Sudden Impact Racing Update: 09/07/2004

When we last updated you we were just leaving on our four-weekend mini tour.

We arrived at Cecil County, MD late Wednesday afternoon like we do every year, but for a change the gates were closed so we ended up parking in a tiny little field next to the gate for the night.

They opened up the gates at 7:45 the following morning (Thursday), fifteen minutes early thanks to some racers deciding not to pull into the field and stay out in the road and block traffic instead.

Since the Thursday test session didn't start until 3:00 PM, we had a bunch of time to kill and spent it basically, doing nothing since we had serviced everything and done all the necessary work we needed to do at home before we left. The plan for the test session was for Dad to make a few laps and get some data for the weekend since he had 2 big races. I was going to make a couple of Super Street runs, then put it in Super Gas mode to get some data for the NHRA Keystone Nationals, which is coming up in 2 weeks at Maple Grove, PA.

I made a 10.90 run (actually 10.83) and the track was in pretty poor shape. The car started spinning when the stop turned off and really didn't stop until about 1000'. Other people we having similar problems, so instead of sending dad's car out right away, I just swapped the car into 9.90 mode to get a baseline of where the stop needed to be.

For the first couple of runs I experimented with shifting the car on time and where to turn the front stop number on at. The closest I got was 10.19 @ 146 with only 1.25 seconds in the stop, so I decided to scrap that way, go back to shifting on RPM. The first run was a 9.79 and the second run I was .008 on the tree and 9.908 @ 149 MPH - not too bad for a 3050 lb Super Street car. I had also played with launch RPM and front end travel on the runs to work with reaction time.

Between my testing, we made three runs with Dad's car, ending the night with an .018 9.907 @ 168 MPH pass.

We got a pair of time runs on Friday, Dad running 9.893 and 9.914, getting us pretty close for the completion of the Englishtown race later that night. I went 10.928 and 10.873, surrounding the numbers on a slightly larger scale.

Dad had to run John Cira in the third round of the E-Town race. Cira had been running good all year and was in the Top 10 in points as well. Cira put up an .012 package against us and Dad went 9.895 trying to get there to end our hopes in that race and stop Ray at 382 points, needing to win third round to add any points to the total for the rest of the season.

Saturday brought up a time trial and then first round. I was .013 10.891 @ 146.86 on my time trial, and we missed on Dad's car and were 9.94 @166. First round I drew Mark Bordone and his Barracuda. The car really turned the tire when I left go of the button, knocking the light to a worst-of-the-weekend .023 and only giving me about a 10.94 on the top end. Luckily for me, Mark was way under at 10.83.

Dad was fortunate as well, only having a 9.94 in his car as well, but Mac Starks was under the 9.90 index with a 9.88.

Second round I was paired with John Smith, who I ran in the semi-finals at Numidia a few weeks back. John was really late getting up to the staging lanes, in fact as I was pulling into the water, I saw him drive by on the return road, so I backed up and waited for him to get ready.

Once we ran I used an .008 light an 10.907 after a whole pile of womping to take the win. Dad's run was more interesting.

Dad was paired with John Napolitano and the P.C. Richards Roadster. We dialed dad's car pretty honest because of the speed difference, and again missed with a 9.94 and a .027 light. John was able to get under that package, but after the finish line lost control of his roadster, hitting the right wall and rolling down the wall several times before coming to a stop on the track.

Fortunately, John was all right, with the exception of being sore and a little groggy, and missed Dad in all of the excitement. Dad didn't see anything that had happened until he was on the return road.

After about an hour or so of downtime, racing resumed. With Ray's loss, that locked up the Super Gas All Stars for Ken Bowers. Congrats to him on that and good luck in Chicago.

For my third round match up, I had current Super Street points leader Carl Juliano. I was .009 to Carl's .025 on the tree, but he just checked out. He was so far out, that I actually looked down at the throttle stop timer to make sure that I put the right numbers in it on the way down. I waited until he was just about on the stripe to get on the brakes to let him go. The reason he was so far out was that Carl ran 10.75 to my 10.917 at just 137 MPH.

