The Race Report
Something new for 2005. A race report that chronicles every race of the season, this year starting with Drag Day in March. We had a TestNTune session at Bakersfield on the 22nd of February as well. Made four easy passes to get the new combo dialed in. And now....
Sunday March 20, Irwindale California
The sun was out! Looked to be a good day after threats of rain, and it had in fact rained on us the entire trip down to Southern California from Fresno. By the time we got to the track, the car was a mess, Nothing a little work while in the tech lines couldn’t fix as Cindy and son Mark, had ‘er shined up and lookin’ good in short order.
I have to admit I was a little concerned about the performance level of the new motor built over the winter with the new CB raised roof case. The thing that concerned me was the camshaft selection, as on the initial outing in February, it seemed “peaky” and a little lazy at lower RPMs and I was afraid its powerband might not be right for the weight of the Blue Car. After the first run at Irwindale however, all fears were cast aside and the motor ran perfectly. No drips, no coughs, no spitting up. I did try a couple different RPM chips in the 2-step, and it most definitely liked to launch at higher RPM.
All the full runs were fairly consistent given the unpredictable nature of the track after it had been rained on for several days prior to the event. In order, times for qualifying were 7.30, 7.33, 7.39 (lower 2-step chip). With a 7.32 dial in, we went , 7.36 (off the throttle) in round one, 7.32 (right on the dial, but off the throttle) in round two, then we didn’t run a full pass in round three due to our opponents redlight start.
That put in the final round of Quick 16 against the always formidable “Muffler Mike” Sheldon. I put a 7.29 dial on the car with the intent of running it out the back door since I knew he had power in reserve and would try to take the stripe. After some good natured but ineffective mind games between the two of us, we lined up. I think Mike knew we favored the left lane as he chose that one. (he was ahead of us in the lanes which pretty much gave him lane choice). With his dial of 7.11, I had the head start as well as the first opportunity to foul. And that’s exactly what happened as I went red by .006 seconds. Sooooo close.
I felt really good however even with the final round loss. All the work over the winter resulted in a solid consistent car. Everything worked well and the motor required no work at all while at the event. The only change we made was changing out the 7800 rpm 2 step chip for the 7600 rpm chip for the third (and slowest) and then we changed it back.
Some changes we are making before the April 10th Bug-In race are a switch to a 4 gallon fuel cell. The primary intent is to have more fuel control with less tank “sloshing” and preventing the uncovering of the fuel pick-up. Not so much of a problem on carbureted motors, but with EFI, if the pick-up becomes uncovered, it could lead to a lean out resulting in engine damage. The other big advantage is the safety issue.
Bug In 32
California Speedway, Fontana California
Crazy day for sure. Our experience was positive aside from the "Getting In The Gate" fiasco. I reckon there was some underestimatin' for the track officials as how many people would actually be there. We got there at 6:30, waited at the entry like everyone else, and got to our pit space at 8am which was at the first turn out at the end of the track. So, maybe about a half mile from the lanes and vendor booths. At least it was fairly quiet down there. We breezed thru tech and was ready to go by 8:30, so we went to the lanes. We got two runs in before eliminations running 11.70 and 11.73, both with substandard short times. The track was slippery to say the least, but, it was slippery for everyone and neither lane seemed any better than the other. We decided to go into eliminations making no changes. Quick 32 was actually Quick 13 or so and thus, only a four round race. My first two rounds were easy wins, then I got Brian Hyerstay and his G/Dragster in the semi's. I ended up redlighting by .011 seconds against him. I pushed the tree a little too hard. I ran it out to see where I would have been on my 11.76 dial. I ran 11.761......dammit! But we got in the money, so not bad. We really had a good time.
I'm going to step up onto the soapbox here and say, If the program is not fully supported, it might not be there in the future. Rewards only come with a bit of risk. I wanna see a full field next time. And that's all I got to say about THAT!
Saturday, April 16, Phoenix BOR
After the first two outings of the year and finishing in the money both times, confidence was high going into the 2005 Phoenix Bug-O-Rama for the first PRA race of the year. The car seemed to be working well, and with a pro tree start at this race, concerns of redlight starts were gone.
