The Race Report 2006
A chronicle of race happenings as they happen. Sometimes things go our way, sometimes not. Either way, it's spelled out for all to see. To see the race reports from 2005, click here.
Saturday February 25, Bakersfield California
The first Test and Tune day of the new year for us has arrived and we got to the track at opening time to see a BUNCH of people in line. Our initial goal of getting four runs in now seems a bit optimistic.
30 minutes later we were inside the gate and unloading. Quick action there got us through tech quickly and we waited. While waiting, the car was dusted off, shocks were set, throttle voltage was checked and tire pressure was set. When the call came to get to the lanes, we went right up.
The first run was gonna be relatively easy. With the new clutch set-up, I wanted to make sure everything was working together nicely before putting full pressure on it. With a shorter than normal burnout, the car launched into a small wheelie, and easily shifting into 2nd gear, the front wheels lifted off again a few inches. The new M&H tires were hooking good! 11.83 at 113 and change. Not bad. I went right back up to the lanes without stopping at the pit area. I changed nothing.
My burnout wound up being a little longer than normal as a front wheel drive car (a few of ‘em actually) had tracked water well past the burnout box, so I had to burn through it.
I cut ‘er loose on this run. Posted a .023 reaction time, a 1.57 short time and 11.67 at 116 for the run. Great!
We decided to kick back a little and watch some of the Nostalgia dragsters and Pro Gas association cars that were there. When we finally decided to go for another run, the staging lines were way too long. After about an hour, the lines hadn’t moved much from where we last saw ‘em. It was then we decided, to pack it in. Two good runs were good enough.
Initial impressions for the first runs after the winter layoff were great. With the suspension set up fairly soft, the car reacted cleanly. Going to the new J&G clutch was a good move. The issues we had with last year’s set-up are gone. The car launches clean and goes straight.
Our eye is now on the first Summit ET race at Famoso, with Drag Day at Irwindale the following day.
Stuff to change before next race
I want to install a battery shut off switch which is something I should have anyway. With the new paneling in the back seat area, the battery isn’t easily accessible. Having a master disconnect would have a big safety benefit.
Drag Day, Sunday March 19, Irwindale California
It’s called “Miracle March” here in the Central San Joaquin Valley, the richest agricultural region on earth. This is a dry region with most of it being desert before the advent of irrigation. This region is where 50% of the entire US food production comes from and as result, water is a very precious commodity, especially in dry years such as this one was. Dry at least before March when the rain gauge was well below normal. But all that is of little interest to drag racing fans in Southern California. For a drag racer, it can be called “Disaster March.” In my own world, it has negatively impacted the race schedule for the entire month. And it was so of Drag Day in Irwindale on March 19th.
The plan was to attend the Bakersfield March Meet on the 11th and 12th, race at the Summit ET race at Famoso on the 18th and afterwards, head down to Irwindale to run at Drag Day on the 19th.
The Summit Race got canned to make room for the March Meet, postponed from being rained out the weekend prior. As it turned out, the March Meet was cancelled outright on the 19th since they couldn’t get any runs in between rain showers. So we headed down south from Clovis on Saturday morning.
Saturday night was spent in the company of the boys of CB Performance at the Claim Jumper restaurant in Monrovia. Drinks, dinner and entertainment. Thanks Rick! We had a good time! But man, it rained hard that night.
It looked really promising Sunday morning at Irwindale. The skies threatened, but the ground stayed dry and it actually got sunny for a time. We paid our money for entry into the Quick 16 class (16 quickest qualifiers) and got our first run in at 11am. The car slipped tires a little due to a less than ideal burnout and a cold track surface. 7.40 at 92 mph. Still not bad. In fact that was the best for far this year. It was only the 3rd run of the year, but it was still the best!
We improved to a 7.33 on the second run. Obviously, track conditions were improving once it got above 60 degrees. We got back into the lanes in time to make a third and final qualifying run. I added one click stiffer to the left rear shock since video had shown the car to be pulling to the left on the launch. This run was much straighter. After the run, Cindy rolls up to where I had stopped and says, “I don’t know what your dial-in should be now!” I said “What did we run?” “7.25 at just under 94 mph.” she said.
