Sudden Impact Racing Update: 04/18/2004

After being in Atco last weekend for the Mitchell Bracket Series, the team headed back down to Atco for the second straight weekend. This time the dragster stayed home and Ray and Mike brought their Camaros instead.

Since our new trailer still isn't in, Ray's car went in his Gold Rush trailer and the '67 was relegated to making the trip on the open trailer. That wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't rained the whole way down here on Wednesday night. Despite that the trip went well, and we fueled up just before Exit 7 on the Jersey Turnpike, where Diesel is only $1.53 and regular is $1.66. Of course regular is as cheap as $1.55 off the highway on the way to the track, but I wouldn't want to try and maneuver the motorhome and trailer around those lots (or lack thereof!).

The rain stopped by about 6:30 Thursday morning and they let us in the gates around 7:30. After getting parked, which for the first time in history wasn't an issue for us here at Atco, we dried the '67 off inside and out.

We got our ETI's (Extended Technical Inspection) done for the year by Dave Mohn, teched for the weekend and then made sure the cars were ready to go.

They started testing at about 12:30, but no one was making real progress getting past 300' on the track so we decided to wait it out a little bit. After Paul Neal smoked the tires like a Kalitta Top Fueler when the stop turned off in their dragster, the call went out to halt the racing.

It seems that it had rained from the time we left here on Sunday until when we showed back up Wednesday night. The water had gotten under the rubber on the track and now that they had sprayed over it, the rubber was just ripping off the track when the hot sticky tires went over them.

Two and a half hours later, Atco's track crew had the starting line scraped from 60' all the way to the end of the concrete in both lanes.

After watching cars start to have success in navigating the quarter-mile, I decided to bring the '67 up for its first lap of the year. After doing one of my patented across the line burnouts during their test sessions, I staged up. I launched with the wheels WAY in the air, like the car hadn't done since I was bracket racing it back in '97. I was also -.024 red on the tree with the same delay I had in there last year.

The stop came on and off and although the car had that loose feeling to it, I stayed in it until about 10.2 seconds before I lifted and still ran 10.59. The stop RPM seemed high, so we checked it and indeed it was up around 4300 RPM's so we lowered it back down to 4000 RPM, mainly so I wouldn't have to run 4 seconds in the throttle stop.

For the second run I put 3.25 seconds in the timer. I rolled .025 more in the box, because I was .024 red. The car left the line .002 on the tree and with the wheels WAY in the air again. The stop cycled, and I was back on my way. The car was still doing a little dance on the loose track but still managed to run 10.937 at 146.67 in an 8 MPH headwind.

We turned the car around pretty quick after that run seeing that there were only 10 minutes left in the test session. I left the box alone, but took numbers out of timer to get a basic ratio for the rest of the weekend. This time I was .000 perfect on the tree and 10.831 @ 147.13.

The car just absolutely flies like I've never felt in that car before. The throttle response is much quicker than it's ever been and continuing on that trend the motor revs up like no motor I've ever dealt with before. It almost revs like a small block- a 532" small block.

Once the stop turns off down track, it takes about .75 seconds and the car goes from 4000 RPM to 7000 RPM and is in high gear. Once in high, it only drops to 6600 RPM and then climbs to 7450 on the finish line. The motor sounds and revs like a Comp Eliminator motor. Boucher did an excellent job with it. It has excellent Oil Pressure on the finish line and is pulling about 15" of vacuum with the new Moroso Pump.

Friday dawned with much nicer conditions. The headwind was still there, but had subsided slightly. The barometer had jumped up from 29.85 to about 30.15 and the sun was out.

The track was good from the first hit, which for me was 10.933 @ 148.61. We finally got to run dad's car on Friday. We still didn't know how the car would pick up from the Vacuum pump. His first hit of the season was .025 on the tree with .020 in the delay box. The car launched like normal, but on the top end a 9.877 @ 170.99 came up on the scoreboard. He backed that up on his second run of the day with a .016, 9.915 @ 171.05.

Looking back at our records, in air like we had here, the car would run 167 MPH in the previous years. So the vacuum pump picked the car up an honest 3.5 - 4 MPH.

After I picked up .04 in the 60' on my last time trial and running 10.806, I decided to enter the gamblers race to get a few more laps on the car to see if the 60' settled out or if we had work to do. Dad decided to put his in the trailer for the day, content with the day's results.

First round I had to run against good friend Lynn Hoosigan in her Chevelle. Her and husband Tom put a 540 in the car over the winter and had the thing running pretty good at 140 MPH. My 60' fell back off to 1.74, but I was holding a little just in case and took a 10.93 to 10.94 win at 139.70 MPH with a .006 light.

Second round I raced one of the Juiliano brothers in their new '69 Nova. I was .006 to his .022 and knew I was holding a bunch going down track. It looked like I was only going to get there first by about .010 so I rolled up to his door and kept the car there forcing him to take the stripe by .006 and survived a 10.873 to 10.852 double breakout at 142.72 MPH.

Third round I ran Steve Taxis, who had beat me in the finals at Englishtown in 2002. I had .068 going by the tree on him and cruised to an easy 10.959 to 10.931 victory at just 126.96 MPH.