By Steve Feller winning third round, it locked up the Super Street All-Stars for him. And guess who I had to race a round too late? Of course, it was Steve. I left the box alone and set the car up a little dirty, and was .003 on the tree and on a 10.885. Steve was .014 and getting the stripe, so I fed him a few thousandths more on the other end and won the 10.88 to 10.84 double breakout race. Steve's a good racer and I'm sure he'll do well in Chicago representing D1 in the All Stars. Good luck out there!

In the fifth round I raced Frank Renda and his '69 Nova. After my .003 light, I put .002 more into the box so I wasn't living so close to the edge. For the only time all race, I got left on. Frank was .005 and I was .011. The good news, however, was that I was on a 10.902, which was able to push Frank under to a 10.880. I dumped him pretty good to the tune of a 10.936 @ 135.

This gave me a sixth round bye run into the final. You know, in all the divisionals I've been to the final in (5), this was the first one where I actually had a bye into the final. I set the car up honest, and used it as a check out run. I was .013 on the tree and 10.900 @ 146.48.

For the final, I sped the car up about .005, just to make sure I had enough to get there. When I let go of the button and looked over, it looked like I had about .03 on Ray Balian, who had bested me in the Numidia final when I didn't have a good enough brake pedal. The lights were actually my .011 to his .044. I felt the car hook up a little bit better than it had in the previous rounds, so I know I'd be pedaling once we got down to the other end. I started pedaling just after the 1000' mark, cutting him to about .010 when he dumped me right at the stripe, feeding me another .02. It didn't matter though, as I got the 10.904 to 10.900 win.

This was my first divisional win, ever. It only took me five tries to close the deal in the final of a divisional, so it's good that have this monkey off my back. Over the past 3 seasons, I now have 1 divisional win, and 4 runner-ups, 2 national open wins, and a NHRA national event win.

With how well the '67 Camaro was behaving, Dad's car was not. He had .015 out of his box settings and still couldn't go better than .024 on the tree, where I had about .010 out of mine to be normal. Not to mention that on the last three runs we went 9.94, and that car has never done that. With that in mind we decided that once we got to Indy we'd put the brand new tranny that Select had built for us into Dad's car and the fresh converter and give the ones out of the car back to Ed to freshen them up.

We left Cecil County at 5:30 PM Sunday afternoon after all the winner's circle festivities were done with a lot of driving ahead of us. While everyone else was taking the more direct route from Cecil County to Indy, we needed to swing home and trade in the '67 Camaro for the Blue Bomber (dragster) because there was no Super Street at Indy. We arrived home at about 1:30 AM after dealing with lots of traffic in Jersey. Dad drove the whole way home and I managed to get about an hour of sleep on the way home, not the 3 or four I was hoping for.

Once we pulled into the driveway we went into overdrive, Mom and Dad attacking the motorhome and restocking for the next week. Mom had done some shopping for us on Sunday and loaded us up with more food, which was awesome. Even though she may not be at the track every weekend, she does a ton for us and we really appreciate it.

I worked on the car swap, and getting everything ready in the trailer and refueling the jugs for Indy. At about 3:00 AM we pulled back out of the driveway with me in the driver's seat.

I drove until about 7:30 or so, letting Dad get a few hours sleep in the meantime. This trip was actually the first time that Dad had slept in the motorhome while we were going down the road. He took over and I got some sleep, he drove until about 3:00 in the afternoon and we swapped again, with me finishing the trip to Indy at about 8:30 that night.

Regis and Carolyn LePage and Todd Logan had only gotten there about an hour and a half before us and we actually ended up right behind them in line.

They started parking on Tuesday morning and we ended up parking right along the fence by the return road, nose to nose with the Kenny family, who had got there at about 1:30 on Monday, but didn't get parked until Tuesday morning as well because of the huge number of rigs already there. We were parked pretty much at the end of the shutdown area.

We got everything teched in, changed the transmission and converter in Dad's car, and then went out to eat at the Outback with the Kennys, LePages, Dorrs, and the Krug Family. After that meal, we didn't have too much ambition and we called it a night.

