Wide Open

Over the years, I’ve made many blasts up highway 30 in front of my dad’s shop. It’s great fun, and there’s enough room to get into high gear before it’s time to shut ‘er down. My dad and I have used it as a testing ground for lots of years, and one particular blast will forever be fresh on my mind…

Alright, let’s set this up. The car is a V8-powered Mazda RX7. I recently wrote a blog about the car, so you can look at that if you want a more thorough description. Stock 302ci small block Ford engine, C4 transmission, stock 7.5-inch rear end, 100 shot of nitrous. So I went to my nearest nitrous fill’er-up station, drove home, hooked it up. YES! So I make a trip around the block, nitrous system activated, and triggered by a microswitch on the throttle pedal. First trip around the block feels good but I want another run at it, so I circle back around, stall it up and nail it on the highway. The car is rolling along pretty good, but still spinning a bit, so I shift to second, and hold in it a while longer. When it’s time to back out of the gas, I do so, but the car doesn’t agree–yep, throttle is stuck wide open. Nothing in this world can compare to the frantic behavior that results from a stuck throttle.

Byrd Photo

Here's the car...1982 Mazda RX7 with a Ford 302ci engine and 100 shot of nitrous.

Even though this car was just a 7-second eighth mile car, it felt like I was strapped into a Top Fuel dragster with a parachute malfunction….except for the fact I just had a three-point shoulder harness. So as my brain is literally melting, my only solution was to hit all of the switches and kill it. So after traveling about one hundred feet farther than I anticipated, I have successfully shut it down. But….I’m in the middle of the highway with no where to pull off. Did I mention this car doesn’t have headlights, taillights, registration or insurance? Also it doesn’t have DOT tires on it, and an active nitrous system, so it’s extremely illegal.

Byrd Photo

Just an old 302 from a Ford truck, but it was just right for this 2,000 pound RX7.

Honestly, my brain was fried after those few seconds of fright, so like a dummy, I crank it up again only to instantly shut it back off because the throttle is still wide open. Unstick the throttle, crank it up again, but have to hold it to the floor because it’s flooded…sticks again. So I give up and start pushing to the nearest pull off. By this time my dad had gotten there to help push, and see if we could limp the car home. With the carburetor off the car, we couldn’t see any major problems to cause it to stick, but it appeared to be opening the blades too far, and allowing them to somehow hang up.

So far this has been my only big stuck throttle experience. I’d be ok if it never happened again, but it sure makes for a vivid memory of the life of a car guy.

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