Now that R.C. (for Raymon Carvel) Sherman has new wheels, he can start filling his date book again. The 34-year-old Rockville driver is a professional drag racer. He grosses about $75,000 a year racing two or three times a week.

"I got a late start this year waiting for my new car," he said. "Next year, I'll make a serious challange for a major title."

The new machine is a plastic Plymouth Arrow "funny car" sponsored by Levis. It is capable of speeds up to 250 miles per hour within a quarter-mile from a starting start.

A drag racer 10 years, Sherman said, "Sports cars are really my first love. I just felt I could get into drag racing for less money and make a living at it."

Today he has a $100,000 investment in his car, spare engines at $12,000 each, enough parts for two more cars and a transporter with sleeper cab and machine shop "I'm my own mechanic. When I do something to change my car, I can tell its effect right away.

"In sports car racing, you have 20 laps to make up for mistakes. In a drag race, just six seconds so it is a great challenge and more than just driving in a straight line," he said.

"A funny car really doesn't want to go straight. It does all sorts of things over 200. But, I always keep the power on," he said. "When the car stops reacting to what I am doing, then I think of backing off."