In the semis I raced Jim Schreiner and his 153 MPH Beretta. I hit the tree good, .010, and he just sat there. Then he took off with no stop at all and shot by me while I was on the stop. His light was 1.020. He lifted after shooting by me and when my stop came off I caught up and passed him, and started womping. I just stayed in front of him by a fender and took .020 stripe not wanting to give it back. Of course, I could've given it back by almost a second and still won because he was 10.16 at 136 to my 11.152 at 134.54.

This set up the final with 2003 Dutch Classic winner Mark Rizzo and his High Voltage '69 Camaro. After having a worst light of a .018 over nine runs, I was .036 in the final to Mark's .020. Looking over on the launch, I knew I had to cut the stripe tight, so I womped it out to .0028 stripe, but was 10.887 to his dead-on 10.905.

Saturday was just time trials and I wanted to try something different with the first stop number on my car to try and get the 60's consistent, being that they were jumping around by about .08 on Friday. My 60's only Varied .02 on the three hits, and I was .007 10.801 @ 149.27, .005 10.913 @ 148.09, and .003 10.878 @ 147.86 (dialing for a 10.88). Things seemed good with my car and I was fairly confident with it going into Sunday being that it seemed dial-able.

Dad's car threw us a Tim Wakefield knuckleball on Saturday. His first run the car launched good, with a 1.599 60' and was -.009 on the tree. The stop turned off, the car started pulling and then started shooting ducks, popping out the headers like someone flipped a light switch. He lifted before the 1/8th mile and still coasted through to an 11.018 at 112 MPH.

When he came back from the run, we took the car apart. The hood, nose, scoop, passenger door, trunk lid and dash came of the car. We put it up on the Pro Jacks so we could put a load on it and stall test it. The good news was that the problem would repeat when we loaded it up on the converter. The first thing we did was put the MSD tester on the ignition box, seeing that the car has eaten them up in the past. The MSD tested ok. We pulled the valve covers and check the valve lash and spring pressure and that all checked out perfect. He pulled the distributor cap off and looked under there and there weren't any noticeable problems. Ray pulled the bowls off the carburetor and blew that all out, and the car still had the problem. He tried changing the MSD box out of spite, and that didn't fix it. He put the spare crank trigger pickup on there, and that didn't fix it.

Just for kicks, he decided to check the rotor phasing. It was off. The distributor was tight as could be, the rotor, which is non-adjustable was tight as could be. That left us wondering how could a car go from running perfect - 9.90 @ 171 to like this like someone flipped a light switch. We weren't going to take any chances and changed the distributor and rotor. We made sure the rotor phasing was ok, started it up, set the timing at 34 degrees and tested it. Everything checked out ok and the car was clean up to the converter stall point of 6500 RPM.

We got all that done in time for the second time trial (we were thrashing) with a little time to spare. I dialed the car pretty hard and it went out and ran 9.892 @ 170.60 MPH. The car was good again. On his third run, I dialed it like it was eliminations and he was -.001 on the tree and 9.905 at 170.23 MPH. We were really happy with Dad's car on Saturday night. Not only does it go fast, but it consistently, too. His car is easier to dial at this point than the '67 is.

Sunday dawns and brings us back to reality. I'm fairly confident in the dial on the '67 so I set it up for 10.89, just in case I lose some in the sixty. After killing the tree all weekend, I'm .031 to Frank Renda's .026. I thought I killed the tree and when I looked over after letting go I thought I had him by at least .020. I was wrong. On the big end the car had picked up 60' and was on a 10.870. After a bunch of womping and .014 stripe later, I was 10.888 to his dead-on 10.907. So my last two rounds here went pretty much the same way: my breakout to the other guys dead-on.

Did you know that this is the 4th straight NHRA Race at Atco that I've lost 1st round? I lost first round at the Divisional in 2002, the open and divisional in 2003 and now the open in 2004. I hope to turn that streak around in October when we come back here for the Divisional. Either that or I fly Brian in to drive, seeing that he went 4 rounds at the open here in 2002- his last time in the '67.

I was really confident in the dial on Dad's car going into Sunday based on how it reacted to the numbers on Friday and Saturday. First round (which is Random Pairing) we pull into lanes next to the infamous Tommy DePascale (aka Tommy Dee). We raced Tommy at the Dutch Classic in October last year and it was a good battle, with Ray running 9.900 to Tommy's 9.901 with Dad getting this win by .010 after being .009 on the tree.

I set the car up for a 9.905 or so because of the big speed difference (170 vs. 145) so Dad could keep his foot right in it if he had to. After Dad's -.001 last night, he rolled a little into the box so he was now carrying .032 delay on the .400 pro tree. Ray needed .002 more in the delay box as he left the red light on with a -.002 reaction time to Tommy's .065. Then, of course, the car runs 9.903 on the big end at 170.45 MPH to Tommy's 9.896 at 145.45.

So that wraps up the weekend here at Atco with us extremely happy with how consistent Dad's car is (and how fast it's going and still being consistent) and still having a slight question mark about the '67 Camaro. Time will tell on that combo as the weather gets warmer and the adjusted altitudes go up.

That's it for this update, our next NHRA Race will be at the Lebanon Valley National Open May 15-16, but I'm probably going to take the '67 Camaro up to Epping to run their Hot Rod series on May 2nd. Hopefully by then our new trailer will be in.