Sunday, April 20, 2008

Semi-Finals in Rockingham!

Our DNQ in San Antonio seems miles away after a good showing at "The Rock" this weekend. The weekend got off to a great start when I made the first 4 second pass of my short nitro career on Friday night when we went 4.995 at 299.5mph. The track temp was 80, the air temp was in the 60's and we had the car set up pretty average. It launched hard and straight and our .902 60-foot time was amongst our best ever. At the thousand foot mark the car made a hard move to the right, and I needed to steer hard left to stay off the wall.

Saturday we only made one pass, as there were showers off and on during the day. On Friday night we cranked up the blower boost by changing pulley's, and put more timing in the motor, especially after the 60 foot mark, to try to run in the low 4.90's or high 4.80's. The car launched hard, but we dropped the #6 cylinder almost immediately. A couple hundred feet later we pushed the head gasket out, torched the head and put a small hole in the block behind the #8 cylinder. Oh well.

We ended up qualifying third and faced Steven Macklyn in the first round. We set up the car to go about 5.05 and didn't want to be too aggressive because track temps were in the mid-90s and we wanted to make a clean pass. Macklyn smoked the tires at the hit and we ran a clean 5.08 at 291 to take the win!! The team was ecstatic and I was happy. Steve Macklyn exemplified the class of all the guys we race with when he came by our trailer to congratulate me. Despite the disappointment he must have been feeling, he had a genuine smile on his face and offered to help if we needed anything.

In round 2 we had to face Paul Lee who has been driving a Paul Smith tuned car to some great times this weekend. His 4.77 on Saturday night was a great lap. Anyway, we just tried to come out and make a clean pass rather than try to chase the #'s he's been putting up. He got a couple hundreths of a sec jump on me at the line and was pulling away down track, so I clicked it off at around 1000 feet rather than risk blowing something up and eating parts. I still ended up with a 5.25, but it was no match for his 4.88.

The thing we're happiest about so far, is that we've made 9 passes this year. Two in testing. three in SA, and four here in Rockingham, and haven't smoked the tires once. That was our biggest problem last year and it seems, at least for now, that we have it figured out. But we've not had the 120 degree track temps that we'll see during the summer. Those hot greasy tracks get real tricky.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Painful DNQ

Well, not a good way to kick off the season. We made three consistent passes in qualifying; a 3.528, 3.537 and 3.518 on our last pass, and missed qualifying as the bump turned out to Jack Wyatt at 3.469, which is just about what we thought it would take going in to the race.

Last year our issue was consistency. WHEN we ran clean, we were running in the 5.0x's at around 300 but were smoking the tires way to much. We found a bad part in our clutch setup that was causing it to lock up at the hit and got it replaced, but I think as a team we're so skittish about that we're a little afraid to crank our tunes up to hot.

Going into the last session, Richard and Dad set the car up to run in the 3.40-3.45 range. We added some timing and brought the clutch in faster, but the car didn't seem respond down low at all. Our speed of 241.02 is a little bit high for the 3.518 we ran, and from my perspective it really didn't start to pull until late in the run. Maybe if we were running a full quarter mile we'd have had a good time, but even then, our eigth mile splits last year were in the 3.30's so who knows.

This really hurts us in the pocketbook. Financially, we have our operating costs setup to where we can run break even by qualifying or going a round, but this DNQ is like waking up and having someone hand you a bill for $7,000 that you didn't expect the day before. Oh well, I can PROMISE you we will be alot more aggressive in Rockingham. Richard knows how to make power, look at how he has Bruce Litton's car running...Bruce was the #1 qualifier in Top Fuel Dragster this weekend.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Good first qualifying run

We had a nice clean pass on our first qualifying attempt tonite. Had a conservative setup and the car hooked up and ran well. Maybe we'll open it up some tommorrow.

1. Bob Gilbertson, Dodge Stratus, 3.353, 255.92
2. Jeff Diehl, Chevy Monte Carlo, 3.436, 256.89
3. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 3.463, 247.84
4. Jack Wyatt, Stratus, 3.514, 212.29
5. Andy Kelley, Pontiac Firebird, 3.528, 239.02
6. Matt Hagan, Monte Carlo, 4.343, 142.49
7. Jason Duchene, Firebird, 5.155, 96.53
8. Allen Middendorf, Chevy Camaro, 5.468, 72.41
Not Qualified:
9. Steven Macklyn, 5.544, 139.31
10. Terry Haddock, 7.920, 84.41
11. Todd Simpson, 11.062, 51.21

Talk to you all again tomorrow night.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Well, after an 18 hour drive we arrived in San Antionio. Got everything set up, and it looks like the rain has moved through for good.

Today IHRA announced their blog and social networking site on, and I' proud to say we're one of the first bloggers they invited to participate. Check out IHRA's press release at

Anyway, since this is the first officially scheduled 1/8th mile national event, I thought I'd share my thoughts on this move by the IHRA. First off, as a racer on a tight budget, I like it from a financial standpoint. We'll use fewer parts, and it's less wear and tear on the equipment. Alot of match races we run are 1/8th mile events so we know what we need to do with the car, and frankly, there's not much we'd change in the setup anyway.

On the downside, the races will be won in the first 60'. In a 1/4 mile race, if you mess up on your reaction time or smoke the tires, you have a chance to recover if your opponent drops cylinders or has issues down track. In this format, if you have a bad launch and the other guy leaves cleanly, there is a very limited opportunity to catch him.

The other negative is purely emotional. It will be easy for the naysayers to use this to make us appear inferior or "less than" the NHRA guys. Hey, last time I checked we weren't trying to be anyone but who we are, and deliver the world of Nitro-fuel drag racing to folks who might otherwise not have the chance to see it, and do it in a more personal and intimate way.

Finally, from a fans perspective, you won't see the 300 mph number flash on the board, but most of the action happens inside the 1/8th mile (which is where most of our fans are sitting anyway), so all you'll miss is watching the rear ends of our cars go down the back half of the track. At least, I hope it's not a big deal to the fans. They're (you're) the ultimate judges of whether this is a good move by the IHRA.