Sudden Impact Racing Update: 07/18/2004

We unloaded the cars into the shop on Tuesday after getting home from Lebanon Valley for some much needed servicing.

That Thursday I flew out to Los Angeles to go see my brother (and "car owner") Brian, and take the weekend off. I was originally planning to go to Epping with the '67 to run Hot Rod on Sunday, but I couldn't miss The Roughed Up Folk's first show.

Speaking of the show, which was at The Dragonfly on Santa Monica Blvd on Saturday night, July 10th, it was AMAZING. Brian Sawyer (lead guitar), Larry Nichols (vocals and rhythm guitar), and Ken Benard (drums) played like old pros, performing their 7-song set to the astonished crowd. I was very proud of how great the songs were, how well they sounded, and the reception that they got. I really can see big things happening for them in the future. I'll have their website up and running pretty soon, and you'll be able to check it out at In the meantime if you want to see some photos from their show you can go to

It was great to see Brian, Larry, and everyone out in Cali, but I had to fly home Tuesday night on the Redeye back to Boston. After having an airport shuttle drop me off at the shop, just before 8 on Wednesday morning, I worked a few hours, then went home and loaded my stuff into the motorhome, crawled into the back bed, and woke up just south of Danbury, CT at about 5PM. I just had to make up for not sleeping in the 36 hours prior. Ah, the rock star life.

Since Delmar, DE is a 9-10 hour drive, we split the trip up in Jersey and since I was pretty fresh at that point, I took the night shift. We arrived at the track a little after Midnight and were the only ones there.

They let us go in and drop the trailer at about 2:00 or so on Thursday, but we had to come back outside to wait in line to pay on Friday morning. The Kennys and LePages arrived within a few hours and we all hopped in Al's motorhome and drove over to the new Outback just over the state line in MD (about 5 miles) and had dinner.

Because of the number of rigs that arrived overnight, they Opened the gates at around 8:30 Friday morning, instead of the scheduled 10AM. We got in, got everything unloaded, and I went back to bed, since we weren't starting until 3PM.

My first TT was at about 3:20 and I was .005 on the tree and 10.890 at 146.50 MPH on the 10.90 index. Not too bad for out of the box. Super Gas ran last in the rotation this race, and we weren't too far off with Dad's car, running 9.923 @ 168.53 on the 9.90 index.

My second run was pretty close to the first run, going -.004 on the tree and 10.898 @ 146.46. Dad's car picked up the 60' it was missing on the first run, and was -.005 on the tree and 9.869 at 168.76.

As part of Delmar's "show" they had something called a Bad 8, which was basically a bracket race for the quickest 8 door cars/roadsters and the quickest 8 dragsters. We thought about entering Dad's car, which probably would've qualified #1 or #2, but decided against it because we weren't quite sure what was going to happen on a flat out run with it. Instead, I entered the '67 Camaro, mostly because I wanted to see what it would run flat out.

They gave us two qualifying runs, and I ran 9.129 @ 149.72 on the first shot. On the second one, I left the car alone and ran 9.123 @ 149.55. The sixty foot times on the two runs were 1.333 and 1.331, certainly not stellar, but consistent nonetheless.

I missed qualifying for the Bad 8 by .02, the bump being a 9.10. If I'd known it was going to be that close, I would've taken out the second battery between runs, chipped the car up, raised the shift RPM, or something. Oh well.

They had a consolation bracket race for us non-qualifiers. I had to run local racer Toya Peek and her '69 Camaro in the first round. I dialed in at 9.12 and she had dialed 9.18. After drilling her on the tree, .004 to .026 I figured I had WAY too much room on the top end and really needed to tighten the finish line up to a couple of thousandths. Unfortunately, I misjudged the stripe by about an inch (at 149 MPH) and gave it back to her by .0003, three ten-thousandths of a second. Of course the car was going to run another 9.12, with a 1.333 60', but the car developed a short circuit somewhere between the steering wheel and the seat.

I had a blast running that car flat out. When it left, it picked the front wheels up about 6-8" and carried then out about 30-40 feet. Some other people with dragsters who were running in the open wheel division were running about .25 off their best ET's (because it was so hot and humid out), so I know that once the air gets good, the car could probably dip into the 8.80's at over 152 MPH.

Since there was rain forecasted for Sunday, they basically condensed it into a 2-day race, completing everything on Saturday. This meant an earlier start time (10AM) on Saturday, instead of the 12PM scheduled time, so we went to bed relatively early on Friday night (1:30 AM).

