Sudden Impact Racing Update: 05/30/2005

Since the weather in the Northeast just plain wouldn't cooperate, the Sudden Impact team headed south for Commerce, Georgia (near Atlanta) for the NHRA Southern Nationals May 13-15th.

This was our third trip out this year, and our first of six NHRA National events. I pulled .025 out of my delay box (to .030) from Maple Grove, since the tree at the National events is a bunch slower. My first hit in the left lane produced an .002 light and a slow 10.96. I moved to the right for the second time trial, and was .028 and 10.97. The 60' dropped off about .03 on that run, which explains the slow ET. The third run on Friday, in the right lane I was .029, still with .030 in the box. The 60' picked back up and the car finally cleared 10.90 at a 10.854. By the way, the weather on Thursday reached a high of about 92 degrees and an adjusted altitude of about 2100 feet.

For my Friday time trial, I decided to pull .020 more out of the box and go back in the right lane to see if it was me yesterday or if the rollout was really that different lane to lane. This resulted in an .012 10.903 @ 147.12 run, which left me feeling pretty good going into eliminations.

Since I was slow on my first time trial, I sped Ray's car up, and of course, it went 9.862 @ 167 with an .021 light on the first hit. I left the timer alone for the second run, since the air had gotten about 290 feet worse and I expected the car to lose some 60'. It did and produced an .012 9.895 @ 167.51 run. For his final time trial, I set it up for a .90, thinking the car had lost all the 60' it was going to lose for the day, but it proved me wrong again, dropping another .02 in 60' and running 9.924 with an .017 reaction time.

For his Friday time trial, I set it up a little on the conservative side and we made a good run with Ray going .014 on the tree and the car ran 9.912 @ 167.

So both cars and drivers were looking pretty good going into first round late Friday morning. I drew former Division 1 Super Street champion Marty Ganjoin and his 1969 Camaro in the random pair drawing. I figured this was going to be a tough race, so I left the .020 out of the box to set up for a high-oh or low-teen light. I got my .007 and Marty was .040, but he had problems. As it turned out, there was a problem with the crank trigger (ignition) on his car, which took away a whole pile of power, which of course affects reaction time. When my stop turned off, he was barely next to me, and knowing that I had about 16 MPH on him on the top end, I just rolled out of the throttle and rode at throttle for a while, and took a surprisingly easy 11.74 to 13.18 win.

Ray's first round opponent was Division 4 racer Westley Scott and his '27 Ford Roadster. Ray had the advantage off the line .019 to .026 and was able to use that, combined with an 9.901 to push Scott under the dial at 9.886 for the win. This qualified Ray number one on the ladder, which normally means that there's a bye in your path at some point during the race. Not this time, however, as there were 63 cars in the first round, meaning that every round for the rest of the race would have an even amount of cars (32, 16, 8, 4, 2). If we were doing this, we'd be doing it the hard way.

Saturday morning I was paired up with the Vega of Lamar Majors for second round. When I let go of the button, I could've swore I had the light on him since my prestage light fell before his did. In actuality he was .032 and I was .036. I didn't think that I missed it, but since my 60' picked up .015, it's possible that the car didn't completely clear the beams when the stop turned on with how soft it's leaving in that air.

I had the car on an 10.890 just to give me enough to get there, and I did, womped to about an .008 margin when he dumped (hit the brakes to send me by) and I caught it, got on the brakes myself , and took .014 (about 2.5 feet at 145 MPH with a 15 MPH closing speed), only to go 10.891 to his 10.909 to end my weekend in the second round, one round away from a paycheck.

Ray was laddered up for second round on Saturday morning with friend Lou Nislar and his David Anspach-built Corvette Roadster. Neither driver was stellar on the tree, but they were only .013 apart in Ray's favor. I dialed Ray's car pretty honest, knowing that Lou had a pretty good handle on the dial of his car.

We had lost a little bit in 60', so the car was only on a 9.917. It still was enough to keep Lou under the dial at a 9.895. Ray dumped when he saw he wasn't getting there and ran 9.922. If he'd kept his foot in it, Lou would've gotten the stripe by .009, and he would've needed to take .004 or less to win the round, a pretty tough task.

