained, a fuel pump should last at least 100,000 miles if not the lifetime of your vehicle.

Leaving it constantly exposed to air can cause the pump to suck in air and generate heat. This can reduce the working life of your fuel pump significantly.

Allowing your tank to run low can also make room for sediment to build up in your tank.

Think about coffee in a pot. There is always some sediment at the bottom. Your first few pours won’t pick up any of the sediment and transfer it to your cup, but that last cup usually does have a bit of sediment in it.

Your fuel tank works much the same way. The last ¼ of your tank may pick up sediment, which will be absorbed by the fuel filter and clog it. This can lead to reduced performance of your vehicle and require early replacement of the filter.

How to tell if you’ve got a bad fuel pump

So maybe you’re a daredevil like Kramer and you’ve been driving around on E for a while. That doesn’t guarantee that you’ve run your fuel pump into the ground, but it does mean it’s a possibility.

Here are a few trouble signs to look for with your fuel pump:


  • Your gas mileage is going down. This could be a sign that your fuel pump isn’t operating efficiently.
  • The engine starts to “sputter” at high speeds. This means your car is having trouble delivering fuel to the engine.
  • Fuel pressure is low. This is a common symptom of a failed fuel pump. Any fuel pressure warning light should be attended to immediately.
  • Temperature is high. This doesn’t always indicate something wrong with the fuel pump, but it certainly can be a sign it needs attention.
  • The car surges. This typically indicates that the fuel pump is functioning irregularly and needs to be serviced or replaced.


A fuel pump is an issue that should be looked at by a professional. If you notice any irregularities with your fuel pump, take care of it right away before it affects other components in your vehicle.

Stay on top of your maintenance and get more awesome tips with the Strutmasters blog.

Is Your A/C Ready for Summer? Hot Tips for a Cool Car


This summer is on the books to be one of the hottest in recent memory, meaning you’ll be asking a lot of your car’s air conditioner.

There are many things that can go wrong with your air conditioner, but the effect is consistent. The car will not cool down as its supposed to.

Below is a readiness test that you can use at home to determine whether or not your air conditioner is up to the task this summer, or if it needs some service.

1. Road test the air conditioner in car

This, of course, may seem like a no-brainer, but it is an important step. Take your car out and take note of how the air conditioner behaves. Is it running but not cold? Is it not pushing out enough air? Try to be detailed in your notes.

2. Check the cabin filter

Sometimes there may simply be something stuck in the cabin filter, or it’s time to replace it. Like any air filter, your car’s air conditioner operates best when the filter is clean and free of obstructions. This is a cheap and easy fix so it’s good to check this first.

3. Check the hoses

The hoses which carry cold air into the car are often made of high-grade rubber. Under abnormal stress, these can tear or break and allow air to escape. This will prevent your air conditioner from operating effectively.

Make note of the leaks and use good, strong tape to cover them while you source some new ones or take it to the dealer.

4. Refresh the refrigerant

This is one of those things you can easily do at home that would cost you a fortune at a mechanic. A kit like this one will make the job easy.

Here’s a great video to demonstrate how to refresh your refrigerant using these products.

5. Check the compressor

Note: This step is a little more advanced. Use caution or take it to a pro if you’re not comfortable.

The air conditioner in your car uses a compressor to generate the air needed to cool your car. This compressor is a complex little motor that can have lots of little, hard-to-solve problems. Fortunately, troubleshooting those problems isn’t too difficult.

This video does a great job of explaining how to test your car’s A/C compressor.


Going through this checklist will eliminate any air conditioner issues that you may be able to solve yourself, saving your the money and trouble of going to a mechanic. One of the silver linings of A/C problems is that you will know immediately whether or not you’ve sufficiently repaired it.

Stay cool this summer and stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog for more great car care advice.


How That Trip to the Beach Affects Your Car


The sound of the ocean and gulls, the smell of sunscreen and saltwater in the air, the feeling of the sun on your skin; yes, beach season is upon us! But before you pack your cooler and the family into the car, it’s worth knowing a thing or two about how a trip to the beach can affect your vehicle.

Here are some of the ways your car may be affected by time down at the coast and how you can prevent too much damage from occurring.

External damage

You may notice that houses at the beach, even if they are relatively new, can look pretty weathered. This is because saltwater in the air is very corrosive.

Salt in the air and seaspray acts like those microbeads in your toothpaste or body wash. Tiny, gritty little particles being pushed along by the ocean breeze can scratch and wear down paint very quickly.

There is also a bit of chemistry involved. On its own, salt doesn’t affect metal very much. But when combined with water, it becomes an excellent conductor and leads to rapid oxidation–known commonly as rust.