That was an all time 1/8 mile best. Anywhere. Our car has always liked Irwindale. It runs quicker there than anywhere else. Our previous best was there two years ago, a 7.29. When we ran our quarter mile best of 11.44 at Sac, the 1/8th mile mark was 7.32. Based on that, this run woulda been in the high 11.30s somewhere. So, we had THAT goin’ for us!
We went back to the pits, and had some lunch over at the Wiess’ pit and put the charger on the battery to prepare for eliminations.
I was the third one in line when we rolled into the lanes, so I would race whoever rolled up next. This time it was Clyde Berg. He paid me quite a compliment by saying it was better to try to take out the tough guys first so they would be out of the way for the later rounds. Clyde’s a great guy and has been around for a long time and I have a lot of respect for him. This meant I wouldn’t be cuttin’ him any slack!
What am I talkin’ about here? On the track I cut NO ONE any slack! We shook hands and I said, “I’d LIKE to wish you good luck!” He laughed and said the same goes for him.
Then a drop of rain fell. Then a few more. Within minutes after those first few drops, everyone was running for cover. Allen Wiess grabbed my windshield shade out of the back of my truck and a few of us stood out there like idiots using the shade as cover from the rain.
After 30 minutes, the rain showed no signs of letting up and after figuring the time it would take to dry the track and making note the track’s curfew time, the Race Official Ron Fleming called it.
The day had its good points. Being with our racing family is always a good thing. And we got some good runs in. I reckon we’ll just have to wait for the next opportunity. Our thanks to the Wiess’ who were our gracious hosts and to Rick and the boys at CB for all their help keeping us running good and dinner Saturday night.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be installing the new programmable EFI controller from CB Performance. This will be documented in detail with photos. The goal is to have it dialed in by the time the Sacramento BugO Rama rolls around in late May. See y’all there!
Things just didn’t seem to be going our way at first. Dave Conklin had posted on the Cal-Look Forum that the winter layoff didn’t seem to affect us much. Well it did. In many small ways, I knew on the first pass that I had “forgotten how to race.”
For example, I use a pin in my e-brake button so I can use the e-brake for a staging brake. I left the pin out on that first run. I went through the first two gears on the two-step before giving up on the run. That was to be our “Out the Back Door” run. We got right back in line and made our practice 11.90 run before the first round of qualifying. 12.05. Not bad. But then after getting back to pits, I found a few nuts and bolts missing (non-critical systems). Then I dinked the inside of the right side door into the canopy upright and chipped some paint on the inside of the door. Damn it!
After going 12 flat in the first round of qualifying I was settling down, thanks to Cindy. She reminds me to not sweat the small stuff, and that’s really all it was. It was nuthin!
Good friends and great story-telling Saturday night at the “Red Cup Brigade” campsite. The track officials take a dim view of the open display of certain beverage containers, so these beverages are consumed from a red plastic cup.
Carne Asada thanks to Allen Wiess, with Ken and Suzy Jevec supplying goodies from their bakery, with the Palmers, Spickerts, Darren Krewenchuck and the Lawless’ pitching in the support items. It was like a refugee tent city chow line! In fact one old guy came by asking what time coffee would be served the next morning!
Jason Lauffer came by and regaled us with a very colorful account of what really happened during the filming of the “Pinks” episode featuring the VW communities project car. Very colorful! He had all of us howling with laughter.
Sunday morning came and I had decided to get into the business of racing. I hadn’t attempted to cut any kind of light on Saturday and needed to focus on that. So, on the first pass of the day, it spun the tires, and I missed second gear when my shift handle spun around. I was really bugged about wasting a run. “Calm down,” Cindy says. We did however come away with a reaction time of .085 on that run. Not bad, but we can do better. We have one more shot. This one turns out to be another 12.00 and puts us 7th in show and up against #10 guy…..Scott Bakken.
I really like racing Scott. It reminds me of the DRKC matches we had against one another, and we have always been really close to each other in performance through the years. Scott is also a very good friend. One of us, at least, would make it to second round. It turned out to be us. Scott drilled me on the tree, .039 to .085, but got really loose before mid track and had to abort the run. I felt bad that we didn’t have a close race but happy to advance. Jevec, Palmers, Wiess (Super Comp) all advanced to second round. Spickert, who didn’t qualify for SG lost in round 1 of Pro E. Most of the Red Cup Brigade is still in!
