Dave Benton's 14 sec NA Yugo.

07-30-2003, 09:08 AM
I know Dave Benton from the Yugo email groups on yahoo, here's an article I found about him and his drag yugo at another group for the Morris Minor:

A Drag Racer Turns Handicap Of His Yugo to His Advantage

Staff Reporter

ATCO, N.J. -- Dave Benton revs up his engine as the announcer at Atco
Raceway calls the action over a scratchy public-address system. "Eighty
cubic inches," announcer Max Scherwin tells the crowd of about 2,000. "I
know motorcycles that got bigger motors than that."
And Mr. Benton is off. It's his third drag race of the morning, all in a
1986 Yugo.
Let people laugh.
Dave Benton and his Yugo
The arthritic 62-year-old challenges 17-foot dragsters, souped-up Chevys,
roaring Mustangs -- taking full advantage of a handicapping system that
gives his baby-blue hatchback up to an eight-second head start in
quarter-mile dashes. Under the emblem "Underdog Racing," Mr. Benton has
become something of a legend around New Jersey's weekend drag-racing
Mr. Benton is a throwback to a time when drag racing wasn't about who could
spend the most money muscling up a car. What drivers couldn't afford, they
simply made themselves. A clutch release? Mr. Benton slapped an old
air-conditioner magnet on the floorboard that he activates with a switch on
the stick shift. To lighten the Yugo, he uses a battery from a garden
tractor; gas is held in a 1-gallon oil tank taken from a Honda motorcycle.
In seven years of racing, he has cut his time to 14.785 seconds from 21.9,
hitting speeds of around 90 miles an hour.
But ... a Yugo? The $3,990 car that Consumer Reports once called "a grab bag
of barely assembled nuts and bolts"? The vehicle that after it was launched
with a slogan of "Everybody you know needs a Yugo" scored worst in its
category on U.S. government crash tests? The car that for years became a
staple on the joke circuit (Why do Yugos have rear-window defrosters? To
keep your hands warm while you push it)?
Actually, in many ways, Mr. Benton is as unique as the Yugo.
A lifelong New Jersey resident, Mr. Benton was born with a clubfoot and wore
a leg brace through grade school. At the age of nine, he took apart his
first engine. "A '37 Chevy," Mr. Benton recalls. He remembers, he says,
because "I never got it back together."
He studied forestry for a year in college but dropped out to pursue a string
of disparate careers: Porsche mechanic, cowboy, bulldozer operator,
motivational speaker, instructor of automotive technology.
By 1986, Mr. Benton and his wife, Linda, a high-school math teacher, decided
to downsize from their '73 Cadillac and old Chrysler station wagon. The
first compact they test-drove: an '86 Yugo GV. A half-mile into the ride,
Mr. Benton was so taken by the car's pep and handling, they turned the thing
around, zipped back to the dealer and bought it. As it happened, Yugo
America Inc. was headquartered just up the road in Upper Saddle River. And
in 1987, Mr. Benton got a job there, in the technical-services department.
Inside Yugo America, though, things weren't going well. The company had
recalled its first 9,000 cars because some of the seat belts weren't bolted
on according to specifications. And though Fortune magazine had singled the
Yugo out as one of the products of the year in 1985, the car's sales fell
consistently short of annual goals of 200,000; they never reached
one-quarter of that.
In 1992, Yugo America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, stopped
importing the vehicles and left American dealers to take dramatic measures
to sell off inventories. One pitch: "Buy a Buick, Get a Free Yugo."
Mr. Benton was once again out of a job. But when his desire for an
inexpensive hobby drove him to New Jersey's amateur drag-racing circuit in
1992, Mr. Benton opted for the Yugo. His first quarter-mile time, 21.9
seconds, was only slightly faster than a greyhound could have run it.
One day, returning home from the Atco Raceway, Mr. Benton was clipped by a
passing Camaro. He was forced into the center guardrail, flipped four times
-- and walked away, unscathed. "Tough little cars," Mr. Benton says.
Getting Serious
After the wreck, Mr. Benton salvaged the 80 cubic-inch engine, Yugo's
largest ever, stuck it in a replacement Yugo he bought at a junkyard for
$100 and really got serious about making a fast car.
Over the next five years, he ran about 400 races, generally competing in
"bracket" divisions. Under that format, drivers submit the time they expect
to run. Typically, Mr. Benton might submit a 14.91, while his competitor
would post something like a 10.04. Then Mr. Benton would get his 4.87-second
head start. The winner: whoever is closest to his predicted time -- without
going under it.
Still, he feels the need for speed. This winter, Mr. Benton rebuilt the
engine's short block, looking to shave more ticks off his time. And on May
15, he and two Yugo Underdog buddies -- Pete Mulhern, 57, and Dave Greason,
63 -- have gathered in Mr. Benton's driveway to finish up the engine so Mr.
Benton can unleash it the following day at the Atco Raceway.
Mr. Benton still limps. Mr. Mulhern also moves slowly: He has had two heart
attacks and suffers from emphysema. Mr. Greason, a diabetic, has had
open-heart surgery and has a condition called essential tremor, which makes
his head shake. He figures he doesn't have all that long to live. "It's
winding down for me now," he says. "It's time to have some fun."
Yugo Central
Behind the three, a dark garage has been turned into a Yugo parts center.
Six engines lie on the floor. Exhaust systems rest against the wall. Nuts
and bolts are stored in old Planters Cheese Balls cans, or are scattered on
the concrete floor. The mess spills into the driveway, where six parked
Yugos extend into a weed-caked front yard.
Mr. Benton climbs behind the wheel, and flips the ignition switch-piercing
the quiet neighborhood with what sounds like a lawn mower on steroids. Mr.
Mulhern, wearing a white fishing cap and reading glasses, tweaks the
carburetor with a long, thin screwdriver.
Eventually, Mr. Benton declares the new engine ready for battle.
Early the next morning, Mr. Benton packs for the day: lunch, soft drinks, a
plastic sandwich-bag filled with vitamins and various medicines. Mr. Mulhern
arrives, and the two hitch the drag-Yugo to the back of Mr. Benton's
everyday-Yugo. They drive to the track, arriving before most of the other
racers, and start replacing the standard front tires of the dragster with
racing ones.
Within minutes, a younger man, Kevin Thomas, bounds up to check out the car.
"I heard about you!" he says. "I heard about the Yugo!" Mr. Thomas, who
drags a Subaru station wagon, tells Mr. Benton he has a turbo kit on order.
"I want to become an Underdog too. I want to scare some people."
Dropping Weight
Other racers and spectators wander by, some shaking their heads, some
laughing. But the jokes don't last long in this crowd. Mostly, it's Mr.
Benton's mechanical skills that impress his fellow racers -- and have helped
him cut down the weight of the car to its current 1,340 pounds from about
The morning goes well for Underdog Racing. On this day, Mr. Benton is racing
only against cars his own size and speed, in the "Sportsman Import"
division. In his second practice run, Mr. Benton sets a new personal record:
14.785 seconds.
He eventually loses in the semifinals to a Mazda RX-7, but he has done well
enough for a swing by the awards stand after the race. He picks up a trophy,
$85 in prize money (he has won money just three times before) and climbs
back into the dragster. En route to his space in the pits, Mr. Benton drives
by hundreds of fans and racers -- cracking open his driver's side door and
thrusting the 18-inch gold trophy into the air. The crowd cheers.
Mr. Mulhern has been waiting patiently in his lawn chair, by now exhausted
from an afternoon in the warm sun.
"We did it again," Mr. Benton says, showing him the cash.