We breezed through tech as usual and weighed the car since the scales were open. 1925 pounds. Just about what I had estimated since doing the work on the chassis, cage and packing a little more weight with the new CB aluminum case.
Everything seemed to happen in rapid-fire fashion compared to the previous outing with long wait times. First round of qualifying was right on time.
Not knowing where we would be performance wise to hit the 11.90 ET mark, I estimated and hit it really close with an 11.92 qualifying time, putting us #1 after the first round of qualifying. Round 2 came quickly. With no changes, the second run was also an 11.92, however….
The run seemed hot, straight and normal until I cleared the finish line. This was when I noticed a bit of smoke coming into the car. A little sniff told me it was oil smoke and looking into my rearview mirror, I saw a trail of smoke the entire length of the track. My first thought was, “At least I have 5 weeks to fix it before Sac BOR.” After pulling off the track, oil was running out of the motor from above the sump. But just as bad, I had spilled oil the entire length of the track, which meant a lot of down time for everyone.
Once back in the pits, I raised the car on the jack to get a look underneath. A quick glance around caught the cause. The block-off plate for the type 3 dipstick had worked loose allowing the top 2 quarts of oil to leak out. Verdict? 2 quarts of oil lost, a mess to clean up, and no damage!
At this point, I had decided to go up to the tower to apologize for the spill and let the PRA officials know we were still in the show, if we were still permitted to run. (At Fontana, the rule was, one oil-down, and you are out). Dyno Don Chamberlain, the announcer, made kind of a big deal about my coming up to explain my situation and put the Mic in my hand to tell the crowd all about it. Apparently, it was well received and appreciated. My competitors still gave me a good natured ribbing about it, likening the Ghia to the Exxon Valdez, (Thanks Allen).
Electing not to make a 3rd qualifying attempt may have proved to be our undoing in eliminations. With the temps rising, I underestimated the performance loss. I drew Marcus Palmquist for first round. Marcus is a really good guy and we like him and his wife very much, but it was time for business. I knew Marcus’ performances in the past were inconsistent, and my confidence was high. Perhaps too high. Marcus was on a mission! I ran my race the exact same way as my first two qualifying shots. However in the heat of the afternoon, the car ran a little slower.
Although my light was 2 hundredths better, I allowed Marcus to “Take the Stripe” thinking he would run under. He didn’t. Marcus won the round by .004 second, and the event was over for us. Good friend from the DRKC days Scott Bakken went on to take his first victory since coming over to Super Gas with us last year. Way to go Scott!
A big big thanks to Don Bulitta for the BBQ and for storing the car for us while we were vacationing for a couple days after the event. Thanks to Rick Mortensen for putting us together with Don, and for putting on a great event!
Next stop….The Grand Canyon!
Saturday, May 6th, Famoso Raceway, Summit ET Series
We've decided to run the Summit ET Series this year, although without getting involved in the points chase. The main reason is because Famoso is "home" and I really like it there. I know how things work and I can just focus on getting some seat time.
This time, I am trying out a different clutch disc in an attempt to sort out some launch issues.
I got away from one of my core beliefs that I developed years ago, that a little clutch slippage can be your friend. Recently, the car has been experiencing some launch issues ranging from excessive "squat" on launch, tire spin or even a bit of a bog, if the launch RPM is too low.
I had a worn out Dual Friction disc I got from CB Performance back when I first put the car together. It had close to 300 runs on it and was about .040" thinner than the CB Super disc currently in use. I figured the Summit race was a good place to see what would happen.
The clutch slipped pretty good on the first run, but netted an 11.65 at 114.88. The best run so far this year. I lowered the two-step chip from 7800 to 7200 for the second run, and it slipped a little less and ran 11.64. No tire spin at all on either of the two runs! On top of that, the "squat" was minimal. On the third run, I got a surprise. The car launched into a short wheelie and I missed second gear.
When it was time for eliminations, I dialed 11.66, cut a mediocre light and the car wheelied even higher. The car didn't run the number, only going 11.79 and I lost the round.
