Sudden Impact Racing Update: 10/18/2004

First I have to apologize for the lack of updates lately, but I had a server crash that took out my e-mail for a little over two weeks. If any of you had sent me anything over that time period and didn't get a response, that's why.

Anyway, we've put a lot of miles on the rig since the last update, without an overflowing amount of success to report.

After leaving the U.S. Nationals at Indy around noon on Monday, we made it home to Acton, MA at around 2:00 or so Tuesday afternoon. Once we got home, we loaded the '67 Camaro into the Gold Rush trailer, washed everything, fueled the motorhome, refilled some fuel cans and headed up to Epping to put the rigs in line, Dad driving the motorhome and me driving the Dually.

The one-hour drive was nice, especially after the 17-hour drive home from Indy. Dad went back home after we got there and I stayed with the rigs in the motorhome since I had some work that I could do there and wanted to do a little cleaning on the dragster.

Dad came back up Wednesday night after work and we pulled the rigs in on Thursday. They didn't let us in until about 2:00 or so, instead of the 9:00 scheduled time to give the place a little time to dry out after the previous day's rain. One thing that was nice, though, was that the IHRA tech officials came around to the trailers to tech the cars in while we were waiting in line.

Once we got the rigs parked, Dad went back home to pick up Mom, Tucker (my dog), and some supplies and came back a few hours later. I took the slicks off the dragster and brought them over to Roy at Hoosier to have him mount me up a new set. Of course it started to rain as soon as I got them over there, but we got them mounted up anyway.

We got two time runs on Friday for each of the cars. My first run in the '67 Camaro was a little on the fast side, which was surprising, considering how loose the track was on the way down. I ran 10.83 @ 147. Dad ran a 9.83 @ 167 in his car in the first Super Rod time trial session. After those two cars were fast, I slowed the dragster down more than I should've and turned an 8.86 @ 167.

On the second run, I slowed the '67 Camaro way down and ran 10.913 @ 148 to qualify me in the 9th position. I slowed Dad's car down a bunch, too, but missed it on the fast side, running 9.895 @ 167. I thought I was safe in the dragster, but it picked up a little 60' and ran 8.891 @ 167. If you look at those three runs, though, the most we missed the dial by was .013 out of the three cars, which isn't horrible, but the '02 Camaro and the Dragster were near the bottom of the qualifying list with 2 runs under the number.

We had first round on Saturday morning. I drew NHRA Division 1 racer Tom Nicholson and his '67 Nova in the first round of Hot Rod. I had about .05 on him on the tree and took out my Indy frustration on him, cutting the stripe to .009 and taking a 10.95 to 10.90 win.

Dad raced a '70 Nova in the first round of Super Rod and was holding about .4 going by the tree. When Dad's stop turned off, his opponent had barely gotten up to his door and dad checked out, lifting just before the 1000' mark and cruising to a 10.07 at just 130 MPH for the win. He actually killed 36 MPH on that run.

I had a tough draw in Mike Sullivan in the dragster first round. I killed him on the tree, .016 to 056, and was feeling good going down track since I had the car setup pretty honest. I gave it a couple of womps, and dragged the brakes figuring I had to be safe there. I was wrong. He dumped me pretty hard and got behind me on an 8.87 to 8.89 double breakout, ending my weekend in that car.

In second round of Super Rod, dad drew the Roadster of Kevin Carey. Dad had an .015 to .047 advantage on the tree and was closer on the top end, too, running 9.907 @ 166.66 to Kevin's 9.916 @ 139.50.

In second round of Hot Rod, I ended up running fellow Central Mass Drag Racer's Association member and number one qualifier Ken Erickson and his 'Rock and Roll' Monza. I had about an .035 advantage off the line and going down track, I still wasn't getting there. I cut him loose and won a double breakout, 10.878 to his 10.820.

Third round of Super Rod, dad faced the Corvette of Doug Marsters. They were close on the tree, but the Camaro turned the tire a little but and fell off to a 9.929. Doug's 9.91 was able to get under that so that ended Ray's weekend.

After my burnout in the third round of Hot Rod, I watched the oil pressure drop as I was going up to stage. I had a tough draw in IHRA racer Doug Wood, so I figured I might as well go up there and stage at an idle, just in case he red-lit. Guess, what. He did. I just idled out of the beam and shut the car off, not knowing what the problem was.

Greg Barsamain brought his golf cart up and gave me the long tow all the way down the spectator side of the track, across the track, and down the return road to the scales to make the win official. He then towed me back to the pit spot so we could figure out what the problem was. Thanks Greg, we really appreciated all the help.

