Bruce Carlson of Prior Lake has a unique way to finance racing his NHRA Federal Mogul Funny Car.
His second job is standing in the middle of Sixth Street and Second Avenue in Minneapolis during rush hour directing Pillsbury Center employees home two hours a day.
"(Drag racing) is fairly expensive," Carlson, an investigator for the Minneapolis Police Department's Juvenile Division said by phone Tuesday. "If it was (easy to finance), they'd all be out there, believe me."
Carlson, 54, also will be among the hundreds of racers competing in a NHRA Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series West Central Division event Friday through Sunday at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway. The event, the Colonel's Truck Accessories Northern Championships, is the second round of the six.
For Carlson this will be his first time down a quarter-mile track this season with his Pontiac Firebird. He attended the third-annual NHRA Prestone Nationals at Chicago last weekend but didn't make a pass. He had mechanical problems, including a fuel line hose fitting falling off.
Last season at the Gateway NHRA Nationals in Madison, Ill., Carlson posted his best speed, 241 mph, and elapsed time, 5.96 seconds.
Carlson, in his third year behind the wheel of a NHRA Federal Mogul Funny Car, said he feels this could be his year to win.
"I think we've paid our dues and now it is time to start winning some of these races," he said. "It takes time to develop a winning combination. We have a better handle on the variables."
Carlson also replaced cylinder heads on his 518 cubic inch Keith Black Mopar motor this season and replaced his racer's rear end with a stronger one. He purchased his engine parts from Bob Newberry, who has 36 national event wins in Comp/Federal Mogul Funny Car.
Those heads with the valves cost about $8,000 and that's not the most expensive part of his car's engine. The blower costs about $10,000.
"You try to buy used stuff when you can," he said.
Carlson has been racing this type of car for about 10 years. He gained his interest in Alcohol Funny Car racing at a drag strip in Union Grove, Wis. Here while racing a 1973 Chevrolet Vega with a 496 cubic inch powerplant, he met a member of an Alcohol Funny Car group.
A short time later he purchased a 1978 Plymouth Arrow Funny Car, which at one time belonged to Minnesota's own Tom Hoover, joined the group, and traveled across the Midwest. He said these cars clicked off elapsed times of seven seconds at 200 mph.
This group would tour the tracks and race among themselves, said Carlson, who described his first pass in his racer as terrifying.
In 1994 and 1995, he won the group's season points championship. At about the same time he joined the United Drag Racers Association, which offered unlimited rules.
In 1995, Carlson, who has been employed by the Minneapolis Police Department for 25 years, said he began racing some NHRA national and divisional events.
In that same year he went to Texas to purchase a funny car to race. It had a 1995 Oldsmobile body.
A year later at Brainerd's points meet, that body was destroyed by a fuel system error on only his second pass near the finish line.
This mishap did help Carlson gain a crew member, former Brainerd resident Clint Dwire now of Minneapolis. He said Dwire approached him in the pits to inquire about the explosion.
Carlson said all he had to do was ask Dwire if he wanted to be a crewmember and he said yes. He has been one ever since.
Carlson did note that Dwire's long term goal is to drive his car and he is "trying to make that happen."
"I'd support him and continue to race with him as his crew chief," Carlson said.
Carlson, a father of two, could retire from the police department in July.
"I still have more to offer," said the seven-year investigator.
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