Recently, I've been trying to come up with ways to minimize the amount of rear squat on the launch. I was about to buy a pair coil-over shocks and springs to stiffen up the rear. After this little experiment, I'm convinced my original core belief of soft clutches is on the right track. I'll be trying out a few different clutch combos this year until I find the best balance of "Slip & Scoot!"
20 runs so far this year.
Sacramento Bugorama, May 29
For some reason, things just didn’t seem to tilt our way at this running of the Sacramento BOR. We were prepared, we weren’t rushed, we got set-up and through tech fairly quickly, but something just didn’t click. We qualified on the first run with an 11.98. A nice safe number. We figured we’d tighten up on that on subsequent runs.
We were running a new clutch, the “Black Magic” from Ron Lummus. I was pretty happy with how that was working. I had brought along all the tools necessary to swap out the clutch if it didn’t work out, but it did, so we didn’t.
As it turned out, the 11.98 would stand as our best number as we had run a little slower on the 2nd qualifying pass and missed a shift on the third. We were in the number 10 slot, our worst qualifying position ever. But with 27 cars trying for 16 spots, just being in was good.
The program was running oh, so slow, with multiple oil downs and lengthy clean-ups. We were paired up with Doug Berg for first round who had lane choice and had initially chosen the left lane. We had made every run in qualifying in the right lane, so we were OK with that. After yet another car oiled the left lane, Doug changed his mind and wanted the right lane. Not a problem I told him.
Apparently they had the autostart feature on the tree running a little slow throughout the even up until that point, and “fixed it” right before eliminations. Neither Doug or I were prepared for how fast the lights would come down. Both of were way late. I thought I was all done. But Doug was later, and as a result, he had to run under the 11.90 mark to stay ahead and take the stripe.
Just after we had made our run, Dan Spickert, one of our pit mates, crashed and crashed hard.
Seems he was in the left lane and got crossed up after hitting the brakes hard to avoid a break-out. It turned out he was not badly injured, but had to be taken to the hospital for a couple broken bones and observation. We were down for a couple hours with that clean-up.
Second round had us paired up with good buddy Troy Palmer, but didn’t get run until almost 8pm. We are like 3-0 on the “Troy vs Mike” series. My goal was to make it 4-0 to remain undefeated. Troy had other ideas.
On the run, something seemed to go sour. The car just didn’t seem to “have it.” By the time we were in third gear, Troy is pulling ahead. I stayed in it, hoping Troy would break out. He didn’t. His win light came on. Reviewing the time slip, I was satisfied at least to know I had him on the tree, .075 to .156. Shocked to see that the car had only run 12.11 flat out. A half second slower than it’s capable of. Something was wrong.
25 runs to date for 2005
Bakersfield Summit ET Race, 6/11-12
After Sacrament BOR, something was indeed wrong with the motor. Apparently we had it tuned way too lean and it ran into some detonation, killing a plug and overheating the #3 piston to the point of galling in the bore. The boys at CB Performance got us fixed up quickly with a replacement set of pistons, barrels and doing a valve touch-up on the heads. Not really a bona-fide thrash to get it back together, it was simply a matter of everything coming together in time, and it did. Thanks to CB.
We fired the motor for the first time on Friday night, right before loading up and heading south to Famoso. We would break it in at the track and hope we did everything right.
The conditions were less than ideal with air density percentages hovering around 95%, or roughly 2500 feet of elevation. However, a nice breeze and temps in the high 80s made things tolerable.
We pitted alongside good friends Steve Long and Mark Simonian, both of whom race V8 powered domestics. The schedule at Famoso usually runs right on schedule and this weekend was no exception. First qualifying shot was scheduled for 11am, and that’s exactly when it happened. We made a relatively easy pass, shifting at “only” 7500 rpm to make sure everything was OK and ran 12.00 at 110 mph. After that we opened it up for the next two shots and ran 11.82 and 11.83.
In the first round of eliminations on Saturday, we drew a low 11 second Chevelle. I was dialed at 11.80. Since I got to leave first, it gave me first opportunity to redlight…and I did...again. This time by .023 second. Turns out, I didn’t need to push the tree that hard. Chevelle cuts a .156 R/T. My primary goal aside from making sure the motor was working OK was to simply win first round. That, I did not.
