Sudden Impact Racing Update: 06/28/2005

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

That's how I ended the last update, and boy did the big news get bigger.

The news that I was talking about was that I've purchased a new car. The weekend after the Maple Grove points meet Ray and I drove out to Hamilton, Ohio to meet up with Edmond Richardson to pick up his 2003 Cavalier roadster.

The car was built by Worthy Race cars and made its debut at the Bristol National Event in 2003, a race that I won and Edmond won in Super Comp with his dragster. The paint on the car is wild, to say the least, but it looks great. Joe Graska in Sarasota, Florida did the paint for Edmond. It looked so good that I sent my helmet down to be painted to match.

We left on a Thursday night after work, made it out to Tri-State Dragway in Hamilton, OH, which is near Cincinatti, around 3:00 on Friday, picked the car up, left there around 6:00 and made it home around 2PM Saturday.

After Maple Grove, I'd basically taken apart the '67 Camaro, so all we had left to do was to lift the motor and tranny out, which is way easier with two people. We did that, moved things around, and unloaded the Cavalier into the shop.

We spent the next few days, transplanting the driveline from the '67 Camaro into the Cavalier. Now that car has the 532" Boucher motor in it and a Select Performance glide. The plan is that once I sell the dragster, to take the 509" Boucher motor out of that and put it into the '67 Camaro with a Turbo 400 behind it again.

Besides the mechanical stuff to do to the car, I also had to take all the stickers off the car, remove all the glue and then re-decal it with my appropriate contingency stickers.

Bruce Deveau was down doing some business for his Racer's Mind Program (http://www.theracersmind.com) so while he was here he did a little lettering, adding Sudden Impact VII to the rear wing spill plates (can you believe we're up to #7!), my name on the side of the car by the cage, and some thanks on the top of the rear wing. He also put the vinyl numbers he made onto the scoop. The car came out looking great and Bruce's touches really topped it off nicely. (Thanks Bruce!)

After some finishing touches on the car, we headed out to Lebanon Valley to go test the weekend before Englishtown. I made 4 runs Saturday, changing things every run and on Sunday entered the bracket race. Because of forecasted rain, we only got one time run, but I was .008 on the tree and 9.892 @ 158 on the time run. I left the box alone from the time trial for first round and hit the tree about .010 better, hanging the red light on the tree, going -.002 in the first round. Jim Knights got a couple of great pictures of the car including this one: http://siracing.com/photos/2005/0605/valley001.jpg

We came back and worked a few days then headed down to Englishtown, NJ on Tuesday night after work for the K&N Filters SuperNationals, our second NHRA National event of the year. We arrived late Wednesday and pulled in line right behind the Kennys and Dorrs. Before you knew it, there were 90 or so empty soldiers on the ground and it was getting near three in the morning.

We teched the cars in on Wednesday and got in two time runs on Thursday. I was .008 and .001 on the tree and 9.886 and 9.924 on the 9.90 index while Dad was .022, and .021 on the tree and 9.921 and 9.864. One thing that we learned was that the Cavalier reacts about .030 quicker than his Camaro.

First round came on Friday around 1:30PM. The Density Altitude had improved about 900 feet from the day before, and with the barometer going up also, that meant that the cars were making more power so we needed more stop time to slow them down. Ray drew PC Richard and Son's Pat Dehner and his Corvette. Ray shallow staged the car again and was .025 on the tree, making it three hits within .004. Pat was .020 on the tree, but on the big end Ray was able to survive a double breakout 9.875 to Pat's further under 9.865.

I drew the three time Division 1 Super Gas Champion and #2 man in the world points last year, Tom Stalba. I set up for a mid teen light and came up .017 to Tom's .026. After I heard that Ray went .87, I just left my car set up for where I had it, figuring it would give me an .87 also. It did, the car being on a 9.874 at the 1000' mark. Just before the finish line, with Stalba being next to me, I got on the brakes to kill what I had in my pocket and to let him go. He did a good job catching the dump, with me only feeding him .004 stripe, and I killed to a 9.907 to Tom's breakout 9.894.

The way the ladder system works in the Super class categories is that you qualify based on your ET first round off of the index, 9.90 for Super Gas. Then you are put on a ladder with the #1 qualifier racing the first car in the bottom half of the field. Cars that are under 9.90 are on the bottom of the ladder, after the last car that was over the index. In this case there were 38 cars that won the first round of eliminations, so #1 would race #20. I qualified 7th with my 9.907 and dad qualified 26th with his 9.875. Doing some quick math, I'm 7th from the top and he's 7th from the middle, so that set up a second round M. Sawyer vs. R. Sawyer match up.