Round two had us against Kevin Nakamura in the lowdown center-steer Manx buggy. Kevin handed us the win when he fouled. Third round was always formidable Jim Martin, also in a Manx buggy. He had taken out 2005 SG Champ Troy Palmer in the second round, not an easy thing to do. Troy clued me in on Martins staging procedure, and I thought about messing with him on the stage, but decided to stick with my own routine. Martin jumped out to a -.010 foul, and we advanced to the final.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ladder, Johnny “9 Grand” Scheurger was takin’ care of business, until a broken throttle cable (proverbial 50 cent part) ended his day in the Semi’s against Super Gas new guy Dan Kurtzman. That pretty much foiled the plan John and I had agreed to before eliminations began to see each other in the final. Well, at least I held up MY end!
Dan gave me quite a run, but with a tenth plus advantage on the tree that I had, it forced him way under, and we went double breakout, with our 11.85 to his 11.66 which awarded us the win!
Cindy and I really give thanks to sponsors CB performance, whose parts and service have given us race winning reliability and performance, and Rancho Performance transaxles. That bus box flat out takes the abuse and performs flawlessly. John at M&H also helps out on the tires, and those M&H tires give us a better hook than anything else. Thanks also go to my oldest son Mark and his girl friend Sara, our new lucky charm. We haven’t lost an event that she’s been with us!
I have a little work to do before our next event at Famoso on June 24th, “Drag-In After Dark.” My reaction times have suffered a little probably because the front suspension “improvements” I made in the off-season. I’ll need to review the video and see what’s up with that.
Next up, Drag-In After Dark, then Denver looms…..
We have to go to Denver. We’re leading the points chase!
Things REALLY didn't go our way at our home track. With expectations running really high along with the temps, (107), Drag In proved to be very costly, but it also generated some buzz for our sponsor, CB Performance. Bottom line, we made the show and salvaged a worst case scenario with a BUNCH of help from our friends. The complete story, along with the aftermath here.
Next up, a tune up to run in the new motor, then.....DENVER!
Denver Race Report Here
Bug O Rama 58, Sacramento, 9/03/06
Apparently the Gods of Speed weren’t satiated with our offerings of the last two months, and demanded a mental sacrifice as well. I hope they are happy now.
I was nervous before the first practice run on Saturday evening at the 58th Bug O Rama in Sacramento. I’d been second guessing myself ever since Denver when we weren’t able to be competitive because of some minor engine damage on a new motor. Would it run the number? Would the oil stay in it? Have I forgotten how to race?
The announcer made the call for the first time trial session and up to the lanes we went. I strapped in like thousands of times before and rolled to the line. 11.7 seconds after the green light came on, I had the answer…at least to the performance side of the question. It wasn’t as fast as we’ve ever gone, but I had the fuel ratio pretty fat to be safe. I was happy. Another practice run a little later to get close to the 11.90 index by backing off the throttle came in at 12.05. OK!
The first round of qualifying for the pro classes, including Super Gas came at 7 pm Saturday night. We clicked off a 11.94, which was good for the number 1 spot until Rick Oliver lays down an 11.906. Good job Rick! Afterwards, food, fellowship and a few cervesas with Ken & Susy Jevec, Allen, Sue & Matt Wiess, John & Troy Palmer & Dan Spickert wrapped up the evening. I think Troy and Matt went out later to spread joy throughout the grounds later that night!
The next morning, Cindy and I made the rounds through the pits and the swap area, stopping to chat with the many friends we have in this hobby. A cup of good strong “Clutch Dust” coffee with Doug Berg, a few minutes watching NHRA qualifying with the Schuergers, a chat with Gary Clifford in the swap area. Rich Kimball was there too. Rick Tomlinson was busy at the CB Performance booth, but we still managed the talk a little before a customer needed him. Rick and the CB crew really came through for us this last couple of months, and I can't thank them enough. Thanks again guys! We talked a little with Pat & Amy Downs too. They are expecting their second child in a month and we are very happy for them!
Then it was time for business. Our second qualifying session was at 10am and it was time to work on the tree. On this run, I managed a .045 reaction time. Not bad. The run netted a time of 12.05, so I needed to tighten that up a bit. After our final qualifier, we were sitting in the #6 position with our initial run of 11.94. This put us up against SG Rookie “Buster” John Varela. John is another Der Renn Kafer Cup transplant into SG just this year, and until now, has not qualified. As such, I felt confident.