Rather than being a two day event, this was actually two back to back individual events. So, we got another chance to do it all over again on Sunday. Time runs were, 11.89, 11.79 (after richening the fuel curve), and 11.85. I dialed 11.87. This time we drew a 10 second Camaro. This time I wasn’t gonna redlight. This time I cut a .040 light to his .065, and run a 11.89 on my 11.87 dial for the win! My objective has been achieved!
I had changed my dial to 11.85 since I was on the brakes a little on the previous round and figured the conditions hadn’t changed, so the performance should be the same. My second round guy was a 10 second Mopar. He didn’t play as nice. He laid a .017 R/T on top of my .060. Then we only ran a flat out 11.91 while he ran .01 over his dial. Since his total package was .027 seconds, there wasn’t anything we could do. We went down to defeat in the second round.
On a positive note, 9 runs equaled lots of seat time, the car ran consistent numbers and it still ran when we loaded it up. Add that to the Saturday night festivities camping out at the track with our friends, it all adds up to a good outing.
34 runs to date for 2005
Bakersfield Friday Night TnT 6/24
Dom from CB posted on the Cal-Look Forum about a get-together at Famoso for some TnT runs, so we came a-runnin’! We got to the track at just before 7 PM and conditions were warm but not unbearably hot. For us, it was another chance just to get some runs in and hang out with some of our friends.
We unloaded as quickly as we could, since we were late getting there, and got thru tech right away. I hadn’t been back to the pit area for more than a few minutes when they opened the lanes. I don’t like to wait in line so I went up. Right away the lanesman had us suiting up. The motor was still warm from our warm up lap, in fact, a little warmer than I like it to be. First run was *****. The clutch seemed to be a little “grabbier” than it had been, and it spun the tires a little and went a little to the left on the launch.
On the next pass, the motor was still hot and ran a little slower, still pulling to the left on the launch. On the third and final run of the night, I let the motor cool down really good before going back up. I richened up the fuel just a little and in the cool night air, we clicked off an 11.64 run.
Upon getting the car home, I noticed it had scraped the sump and pulled one of the sump plate bolts over. So, out comes the motor to inspect the clutch and add some shims under the pressure plate to reduce the “bite” a little.
I also took the opportunity while the motor was out to finish my new larger capacity breather tank, made necessary because the one in use had proven to be of insufficient capacity, overflowing a little bit on each run.
Run count – 37
Bakersfield Summit ET race 7/9
I think we got lucky weather-wise here as the high was predicted to be in the low 90s. At this time of year temps often run well over 100, so we were happy with the “cool” temps.
I should have known things were going a bit too smoothly. We rolled up to the gate and drove right in, unloaded the car and went right to the front of the tech line, went back and got our pit area set up quickly and relaxed for a little while, chatting with John Hashim until our call to the lanes.
Upon our call, we went right up in typical form with all systems appearing normal. It seems our popularity at Famoso is fairly high as there seemed to be quite a few cameras on the starting line, and we’ve been getting some positive comments from the tower about “Spankin’ the V8 guys.”
After the normal burnout routine, my opponent and I lit the stage bulbs to activate the tree. I let the the clutch pedal fly at the last yellow, and CRUNCH, LURCH…
I immediately clutched it and shut the motor off. I knew the problem was drivetrain related as I have been there many many times in the past. Once I got out of the car, and looked at the rear wheel, I knew exactly what had happened. Axle joint failure. In this particular suspension arrangement, the axle joint is an active suspension pivot point that controls the rear wheel alignment. When the joint failed, the rear wheel flopped over uncontrolled, held on only by the ¼” thick flat torsion arm.
With help from a couple friends and one of the track officials, we were able to get ‘er loaded on the trailer. I’ve wondered occassionally what would happen in the event of a joint failure, and arrogantly assumed that the parts were stout enough to where there would NEVER be a failure. Cindy and I talked over what would have happened if that joint had failed downtrack, and we made the decision to convert to IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) so in the event of a joint failure, that’s all that would happen, and the wheel would still point the right way.
