Archive for October, 2010

October 14, 2010

ON THIS DAY IN 1997: A Jet Car Breaks the Sound Barrier

Thrust SSC goes supersonic, as told in Top Fuel Wormhole

Point your browser at this  look back to 1997 and “The Universe Is Expanding: Mach One As The Big Bang,” K-Bomb writer Cole Coonce’s explosive-yet-contemplative eyewitness account of how Thrust SSC broke the sound barrier. In a car. Excerpted from his collection, Top Fuel Wormhole.

This essay was later expanded into a feature-length book on the Land Speed Record, Infinity Over Zero: Meditations on Maximum Velocity.

October 4, 2010




I/0, Top Fuel Wormhole now available on Kindle




October 5, 2010, K-Bomb Centcom, Los Angeles, CA—In what is arguably a drag-strip journalism first, both Cole Coonce’s Top Fuel Wormhole (his collection of drag racing essays), and its predecessor, Infinity Over Zero (an impressionistic history of the Land Speed Record), have both gone electric. Which is to say these may or may not be the first books on the topics to have a presence on’s Kindle store, but, arguably, these are the first essential ones.

With new, paper-less versions of both of Coonce’s rocket-fueled books now specially formatted for e-readers, modern motor-sports esthetes can download these delicious digital documents and enjoy them with the knowledge that the trees spared by the lack of pulp-processing  can now serve as emissions credits for burning rubber and fouling spark plugs.

To that end, K-Bomb Publishing, the imprint that produced both the electric and paper versions of these thick tomes, encourages all consumers to brandish their Kindles at the drag races and, as the next pair of monopropellant-powered Funny Cars blasts by, exclaim to anybody who can hear over the noise that with enough pulp-free purchases of Top Fuel Wormhole, drag racing could ultimately be considered carbon neutral.

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October 1, 2010


by Cole Coonce (excerpted from Top Fuel Wormhole)

photo by Dave Wallace, Sr.

I remember the whine and the zing of the Top Fuel cars. It was the sound of metallic machinery wound-up to the point of breaking into magnesium quarks and positrons. I’ll never forget my Grandmother cursing the sound of the fuel cars on Sunday afternoons in the 1960s, hearing the blowers spin up into a glorious glissando and then the reverberation vaporizing instantaneously.

I remember playing in the street in San Fernando, catching footballs tossed by my grandfather, spryly huffing and puffing past parked cars and conifer trees, while abruptly pivoting on a buttonhook pattern and catching a spiral in the solar plexus or futilely extending my hands at the denouement of a post pattern in hopes of sticking the pigskin on my fingertips, and hearing the sounds of the nearby drag races— WWWHHHHHHAAAAAHHHHH – UUNNNNDDTTT —every few minutes while I ran back to huddle with my quarterback and we pretended he was Roman Gabriel and I was Jack Snow.

Yes, I knew what all of the high-pitched racket was, the din my grandfather tried to ignore and my grandmother cursed. It took me years to marvel at the irony of my grandfather passing mute judgment on the noise pollution from San Fernando Raceway.  He was one of Kelly Johnson’s metallurgists at the Skunk Works adjunct at Lockheed in Burbank, and his role in the development and manufacture of various black-budget supersonic spy planes led to all the sliding glass door windows in the city of San Fernando rattling whenever one of Lockheed’s Cold War babies did one of its faster-than-sound hole punches in the sky…

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