October 20, 2021

Vintage-Nitro

Still car-crazy after all these years

ReEntry streamliner

ReEntry streamliner at Cobo Hall

Re-Entry Rear Engine Streamlined Dragster

The Re-Entry's supercharged engine was housed behind the driver in a tightly fitting cowl that also enclosed the driver and the rear tires.
The radical Re-Entry dragster attempted to mix streamlining with a rear-engine design
The radical Re-Entry dragster attempted to mix streamlining with a rear-engine design

Winding up the photos from the 1966 Autorama are these of the wild Re-Entry.

UPDATE: I found the Re-Entry Top Fuel Dragster on Draglist. The car was campaigned by Robert Lindwall and ran a 392 CI Chrysler Hemi for power. The Illinois based car wasn’t very quick as Draglist indicates a best of only 9.52. The rear-engined streamliner did break the 200mph barrier with a 201.34.

The rest of the details are sketchy, but apparently Re-Entry was destroyed in a crash at Indianapolis. I can’t find any additional informarion about Lindwall after that.

Although many people experimented with rear-engined dragsters in the 1960s, few of them enjoyed any success. It wasn’t until Don Garlits perfected the rear-engine design in 1971, that dragsters with the motor behind the driver started to win major races. In 1966, all the successful dragsters were front-engine “slingshot” rails.

At the same time, many people thought streamlining might hold the key to quicker dragster elapsed times. Reality proved otherwise as the streamlined body usually added too much weight. Any wind-cheating advantage from a slick body shell was negated by the extra weight.

The Re-Entry managed to incorporate both of these technologies into a single short-wheelbase dragster. The supercharged engine was housed behind the driver in a tightly fitting cowl that also enclosed the driver and the rear tires.

It looks really cool, but I doubt I would want to make a pass in this contraption. Looking at the photos, it appears that the only way a normal-size human being would fit behind the enclosed windscreen is to lie prone on one’s back, with your legs tucked inside the front frame rails. That would place the drivers feet somewhere in the vicinity of the front axle. If the car hit something; a real possibility considering the short wheelbase; the drivers leg’s would be highly vulnerable.

Cool, but scary-looking, the unusual Re-Entry encased driver, engine and rear tires in a streamlined shell.

In addition, I would think it would be difficult to gauge how high the front wheels were when strapped into that driver’s capsule. Once the front end lifted, there would be very little to see besides sky and you wouldn’t know if the wheels were 8 inches or 8 feet off the ground.

Maybe I’m completely wrong about this. Maybe Re-Entry was safe and easy to drive, despite my misgivings. I never heard or saw anything about Re-Entry after the 1966 Detroit Autorama. Anyone know what happened to this car?