This set up a very tough third-round match up between two cars with single digit numbers on the window. Ray had to face the Corvette roadster of Mike Fuqua (Fu-Kway), owner of Nitroplate. I dialed the car off of the prior run against Lou, expecting the same 60', when instead it actually picked up .006. Mike had a slight .010 advantage on the tree and did a good job on the top end, taking .013 stripe, but Ray survived a double breakout 9.896 to 9.893.

Fourth round was delayed by rain until about 8:00 on Sunday night. Ray had to face multi-time Super Gas top-ten finisher Joe Harper and his Dodge Avenger. When Ray prestaged, Harper's prestage light turned out, sending Rick Stewart into theatrics, backing the cars up while he checked the beams. Everything checked out fine, so they rolled up and tried again. This time all the lights worked, only when Harper put it up on the chip, the car rolled through the beams, handing Ray the automatic win, and an all-important time trial. Ray missed the tree because of what was going on in the other lane, but ran it through to a 9.910.

For the semi-finals, Ray was paired up with McNeal Freeman and his '27 Ford Roadster. McNeal had an .003 advantage on the tree, but on the way down he kept drifting closer and closer to centerline when the car finally stepped out on him. It made a big move into Ray's lane just after Ray shot by and McNeal came back across the track and hit the wall in his own lane with the side of the car. While this was going on, Ray was on the brakes, coasting across the finish line to a 10.00 for the win. Ray never saw McNeal crash, but he knew it wasn't a good thing when the Safety Safari truck passed him going back down towards the starting line in the shutdown area. McNeal wasn't hurt in the incident.

There were lots of cars getting loose that round since we were at 100% humidity, had reached the dew point, the fog had rolled in and it was just plain wet out. If you looked up at the lights, you couldn't see individual lights, just a glow through the dew.

We lost lane choice in the final and got stuck in the right lane, the worse of the two. We were facing David Tatum, a very good racer from Division two, driving David Watson's Chevy Cavalier, a 168 MPH car, just like us. Ray missed the tree a little bit, but it didn't matter. The car was steadily driving right on the way down, and Ray lifted, put it back in the groove, tried to get back in it and the car wanted to step back out, so he just gave up on it, saved the car for another day, and coasted through to a 10.15 to Tatum's 9.93 at an off-the-throttle 158 MPH.

This was a great start to the year for Ray for National points, earning 84 for the runner-up. In comparison to last year he only had 142 points total for the 3 races that counted so he's well on his way to bettering that total.

We had a couple of weekends off between Atlanta and the Maple Grove Divisional Memorial Day weekend. We made sure everything was serviced, got caught up a little at the shop and hit the road Wednesday night to head down for Pennsylvania.

I decided to swap from Super Street to Super Gas this year after how my year has been going so far. With five more NHRA Nationals on the schedule and 8 Divisionals, I want to take a run at National points and see how I do. Plus, as an added bonus, I get to sleep in since Super Gas runs last in the Divisional rotation.

For me to change from Super Street to Super Gas, all I had to do was turn the launch up form 3600 to 5200 and pump the front tires up from 35 to 45 lbs. I left the front end alone with all the travel because past testing has shown me that when I tighten it down, it spins the tire and gets the same light anyway.

I made four runs on Thursday. I was using last year's Keystone's data and on the first run I staged shallow and was .024 9.82 @ 149. I shallow staged on my next two runs and was .017 on the tree on both of them, lane to lane. For my last run, I took a small bite when I staged and was .004 with nothing in the box, good enough for this weekend. Ray didn't test since his car was so good in Atlanta. He had checked the car over in the shop when servicing it and everything was fine so we felt pretty good about it.

For Friday's time runs, I was .010 9.899 @ 149 on my first run. I had rolled .003 in the delay box to stay away from red lighting. Ray's 60' time was about .03 worse than I was anticipating and I missed the dial on him, running 9.94 @ 168 MPH. On the second run of the day, I missed the tree a little bit, set the car up 9.87 and picked up a few thousandths in 60' and ran 9.861. Ray picked the 60' back up also, going .017 on the tree and 9.870.

We got more one time run on Saturday morning and I was .014 and 9.936 when I didn't adjust for the 6-7 MPH headwind. Ray was .016 and 9.899 @ 168, a good way to end time trials. We were supposed to have first round on Saturday afternoon but because of a rain delay, it was wisely pushed back to Saturday morning. I was glad, because I like running the whole race in one day anyway.

