The 2007 Race Report

 

Famoso TnT, March 4, 2007

It seems like we had all the time in the world, then all of a sudden, it’s March and the first TnT session is here! With a few new pieces in the motor, we were compelled to go put a couple runs in before The Bakersfield March Meet, which was on March 9-11. In the TnT session the weekend prior, we put three runs in.

As always, I was a little apprehensive. I was worried about every little thing that I had no control over. We got there early. I was in control of that. Then we got thru tech quickly. As soon as we were thru, we went to the lanes to make our first run. This was to be an easy run, just to get the motor “run in” before going “Balls Out” with it. (A bit of trivia…“Balls Out is not a vulgarity as some might think. It comes from the days when big industrial engines used governors controlled by swing arms with weight balls on the ends. When the arms were swinging fast enough for centrifugal force to cause them to swing outward, the engine was operating at full capacity and the term was “Balls Out”).

Leaving the starting line at 7000 rpm and short shifting at 7K, I then neutralled the shifter when I reach 7K in high gear and coasted thru to a 12.01.

Nothing weird happened, so we went right back up. There were a LOT of cars and we wanted to make sure we could get at least 3 runs in. This time, we went “Balls Out.” This run netted an 11.67 at over 115mph. Very nice! A little look over, then back up we go. This time we wait in the lanes for over 2  hours. On the third run, it spins the tires just a bit, and runs 11.73. I was OK with that.

Upon reviewing the situation in the lanes we elected to call it a day. Our friend Steve Long, who races a ’69 big block Mustang, stuck it out for one more run and waited over 3 more hours to get that run in.

Overall impressions of the new JE pistons were good. It seemed to make good power, but had more low load blow-by than I was accustomed to. With a low tension, narrow ring, I understand that is to be expected.

Upon returning home, I left it on the trailer since we would be loading up again the following Wednesday for the March Meet. I did a valve adjustment with the car still on the trailer and gave everything a look over. With everything in apparent good order, we prepared everything else for the upcoming race.

 

The March Meet

This 49th running of the March Meet has come full circle it seems. It started as the West’s premier Fuel & Gas Championship back in 1959. It evolved and grew over the years, then finally going into decline in the 80’s when it was combined with an NHRA division 7 sportsman race in May. Still drawing some big names in the fuel categories, it seemed to lose some of its luster. In recent years, the GOODGUYS organization picked it up and started running it as a “Nostalgia Racing” type of event. Dragsters had to be of the front mounted engine variety like in the old days, and no cars newer than 1972. They also had equipment restrictions. One of these was “NO EFI ALLOWED.” This kept us out.

Until now.

Along with a March Meet management change over the off-season, came a few minor rules changes. It is now run by John and Blake Bowser, the Famoso Raceway operators, under standard Vintage Racing Association (VRA) rules. Apparently the Goodguys had their own set of rules. Although VRA rules hadn’t changed appreciably from what they were before, we were now allowed to run because there is nothing in the VRA rules prohibiting EFI as there was under Goodguys rules.

This was our first trip back to the March Meet since 1986 (when it was in May and we were running a mid nine second Dodge Challenger) and we were excited to be able to run.

We rented a motorhome. It’s what we used to do “Back in the Day” and it was far more convenient to have a place not only to sleep right there in our pit space, but also a hang out zone as well as a place to just take refuge for a little while. Four days worth of the March Meet in the pits at Famoso is total hot rod overload. Sometimes one just needs a time-out!

We had all day Thursday to set up camp, get thru tech and cruise the swap area. We made a run into Bakersfield and had some new front runners mounted up at John Hashims place.

We had our first time run on Friday morning. We were the fourth car out and the track surface was crappy. Apparently, the hot rod class was to be used to “prep” the track for the rest of the classes. Disappointed with our 12.11 run, we pretty much took it in stride and proceeded to be spectators the remainder of the day. That is, till about 1pm when we get a surprise call for “Hot Rod to the lanes!” We had to do the power walk the quarter mile back to our pit space to get that second run in.

