The concept was first sketched on a napkin in the Atlanta airport. A decade later, the jet dragster that was on that napkin has been making its first passes.
The Queen of Diamonds II, with driver Jill Canuso, plans to make its debut tour this summer and will run on Maple Grove Raceway’s quartermile for the first time during the Super Chevy Show on Saturday and Sunday. The QDII will be part of a quartet of jets at Super Chevy. Hanna Motorsports teammates Rich Hanna and Ken Hall will be driving the GOJO Firebird and Top Secret Funny Cars, respectively. Also on hand will be Bob VanSciver’s Jersey Thunder dragster.
“I’m looking forward to racing QDII at Maple Grove for the first time during the Super Chevy Show,” said Canuso, who has been racing at The Grove for several years. “The Grove is my home town track, and the place where I first decided that I wanted to be a racer.”
The QDII replaces the original Queen of Diamonds that provided thrills for over two decades. The new car was built by Dan Page Race Cars of Hampstead, N.H., and it has a new, 6,000 horse-powered General Electric J-85-5 engine.
The car also has a new look. The driver sits off to the left of the engine position under an aircraft canopy. The fuel tank is on the right side under a matching “pod” that gives the car an aerodynamic advantage.
“We built the car to get more air to the jet engine,” said team owner Al Hanna. “Traditional jet dragsters have the driver sitting in front of the engine, and consequently, the engine is always straining more than is should, and running hotter than it should, due primarily to the driver location. We feel this is a much better design, with far more potential.”
The front wings are designed to keep the car stable at high speed, and based on the success of the prior Queen of Diamonds, several updates were made to the new car including the stretching of the overall wheelbase to 270.
The car body is made of carbon fiber and titanium throughout to keep the weight at a minimum. The car has an 18-gallon fuel tank, and burns kerosene.
With a matching nose to cut through the air, the twin pod design allows for greater speed. A “tunnel” design allows air to go directly to the engine.
Aerodynamic design was a joint project of Hanna Motorsports and Gary Eaker, of A2 Wind Tunnel outside Charlotte, N.C. A2 is known for doing aero work for NASCAR. Larry Williams Graphics, Joliet, Ill., worked on the paint scheme and it was applied by Draggraphix of North Brookfield, Mass.
In testing, the first run to the 1,000-foot mark produced a 5.46 seconds at 267 mph with the chutes deployed.
The first pass to the finish line produced a 5.43 at 291.
The Hanna Team is taking the progress of this machine on the track very cautiously and slowly. All the systems are on test mode.
“As performance improves, and the learning curve straightens out, we see a great future for this design, and this machine,” said Al Hanna. “We can’t wait to see this car run 300 mph, and beyond”
Canuso is enthusiastic about the car’s future and her chance to go even faster.
“Being at the controls of a masterfully engineered, but experimental 6,000 hp, 300 mph-plus jet-propelled race vehicle is not for the faint of heart,” she said. “The level of trust and belief in the Hanna’s, Dan Page, Gary Eaker, my crew and myself can’t be put into words.”