I could tell John was nervous as we waited in the lanes. And that’s pretty much what I wanted. I put him out of my mind to focus on my own game once we rolled into the burn-out area, and I did my routine. We staged, the tree activated and we were off. At the top end at around 1200 feet, I saw that he was about a half car back. Not wanting to risk running under, I backed out of the throttle a little, then made the mistake of taking my eyes off him. He came around and barely nipped me at the finish line. I couldn’t believe it! For the next several minutes, I was fuming. In my mind it was a humiliating loss to a rookie.
And then I realized the Gods of Speed demanded that from me. A little humility.
Team WKR/CB Performance/Rancho Cashes in at Vegas, Oct 1, 2006
Coming off a painful 1st round loss at Sacramento, it was “Do or Die” for the White Knuckle Ride team at the 2006 Vegas Bug In, stop 5 in the PRA series. While still in fairly good shape in 3rd place heading into the event, time was running out and there are no more second chances. We took what we learned from the last event at Sac and applied that at this race.
Even though it was time for serious business, it was still a fun weekend all around. Hangin’ with good buddy and fellow SG competitor Scott Bakken Friday night for some dinner and beers. Scott and Cindy did pretty well with the nickel slot machines, both hitting some good sized payouts, which added to the enjoyment level.
Going to the track Saturday, we wanted to make some test runs. Last year, even though we won, it was a struggle to get the track figured out. This year with the season on line, we wanted to be sure we were ready to do our best. After unloading the car, we went up to make the first run to see where we were tune-up wise for the 12.11 index. With a sea-level base-line set-up, we cut .030 Reaction Time and went 12.11with a 4. When Cindy rolled up to pull me back to the pits, she was laughing and said we should pack up and call it a day. Not knowing what the run was at that point I said, "What was it? 12.11?" "Yep!" was the reply. We made three more runs anyway, 12.13 and 12.13 with RTs in the .04 range.
Afterwards, we set up the car on the roof of the Hampton Hotel’s parking garage for the pre-race party held annually there. We still enjoy showing the car and this was a low pressure way to do so. We chatted with many of our longtime friends as well as meeting new ones. The crowd has changed over the years however with the popularity and the publicizing of the show. A little rowdier now than in years past. I started getting pretty nervous when the Las Vegas VW club started tossing out t-shirts and the attendees were making diving catches, with one fellow falling backwards onto the hood of the car parked next to mine. Although it was a lot of fun and no damage was done to our car, I think we will forego showing the car up there in the future.
Sunday dawned cooler and partly cloudy, and with the change in conditions, we qualified kinda soft with a 12.19. The car started out with a "Bog Wheelie" that I didn't get calmed down till first round of eliminations. What that means, is that the car hooked hard, brought the front wheels up, but didn’t have enough power to keep it up. At that point it just comes back down abruptly, the motor gets pulled down below its power range and then goes forward.
In the first round of eliminations, I had an attack of “Brain Fade” and I dodged a bullet when I cut a super late .366 light to Mark Prothero's .08 light. I think Mark musta broke, because he just faded at the 1000 foot mark, and we went around him for the win. So that round was a gift.
After that, nobody played nice. I had good buddy Doug Berg in round two. He put down a .047 light to my .038, but he couldn't run the number on that run. In the Semi's we were matched up with good buddy Troy Palmer. Troy and I go way back to the beginning of the DRKC days and have become good friends. I still like racing Troy because he's very competitive and we always try to mess with each other. This time, it was my turn in the "Troy Vs Mike" series. He had a .069 light to my .025, then he ran a little under the 12.11 index at 12.08, which handed us the win. I scored a case of Corona for taking out Troy from one of the other SG guys whose identity will remain a secret. (Thanks John!)
Then it was Steve Atkinson and I in the final round. Troy offered up a bounty on me to Steve, but Steve couldn't cash in. Steve turned in a valiant effort though, running RIGHT ON the 12.11 index, but the Blue Ghia had a big holeshot advantage off the line, we got there first with a 12.15. It was glorious! It was Steve’s best finish so far in his first year in SG, and the smile on his face was priceless! However, the Gods of Speed smiled upon US this weekend.
We’ve made a lot of good friends while racing in Super Gas, and it has been proven time and again that we will do anything for each other when the need arises. But when we face each other on the track, it’s every man for himself, and there are staging lane bounties being arranged to further one’s own series ambitions. After the run, regardless of outcome, we’re still friends, even tho we may put a bounty on each other for the next run! These impromptu staging lane bounties are getting fun! Fontana will be exciting.