On Wednesday we got two time runs, Dad's car running 9.92 and 9.93 @ 166. I was 8.93 on both my runs, with the second run coming after 8:00 at night so I got to see how much the car would slow down at night.

On Thursday we were just scheduled for the one time run. We raised the stop RPM on dad's car about 75 RPM to get it out of the danger zone. He ran 9.87 @ 166 MPH. He lights so far had been .014, .019, and .019 so that problem seemed better as well. My time run went well also, running 8.898 @ 165 MPH.

We had first round Friday in the early afternoon. Ray drew the Opel of David Barrett from division 3 and managed to put a .001 light on the board, Ray was on a 9.918, but was able to bail to a 9.929 to his opponent's 9.95 for the win.

I drew the dragster of Dennis Foster from Division 3 in round 1. I had him on the tree .017 to .034 and let him go on the stripe for an 8.95 to 8.88 win.

Our second round was first thing Saturday morning, with Ray running at about 10AM. Ray was paired up with Division 7 hitter Randy Balough and his '63 Vette Roadster. Ray missed the tree a little bit, coming up .020 to Randy's .012. Ray caught him and pedaled, but Randy dumped hard, giving Ray some stripe and taking the win since Ray was fast, 9.890 to Randy's 9.933.

I ran second round about an hour later and was paired with Don Strickland. When I let go, I knew I had left some on the table on the tree, and when I looked over it looked like he had about .040 on me. As I was sweeping my head back, I happened to see a red light on the bottom of the tree, and to my surprise (and relief), it was in his lane. I ran it out to a 8.911 @ 164.97.

Third round was on Sunday, sandwiched in-between some pro stuff and I was paired with fellow Division 1 racer Jason Brinkman in Joey Cambria's old S&W car. This time when I let go I knew I got the tree pretty good and when I looked over, I had a bunch on him. I was .005 and his was .052. On the other end, I gave it three or four womps, taking .011 stripe and winning 8.944 to his 8.908.

Fourth round was late Sunday night, and Super Comp was the last thing down the track. A bunch of Super Gas cars were loose and had to lift, and a lot of the ones that did make it down were slow. I set the car up on a 8.89 thinking that would probably put me on a 8.90 or so.

I knew I hit the tree pretty good again, and it looked like I might've had about .02 or so on the tree. I was .005 and Janice Swan was .019. As we were going down track the car was sliding around a little bit, so I figured I was killing some ET there. Janice had about 5 MPH on me and was coming pretty good. I dragged the brake just before the stripe, cutting it to .015, but it wasn't enough. I lost a double breakout 8.895 to 8.896 by .001 ending my Indy hopes.

After collecting my "paycheck" and doing a little final shopping, we rolled out of Indy at about Noon on Monday.

Once we get home, we'll only be there for a shot amount of time, because we have to turn everything around and leave tomorrow to go up to Epping for the IHRA North American Nationals. This is a fun race for us with no points implications, and we get to see a lot of our friends from New England Dragway that we don't get to see as often as we'd like to.

I'll be running the Dragster in Quick Rod (8.90), the '67 Camaro in Hot Rod (10.90), since IHRA allows drivers to run Hot Rod and another class, unlike NHRA, and Dad will be running his '02 Camaro in Super Rod (9.90).

We'll be home for a day or so on the other side of Epping and then we'll bring the Camaros down to Maple Grove for the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals, more commonly referred to as the Keystones. We'll both run Super Gas (9.90) at that race, since there is no Super Comp or Super Street at that event.

In terms of points right now, Dad is second place in Division 1 to Tommy Stalba, 18 points out of the lead (basically 2 rounds). In National Points, Dad is 27th and is the only driver in the Top 50 to only have done 1 National event. By my win in Cecil County, I moved into first place in Super Street, but only by 2 points over Carl Juliano and 4 points over Steve Feller. We have 1 Division 1 race left, at Atco in October, to decide that chase.

Thanks for reading, and I'll update you again, after our Road Trip is over...