Happy with the opportunity for a second run and happy with the 11.79 result, we relaxed the rest of day, consuming Coronas and food with the Palmers, Jim Gillum and our Mustang friend Steve.

Our run on Saturday morning was 11.91. Not great, but with everyone a little down on performance, we didn’t worry about it. What I was starting to worry about the blue smoke out the exhaust. Cindy said not to worry, since we had no control over it. I agreed….sort of.

First round came Saturday afternoon instead of Sunday. It took a long time to get up there with the long line of cars and navigating through all the spectators. I heard a funny popping noise, and shrugged it off as just something rattling. We drew a big block Mopar who was dialed in just a little quicker than us. But with over a tenth and a half starting line advantage, we got an easy win, running 12.01 on an 11.80 dial.

Spectating, Coronas, and Food the rest of the day!

The “Spring Forward” time change took effect that Sunday morning. It was still dark outside when I got up. After dinking around in the pits, I decided to go ahead and warm the motor before second round of eliminations at 9am.

The motor sounded funny. It had a louder than normal clacking noise coming from the right side head. I raised up the car and popped off the right side valve cover. Rocker shims were spread out across the bottom of the rocker box. The #2 exhaust rocker was hanging off the end of the shaft. Not good! That explained the clacking and most likely the popping noise I heard the day before.

Fortunately, it was a minor problem. I had a spare rocker and I had a little time. I had it buttoned up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll in a few minutes. Cindy and I had decided to back off on our dial in number due to the fact that the car (as well as other cars) were running slower in the morning sessions.

We drew a 10 second Camaro. We had an 11.95 dial on the window. In a “double break-out” race (both cars running under their dial), the Camaro comes out the winner. He was under by .07, I was under by .12. With that, we were instantly transformed into spectators and cheerleaders for the rest of the event. Troy had also fallen in round 2, but “Mustang Steve” was still in!

Steve lasted till the fifth round. We were happy for him. It turned out to be an eight round race. Going five normally gets one to a final round most weekends. So Steve did OK in my book. We were fairly satisfied with two rounds for ourselves too. Our goal was to at least make it past first round. Hopefully more.

But, we were there! At the March Meet!

 

Hot VWs Drag Day, Irwindale, CA, March 18, 2007

I really like this race. I like it for a lot of reasons. No, the track isn’t that great, but for some reason, our car runs faster here in the 1/8th mile than anywhere else. But that’s only one reason I like it here. We have achieved a level of comfort with this race that is hard to duplicate. I think it’s the people. We feel truly appreciated here. Race organizers, the announcer, Dyno Don Chamberlain, fans and track personnel alike.  We get a lot of fan attention, and the track operators seem happy to have us there. All of our Southern California friends turn out for this one.

Not happy with the car’s performance at the March Meet the week prior, and taking advice from good friend Allen Wiess, I did some checking and found too much leakage past the rings. When I told Cindy what I had found, she said “So change ‘em! You got time.” This was Thursday afternoon after work.

Setting to work, it took four hours to remove the motor, swap pistons and barrels, and reinstall the motor. Friday night after work (and “Date Night” with Cindy) I installed the rest of the exterior pieces on the motor and lit ‘er up. No smoke, crispy throttle response and no appreciable blow-by out of the breather.

We loaded up Saturday and made a leisurely five hour tow from Clovis down to the Four Points Sheraton in Monrovia to meet up with the CB Performance gang. Dinner and drinks and good times at the Claim Jumper across the street with Rick, Pat, Kevin and Alex was a high point. Thanks Rick!

Our first run Sunday proved that Cindy made the right call. A solid 7.26 at over 93mph which was over 2 tenths better than the best run at the March Meet. No smoke either. I think I’ll leave it together as is for a while.

On the following runs, we ran another 7.26, and a 7.25 followed by a first round redlight losing 7.25. I did the same dang thing at the Fall Drag Day last year. Redlight first round of Quick 16. Cindy says “looks we’re going into Jackpot!” I reckon so.

As it turned out, we were in good company. “Muffler Mike” Sheldon was also there, along with Johnny Scheurger and several other “hitters.”

