Sudden Impact Racing Update: 08/01/2005

July was a very busy month for the Sudden Impact Racing team. Between work and play, we were always doing something, and raced every weekend. I do see a weekend off coming up in August so at least we'll have a break between now and November.

We started out with a short trip out to Lebanon Valley for the second of the eight Lucas Oil Divisional races we'll attend this year. For this race I brought the Cavalier and the dragster, running both Super Gas and Super Comp, respectively.

I tested both cars on the Thursday test session in 90-degree heat with the Density altitude approaching 3500 feet. I was trying new things on both cars, with a new Select torque converter in the dragster and the rebuilt Garbinski carburetor on the Cavalier.

After making 3 runs in the dragster I was pretty happy with the consistency of the torque converter in it, given the fact that it'd been so long since I used the throttle stop on that car that we had to take it apart and free some things up so it actually worked.

The Garbinski carburetor was just plain awesome from the minute we bolted it on the 532" motor in the Cavalier. It idled great, had great throttle response, no hesitation at all, and no bobble whatsoever when it went onto the stop after launching. We played with the jets on it for a few runs, eventually dropping 2 sizes and that's all we needed to do to it. It ran the same speed as the Pro-Systems carburetor, if not a half a mile per hour more, also, which was a bonus. To top it all off, the last run of the day was a .011, 9.900.

Thursday night the typical Lebanon Valley monsoon came through while we were having dinner underneath the Kenny's awning. After the river through the pit area started rising, we called it a night, saving our footwear for drier times.

Super Comp got two time trials on Friday and Super Gas received one. I was .010, 9.891 in the Cavalier, .013, 8.876 and -.010 8.898 in the dragster, and dad was .009, 9.923 with his Camaro. The red light seemed a little quick, so I just kept enough delay in the box to cover it for the rest of the weekend.

We received one more time trial on Saturday, and with a huge air change, it was a good thing. I ran against Chuck Rothermel in the dragster time trial. He was -.007 red, I was .019 green, and he was getting the stripe by a little more than .030 so everything looked normal. Normal, that is, until I got the slip and saw his 8.78 to my 8.79, both of us being over a tenth quick. That was worth a few laughs.

I slowed down the Cavalier about .03 more than I thought and still went .005, 9.85. I slowed dad's car up also, but his decided not to play nice with the others and ran 9.92.

I had first round of Super Comp on Saturday afternoon and was supposed to run the 55 Chevy of the Lussier brothers, but their car broke in the water box and I had a single. I had the car set up on an 8.85 and for an .015 light. I was .014 on the tree and ran an 8.84 @ 164.50 MPH leaving me feeling pretty good about that car.

Late Saturday afternoon, I was informed that the Cavalier Roadster had won the Competition Photos "Best Engineered Car" for the race, a pretty nice honor considering there were 500 or so cars on the property. It came as a little bit of a surprise to me, given that it was a used car, but I guess the reasoning is that it's new to me. We got up early on Sunday morning for the photos, and were joined by family friend Ellen Brace.

Super Gas didn't have first round until first thing Sunday morning. I went up earlier to make sure I stayed away from Dad and drew Jay Lopes and his '67 Camaro, who I'd time trialed against a few times already that weekend. I had a little bit on the tree and wasn't going to get enough stripe to warrant running it through so I let him go for a 9.899 to 9.86 win. I hustled back and added some stop time to dad's car for his race with Tim Quintin. Tim was .018 on the tree and Dad's total package was .018 (.015, 9.903) to push Tim under the dial for the win.

Second round of Super Comp was up next. I was matched up with Chuck Rothermel, only fitting after that comical time trial. This one wasn't as comical (for me at least) as I was really ready on a very long tree and left too early by one-thousandth of a second to turn on the red light. I also had set the car up on a 8.89 and was on an 8.84 for no apparent reason, so the throttle stop RPM must've been up a little bit more than the day before. Oh well.

Looking at the Super Gas ladder, dad's 9.903 qualified him #1, so normally my 9.899 would be way away from the middle of the list, pretty close to the bottom. However, there were so many people under the dial in the first round that I qualified one below the middle setting up yet another M. Sawyer vs. R. Sawyer match up.

As if the pair of 9.89's on the scoreboards at Englishtown wasn't good enough, we had to go throw a pair of 9.90's on the boards at Lebanon Valley. The story was on the starting line, however, with Ray going .010 on the tree to my .027. Ray actually killed 2 MPH on the run, so it looked like it was on a 9.901 for an .011 package. I think I've found my Kryptonite and it lives on the lift above my Cavalier.

So after enduing a barrage of "Old man whipped up on you again" comments, I got back to the business at hand of dialing Dad's car. Oh and by the way, Ray and I were racing for a third round bye run. On that bye run, I wanted to see how much the track was slowing up, like it always does in the early afternoon at Lebanon Valley. To answer the question, .02 is how much it slowed up, running a 9.924.

Ray next had to face the beautiful new 1953 Studebaker of Tom Nicholson, a fellow former Super Street racer. Ray was on the tree again, going .015, and the car was on a 9.902, before he scrubbed some ET for a 9.927 to 9.909 win.

