Friday, October 2, 2009

The Lizard as Drag Racer

As Bobby Shaftoe was dreaming again about his encounter with the giant lizard (page 279 of Cryptonomicon), he remembered seeing: "Sand erupts into the air, like smoke from the burning tires of a drag racer, ..." That is a meaningful image to the reader, but it was an anachronism for Bobby in 1943. To produce that phenomenon of burning tires, as contrasted to merely making the tires squeal briefly, typically required large, over-square, V-eight engines with overhead valves. Such engines first became available in 1949 models (especially Cadillac and Chrysler). The first drag races sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association took place in 1953 ( ).

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