It was Mike & Mike first round due to some run order shuffling because of where a Q16 DNQer was in the lanes. Mike’s always really tough. I have a lot of respect for him, but I wasn’t just gonna roll over for him. Neither was he gonna roll over for me. This time, it was my turn to win, as Mike didn’t run the number he dialed. Better luck next time Mike! The next round, our opponent redlights away his chances and we get a bye into the final. I was hoping for a final round rematch with our good buddy John Scheurger. It was not to be. Johnny lost to “This Kid” named Lino.

Once again, I underestimate my opponent. (Referencing Sac BOR in Sept) I was all over the map on reaction times this day. Since the car is set up for a pro tree, it can be very unpredictable on a full tree. I figured I didn’t have to push the tree to get past this kid, but I was wrong! Lino puts over a tenth advantage at the starting line on me and beats me to the stripe, taking the win. Same result as last October. Different opponent.

I reckon it was just Lino’s day. He mowed down some heavy hitters on his way to the Top Eliminator final, including Bob Hemphill, where he fell victim to a loose plug wire. Good job Lino!

March Meet Photo by "Ocean Street Dan", Irwindale photo by Jacob Bond

Run count for 2007…..16

Next up….PHOENIX!

Phoenix Bugorama, April 15, 2007

Take the Stripe

The mantra has been “trust the light and take the stripe.” By that, it is meant to trust that you did better on the starting line than your opponent, and don’t let them get to the finish line first.

Phoenix Bugorama, the first stop on the PRA tour for 2007 and our first championship defense. It’s a grueling 12 hour trip from Clovis, but made a bit easier by a mid way stop to stay with good friends Allen & Sue Wiess. The Wiess’ were planning on attending the race, but parts crucial to finishing the race car motor did not arrive in time. Allen seemed to take it in stride, but it would have been very nice to have them come to the event.

This is also the first event since the change of promoters. The founder of the event, Rick Mortensen, had to retire from event promotion due to health reasons, and it was not run in 2006. It was picked up by Bugorama Promotions in Sacramento that same year, and this was the first Phoenix event under their banner.

To our surprise when we got there almost an hour before the scheduled opening, there was no line to get in. That’s because the gates were already open! We got in, parked next to Super Comp racer John Meade, and proceeded to get to the business of racing. However, the early opening allowed Cindy and I the opportunity to walk the swap area and check out the show cars before the first call to the staging lanes. That was nice.

It was then that we noticed the wind starting to pick up. Memories of the 2004 race came up with cars being crashed, canopies blown away and uncertain track conditions. This time it wasn’t that bad, but it was blowing sand across the track and a few cars got upset during a run.

By the time qualifying was done, we were sitting pretty in the number 2 position, with an 11.92 for the 11.90 index. When Cindy saw the eliminations ladder, she found we were paired with good friend Doug Berg. That’s the thing about a great group of guys like the ones in the Super Gas class. You race against your friends in almost every round. Everyone wants to win. Everyone respects that of the others. Everyone does what they need to do. At the end of the run, the victor is congratulated and we’re still friends.

This time, it was my win light that came on. Doug was gonna race me to the stripe, but caught a gust of wind and back pedaled a bit, costing him the run.

In round two, it was another good friend Scott Bakken. We each exchanged “Good Luck, Safe Run” wishes before buckling in, and again, it was my win light that came on. Scott had me on the starting line, but misjudged the top end just enough for us to squeak by.

In the semi-final round, it was Cory Sacchette. Last time we ran against each other it was at the finals in Fontana. There it was our win light that came on. This time it was his. Virtually dead even at the start and both of us on break-out runs, I trusted my instincts and “took the stripe.” The result was that I was under the index further that Cory, giving him the win. We shook hands, and I congratulated Cory on an excellent race, and he went on to win the event against Troy “Cocktail” Palmer.