In the fifth round he was paired up with Todd Logan in a battle of 2002 Camaros. Todd was awarded "Best Appearing Crew" so he was up early that morning, also. Ray missed the tree for the first time all weekend, going .028 to Todd's .013. Thankfully the car bailed him out on this run, going 9.904 to push Todd under at 9.891.

In the semi-finals, Ray was matched up with the Live Wire '68 Camaro of George Smith. To everyone's surprise, especially Ray's, he left the red light on the tree, going -.007 red ending his consecutive rounds won streak at 12. Of course the car looked to be on another 9.90, but Ray lifted early to save parts.

There was a string of phantom red lights for Super Class cars in the right hand lane, and I think Ray got caught up in that. Nothing we can do about that, except go on to the next race. The good news, however is that Dad's car on race day was once again quite dialable, being on a 9.90 in 5 of the 6 rounds.

We stayed at Lebanon Valley Sunday night and had dinner with the Lepages, and drove back home on Monday morning, since it was a Holiday.

So what do you do with a car that won 12 straight rounds, been to two National event finals and a divisional semi and finished 8th in the world the year before? A sane person would leave it alone. Let's just say that us here at Sudden Impact Racing are not sane people. With the motor that expired at the Atco open earlier in the year now rebuilt by Boucher's Racing Engines, we wanted to put that in the car and give the motor with a season and a half on it a freshen up. We did a Saturday motor swap putting Grinch I back in the car and Grinch II on the floor of the shop for a much-deserved rest.

We headed up to Epping, NH the next day, to test dad's car and do a little bracket racing. It was a short day for us as Dad was late on the tree first round and I took a country mile of stripe to run a 9.897 on a 9.90 dial to earn the trip to the buyback window. That is until I found out that there are no more buybacks at Epping. Let's just say that it's been a while since we raced there regularly. However, unlike the past few years, the track was excellent. My three 60's were within .006 and the car was on a rail all the way down. The effort that Joe Lombardo and the crew up there have put into making it a track you can race on, rather than hope you get down, hasn't gone unnoticed. You'll probably see us up there more on off-weekends.

Now back to what we learned in our abbreviated test session. With the new motor in the car, Dad was now only 7 MPH faster than me, instead of the 9 MPH with the other motor. This motor was down 5" of vacuum on the finish line, also. The consistency results were a bit mixed, with us needing more runs to figure that out. One thing that was different, however, was that he needed about .005 more delay than me to cut the same reaction time. This is different than before when I needed about .010 more than him. This means that the new motor seems to have a little more power down low, but a little less upstairs.

The following weekend, July 15-17th we headed down to the experience that was the divisional at Delmar, Delaware. We parked in the field outside the track; not wanting to pay the $150 it would've cost us to bring the rig inside for the night. We weren't alone as lots of other people we out in the field. There's something to be said for the greed of this track operator.

Bill, Debbie, and Brett Krug came and got us and brought us out to the Outback, just over the state line in Maryland, for dinner since they had a car with them. Thanks guys!

We got in right when the gates opened on Friday. Due to the great schedule at Delmar of not starting until early the afternoon and a slight rain delay, we didn't get our first time run until 6:00 PM. I was -.007 9.892 and Dad was .006 9.921. We got our second run just after 10:00 PM at night, with 98% humidity and the temperature 1 degree above the dew point. Why did we run so late at a race with hardly any cars and no alcohol cars? Well, in addition to a few delays, Delmar books in a "show" with a handful of supercharged doorcars running high 7's and has a Bad 8 race, for the fastest 8 dragsters and 8 doorcars.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for track operators booking in cars and putting on a show at a Divisional to try and make some money, as long as it doesn't affect those of us who took time off of work and paid the $155 entry fee and are there racing for points. They took breaks between classes to run the qualifying for the Bad 8 races, pushing Super Gas further back in the night, then after they finally called us, as we were on the way up to the staging lanes, they decided that it was a good time to light off the fireworks show, so we had to wait for that to be done. Then, they ran Super Stock in front of us, another class that got pushed back by the "show." While we were in the lanes they called first round of the Bad 8 race, presumably to be run after us. As Super Stock was finishing up, the 20 or so of us that came up for the session got in our cars. And waited. And waited. They then told the Bad 8 racers to get in their cars and ran first round of them while we were there waiting. There was a 5 minute span between the last Super Stock car and the first pair of the Bad 8 in which we could've run just about the entire session of Super Gas. This was not an NHRA decision, but yet another stellar decision making example by the track owner to add some fuel to the fire. Eventually we got to make our run, one that was only useful for a night hit on the tree, in case we ended up racing at night on Sunday, which normally happens there with their late starts.

We got our one time trial on Saturday, again after a late start and a slight rain delay, at 5:30 PM. I was .011, 9.910 and dad was .011 9.910. Even for two cars/racers that have put the same numbers on the scoreboard both times they've run one another this year, this was weird. We're starting to think that the cars might have to stop sleeping together in the trailer.