The big question was could we get it back together in time for the Fuel Altered Friday and Big Money Bracket race the very next Friday night. We were already pre entered and pre paid for that event, and we were looking forward to it.
Run count – 39
Fuel Altered Friday 7/15
HOT! Upon our arrival at the track at 5pm, temp was around 106. I wrapped a wet towel around my neck and unloaded the car and went to the tech line. The very second I get back from tech, the clutch pedal breaks off at the shaft. I had made a 1” extension to space the clutch pedal out away from the brake pedal and the extension piece is what broke.
An hour later and it was fixed by merely removing the extension piece and reattaching the pedal to the original shaft stub. Of course I had to remove and disassemble the pedal cluster to get it done, but it got done. I sweated out a quart of water doing it though.
I ran in both lanes to get a “feel” and liked the left lane better. Clutch was acting nice, and the bigger breather tank was keeping all the oil contained.
Qualifying runs were 11.91, right lane (105 degrees!), 11.76, left lane, and 11.84 right lane. It was down into the high 90s by the time eliminations started. Taking an educated guess, I dialed 11.77. I drew the 2004 track champion from Inyokern first round. Deciding to run my own game, and having the head start due to his 10 and change dial-in, I tattooed a .004 R/T on him and ran 11.78 on my 11.77 dial for the win. A total package of .014 seconds. Not much left on the table for him.
Second round found us lined up with Pro bracket tough guy Mike Androtta in his ’68 Alky injected Dart. Feeling confident after our first round, and with the temps cooling to the mid 90s, I backed my dial in to 11.75. I reckon I was feeling too confident as I left the line with the red bulb burnin’ handing the win to Androtta who cut an impressive .034 light. However, even if had that .004 light, I still woulda had to be lucky as he ran 10.488 on a 10.49 dial. Maybe he still would have run under, maybe not.
We didn’t win the big money. For that matter we didn’t win ANY money. But it was still fun.
Run count – 44
TnT at Famoso on August 19
Changes for this event are new rear shocks that have provisions for coil-over springs. I may employ those later as a booster. The existing rear shocks moved to the front and are set at their loosest setting. We sought out the Pro Light lane to get some practice in before the Sacramento Bug-O-Rama on Sept 3-4th. What was sort-of amusing was there were all these pro level door slammers and dragsters….and our Ghia in this lane. The weather conditions were pretty nice, and as long as they are close to what we’ll find at Sac, it’ll be worthwhile.
We made three runs, with first in the regular lane (full tree) with 8 clicks in the rear shocks and the front shocks loose. It launched good, but the front bobbed up and down as if there were no shocks at all. 11.79 @ 112.8 and a 1.57 short ime.
The next run had the front shock one click stiffer and our first run in the pro light lane. .057 R/T, 11.65 @ 114.8 and a 1.56 short time, but it still bobbed up and down in the front. On the last run, with two clicks in the front shocks, I cut a .099R/T and ran 11.67 @ 115.6 with a 1.56 short time. This run was smooth. Nice baseline runs before Sac. No oil spewed out and no other “annoyances”
Run count 47
Sacramento Bugorama, Sept 4
Getting to the track at our customary 11am, it was readily apparent that attendence was going to be lower than in May as there wasn't the usual throng waiting to get in. The few hours hanging out at the gate is "social time" since during the race, we are about the business of running the car. I really enjoy this time. When the gates opened, we secured or customary pit space with Allen & Sue Wiess, Ken Jevec, (Susie had to stay at home and mind the store), Troy & John Palmer, Scott Bakken and Dan Spickert. What struck me as intersting was we had five Ex DRKC cars in our pit space, more than were actually in competition at this event.
After tech inspection and setting up camp, we waited for the call to the lanes. Normally, I use the first run to get a feel for how much I need to back out of it to run the 11.90 number, but for some reason, I ran it out the back door to an 11.57, 117mph pass. The best run of the year.
The first round of qualifying came around, and running next to Scott Bakken, were glued door handle to door handle, and we ran 11.94 for the number two spot in back of Doug Berg. We were pretty happy to have a solid number in the bank, and we would try to tighten it up in Sunday's qualifying sessions.
