Sudden Impact Racing Update: 09/05/2005

After racing pretty much every weekend in July, the Sudden Impact Team had a relatively easy August, only making three trips out of the driveway.

We started out with a trip to Maple Grove Raceway on August 4th-7th for the second NHRA Lucas Oil Race of the year at this track. At the beginning of the season, this race was scheduled for at Numidia, PA but problems forced them to move the race.

If you recall, last year Ray won the Numidia Race in Super Gas and Mike was Runner-up in Super Street. So for us, having the race moved was a little disappointing, since we really enjoy the trip to Numidia every year. Hopefully the race will come back at some point in the near future.

There was a test session on Thursday, and only Ray participated, me choosing to sit it out, due to the not-so-comfortable 100-degree heat and the fact that is was supposed to cool down as the weekend went on.

With the newer motor in Ray's car being a little down on power, we warmed it up and leaked it down with three different leak down gauges. Thanks to Arthur Gallant and Al Kenny for the use of their gauges for comparison to ours.

It turns out that the motor's leaking at about 20%, most likely due to the new block it got after blowing up at Atco in the spring. So this is the reason for the car being down a little power. We'll fix it eventually.

On Ray's two runs, he was 9.897 and 9.906 on Thursday, only at 164.9 MPH.

We got two time runs on Friday, our first run coming around noontime. Ray was 9.928 on his first run, and then, with me setting it up to lose 60' on the second run, it went 9.889, the 60' repeating to the thousandth.

My two runs were 9.894 and then a speedy 9.850 both at 158 MPH. The car actually spun a little on the first run, but with no reference, I expected to lose a little 60' on the second run, and when it picked up in 60, my 9.89 setup became a 9.85 in a hurry.

We got one time run Saturday around 5:30 PM. Ray was slow again at 9.920 @ 165 MPH (the weather got better) when I guessed wrong on the expected 60' time again and my car did what it should, going .008 on the tree and 9.908 @ 159.04.

The Alcohol cars ran their complete eliminations on Saturday night and Arthur Gallant picked up his first win of the season. Congrats Arthur!

After a morning rain delay, first round was shortly after 1:00 PM on Sunday. I drew our transmission and converter builder, Ed Alessi Sr. of Select Performance and his 1963 Pontiac Catalina. Ed was red, and it gave me a checkout run on which I was .014 and 9.861. Ray got his lucky round in the first stanza, against Barbara Seeman. Ray went 9.925 with his foot on the floor, getting the win by .001 in a race that could've gone either way.

Second round I had to race Rich Schiess and his 1927 T Ford Roadster. He had me by .003 on the tree, .021 to .024, but on the top end I couldn't catch him, so I dumped and thankfully he was under with a 9.894. I was on a 9.91. Ray was paired up with Frank Maiolo, who had beaten me in Delmar. Ray had a little more than an .020 advantage on the tree and it was enough to survive a double breakout on the top end, 9.89 to 9.88.

Third round I was paired up with Jeff Szilagyi, who Ray had beat in the finals of the Englishtown national event this year. Would the outcome be the same for me? Nope. Despite being .009 to Jeff's .020, I thought that I was fast so I gave him the stripe by .004. I wasn't fast. His 9.903 beat my 9.918 by .004 to end my day. Nice job Mike.

Ray, on the other hand, matched up with the Beretta of John Stover, last year's number nine finisher in the Division One points standings. John had the advantage on the tree, but on the top end, Ray's car was on the number, running 9.903 to John's breakout 9.896.

Fourth round Ray was paired up with the Chevy-powered Datsun of Duane Fisher. Duane flinched and came up -.055 red, and on the freebie Ray ran it out to a perfect 9.900, for our second 9.90 in a row.

In the fifth stanza, Ray took on the '95 Camaro of Hank Smith. Ray was .004 better on the tree and on the top end of the track his 9.908 was enough to push Hank under to a 9.890. That's three 9.90's in a row, for those keeping score at home.

This gave Ray a semi-final bye into the final round. We had the option of just staging, taking the tree and backing up, but we wanted to keep everything consistent, in terms of transmission and converter temperatures and use it as a checkout run. Going .019 on the tree and second perfect 9.900, I'd say it was a pretty good checkout run. That would be four; well you know the rest.