And then there was the Pit Incident. While out of the pit area during the quarter-final round matches, a group of “Fast & Furious” type show cars had planted themselves in front of the Palmers pit and partially blocked ours. All arranged in a diagonal line for maximum visual impact. And they left ‘em there to go watch the racing. We showed up at the pit first and asked the people who were hanging around to move them, and they claimed they knew not who they belonged to. I said we can move them ourselves, (which was met with a belligerent response), but as soon as I did, the Palmers showed up to find their pit area completely blocked. And then all hell broke loose. John Palmer laid into ‘em like a bulldog. (He will now be known as John “Bulldog” Palmer). The owners eventually came around and a shouting match ensued. The racers were joined by Scott Lauffer of VW Paradise, fellow Super Gas racer Marcus Palmquist, Super Comp racer John Meade and a few others, and when the dust settled, the show car crowd had moved off.

Dinner and good times with good friends the Schuergers and the Bergs followed the day’s racing, which is one of the best aspects of the racing fraternity. Then the long tow home. A time to reflect on the days events, and analyze our performance as well as that of others. The 12 hour tow home from Phoenix offers a lot of time to analyze!

Fairly satisfied with our performance, we are sitting in third place to start off the 2007 season. Our next PRA race is in late May in Sacramento. Hope to see some of my hometown friends there. It’s ALWAYS a really good time!

Sacramento Bugorama, May 28, 2007

Not Our Weekend

Our event started great with a record run for our car of 11.42 at just under 118mph on friday night. Then it ended early with the first round of qualifying when the motor started knocking after the burnout. Attempting the run anyway, it was down on power and when it started vibrating hard, I just shut 'er down and coasted thru to save parts. The run was gonna be bad anyway. No sense in risking any more hardware.

We then became spectators and crew members for John Schuerger. While being in the "Losers Section" of the grandstand was kinda fun watching the action of my fellow competitors, it's not something I want to get used to.

The Damage

We yanked the motor Monday morning and tore it down right away. I had run thru various scenarios in my mind, settling on the worst case scenario of another broken crankshaft. With the oil drained, there were a few chunks of aluminum, but no big chunks like I expected. The heads and valvetrain were in perfect condition, and the pistons and barrels were OK . The rod bearing were a bit hurt, but I've had worse looking bearings with no external symptoms. Once the case was split, we found the thrust bearing was beat up bad and had turned in the case. The crank looked undamaged, and was confirmed to be OK when we had it crack checked. I still couldn't come with a reason why this would happen. All the runs had been hot, straight and normal with no indication of any abnormalities whatsoever.

And then the culprit was found. At least what I believe to be the cause. The drive tang for the oil pump was broken off, effectively shutting oil off to the motor. Had I run it any more, the damage would have been much more severe. But why did it break? Usually it because of a chunk of stuff being sucked up into the gears, locking them up. But upon inspection, the was no internal damage. Not so much as a nick or scratch let alone any scarring indicating a locked pump. Irregardless, my opinion is the the pump tang broke, thus starving the motor of oil, and causing the bearing problem. The part hurt worst is the case, at least visibly. All that will be required on the crank is a good cleaning and polishing of the journals.

In the meantime, the back-up motor (shortblock) I have been working on since last June, will be completed and installed so Cindy can get some runs in the car in preparation for the October Drag Day race. The "Powder Puff" class looks pretty fun and a role reversal will be interesting. I was only a few hours away from a completed spare shortblock before going to Sacramento, but I put off finishing it because the primary motor was pretty fresh.

I only have myself to blame here for what amounts to a DNQ. Parts break and I accept that. By having the back-up shortblock finished, we had enough time to swap it out since this happened Saturday night. The only thing that bugs me, is not THAT it happened, it's WHEN it happened. That is simply part of this game called Drag Racing!

Fontana, July 22, 2007

One Little Mistake

Fontucky.  Also known as California Speedway, Fontana. I guess one could say I have a love/hate relationship with this track. I love the fact that we won our Super Gas Championship there with our semi-final round win last year in 2006. We went on to win that event, but I absolutely hated the venue. I think there were perhaps many factors in my feelings. The wind. Brutal is a good descriptive word. An unfriendly staff. Jerks is the operative word there. I realize they didn’t want to be there because they wanted to be the NHRA Finals in Pomona, but that’s no excuse to treat us poorly. Not getting paid on the spot for the win. Didn’t like that one little bit. It all seems rather trivial now.