Saturday night's festivities are one of the big attractions for us, hanging out with friends. This time was no exception, but we were short on friends as John Palmer hadn't quite made it the track yet and our Canadian/Washington friends didn't make the trip this time
The first cars on the track on Sunday morning was the Super Gas cars. I would have preferred to have a few cars run down the track ahead of us, but at least there wasn't too much chance of an oil down before we ran. We were the second pair down and we then qualified NUMERO UNO with a 11.93. Nobody got inside of that throughout the second session, so were were happy. On the final qualifier, we ran under with an 11.89, but still no one was able to better our 11.93, so we stood at the pole position.
We drew Ester Hollister (E-Girl) first round, although I will try not to underestimate anyone we still easily got by her to advance to round 2 where we lined up with Dave Calta. A fairly close race with an .054 reaction time for us against his .090, which made him run under, putting us in the semi finals. There we were up against Joel Mohr in the "Quick and Dirty" wheelie machine. I strapped a .023 RT on him (by far the best of anyone in eliminations) but failed to capitalize on it, running under by .02 seconds (11.88), handing Joel the trip into the finals against my good buddy Troy Palmer. That stung a little as it didn't need to be that way. I had plenty of room to back off, but did not. One little mistake!
We didn't touch the car all weekend except to run the battery charger and keep an eye on the fuel level. No leaks, no odd behavior, just a nice constistent performance. With a semi final round finish, it moves us up in the rankings to sixth, but we would need a miracle to get the championship. I reckon we'll focus on just having fun instead and doing the best we can.
Next up...Vegas baby!
Run count 54
Vegas Baby! Oct 2, 2005
Leaving town Thursday night after work, we rolled through the cool night air with light traffic to arrive in Las Vegas at 2am Friday morning. This allowed us a full day on Friday to see the sights, shop, and generally just be tourists.
Our good friends, the Wiess’, came into town early in the afternoon, and we hooked up to go to the Friday night BBQ at Steve Richardson’s house for some good food, some cervesa, and some socializing.
We had initially planned to do some test runs at the track on Saturday, but elected not to, because no-one else from our group was planning on doing so. We decided to do some more tourist stuff instead, and have an early dinner at the Orleans Casino with our group. Good times!
Along with our 6:45am arrival at the track on Sunday, we were met with pretty stiff winds blowing. Fortunately they looked to be a tailwind, so the dangers of upsetting race cars was fairly small. It was still unpleasant, and putting up our canopy was quite a chore.
As usual, the car breezed through tech and we waited. While we waited, we had the opportunity to visit with some of our racing buddies. Scott Bakken and “Dyno Don” Chamberlain were pitted not far from us, and Don entertained us with some stories of “The Good Old Days.”
With everyone’s testimonial about the track being super sticky, we opted to run a little more tire pressure and a higher RPM chip in the two-step.
Deviating from our normal routine was a mistake. Our first run for qualifying went sour all around. The tree malfunctioned, giving us no time, and the car spun the tires hard. I attributed this to a crappy burnout. They allowed us a rerun after a brief cooling off period, and on this run, the tires spun hard again. Our time was 12.78. Pretty much a wasted run, but still a qualifying number that would at least get us in the field higher than last place.
Our second qualifying shot was just a little better with a return to our typical launch settings. Bogging off the line and going thru the traps with a 12.28, this would stand as our best run for qualifying, putting us in the number 7 position. Our final qualifying run was 12.58, again spinning the tires in the left lane.
While in the lanes waiting to make a run, one of our overseas friends came up and introduced himself as Richard Webb from the UK. Richie and I have come to know each other through the Cal-Look.com forum and it was really a treat to meet face to face. Richie runs a street legal convertible over there in his homeland that runs extremely fast, knocking on the 9 second ET zone.
First round had us paired up with all around good guy Joel Mohr. I was looking for some payback, as Joel put us out in the Semi’s at Sac last month. Payback I got when Joel couldn’t run the number, and we backed out to run 12.78 on our 12.15 index. This put us up against Marcus Palmquist. Marcus got by us at Phoenix in the first round, so I was looking for payback there too. We almost ended our day there when the car started rolling through the beams before the tree came down. Just in time our green light came on, but a .375 light gave Marcus a huge advantage. But Marcus didn’t back out on the top end, and ran under the index, handing us the win! Thanks Marky!