That setup the final between Ray and the '63 Corvette roadster of Tom Stalba. Tom finished 2nd in the country last year and first in the division. Ray finished 8th in the country last year and second in the division. This is a battle that's becoming common. Knowing how Tommy races, I set dad's car up with a few thousandths extra cushion for the final, in case it picked up in 60'. When the left the line they were identical, both having .032 lights. Ray's car picked up in 60' from the prior run, .005 in fact. On the top end, the scoreboard in Ray's lane lit up 9.900 to Tom's 9.904, giving Ray his first divisional win of the season and fourth of his career.

We managed to run five 9.90's in a row and three of them were perfect 9.900's. The car just plain repeated on Sunday, and in fact did it all weekend. From the time we unloaded these were the 60' times: 1.592, 1.608, 1.601, 1.601, 1.606, 1.599, 1.600, 1.606, 1.595, 1.599, 1.605, 1.604 and 1.599. That's a variance of .016 over thirteen runs and a variance of .011 in eliminations. It's easy to dial that car when it repeats like that for you. The track crew at Maple Grove did a great job keeping up with the starting line on Sunday, and the numbers show it.

For all my worrying about the motor in the car, how it was down on power, and questioning whether or not it was going to be consistent, it definitely proved me wrong at Maple Grove.

After the final, we did the contingency check, where we fill out the contingency form and tech makes sure we have the appropriate decals on the car down at the scales and headed back to the trailer. We were just getting ready to put Dad's car away when Carol Kenny came over and asked us if we were going up for our pictures. I think we were so excited with the way the car ran that we just plain forgot! We went down and had out picture taken and picked up the "Wally". Al, Carol, and Jason Kenny joined us in the picture.

After we got everything all loaded up, it was too late to drive home so we just pulled outside the gate for the night and went over to Maple Grove Park across the street to have dinner with the Kennys and Lepages. We were also celebrating a runner-up for Al Kenny in Super Comp, who lost to Doug Doll in the final. Congrats Al!

By winning Maple Grove, Ray moved all the way up to 7th in the country and now he's leading the division. Going into Cecil County, he also has a 3.5 round lead in the Jeg's All Stars points. By going to the 3rd round, I moved back into the Top 10 in the Division, up to 8th.

The following weekend we decided to go up to Epping, NH for "Jet Cars Under the Stars" on Saturday and a bracket race on Sunday.

Dad ran his car flat out, trying to qualify for Top Sportsman, but mainly just to see what this motor would run flat out. The RPM switch to activate the shifter wasn't working, so we tried shifting it on time, aiming to shit at 7200. Shifting at 2 seconds was actually 6700 RPM and the car only ran 8.143 @ 170 MPH. We chipped the launch up for the final qualifying run and moved the shift out to 2.25 seconds and that helped, picking up .01 in 60' and running 8.077 @ 171 MPH. The air didn't help either, being over 3100 feet at about 93 degrees.

The bump for the 8-car field ended up being in the 7.70's, so even with the good motor in the car we most likely wouldn't have qualified. The other thing fighting us was that the suspension is set up for Pro-Tree and throttle stop racing. We were giving up a good .06 or so in the first 60' and that's where you make a lot of your ET. Maybe we'll get a chance to try it again later in the year.

I ran Hot Rod (10.90) again and my car showed be once again why you shouldn't run 5 seconds of throttle stop, only having a 10.95 in the first round for an early exit.

The following day, Ray just left his car in the trailer and I ran Top ET only. I made a stop RPM change that morning, dropping it 150 RPM or so trying to get a little more MPH out of the car. I set up for a 9.82 on the only time run because of the stop RPM change, thinking that would get me close to a 9.90 and ran 9.897. I ended up losing third round when the car picked up .03 in 60'. I killed 15 MPH and still ran 9.880. I would've cut it closer, but I knew my light was good and never thought that I'd be on a 9.847.

We took the following weekend off and then headed down to Cecil County, MD for the fifth divisional race of the season. There was a test session on Thursday that we both participated in. I made two daytime runs, going .005 on the tree and 9.830 at 160.82 on the first and .009, 9.906 @ 160.73 on the second run. Off the trailer, Ray ran a 9.904 @ 166.91, but we accidentally left the lower launch chip in the car from running it flat out, which slowed the car down. On the second run, with the proper launch RPM it picked up .03 in 60' and ran 9.889 @ 166.50.

The third run was a night run, just to see how much the cars were affected in the nighttime conditions. Ray and I had a little late-night match race under the lights. I got one of the two I owed him back, going .014 9.897 @ 160.59 taking .005 stripe against Ray's .034 9.882 @ 167.07. We were both a little fast, some good information to have.