Water under the bridge. Bottom line, I didn’t want to come back. However, it was a PRA series race and as such Cindy reminded me that we needed to be there as we still had a shot at the Championship if things went our way.

They did not.

On this occasion however, the conditions were calm if just a little warm. Not unbearable. The event was extremely well attended and I congratulate the promoter Clyde Berg for a successful event, and the track staff was much more accommodating this time.

Due to the way the pits are laid out, things were very tight even though there was plenty of room. It just seems everyone packed in tightly for some reason. It made it a challenge getting in and out of our pit spot. We managed though. A few oildowns early in the day delayed the program for a time, but once underway it went quickly.

Our first qualifier run was aborted due to a missed shifted caused by the shifter bolts being loose. (I reckon I should have checked it, but it wasn’t loose before!). Anyway, it was an easy fix and we were good to go for qualifier number 2.  I made the run really soft at an ET of 12.30 to be sure it would be on the positive side of the 11.90 index. Maybe too soft. I was worried that we wouldn’t get another shot and we might be on the outside of the field. Fortunately, round three of qualifying was indeed run, and we ran a nice safe 12.01 which put us in the middle of the field at the number 8 position according to our figuring based on Jaime Schuerger’s qualifying chart. The PRA officials always check with Jaime to make sure their ladder is right before posting it too!

Things got a little weird after that. As it turned out, the number 3 guy was illegal to run so his qualifying runs were tossed out. Another, who qualified near the bottom, hadn’t paid his fees, so his run was tossed. This moved us up to number seven, and allowed Steve Atkinson who was not qualified, back in at number 16. Anyway I was set to race Daniel Kurtzman, but due to the shuffling, I got paired with the always tough John Schuerger. John and I have gotten to be really good friends over the past few years, and one of the unfortunate aspects of racing in a tight knit class such as Super Gas is that we always race our friends. Can’t get around it. With a very slight starting line advantage, I threw it away by trying to take a small stripe and John squeeked by for the win.

I hate it when I do that!

Cory Sacchette went on to take the win that day, and with Rich Grise, the current points leader going to the semi-final round, we drop to number 10 overall and pretty much out of contention.

I can probably come up with hundreds of lame excuses for being where we are, but the bottom line is that we just didn’t get the job done when it needed to be done. And it needed to get done at this event. So, we’ll go on to the last two events without the pressure of gathering points, have some fun and try to finish the year with a flourish… just like last year, and the year before!

I love Las Vegas baby!

Sacramento Bugorama, Sept 2, 2007

With the primary motor back in, but with only 15 minutes on it heading into the race, I was a little nervous. I’ve been in this position before with fresh motors, but there are a few untried items with this new build. A center thrust main bearing arrangement using BMW bearings that our friends at CB Performance had set up for us.

The boys at CB got the case done for us very quickly, but we ended up waiting on other stuff for a lot longer than I ever had to wait for anything. It took a while to get the proper ring set for the JE pistons purchased last winter, and it also took a while to get the Autocraft oil pump, then get it plumbed correctly All that new stuff adds up to a crap shoot on how the thing will perform. It went together nice, so I was confident it would perform nice too. I had given serious thought to keeping the back-up shortblock in the car for the remaining races. However, it’s purpose is as a back-up and as such I wanted to keep it fairly fresh. Very soon it will be a complete long block and much easier to swap out.

On Saturday afternoon, it was hot. Fortunately, the heat peaked and quickly subsided, becoming noticeably cooler at dusk. We made a practice run at around 5pm. I had decided before coming to this race that I would not make any “all-out” runs, but focus instead on hitting the 11.90 ET Index, even in practice.