More good news on the track front, too. Instead of starting eliminations at noon on Sunday they're going to push it all the way up to 11:00 AM. Gee, thanks. That's kind of like your boss telling you that you're getting a little bonus in your check this week, only to open it and see the extra five cents per hour. Woah.

Saturday night we had dinner with Rich and Karin Dorr, the Krugs, and Don and Cheryl Milson. That is until the mosquitoes decided we were more appetizing than the food and we called it a night.

We woke up Sunday to some weather conditions that made you want to just turn around and go right back into the air-conditioned motorhome. I had 97 degrees and 58% humidity first round and a Vapor Pressure of about .940. At one point in the early afternoon the air was so saturated that the Vapor Pressure reading was 1.018. Funny, I didn't think that reading could go above .999 and not have it be raining. Looks like I learned something.

Even with the pounding of waters, POWERades, and anything else cool and wet it was tough to keep hydrated. That might be partially responsible for the .024 light I had first round against Pat Dehner and his PC Richard and Sons Corvette. I did luck out on the top end, with him running 9.894 to my 9.899. I had set the car up 9.897, so I was pretty happy with that. Ray ran the 1980 Camaro of Dale Koncen. Koncen had a great .003 light, but on the top end, Dad was able to push him further under the dial in a 9.878 to 9.842 double breakout win.

Second round I raced Frank Maiolo and made a big mistake. I trusted my car. I know, I've been around long enough to know better, but for some reason I decided that the car had been so dialable since I put this carburetor on it back at Lebanon Valley and I'd set up an honest 9.902. Well, the car dropped .01 in 60' and was only going to run about 9.912. Frank had me on the tree by .005 and had enough to get there, and got under me with a 9.902 for the win. Lesson learned.

Ray raced against Alphonse DiMino and his '63 Corvette roadster. Ray had a little over a tenth going by the tree and parlayed that into a 9.99 to 9.93 win by a safe margin. However it looked like Ray was only going to have a 9.925. Knowing that he was set up 9.905, he missed by .02, where I missed by .01.

Now remember that I was telling you that at Epping Ray needed to run about .005 more delay than me? I tell you that to tell you this. At Delmar, I needed about .010 more than Ray to cut the same light. I thought that maybe Ray was just missing the tree all weekend. That was until third round. Ray left the red light on, with a -.009 to his opponent's .053 9.870. Now we know to pay more attention to the delay settings in my car, as compared to his.

We got everything loaded up and got out of Delmar as soon as the race finished up an hour or so later just in time to hit several downpours on the 9 hour drive home.

There are rumors that this might've been the last race at Delmar. I know it wouldn't break our hearts not to have to go back there. And this is coming from people who have won a Divisional and National Open there. I think that they Kennys made the right call by deciding to skip this race and go to the IHRA National in Milan, Michigan. Besides, Al was runner-up in Super Rod (congrats Al!) so that made the decision look all the better in hindsight. Too bad this race counted for Jeg's All Stars points, or we probably would've gone elsewhere as well.

The following weekend we went back to Epping again, to do a little more testing and get some more seat time in the Cavalier. Ray didn't run on Saturday, electing to service his car and make a cam timing change to try and get some more speed out of the new motor, while I ran in the Hot Rod series (10.90) race.

Let me tell you, slowing the Cavalier down to 10.90 is kind of funny. I got kind of close on the last time trial, running 10.82 @ 153 MPH with about 5 seconds of throttle stop in the car. Not only was the car on the stop for an eternity, but there was also a discernable pause from when I let go of the transbrake button until when the car left, since I was running .145 delay on the .500 Pro Tree. I'd actually let go, lean forward, then the car would launch. The first hit I felt like I had a one-second (horrible) light. I got a good chuckle out of the .011 on the scoreboard after feeling that late. I ended up losing second round when one of the wires going to my transbrake button on my steering wheel decided to pull out of a connector, leaving me shooting through the beams when I matted the throttle. Oh well.

The next day I ran both Hot Rod and ET, running 9.90 for ET and 10.90 for Hot Rod. Third round I was on the wrong end of a double breakout in Hot Rod, going .010 on the tree and taking .009 on the stripe, only to watch Matt Viscione's win light come on. I also lost 3rd round of ET also, when I dropped some 60' and could only muster a 9.92.

Ray raced both ET and Quick Rod (8.90). Ray lost third round of ET with a -.003 red light and to Nick Willard in the second round of Quick Rod when the car lost some 60' and only ran a 8.92. The good news, however, was that it ran 8.907, 8.907, and 8.898 first round, showing me some promise in the dial department for the motor.

So the good news was that the motor seemed to repeat better at this cam timing, however it wasn't any faster, still being down 2 MPH from it's "twin".

That rounded out the month of July for Sudden Impact Racing. Coming next update, results from the second Maple Grove divisional, some more fun at Epping, and a trip down to Cecil County, Maryland.

By the way, the dragster is still for sale. You can check out: for more info and pictures.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I'll get caught up after Cecil!