Unfortunately, the problem was what we thought it was. Upon pulling the distributor out, the oil pump drive rod spun free, meaning that something in the chain between that and the oil pump had broken. Since we didn't have 6 hours, an engine crane, and a spare oil pump with us, that ended the weekend for that car. I was officially credited with a fourth round loss to eventual winner Ray Knight.

We loaded everything up in a hurry and headed home for a good thrash. We hadn't had one of those in a while anyway. By the time we went to bed on Sunday night, we had the motor out of the '67, the oil pan off, found out that one of the ears had broken off of the oil pump, changed the pump, put the pan back on and had the motor back in the '67 with the transmission bolted back up to it. We finished it up on Monday morning, got the car running, and loaded it back up.

The reason for the thrash was that we were leaving on Tuesday afternoon for the NHRA Lucas Oil National at Maple Grove, PA, a.k.a. the Keystones. We parked on Wednesday morning and got a decent spot, with the trailer on Pavement and the motorhome on some pretty solid ground. This was important, considering the forecast was for a little of the wet stuff.

Dad and I both were running in Super Gas at this race, since there was no Super Comp or Super Street. After going through tech on Wednesday we got Dad's primary transmission and converter back from Select Performance and decided to put that setup back in the car, since they seemed to have more consistent characteristics for throttle stop racing.

We got three time runs on Thursday, the '67 was surrounding the number, running 9.944, 9.828 and 9.924 on it's time runs. Dad's range of numbers was a little bit tighter, running 9.937, 9.925 and 9.896.

First round on Friday Dad ran up against Justin Lopes. Justin just flat out put together a good run, going .014 on the tree and 9.908. The air had gotten slightly worse than Thursday and the sun was out. We had the air part covered, but the sun beating on the track caused the car to lose .015 in 60' and all it had was a 9.921. Since dad's light wasn't an .001, we couldn't get under Justin's package and lost the round.

I had more luck against former SG World Champion Ron Orbin. He had me on the tree a little bit, .021 to .029, but he was fast. I dumped on the other end and got the win with a 9.917 to his 9.897. Unfortunately, heavy rains on Friday night and Saturday morning caused NHRA to postpone the race for three weeks, to October 9-11.

On the drive home Saturday night, I remembered that there was a Hot Rod Series race at Epping, NH on Sunday, so we swung home, picked up Mom and Tucker and headed up to Epping, getting there about 11:30 Saturday night.

I unloaded a bad car at Epping on Sunday morning. I put back into Super Street mode, ran some weather, and out of the box ran a 10.909. On the second qualifier, I slowed the car up a little but, with the air being the same, hoping the track would come around, and it worked, running a 10.903, with a .001 reaction time, to take the number on qualifying spot and the $60 bonus that came along with it.

That earned me a first round bye run, second round I faced Casey Grubb and got another time trial when he went red. I was .019 and 10.892 anyway. Third round I faced series organizer Pete DeVita and his Wireless Zone Camaro. He also went red, giving me another free pass down the track. With a 17-car field, there was a bye every round and come the semis, it was back to the first position. I clicked it a little early on the bye run, running 11.044 at 121.59 with an .002 reaction time. In the final I faced footbrake racer Craig Whittier. He was a low speed car, about 118 MPH, so I set the car up a little on the conservative side, especially for me. When I let the button go, the car spun pretty hard. They had really let the track go by that point, with a bunch of sand and everything on the starting line. Going down track I knew I wasn't going to catch him so I just drove it as deep as I could, pretty much until he was on the MPH cone and gave it a quick dump. My win light came on, but only because Craig was 10.899! I was 10.95 letting him go, but wouldn't have had much more than a 10.93 for him anyway, so I caught a break there.

That win netted me $700 and a fourth place finish in the series, despite only attending 2 races. The other finish was a semi-final earlier in the season. It's a good series that they have going up there and I hope to see it succeed.

So that was worth the trip up from Maple Grove after the rainout. It was a hard decision to make because the Keystones was our fourth race in four weeks, stretching from Cecil to Indy to Epping, NH to Reading, PA and we were tired at that point, especially after 2 transmission and converter swaps in Dad's car and having to pull the motor out of the '67 along the way.

We enjoyed the next two weeks off, actually taking some time to wax the trailer and polish the corners and header over the rear. That was a weekend project in itself, but it looks much better now that it's done.