We had all Friday night to think about it and pretty much all day Saturday, as we didn't run until 7:56 at night. Since I normally dial dad's car, I set the pager about up to send him what he should have in the timer to run 9.90 with a zero, and gave him a little sheet that said how much to add or take out of the timer to slow the car or speed it up, in .005 increments, that way I wouldn't know what he was set up on.

When the time came, I went in the left lane, and let Dad have the right. We waited until the end of the round, I suppose to build up more tension. When we launched, we were pretty close, both with good lights, Ray's .008 a little better than my .015. I decided to set up the Cavalier dead honest, 9.905 and just see how I was going to fare. On the way down, looking back at Ray it looked like he was going to get there first by about .010 or so, so I dumped. He also got on the brakes a little bit, and with my dump I only gave him the stripe by .002. I'm not used to the extra 45" overhang yet, after having driven cars that take the stripe with the front wheel for so long. Turns out that I was on a 9.881 and I killed to a 9.892. Good choice, wrong reason. Dad killed to a 9.897, and since his breakout, or amount he was under 9.90, was less than mine, the win light came on in his lane, in what was one of the best races of the round. My run, .015 and having enough to get there, would've won about 95% of the races that round, with the exception of the one I was in. Dave Milcarek got a great picture of that round, and you can see it here: http://siracing.com/photos/2005/2005001.jpg . Thanks Dave!

With that tough round out of the way, Ray had to come back around for the third round, where he faced Mike Lubniewski and his Chevy-powered Ford Thunderbird. Mike was a little late on the tree, and Ray was .011, and took another double breakout win, 9.899, under by .001, to 9.869, under by .031. Ray got to the stripe first by .023, killing about 8 MPH as well. That was the end of Saturday night, so he was around to hear the anthem play on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, around 2:00 Super Gas hit the track for fourth round. Ray had to race fellow Massachusetts resident Justin Lopes and his '67 Camaro. This race was for a bye run in the 5th round. This one was over real quick, as Justin was -.008 red. Ray had an excellent run, going .005 on the tree and 9.905 at 168.62 MPH, right where we had the car set up for. On his 5th round bye, about 45 minutes later, I left the car alone to see how much the air slowed it down and it ran 9.913 @ 168.70 with an .019 reaction time.

In round 6, the semi finals, Ray was matched up with Bruce Combs, from Maryland, a racer who Ray has had some good races with over the years. Ray was .011 on the tree to Bruce's .033, and that combined with the fact that Ray was on a 9.901, allowed him to get there and pedal to a 9.924 for the win.

That win meant Ray was going to his second National event final of the year, in just his second race. His opponent was multi-time National event winner, and last year's #4 man in Division 1 Super Gas, Jeff Szilagyi and his new-to-him 1963 Corvette roadster.

The air was getting better quickly, and I didn't want to leave Ray setup too fast on the other end, so I set up a little more conservatively than I normally do, aiming for a 9.908.

Fortunately for us, Jeff was a little light on the buttons, going -.011 red in the final, and Ray's .020 and 9.918 at 168.60 were the winning numbers for his first NHRA National event win!

The winner's circle celebration was great! The Kenny family, Shane Carr, Keith Gibbons, Steve George, Tom and TJ Boucher, and Regis and Carolyn Lepage hung around and helped us celebrate. It was really special to help dad fulfill one of his life-long goals of winning a NHRA National event, and it was even more special to do it on Father's day. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, called, and e-mailed their congratulations. It meant a lot to us!

After the ceremonies, we packed everything up and hit the road, since we had to be back at work on Monday.

As for National points implications, Ray's off to a great start. Last year he only had 142 points Nationally (5th round at Pomona (72), 2nd Round at Indy (40) and 1st round at Maple Grove (30). This year between Atlanta's runner-up and Englishtown's win he already has 189 points with one more race to add to that, since they take your best 3 of 6 Nationals. We will be going to 4 more National events this year to get the best score possible. If he can put together a decent divisional score (best 5 out of 8 races), he should be able to at least keep a single digit (top ten in the world) number on the car.

That's all for this update, we've been very busy lately at the shop and with web work so my updates have fallen a little behind. Hopefully soon I'll have time to recap what's gone on in July.