We received 2 time trials on Friday, the second to qualify for the Top 8, a race within a race under the lights Friday night. The air fell off a little bit and I was .019, 9.931 @ 159.91 on my first run. Ray was .008, 9.914 @ 166.56 on his first run, a decent pass.

On the qualifier for the Top 8, Ray and I ran against one another once again. He had me by .001 on the tree, .018 to .019 and on the top end I was too fast and he was too slow. My 9.881 definitely didn't qualify me and his 9.921 missed the 9.917 bump by .004.

So Friday night I assisted the Kenny family since Jason did a great job and qualified both his Corvette and his Dan Page Dragster in Super Gas and Super Comp respectively. He lost in the semi-finals of Super Comp and in reality won the Super Gas final, but a timing system problem required a re-run, which never happened because a rain shower came in and cancelled the rest of the night. Good job Jason! We all know you won that one.

We got our final time run around 5:30 on Saturday afternoon. I was .019 and 9.921 @ 159.82 while Ray was ready for race day, running 9.909 @ 166.17.

Unfortunately for us, race day never came because it starting raining just before they ran the first pairs of Super Gas, while we were in the staging lanes. We brought everything back, dried it out and loaded it up for the night.

Super Gas was first out on Sunday after heavy downpours overnight and Sunday morning. We actually weren't ready to run until about 3:30 PM or so. Ray and I hung back towards the end so that we shouldn't have any issues getting down the track.

After watching the first couple of pairs failing to negotiate the track under power, Jim Fordyce in the third or fourth pair blew the tires off the car when the stop turned off and then stopped on the track. He got out and brought to their attention that the rubber was ripping right off the track because of the water under it and that it just plain wasn't safe to run on. Thanks Jim, for sticking up for us little guys.

They started to scrape the track, but soon realized that the water in the ground was just bubbling up through the concrete and that no amount of scraping was going to help that.

So they called the race and rescheduled it for September 24th with everyone getting one time trial and then going into eliminations. Super Gas was the only class not to get first round. The Alcohol cars are already done, with Arthur Gallant winning Top Alcohol Dragster, and Comp already has had a few rounds so the day should go quickly.

By the race being called, that clinched the Jeg's All Star championship in Super Gas for Ray. What that means is that the weekend after us going back to Cecil County, we'll head on out to Joliet, IL for an added bonus.

Here's the description from the NHRA website about the Jeg's All Stars:

"The race-within-a-race program for NHRA's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitors is the Jeg's Allstars. Contested at the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals in Chicago in the fall, the event is reserved for 64 of NHRA's top Sportsman racers. The best racers in eight categories from each of NHRA's seven geographic regions compete for team and individual honors and a share of the $100,000 purse. Racers accumulate points for the special event at NHRA Lucas Oil divisional races prior to the event.

The winning team will split $20,000. The winners in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car will each earn $7,000; in Comp and Super Stock, $6,000; and in Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street, $4,500 each. Runners-up in all categories will receive $2,000.

Additionally, Jeg's High Performance offers a "double-up" bonus to any Allstars victor who also wins in his or her category at the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals."

We started earning points at last year's Atco Divisional in October, so we've worked for almost a year to get into the special race. The Top Super Gas drivers from each division over the last year will be there to battle it out, including several that are in the Top 10 in National points this year, so it'll be a tough race. We'll do our best to represent Division 1 out there. Our other teammates for the race are Arthur Gallant in TAD, Frank Manzo in TAFC, Frank Aragona Jr. in Comp, Lincoln Morehead in SS, Don Pires Jr. in Stock, Doug Doll in Super Comp and Eric Reiff in Super Street. We also have a blocker, Shane Carr, who won Stock last year. Blockers don't earn points, but they can stop drivers in other divisions from doing so.

In other news, the dragster is still for sale. You can check out: for more info and pictures.

So that wraps up this edition of the Sudden Impact Racing update. As I was writing this, I was listening to the audiocast of the U.S. Nationals and wanted to pass along our congratulations to Chick Ross and Shane Carr, both of whom made it all the way to the semi-finals!

This was our last off weekend for the rest of the year, with us going to Englishtown, NJ for a divisional, then right on to Maple Grove for a National event, then Cecil County, then Chicago, then Atco for a Divisional, then out to Las Vegas for a National and Divisional and finally onto Pomona, California to wrap out the season. Brian is planning on coming east for a few races and to the west coast races, so it'll be nice having him at the track.

Thanks for reading and we'll update you from the road.