I woke up at 9:30 Saturday morning to the announcer calling Super Street to the lanes, so we hurried up and got the car unloaded and warmed up and ready to run. On my first run (at 10:11 AM) it was 90.6 degrees with 42 percent humidity and a barometer of 29.80. The adjusted altitude was about 1665 feet. A little headwind had kicked up also, the car lost some 60' and I ran 10.940 @ 145.53.

Since I was slow (and down on MPH), I sped dad's car up a little more than I should've to try and compensate. The resulting 9.843 @ 168.95 told me that the cars didn't want to play nice with one another and that I should quit trying to dial one off the other.

They gave us two time trials and I used the second TT to practice finish line racing after my mistake on Friday night (by the way, that's the first time I've accidentally given up the stripe since I think 1998). I set the car up a little on the fast side to give me enough to get there and womped it out to .010 stripe and ran 10.924 at 137.93 MPH. Perfect.

On Dad's last TT, the car lost what it should've the first time and ran 9.926 @ 167.94.

First round I drew a local Delmar racer. I set up pretty honest because the car was pretty much doing what I told it to. Before I rolled into the water, I was listening to the few pairs before me and had heard a bunch of double breakouts, which was another reason that I set the car up to go 10.903. I had him on the tree .014 to .028 and knew it, too. On the other end I tried to cut it to .002 or .003, and ended up taking the stripe by .0018, running 10.943 @ 139.70 to his 10.930 @ 125.71 for the win. Running the numbers the car looked like it was on a 10.915.

Dad also drew a local racer in the first round. I set his car up pretty safe, since it seemed that we'd been jumping back and forth around 9.90 all weekend and didn't want him to be under. Once the car dropped .020 in 60' I didn't have to worry about that, but Ray made up for it with an .019 reaction time advantage. On the top end, Ray ran a 9.945 @ 166.35 (lifting just before the stripe) to the other guy's 9.952 @ 140 MPH for the win.

For second round I was paired up with the Chevelle of Jim Hoffman. His car runs about the same speed as mine, so I figured it would be a good race. What I didn't expect was for him to be holding about half a second and just wheel race me the whole way down. After leaving the line second with an .006 reaction time to his .005, I was kind of hoping to push him under since I dialed the car on a hard .90. That plan seemed to be working until he front dumped me harder than I've ever hit the brakes in my life. I lifted off the gas when he did it, but didn't get on the brake until I was on the stripe and broke out with a 10.896 @ 144.99 to his 10.927 @ 139.

Well, at least I finally got out of first round at the Delmar Divisional race. It took me three tries to do it, but hey, maybe in like 6 more years I might have a chance at winning this one.

At 8:35 PM, it was time for Dad's second round and he was paired up with another local racer. This time, Ray got left on by .015, but had enough car to get there, running 9.931 @ 166.42 to the other racers 9.965 @ 134. The car was probably only on a 9.929, still slow, but closer.

In the third round, Ray had to race the '92 Camaro of Bruce Combs. Ray had a pretty good light with an .012, but Combs was a little better with an .009. I sped dad's car up .02 from the prior round to try and get him on a high 9.90. The 60' repeated, but the car just made time at every incremental. It was .013 faster than the prior run at the 330' mark but by the time it got to the 1000' mark, it was .047 faster, also running the fastest 1/8th mile speed of the weekend.

Doing some quick math, .047 faster than a 9.929 is 9.882, and the car picked up another hundredth in the last 320 feet, running 9.872 @ 168.76 to Combs' 9.888 @ 148.14 for the double breakout loss. Ray did his job on the tree and by getting to the stripe first by .013, but we just fell victim to some funny air that the weather gauges just weren't picking up. Looking back at the round later, almost every pair was a double breakout. Oh isn't hindsight nice.

We loaded everything up quickly because of the threat of rain in the area that looked like could happen at any moment. After loading everything up we watched the rest of the race, then had a cookout with the Dorrs, Kennys, and LePages as a sort of informal protest. The guy that owns the track, Charlie, made an announcement near the end of the race that he wanted everyone off the property that night because of the rain coming. Since we were originally planning on staying there until at least some point on Sunday, we didn't just feel like leaving.

So we had the cookout, and when we were done just moved the rigs onto either gravel or the paved roads so that they wouldn't get stuck. We came in at about 1:00AM and went to bed for the night. Just as we figured, Charlie was bluffing, no one bothered us that night, and the gate was open in the morning. So no harm no foul.

We'll most likely take next weekend off, I need to service the dragster and catch up on some work anyway, and the following weekend it's off to scenic Numidia, PA for the fourth Division One race of the season. There's a test and tune there on Thursday that we'll most likely participate in, just to get some data and make sure everything is ok, especially after running at Delmar and Lebanon, the two tracks that seem to be the most inconsistent on the schedule.