I went up early in the round, so Ray and I would stay away from one other and drew a '56 Chevy Nomad. I was pretty sure I was going to be chasing him and boy was I right. I was .009 to his .033 and when my stop turned off, he was next to me reminiscent of racing Marty Ganjoin in Atlanta. I just rolled out of the throttle and kept him at the back of my door and took an easy 10.47 to 10.51 win.

Ray had to run Glen Emig and his Vega wagon, fresh off two runner-up finishes at Atco last weekend in the NESGA races. Glen was .001 on the tree to Ray's .030. Luckily for us, Glen was way fast and Ray's 9.900 was enough to push him under. This qualified Ray number one for the second consecutive race. Unlike in Atlanta there was a bye in his path this time; it was just three rounds away.

Second round I was paired with the 34 Chevy Roadster of Division 3 racer Doug McRobie. I put an .88 in the car, had a little on the tree, .021 to .043, waited for him to just about catch me and swapped feet and front dumped to a 9.903 at only 142 MPH. I sent Doug by to a breakout 9.875.

Ray was laddered up with Chuck Rothermel, a very tough racer with a freshly painted ex-WJ Grand Am. Ray had the better light by .005, but the car lost a whole .020 in 60' and hung him out at 9.924. Chuck was able to get under that with a 9.903 to end Ray's weekend.

Third round I had to face last year's ninth place finisher in Division 1, John Stover, and his Sweitzer's Beretta. I thought that John was about 152-154 for speed and boy was I off by a few. I whacked the tree real hard and came up .001 green to John's .025. I had the car set up on what I thought was a 9.88, which in actuality was a 9.867. When I finally caught a glimpse of John, I realized he was WAY faster than 154. I started womping and dragging the brake and ended up taking .021 stripe to take a 9.889 to 9.886 double breakout win. By the way, John was running 163 MPH.

Fourth round I had to race really good family friend Al Kenny and his yellow Corvette roadster. If you remember, I drove Al's son Jason's corvette roadster in Las Vegas last year in Super Comp going 6 rounds, so I'm pretty familiar with those cars. I dialed off my .86 for an .88 so that I had enough to be there and play on the top end, for fun. Al had me on the tree by seven thousandths, .005 to .012, and my plan was working, but his Corvette didn't pick up with the tailwind like they thought it would and all he had was a 9.932. I gave it 2 womps and a little brake and killed to a 9.902 @ 145 for the win. The car was actually on an 9.880, right where I put it, for a change.

In the fifth round I was paired up with another former Super Street racer, Earl Nichols, and his unique '82 Corvette roadster. The difference from Super Street was now he was chasing me down! After being .012 against Al, I set the box back up to where I had my .001 light against Stover earlier. This time I was .002, but I wasted that on Earl's -.001 red light. I used the free pass to run it out to a 9.896 @ 149.58 MPH.

This set up a semi-final match up with Chuck Rothermel, the same guy that defeated Ray in the second round. If Ray had continues turning on win lights, we would've met in the semi-finals.

I missed the tree a little bit, and I knew it when I let go that I left a bunch on the table, but our stage lights turned out together so I knew I wasn't in the hole. In fact, we both had .025 reaction times. My stop turned off and since I was in the left lane, I was watching Chuck come up in the mirror. When the car shifted into second gear, the Engine RPM dived down and the motor struggled. I looked at all the gauges and they were fine, and then realized that the stop was back on. I started to reach for the override button, but by then, the 1.41 seconds had passed and I was back on my way. Chuck had blown by, and wasn't going to give it back and he took the easy 10.18 to 10.25 win.

So my first official outing as a Super Gas racer netted be a whole pile of points and a semi-final finish. Now if we could combine Ray's national points with my divisional points, we'd be doing pretty good right now!

The next race for us will be in Englishtown, NJ, June 16-19, at our second NHRA National event of the year. We plan on this being an off weekend and finding that gremlin in the '67 Camaro and maybe do a little testing the following weekend.

On an unrelated note, I've decided to sell the dragster I bought a few years ago from Chick Ross. I've hardly had the time to run it, so I'd rather see someone else have fun with it. There's more info on the car at

In other news, Brian's band, the Roughed Up Folk, are coming east to play six shows in late June. Their EP is being pressed now and will be available on that trip, so check out their site - for details on the shows.

Thanks for reading and we'll update you with some big news form Englishtown...