07-30-2003, 11:56 PM
wow.... that kinda stuff gets me teary eyed...
I have simmilar plans for my Justy... should be able to be faster then that aswell... stock weight is less, bigger engine... and 4wd to boot... its awesome to see sub sub compacts tearing up the track!

07-31-2003, 12:25 AM
I love the crusty justy (and it's the same year as my yugo) even though I prefer four cylinders in a four-stroke engined car.

08-22-2003, 05:45 AM
14.7 seconds in the quarter mile!?! That's what a stock 5 liter Mustang ran in the early 90's! Not bad, I would say.

08-22-2003, 12:01 PM
14.7 seconds in the quarter mile!?! That's what a stock 5 liter Mustang ran in the early 90's! Not bad, I would say.

Not bad at all, considering that the Yugo in question uses a 1.3 liter engine.

08-22-2003, 04:18 PM
Yeah, and it's not like you can run off to the nearest speed shop to buy a bunch of performance equipment for the YUGO either. Most of the stuff he ran was probably custom made. Quite an achievement!

09-25-2003, 05:18 PM
why do you people like yugo's there ugly and slow....

09-25-2003, 05:29 PM
why do you people like yugo's there ugly and slow....

Why do you want to pick on yugos?, you're like ugly and slow...

09-25-2003, 05:43 PM
sure i am....but any ways were talkign about those so ugly ugoslavian cars... why do people even like them besides the little price!?

09-25-2003, 06:06 PM
Feel free to start a new thread about why people like Yugos, but please don't take this one any further off topic, lest I excersize my moderational abilities.

Dr. Love
09-28-2003, 12:50 PM
why do you people like yugo's there ugly and slow....
Because anyone can buy a fast car, buy some performance parts for it, and run low qm times... That doesn't take any talent, it just takes some money. I have far more respect for someone who takes a slow car and makes it into a fast car, especially a car such as the Yugo for which you can't even buy parts for in the US anymore.

By the way the Yugo is not really that slow, it's acceleration/speed are average compared to most other subcompacts made in the mid 1980's.

As for it being ugly, it looks the same as most cars did in the mid 80's.

09-29-2003, 05:53 PM
not like the lamborghini countache :) but thats different :evillol:

09-29-2003, 05:58 PM
not like the lamborghini countache :) but thats different :evillol:

Except that it was pretty ugly so far as Lamborghinis go.

09-30-2003, 01:58 PM
I've owned about half a dozen Fox-Body Mustangs a 944 S2 and a 911 C1, and I'm just as interested in hearing about someone tuning their Yugo as I am about someone tuning their Corvette. Anything that has four wheels, or anytime someone puts some imagination and effort into their car, will earn my attention. A 14 second Yugo deserves respect!

Sam I am
10-02-2003, 08:50 AM
sure i am....but any ways were talkign about those so ugly ugoslavian cars... why do people even like them besides the little price!?

If you can't spell Yugoslavia, you shouldn't make fun. That is the most original car I have ever seen in a subculture overpopulated by Mustangs and Supras.

06-19-2005, 03:38 PM
well,in todays world of No skills racing and plug and play racing,the Yugo is a fun car to own.How many skills does it take to go to Ricer zone and tell them you want a chip and a cold air intake for a honda.....then how hard it it to install?WOW!plug a chip in and tighten 2 hose clamps.....You don't even get dirty.Ricers are for lazy racers with too much of daddies money.Oh,Did I mention I am very touchy on the subject of Ricers and racing?......Even though,Honda is doing a good thing making the new computers untunable.....hee hee hee.No more plug and play junk.

07-02-2005, 11:45 AM
Pretty sweet! 1/4 mile under 15s in a Yugo?! I have more respect for that than a 10s 1/4 mile 'Vette.

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