So in effect, salty moist air can, over time, strip the paint from your vehicle and then cause the exposed metals to rust very quickly. Not good.

If you’re just headed down for a week or so washing your car after your trip will suffice. If you plan on spending an extended time near the coast, make sure to wash your car at least twice a month to keep your paint in tact.

Internal damage

While it may seem like a nice idea to bring the beach home with you, it can be detrimental to your car.

Driving on the beach presents an opportunity for sand to get under the hood of your vehicle. Your tires can pick up sand in the treads and then kick that back up into the chassis. Salt is incredibly abrasive, especially when it combines with any kind of fluid or oil.

Your car’s interior may also suffer from people bringing sand in. More than just an annoyance, sand can scrape and destroy fabric and leather seats, seriously diminishing the resale value of your car.

Avoid driving on the beach when possible. It sure is fun, but it’s bad for the beach and bad for your car. If you do need to drive on the beach, see if you can use a hose to rinse off everything under the hood after you get back.


Sun damage

Usually the sun is nothing to worry about. Sure, it will fade your paint and dash over time but that’s just the way of life for a car. Unless you plan on moving to northern England, there just isn’t much you can do about it.

Where sun really does some damage, however, is at the beach. Sunlight and heat cause the pores in your car’s paint to expand. While this isn’t a problem on its own, it means that salty air has an easier time working its way into the paint. This will lead to more rapid corrosion.

Try to park your car in a garage or under the house if its on stilts. Also, as mentioned previously, make sure to wash your car after your trip.

With a bit of prevention and some after-care you should be able to enjoy some time at the coast worry-free. As always, the first and most important step is awareness.

For more helpful tips and advice, head to the Strutmasters blog.

Father’s Day Gift Guide: For the Car Guy Dad in Your Life

So you haven’t gotten the Dad in your life a gift yet. Don’t worry! There’s still time.

This year, forget the cheesy ties or button-down shirts. If Dad is a car guy, here are a few things that can make this Father’s Day a memorable one for him.


Car accessories make a fantastic gift–something someone might want but might be hesitant to buy themselves. Father’s Day is a great opportunity to get that knick-knack he’s been eyeing or surprise him with something he didn’t know he wanted.

These days, there are a million and one gadgets you can get for your car that serve many useful purposes.

Personally, we’re big fans of this portable jump starter. It’s just one less thing to worry about when you’re driving off into the wilderness.

Here’s a nice list of today’s hottest gadgets if you’re having trouble thinking of something.

Proper cleaning

A clean car is one of the best possible gifts you can get for Dad. Look no further than a professional detailing to really make his ride sparkle.

Are they a “type A” that is a little on obsessive side about keeping their car clean? Then they’ll appreciate the attention to detail and a professional cleaning job. Messier dads may see how their car looks clean and never want to go back to a dirty car filled with junk ever again!

Look on discount sites like Groupon where you should find several inexpensive options for a detail. You may also find mobile detailing services which come to you. This may be an added bonus as there’s less coordination and time needed on dad’s part to get the job done.

Maintenance packages

Many companies like Discount Tire offer tire protection or road hazard protection packages. These plans are a type of insurance that you pay for once and will replace or repair your tires for free if they are damaged under normal conditions. Many of them come with free lifetime balance and rotations as part of the deal.

You may also be able to find deals like oil change, cleaning or brake maintenance packages, too. Dad will love being able to cross anything off his list of worries.

Car club membership

Car clubs, the most notable being AAA, have a lot to offer their members. From trip planning to travel and accommodation discounts, there many reasons to join.

One of the biggest perks from these memberships, though, is the free towing. Many memberships offer at least 100 miles of free towing, if not unlimited. If used just once, the membership will have paid for itself several times over.

Quality time on the road with Dad

This is probably the best gift you can give. Has the dad in your life mentioned some place they’d like to go? Have they been interested in food or attractions that aren’t available in your town?

Consider planning out a road trip for you and him, whether it’s just a few towns over or a few days away. It’s a great opportunity for him to spend time with his car and his loved ones in one place!

In the information age when we’re all moving at light speed, finding quality time to spend together is difficult. More than anything, this will show him how much you care about him and want to spend time with him.

There are loads of great resources online to help with road trip planning. is one of our personal favorites. If you are a AAA member you can also stop by one of their offices for free planning help.

Whatever you decide to do for Dad this Father’s Day, make sure it’s from the heart. For most dads, spending some quality time over a meal or just sitting around the living room is valuable, especially as kids get older and move away. Whether it’s a new dash cam or simply a card, make sure to let him know you care this year.

For more great tips, stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog.