Here's an obvious statement for a racer: The throttle is your friend. It's a simple enough apparatus, a series of linkages from the gas pedal to the carburetor that allow you to control fuel flow to the engine from your comfy cockpit. But treat it nicely or it can turn on you faster than your buddy in high school when he discovered you were dating his sister. Few wrecks produce harder hits than a stuck throttle. To avoid that and help you attain throttle control so precise it feels like you are working the carburetor butterflies by telekinesis, we visited the No. 10 (Johnny Benson) and No. 36 (Kenny Schrader) Winston Cup shops to see how these pros did it.
Key Points Whether you are installing a universal throttle-linkage kit or fabricating your own, there are a couple important points to remember. First, make sure there are no extreme angles between the gas pedal, linkage, and carburetor at either the idle position or full throttle. You want a smooth pull from idle to full throttle so that there aren't any hang-ups on your way to full throttle or when you let off the gas to "whoa" up.
Also, to avoid a dreaded stuck throttle, make sure to build in some redundancy into your throttle return. This is simple enough: Use two throttle return springs. They can be softer than normal so that the total pull is not too great, but if one breaks you still have a second pulling back the power. A toe-pull on the gas pedal also isn't a bad idea.
Bart Bates, the shop foreman for the MB2 Motorsports team that fields Johnny Benson's Pontiacs, says his crew builds all their throttle linkages in-house. The rods are 3/8-inch solid hex rod made from T6061 aluminum. Once the rod is cut to length it is bent so that the greater length of the rod is horizontal with a slight upsweep at the end to the carburetor. Both ends are drilled and tapped, and then 1/4-inch aircraft-quality heim joints are attached. Bates recommends aircraft-quality heims because they rotate freely, do not kink, and the only maintenance required is an occasional shot with spray lubricant.
Inside or Outside? If you are using a through-the-firewall gas pedal, connecting up the throttle linkage rod is a piece of cake. But if the gas pedal assembly sits completely on the driver's side of the firewall it can be a little more difficult. Bates has experience with both. Benson prefers a brand of pedal that goes through the firewall, while Schrader uses a brand that requires the throttle linkage to pass through the firewall and then connect to the pedal assembly.