Sudden Impact Racing Update: 05/16/2004

It's been a busy few weeks for the Sudden Impact team since the Atco Raceway National open, and we hadn't even been back to a racetrack until this past weekend!

The weekend after the open, we took the time to service all three cars, and make sure everything was ok from the tip of the nose, to the end of the wheelie bars. Everything checked out A-ok. I even took the oil pan off the dragster and brought the Oil Pump up to Boucher's Racing Engines and we got a little bit more oil pressure out of it, to compensate for having put the vacuum pump on there this winter. Thanks Tom for taking care of me.

Our new stacker trailer, which we'd ordered in November, had been ready since the Atco Open, but after several conversations with the dealer, we pretty much figured out that they hadn't been able to get anyone to deliver it, nor did it look like they were going to be able to, so Ray and I loaded the motorhome up for a road trip to Bristol, Indiana (near Elkhart).

We left on Saturday afternoon so that we could be out at United Expressline when they opened up Monday morning. Man do those guys go to work early out there. When I woke up at 4AM, the gates were open. I went back to sleep for a little bit until we were woken up by a whole bunch of cars driving around the parking lot. So about 5:45AM we went into the office, looked at the clock on the wall and it said 4:45! We forgot about the time zone difference.

They took care of us pretty quick out there and by 7AM we were on the way home, hoping to make it home by 10:00 or 11:00 PM so that we'd be able to get a little sleep before going in to work on Tuesday.

We were pretty much on schedule for that, until just outside of Albany when one of the rear tires on the motorhome decided that it didn't need tread on it anymore and blew out. What gave it that idea, I don't know. So there Ray and I were on the site of the road just after 9:00 Monday night in the pouring rain changing a tire on the motorhome. At least we had the tools with us to change it. The bad news was that when the tire blew, it took out the lines for the air bags in the right rear so we had to limp it home leaning to the right the whole way. But at least we had the trailer!

We took Tuesday night off to recover from driving and then pretty much worked on the trailer for the next week, loading and unloading cars, putting D-Rings in the floor and putting giant chain links that my Uncle Bill obtained from Caterpillar for us on the lift to tie dad's car onto for the trip down the road.

For those that haven't seen the trailer yet, here's an outside shot: an inside shot: and a pic with the two Camaros inside:

We also serviced the motorhome, changed the coolant and thermostat, cleaned out the radiator and replaced the remaining original tires on it, since we've had two blowouts in the last year.

We left Thursday May 13th, in the afternoon for the Lebanon Valley National Open. It was good to be back at a racetrack again and we got there just before the rain hit so the rig stayed relatively clean, with the exception of the normal road grime. The trailer towed very well, actually navigating "Heartbreak Hill" (the 7-mile uphill near the end of the Mass Pike) and only dropping to 53 MPH. It was pretty windy out and the motorhome was more stable with the new trailer than the old one.

Friday was a $70 test session and the track started out greasy and went downhill from there. My first hit was an 11.03 at 146 MPH (on the 10.90 index), but the car was spinning in the middle and I was down about a tenth in 60' from the previous race at Atco.

The adjusted altitude was about 2000' above sea level, as opposed to about 400' at Atco. Not to mention that Lebanon Valley is about 700' above sea level, as opposed to Atco's 90 feet. What all that means is that the cars were going to be slower, and they were about a tenth slower than we even thought.

After my first run, I sped Ray up .05 from what the predictors were telling me and he went 9.98 (on the 9.90 index) at 168 MPH, chewing through the middle a little like I was. At least the cars were behaving similar. I sped mine up a ton for the second run and was 10.88 @ 146; right where I wanted it. My third run I tried to hit a 10.90 and came up not too far off with a 10.911.

Dad didn't get a time on his second hit due to a tree malfunction, but on the third was 9.891 @ 168 MPH. Close enough for now.

The air was even worse on Saturday getting up to almost 2200' when the temperature was up around 90 degrees. I ran pretty good on my two time trials, running 10.88 and 10.89 and was .006 and .007 on the tree (.000 is perfect) from lane to lane.

Dad's first time run went well, also, being .005 on the tree and 9.911, not too far off from where I had dialed it. For the second run, some real strange air came in and the car slowed to a 9.94.