We are now leading the series once again after our Vegas win and are in control of our own destiny. Everyone else is hoping for our early demise at the series final in Fontana. I reckon the target is on my back till then.
Come and get me boys! ....I double dog dare ya!
Drag Day, Irwindale, CA Oct 8
My expectations were high. Perhaps my own expectations were higher than I believe everyone else’s to be for us coming into this event. Were we expected to win again here after last year’ s Top Eliminator victory? I knew most of the competition. It was an All-Star list of West-Coast racers, some of which I race against on a regular basis throughout the season. There were no push-overs. Seasoned racers, all of them, and extremely tough. This time, however, it wasn’t for points or championships. Just good clean racin’ fun and bragging rights!
We started the trip with a stop at Famoso Raceway to take in a little of the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion. This is a nostalgia type event and we have friends who were in competition there, like Chris Abbey. Chris and I go way back and were competitors together 20 odd years ago in the bracket wars at Famoso. Chris with a beautiful 55 Chevy and us with our 70 Dodge Challenger, both in 9.6 second zone. So it was good to stop by and see him in action, nowadays running a AA/Gas Corvette with mid 6 second quarter mile times at around 210mph! Besides, I needed a nitro fix. I like to stand close to the fuel cars when they are test running them in the pits and be enveloped by the cloud of nitro fumes, until by eyes water and my nose starts running and I can’t breathe anymore, finally having to step away to find breathable air. It’s great!
Arriving at Irwindale Raceway early the next morning, we were able to pit by our racing buddies, John Schuerger and Doug Berg. Doug was sans race car so was playing in a back-up role for John. We breezed through tech and had time to walk around talking to a few of our many friends. We talked for a while with Rick Tomlinson, who was busy setting up the CB Performance booth, and we had a nice chat with Gary Clifford of NOS Productions in the swap area and Susy Herbert near our pit area. It seemed as if almost everyone in our VW world was there.
Getting to the business of racing, we prepped the car and our pit area and then headed off to the lanes. There were an awful lot of fast cars lined up in the Quick 16 lane, and I couldn’t help but wonder if we would even qualify! What will be will be, I reckoned.
The first run netted a wheels up 7.44 at a little over 91 mph. Checking the AFR log revealed we were way lean. I loosened up the rear suspension to calm down the wheelies and fattened up the fuel curve and went for another run. This one was 7.49 and pushing a little oil out of the oil puke tank. Not a good sign. A little fatter on the fuel and a 7.47 was the result. Opposite “Old Phart” Jim Gillum, he relayed to me after the run that he looked up at the scoreboard and was pretty pleased with his .003 reaction time. Nice! Then he looked at my side and saw .000. Dang! Although a perfect RT is nice, that’s a little too close for comfort!
In the first round of eliminations, we find we were at the slow end of the class. Jim Gillum gets bumped out along with Bruce Fordyce, whom I had in the final round last year at this event. I draw Sue Cerny. The Cerny’s have been in VW scene for a long time and know how to play the game. I would be cutting her no slack. I should have cut myself some slack though. I go -.014 red. My run in Q16 is over just like that. Sue went on to the final to face “Muffler Mike” Sheldon.
Not ready to call it a day, we buy in the Jackpot bracket along with a few of the best there is. Seems we’re in good company! After three rounds of racing, we’re up against Tough Guy John Schuerger, who had disposed of Pat Carney in a previous round. Before that round, Doug brought up a quote from the Austin Powers movie about “Carnies” and how they smell of cabbage. It was hilarious!
Although it was good to see us both in the final, only one would advance to Top Eliminator. This time it would be Johnny. While we were quicker on the tree, I made the mistake of getting off the throttle at the stripe while I was telling myself to stay in it…stay in it….dang. You didn’t stay in it you big maroon! Johnny takes the win with a stout 7.40 on a 7.39 dial while we went 7.55 on a 7.49.
All things considered, we had a good run and it was a lot of fun. The car is not running up to it’s potential however and there are some mechanical issues to be addressed before the PRA finals in Fontana. Between being a little down on power, some blow-by issues and yanking the front wheels in the air, I’d best get to work.
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!
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!
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 place to get 'em