We had Eric Nakamura in the semi’s and before we went up to the lanes for that run, we found out the good buddy Troy Palmer was up against Ken Porter. Ken is a good racer and tough to get past, but I told Troy “See ya in final round.” That’s exactly how it played out when Eric fouled against us and Ken had trouble against Troy.
It was a storybook finish to the season as far as we were concerned, racing Troy in the final. At that point, I didn’t really care which way it went. I was just glad to be still alive. Troy’s final round appearance, coupled with John Schuerger’s second round loss secured the season championship for Troy, regardless if Troy won or lost the final. We were sad for John, but very happy for Troy!
Troy and I decided to hang out at the top end of the track to cool off before heading back to the lanes after our semi-final round runs. They were calling for us to come up immediately, and neither of us wanted to run with the motors still hot. This is when John Palmer discovered a loose intake manifold and needed to make a quick repair. I assured Troy and John that I wasn’t gonna report to the lanes without them. I wouldn’t want to win that way.
Troy and I rolled into the beams for the final Super Gas race at Vegas, the final round for 2005. When the tree came down, Troy’s light went red our win light came on! We both ran ‘em out with Troy on the nitrous all the way through. Troy ran 11.81 to our 12.21.
John and Cindy paraded us down the return road side by side in front of tens of cheering spectators. A memorable moment. The win also moved us into third in points for the season, so our goal of a top five finish was realized, and the “podium finish” exceeded our hopes.
Vegas Super Gas Champions Baby!
Next up….Battle of the Imports at Famoso.
Run Count, 62
Only 4 ACVWs showed up to what were awesome conditions at Famoso with temps in the high 60s until late sunday afternoon when they climbed into the mid 70s. We had decided to run the dial-in bracket program instead of the Heads-Up Street Performance class we ran in the past. The rules specify two front seats. We only had one.
The track was well prepped and as long as one picked their spot on the track so as not to get into the water tracked up by the FWD cars, traction was excellent! Richard Laitenen, Ken Jevec, Allen & Sue Wiess and Cindy and I all pitted together with the intent (except Richard) to camp there in the pits on Saturday night. OOPS! Not allowed. So we camped outside the gate and had a nice time. Ken went home early Saturday with shifter troubles hoping to make it back for Sunday's eliminations, but wasn't able to return. Allen spent most of Saturday trying to get the car to run correctly using alternative fuel, and we went 11.54, 11.63, and 11.57.
We got a couple of "blow out sessions" on Sunday before eliminations, and Allen managed to get the car running to form. The three of us all ran the bracket program (I needed both front seats to run Street Performance and would have qualified #1 with the 11.54). We avoided each other in eliminations, until Richard bowed out first with a redlight, then Allen followed a round later. I focused on cutting safe lights because it didn't seem to be necessary to push the tree super hard. Even so, I had .022, and .040 lights in the first two rounds, and was able to relax a little after that. Almost too much in round 3. I got treed pretty bad, .013 to .138, but the guy couldn't run the number, so we dodged a bullet there.
Net result after 5 rounds in all....
Team White Knuckle Ride is Battle of the Imports Winner in Sportsman Eliminator!
Never had to come within 2 tenths of my dial of 11.63. The trophy is bigger than the winners check tho! A lot of runs for $200.00. But then, we've raced just for trophies before so even a little money is cool! Even without having to run it out the back, the short times and 1/8th mile times were pretty consistent. The suspension and M&H tires are doing their jobs, and the CB Performance hardware is delivering reliable, consistent performance.
Next up... DRAG DAY!
Run Count, 72
Wow! What a finish to the year!
We towed down to Southern California on Friday night to hook up with friends Allen and Sue Wiess. We went with Allen to Pomona on Saturday just to hang out while he and Ken Jevec ran the NHRA Sport Compact event there. Both were trying to qualify for the "Quick 16" field there. Allen made it into the field, Ken did not and ran the bracket program instead. A bunch of the VW guys decided to do this event rather than Drag Day in hopes of a bigger payday and the coveted "Wally" trophy. We did not. We had made the committment to support Drag Day early in the season, and this is one of our favorite races. Drag Day has been very good for us. The car runs good there and luck always seems to be our ally there.