The reason that the real strange air came in was the Storm of the Century was making it's way through the Valley. As soon as he came back we loaded up everything as quick as we could, and it only took about 10 minutes, which considering that we have a new trailer and are still refining the loading/unloading routines on it was pretty good. Dad's car has to go in first and then we raise it upstairs on the lift and the '67 Camaro goes underneath it.

Not more than 5 minutes after we were loaded up the storm hit laying waste to anything left outside. With 80 MPH winds and sideways rain it made for good entertainment watching tarps, chairs, awnings, and small woodland creatures go flying by.

We were supposed to have a cookout with the Kennys, Krugs, and Dorrs, but we opted to stay dry but we hear we missed a good feast!

Sunday morning dawned to some very wet grounds, and cool temperatures. For my first round, the temp was 63 degrees as opposed to 90 degrees the day before. The adjusted altitude had fallen down to 700 feet from the 2200 the day before. I was pretty confident in how the '67 was going to perform, but I put a little extra in my pocket just in case.

I was the last pair of the round and was .001 on the tree after adding .004 to the box from my .006 and .007 in TT's but only had a .004 advantage thanks to the other guy's .005 light. He was running flat out without a stop, and I caught him a little early and womped out .010 stripe in a 10.92 to 10.92 win.

Dad didn't fare so well first round, his car picking more than I thought it would and ran 9.890 on the brakes with a .015 to .018 light. If that car ever found a little luck, it could do real well. Maybe we're just saving the luck for the bigger races.

After a three hour delay to deal with water seeping up through the track thanks to the monsoon the previous day, I ran Lebanon Valley regular Ray Butler and his Malibu in the second round. I was .010 to his .070 and took .015 stripe running 10.903 to his 10.858.

Third round I ran good friend Heather Robilotto, fresh off of her runner-up at the Hagerstown, MD National Open two weeks prior. I was .008 on the tree and cut the stripe to .003 running 10.94 at 139 MPH. The car actually lost a whole bunch in 60' that round and I was only going to be 10.91, but the reaction time saved the car that round.

I based off of that round for the rest of the day and fourth round had to run Mark Rizzo, who had beat me in the final of the Atco Gambler's race a few weeks earlier. I settled the score this time by going .002 on the tree and running 10.912 taking .007 stripe at 142 MPH.

In the semis, I raced one of Lebanon Valley's best footbrake racers, Billy Kirpens, Jr in his Barracuda. I didn't give him any slack, based on his reputation, and the fact that he made it to the semis footbraking a car. I was .006 to his .014 and after having watched him run a flat out 10.87 with no throttle stop the round before I knew he'd be around the same point. It looked like I was going to get there by about .010 or so, and at that point decided that as good as it looked, I didn't want that stripe. I got on the brakes and fed him .006 finish line and ran 10.908 at 138 to his breakout 10.894 at 121, despite dumping at the MPH cone.

This set up the final with good friend Jerry Pierce and his Cutlass who had dropped down from Super Gas for a few races this season. He and Craig Setzer had that car dialed all day, having run 10.90 at 149 MPH in the last two rounds. I stayed in the right lane since I'd been there all day, and left the box where I'd had it all day. I slowed the car down a little bit by adding a little bit of stop time to it, since it was looking like I was on a 10.87 in the semis. I hit the tree pretty much the same as I had all day, going .003 on the tree, but the race was over right there as Jerry was -.008 red, giving me the automatic win.

The winner's circle celebrations were fun as fellow New England Dragway racers Regis Lepage (Super Gas), Mike Sullivan (Super Comp) and Gary Guariello (Comp) also won their respective classes. Congrats also to Chick Ross who was awarded "Best Engineered Car" for his brand new 2004 Cavalier.

So it was a successful weekend in both debuting the new trailer (with very little aggravation) and picking up a "Wally" and some cash for winning the race on Sunday. I was very happy with the way I was driving, and I think I had the best day ever combining my starting line reaction times (.001, .010, .008, .002, .006, .003) with finish line driving (.010, .015, .003, .007, -.006, RED). In two weekends out with the '67 this year, I've already made 25 passes and it feel like I've made several hundred with this comination based on how comfortable I feel in the car.

Our next race will be in two weeks at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. It's actually a double header, running the make-up of the National Open on Friday and the Divisional race on Saturday and Sunday. This is when the real point season for us starts. Let's hope for good weather and a little luck for Dad's car!