The track was a little gooey from the heat, so on the first practice run, the launch was soft. I ran it through fairly easy, short shifting at just over 7000 rpm and coasting through the traps at that rpm as well. This netted a 12.17. Not bad I thought. Once back in the pits, I checked her over to make sure everything was tight, snugging up on the fuel and oil lines, tightening the header bolts and just visually checking things.

The first round of qualifying came at 7pm, and the temps had cooled a little. With a normal burnout, it spun the tires at the launch, and shifting at 7500 rpm and going through at 7000, the ET was 12.29. A bit disappointed in the run, I really thought it would be quicker. However, the tune-up was pretty rich to keep it safe, and I did click it off early. Afterwards, it was dinner and drinks with our good friends, the Wiess’ and the Jevecs, recapping the days events.

Sunday dawned warm already, and the previous days heat had taken a toll on my body. I was grumpy. After a stout dose of caffeine and breakfast, I was good to go. We were glad to hear the announcement that they would move the program up a little earlier in the hopes of escaping some of the afternoon heat, and the next qualifying session came at 9:30am.

On this run, I leaned it out a bit to compensate for the thin air, and decided to extend it out on top. I figured the track would be better, and good a good burnout, but still spun the tires hard and went 12.17. Closer, but I was still not happy.

An hour later on the final session, I took some air out of the tires, took 400 rpm out of the launch rpm and turned the shift light up to 7800rpm. With a shorter burnout and moving to the left lane, the result was a bog off the line and an 11.94, good for 1st place in qualifying until Mike Soliven came along with an 11.93, pushing us to 2nd place. I was good with that. This paired us up with Steve Atkinson in the first round. Steve is 0-2 against me and I didn’t want him reducing that to 1-2.

When eliminations started a couple hours later, I prepped the car for the hotter temps, and focused on my current opponent.  We took the win easily with a much better reaction time than Steve, and then looked for our round 2 guy on the race ladder, Jim Martin.

Jim is a Sacramento Raceway regular and very tough to get around with his lightweight turbo manx style buggy. With virtually identical reaction times, Jim took the stripe by .004 seconds, mere inches at the stripe. Man, that’s TIGHT! Jim had an 11.91 and change to my 11.92. Although disappointed with the loss, I wasn’t too unhappy since it was a very tight race, and I just got beat.

On a positive note, we move from 10th place up to tied for 5th. A top five finish is within our grasp.

Vegas will be the place to make it happen.


What Happens in Vegas…

Perhaps in mainstream Vegas circles, what happens there, stays there, but not so in the VW world. Even without access to the internet, the word reached us by Friday of the stout horsepower numbers put down at the Dyno Session on Thursday, who was in the Unlimited Street action on Saturday, and most likely, the entire VW world knew who the winners and season champs were before the parking lot had cleared after the event. It was a dramatic finale on several fronts, but especially for the Super Gar class, as the 2007 championship came down to the final round and was decided by one single point. One qualifying position anytime in the year could have swung it another direction.

While Rich Grise, the points leader going into event, agonized when Troy Palmer won the final round, the Palmer camp and all their friends erupted into loud applause for one of our favorite sons. Rich was unable to do anything but watch it all unfold, round by round, as he had lost in round one to Monty Foster. He then needed Troy to beat Corrie Sacchetti in round two, then needed someone to take Troy out. Troy was on his game though, and won over Corrie in round two then over Foster in an ultra close double breakout semi final round to face the always tough Scott Bakken for all the marbles in the final round. Scott gave it everything he had, but the super sticky Vegas track surface took its toll on Scott’s clutch, and it gave up on him in that final round. With that win, Troy was crowned the 2007 PRA Super Gas Champ by one point over Rich.

As for us, it appears as though it just wasn’t our year. We were out in round one at Vegas due to a redlight start. THAT is a first for me. Redlight on a full tree? All the time. But on a pro tree…never. We ended up out of the top five in the Number Six position. We were in good company though. In fifth and seventh positions were former Champs Doug Berg and Johnny Scheurger. 