So now, on October 9th, instead of being at Atco for the final Lucas Oil Divisional race on the Division 1 schedule, that race was moved to the 21st-23rd because of the Keystones Make-up. So we headed down to Maple with both doorcars to finish the Keystones, even though the '67 was the only one still in. Mom and Tucker came down with us, too, which we appreciated. It's always more fun with Mom there.

They only gave us one time trial on Friday, and I was a touch on the fast side, running 9.786 @ 150 MPH. I was however .023 on the tree, which was the best .400 pro light I'd had in that car on a National Event tree.

On Saturday morning I was paired up with Pete Luciano and his "Lucky's Lady" '67 Camaro. I slowed the car down a bunch from the prior day's time trial and came up .015 on the tree and 9.916 @ 149.41. It was a good time trial, since Pete went .005 red.

We ran third round late that night and I had to ran Division 3 racer Don Sims and his Monza. Don's car shut off and came back to life as soon as the stop turned off so I caught him real quick. In the words of Tim Northrop "That Camaro front end looked like a kangaroo!" as I was womping a little but before the 1/8th mile and all the way to the stripe, to take a 10.142 to 10.139 win. Also encouraging was the fact that I was .016 on the tree.

Saturday night we had a big feast over at the Kenny's, celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. Man was that food good. Plus Jason and I had both made it to Sunday, which was cause for celebration in itself.

On Sunday in the fourth round I had to face, probably the hottest man in Super Gas at that point, Jeff Szilagyi and his Roadster. Amazingly enough I had the tree, .009 to .020 but as has been my story lately, I lost another double breakout with the better light. I had Jeff at about .013 on the stripe when he fed me another .010. I lost with a 9.872 to his 9.884. So, in the last three National Events, I lost 4th round at Indy in SC, 4th round at Epping in SST (HR) and 4th round at Maple Grove in SG. At least I'm consistent.

We left the trailer at Maple Grove to come back the following weekend for the Maple Grove Dutch Classic, a Division 1 National Open. I was back in SST and dad was trying to defend his event championship from last year.

Between all the rain we got over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Super Street got two time runs, and I had them surrounded by running 10.94 and 10.84. Super Gas, because of rain in the middle of their first session got three runs. Dad didn't make it down the track on the first run, but ran 9.84 and 9.87 on the next two runs.

Saturday night we had the second coming of Canadian Thanksgiving over at the Kenny's with the Dorrs and LePages now that they were there this week. Dad and I didn't mind one bit.

First round of Super Street on Sunday morning I drew Dave Bergfeldt and his "Super Chick" Camaro. Dave Flinched and left with a -.291 red light. I cruised down for a 10.839 @ 148.89 win. Dad had to run the '69 Camaro of Garry Kelso. Dad gave up .027 on the tree, but used the big speed to push Garry under the dial to take a 9.897 to 9.881 win.

Second round I was laddered with Glen Winzer. Glen and family owed Brian and I a couple from over the years. I missed the tree a little bit, coming up .022 to Glen's .016. Going down track it looked like I was going to get there by .005. Doing some quick math, if I'm set up 10.885, and take .005 stripe to the wood, that puts me under, correct? I dumped some ET out, giving Glen the stripe by .016, but he was 10.908 for the win. I was 10.918 at only 141 MPH, but doing the math later, if I had kept my foot in it, I would've been 10.896 and got .006 stripe, so I made the right call, but Glen put a good run on me.

Dad had to run a very tough Glen Emig in the second round. I set dad's car up to run 9.905 and wasn't far off, running 9.904 @ 168.49 MPH. However, Glen ran 9.902 with an .004 light for a six-thousandths package. Since dad's light was slower than an .002, he lost the round. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

We got everything loaded up and then went over to keep an eye on Al and Jason Kenny, since Al was still in SG and Jason was in SC going into 3rd round. Jason ended up still being in, when the called the race, postponing it until either after the Atco Divisional next week or November 6th, depending on how next weekend goes.

We're on the way home from the Dutch now (Monday morning) and once we get home have a couple of days to get everything unloaded, serviced, and then pack the trailer up for the trip west. Once we leave on Wednesday for Atco, we won't be home until about the 20th of November, going out to Las Vegas for the National and Divisional, then onto Pomona, California for the World Finals. This is a trip that I've been looking forward to for the past year, ever since I flew out to watch last year. But it's not all about the racing out there. We'll get to spend three weeks with Brian (my brother and "car owner") as he'll drive down from Los Angeles to Vegas and stay with us there and then out at Pomona, too.

Thanks for reading, and I'll keep you updated from the road.