The Quad Squad – Norm Green, Al Koch, and John Lancaster | 2013
The Quad Squad – Norm Green, Al Koch, and John Lancaster | 2013
Our second inductees into the NTPA Pulling Hall of Fame also made their technological mark on the sport back in the mid-70s. Unlike Hypermax Engineering, whose service reached out to many customers through a business vein, this trio made history as pioneers unto themselves – a trio of men who ventured out to use four turbochargers, three-staged airflow for the first time in the sport. Most in the sport referred to Norm Green, Al Koch, and John Lancaster as the “Quad Squad.” Their experimental venture into using four turbochargers on an Allis Chalmers showed a do-it-yourself spirit that is a staple in NTPA competition, while landing the Quad Squad in the NTPA Hall of Fame.
Geographically speaking, all three men lived close to the racing capital of the world – Indianapolis, Indiana. Al Koch hailed from Indy, while John Lancaster lived south of the city in Trafalgar, and Norm Green hailed from Whiteland, also south of Indiana’s capital. Besides the close proximity that joined the men together, their brand of preference – Allis Chalmers – made them blood brothers with the blood type, naturally, being “O” for orange.
A notable pioneer came before the Quad Squad, influencing their evolution in the later years of the 1970s. Legendary AC puller Noble Harrison had an early connection to the orange pullers as owner of three of the largest Allis Chalmers dealerships in the country, offering him corporate ties that few knew. Noble tried to get information off the design engineers to no avail, until one day a discussion with the marketing director set Harrison on a path that blazed an early trail to extra pulling power for the brand. In 1967, Harrison received three experimental kits from the factory with each kit being situated to three different Allis Chalmers models. The results were impressive for the day, and Noble carried the kits to sell to interested pullers by the end of the ‘60s. The “big orange” were becoming the hot ticket on pulling tracks and were tough to beat.
In 1969, Harrison requested, and had built, the first two-staged turbocharged pulling engine ever built, which was then installed in an AC 220. Paramount to its performance was an experimental fuel pump that never saw an Allis Chalmers parts number. By the early ‘70s, Harrison and his son campaigned their famed “Allis in Wonderland” machine. But by 1972, the same predicament that plagued technological, tractor pulling advancement for Jerry Lagod and International Harvester played a similar role in Nobel Harrison’s supplier status. The Allis Chalmers Company became more leery of product liability law and the threat of lawsuits, bringing the direct line from Allis Chalmers to Noble Harrison to a halt. Still, Harrison played a large role in the power expansion of the orange persuasion over those few years. As a customer of Harrison, John Lancaster’s 1971 purchase resulted in a twin charger system on his brand new AC 210 set-up.
Lancaster, who made his living as an Allis Chalmers dealer, began pulling stock tractors in 1965. Al Koch was interested in getting involved in the sport after John took him to a tractor pull. By 1970, Al was working with Lancaster on a new effort – Koch’s new AC 190XT built to pull field stock. By 1972, they contacted Noble Harrison who supplied parts to Koch, bringing the tractor to Super Stock status. And so, the Lancaster/Koch partnership was forged.
Norm Green was a neighbor to Al Koch, and his interest in pulling came into focus around the same period in the early 70s. Besides committing his time to pulling, Green also served on both the NTPA Full Board and NTPA Executive Board from the mid-70s thru the mid-80s. The trio decided it was a wiser idea to partner together than to experiment individually, so they collaborated, sharing information on design and performance. As their hunger for more power grew, an idea was crafted, and one of the three tractors was the testing ground. All three men were recognized for their mechanical prowess and named “Mechanic of the Year” at some point in their careers – Lancaster in 1976, Green in 1980, and Koch in 1982.
As the pages on the calendar turned into the mid-70s, Al Koch switched over to an AC-D21 like Norm Green. He won his first NTPA Grand National title in 1976 in the 7,000 lb. Super Stock class and backed it up in 1977 with twin turbochargers. Lancaster was still finding great success with his trusty AC 210 including an NTPA Grand National title in the 9,000 lb. Super Stock class in 1976. Green placed very high in the point standings and won a pair of Indy Super Pull classes. However, horsepower gains by both the Internationals and John Deeres had them nipping at the ACs, and the writing was on the wall. Additional horsepower was needed to stay on top, particularly in the nine and twelve thousand pound classes where IH’s were coming on strong.
Although resources for AC’s were limited and three-charger set-ups were in their infancy, the next logical step was to build beyond twin chargers. Bob Mitchell, a fellow Hoosier and Allis Chalmers puller who used alcohol fuel instead of diesel, suggested to Koch that if the trio was thinking about going to three pressure stages of air, that they might as well bypass three turbochargers and go right to four. That advice was sound, the trio thought, so they embarked on unchartered territory.
As the 1977 season was winding down, fate stepped in as breakage to Norm Green’s tractor resulted in the experimental ride for four chargers. As luck would have it, Green had vacation scheduled to go fishing in Minnesota. John and Al took “Stormin’ Norman’s” AC D-21 and made the necessary provisions to quadruple the wind makers on the diesel powered 426 cubic inch engine. “The Deereslayer” was all repaired from its engine damage the month before, and debuted at the Terre Haute Action Pull on September 17, 1977. It was impressive out of the box, with the turbo boost gauge broke at 160 lbs. of pressure. A few days later in Lancaster, PA, the new gauge showed 200 lbs. This was a defining moment in the sport – four turbo chargers and three pressure stages, smoking down the track to the fans’ delight.
Although teething problems plagued the machine, a refined set-up placed on Al Koch’s “Allis Cowboy” for the next year brought more promise to the Quad Squad.”We probably should have held off until 1978, because we gave the other pullers a full winter to rebuild and catch back up,” reflected Koch in a 1985 interview with THE PULLER magazine. “But we just couldn’t wait. We had to see what it would do.”
The cause and effect was a defining moment in the Super Stock horsepower wars in the late 1970s, and the stage was set for more wind power in the diesel divisions. These pioneers led the way for further developments by many high performance shops still in existence today. The expansion of turbochargers found on diesel engines directly points back to the collaboration of the Green, Koch, and Lancaster efforts. Tonight, as a result of their pioneering efforts, they become the newest members of the NTPA Hall of Fame.