My official excuse is Chinese shoes. You see I never change shoes in the middle of the season. I always make sure I start out with high quality new shoes before the season begins. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in town, so I went on line to find the brand I liked. I thought I found them, ordered them and when they arrived, I was dismayed to see the “Made in China” warning label on my $100 Standing Comfort shoes. No more Chinese shoes for me. Trying to find US made shoes is a tall order. I better start looking early!

It was still a fun weekend and a fun year. We got to see a lot of racing action from the stands. That is something we DO NOT want to make a habit of.

Our weekend started with Cindy doing some slot machine gaming on Friday. She was up nearly $250 at one point, but the machines slowly sucked it all back in. She got to play almost all day on her initial $60 input and she had a lot of fun. We saw Mike and Suzy Herbert there at our hotel in the Casino (Mike is with Rancho Transaxles and is one of our sponsors). Suzy was recruiting for the Drag Day Powder Puff event in Late October, and worked her magic on Cindy, who ultimately agreed to participate. As such, we’ll be bringin’ the green convertible instead of the Blue car for Drag Day. We’ll also be showing off CB Performance’s New programmable EFI system which we installed on Cindy’s car this last summer.

On Saturday morning we took the car over to Fremont Street for Tom Carsten’s “Elite and Just Clean VWs” car show right on Fremont street. With just a little bit of difficulty trying to find a place to stash the trailer, we ended up four blocks away in an industrial parking lot where an attendant and car enthusiast was kind enough to write us a permit to park there. We drove the car over to the show through the streets of old town Las Vegas and parked next to fellow SG racer Jon Schweers under the Fremont Street Experience sign. This was the best car show experience I’ve had all year. It was a great show and Tom is to be congratulated for putting on such a cool event. There were over 200 cars in the show, with Eric Madson’s Pro Mod Ghia taking center stage. Very cool indeed!

Saturday night we made a couple runs at the track to get the Blue car “ballparked.” Fairly satisfied with out two runs, we packed up for the night.

Sunday dawned cold and windy. Very “UnVegasLike”. After doing out typical preps, we decided to make our first run all out with the settings from the previous night. That was good for a 12.12 and the Number one qualifying position, which held out all day. After the first run, I hunted down a PRA staff member to pay my race fees. For a bit of fun, I had brought well over $40 in quarters to gamble with, but not even the slot machines in old town takes coins anymore.  Cindy suggested paying the PRA fee with ‘em. I handed the bag of 160 quarters to Eric and he said, “You’re just being mean.” We thought it was pretty amusing. 

On our following qualifying runs, the wind picked up and all we could muster on subsequent runs was a 12.20 into the headwind. I was cutting really good lights, so all I could do was give it everything I had.

As it turned out, I drew veteran SG racer Rick Oliver. Fully amp’d for competition, I staged and hit it at the first hint of yellow, and left with the red bulb burnin’. One hundredth of a second too early. That was a first for me. On the one hand, I was bugged about going out in round one, but on the other hand, happy that the car is working well enough to go red on a pro tree. Maybe some of that will carry over to next season and I can actually dial it back. It was however, THAT track, THAT day, THOSE conditions, so I can’t get all fat headed about it.

What was unusual was that four cars in a row redlit in the right lane. It was unusual enough for me to go up to the tower to make sure they had the settings for the starting system right. Everything checked out, and I was satisfied. I reported what I found out the rest of guys.

I reckon that means I can start prepping for next year early. Our parts failures this year were of the proverbial “50 cent part” variety, that unfortunately took some expensive stuff with it. Shifter bolts coming loose, oil pump drive tang breaking, rocker retaining clip breaking, etc.

We’ll be back.

Rick Sadler of Bugpack helped us out with some pieces to try out in our back-up motor that we depended heavily on this season. Thanks Rick!

Mike Herbert of Rancho Performance Transaxles has built us a tranny that has taken two seasons of abuse without a whimper. We’ve been able to really lean on it without fear. Thanks Mike!

Most of all and most importantly, we owe a HUGE thank-you to Rick Tomlinson of CB Performance. It would be much harder to race at this level without his support. All of the CB produced parts we ran this year performed magnificently. We very much appreciate you Rick!

 

2006 Race Reports