Sunday morning was cool and hazy, but not unpleasant. At first, it looked like turnout would be light, but eventually the place filled up. At the drivers meeting, I walked the track and what I saw did not please me. There were bald spots on the track and my shoes didn't stick to the surface. I asked Ron Fleming, the lanesman, to look into it, and he had the track crew fix it up. He apparently agreed with my assesment on the track surface. We walked around a bit before going up for our first run and touched bases with the many friends we have made over time in this hobby. Soon, it was time for business.
We got three time runs before eliminations, 7.33, 7.37 (motor got a little warm on that one due to getting shut down after the burnout to do clean-up on the track) and 7.33.For first round, we went with a 7.35 dial since the sun was starting to poke through the haze. We went up to the lanes and were first in line. When the lane filled out, there were 7 cars, and Doug Berg would be our first round match. Doug is a tough competitor that I have a lot of respect for. This would prove to be one of our closest rounds. Doug went .070 on the tree and we went .067. At the stripe, Doug came around and I wasn't lettin' off the throttle for any reason. Doug took the stripe and ran under, a 7.17 on a 7.20 dial. We went under too, but only by .003 seconds. Scott Bakken was our second round guy. Scott went .225 on the tree to my .074. I ran an off-the-throttle 7.42 for the win to Scott's 7.37 (on a 7.31). We figured we would be facing Johnny "9-Grand" Schuerger in the final, but he fell to an unknown (to me), who as it turns out, used to be a PRA racer years ago. Unfortunately, I neglected to get his name. Anyway, in the final of Q16, he goes .109 on the tree to my .044 and We get the win, going 7.36 on my 7.35 to his 7.65 on a 7.63 dial.
The win was sweet and put us into the "Top Eliminator" program. We got the bye run in round one, and in round two got paired up with an ornage car dialed in at 9.30...a two second wait. I've gotten to the point on not even looking at the opposing lane on the starting line, so it's not even an issue. He cut a pretty dang good light, a .059, but mine was better, .025. I ran 7.35 on a 7.35 for the win to his losing 9.25 on a 9.30. Sweet!
The final round of TE was the easiest of the day, with my opponent cutting a bad light and only running a 9.04 on his 8.60 dial. I came around him at mid track and feathered the throttle enough to ensure no break-out. Even with that the win margin was almost 4 tenths of a second.
With the win in TE we are the first to repeat, having won TE at the end of the 2003 season. Very sweet victory in front of my extended family and all the friends we've made. We always seem to get a warm reception at Irwindale, with lots of visitors at our pit area. We didn't have too much time in the pits, as we spent virtually the entire day in the staging lanes. I hope we made some new friends too. I know of at least one. A young man, maybe 13-14 years old, who I gave a t-shirt to, came up to me in the lanes to thank me for the t-shirt and to cheer us on. He pointed to my final round opponent in TE and said "He looks nervous!" I asked the boy, "Do you think he should be nervous?" The boy said "He better be!" You have to love it!
Once again, we never had to do any between rounds repairs or maintenence. Just one shock adjustment.
Three wins in our last three apperances! What a way to finish!
Total run count for the year, 80
Reliable Hardware Makes it Happen
It's the parts and service we get from those in this industry that makes good performance achievable. The following is a list of those who contributed throughout the season, doing what they do best so we can focus on doing our best.
Raised Roof Case, CNC Competion Eliminator Heads, 2298 cam, Ultra Competition Electronic Fuel Injection, Front Spindles, various small parts along with machine work and great service. Thanks Rick, Bob, Pat, Marieanne, Anthony and crew. You guys are the best!
M&H Racemaster tires
6 X26 Slicks and 3.5 X22 front runners. It ain't going down the track without great tires. M&H are the best and Hashims is the palce to get 'em
The boys at Rancho have delivered a very reliable transmission. I haven't had to worry about whether the trans will hold together or not, because it it does!