Monday, August 24, 2009

Cooking The Bacon

We headed to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga this past weekend for Orsca. Me and the boys were really in high spirits, even though we havent been fast in two months. We have really been fighting mechanical gremlins and this weekend would prove to be no different. We unloaded and puttered down the track first pass to a nice smooth lazy 4.89. Normally if I get down the track early in the weekend, look out. Second pass i pepped the tune up a little and the sixty foot dropped almost 5 hundredths, but the car drifted right about a hundred feet and i had to abort the run. But the look in Brian and Johnsons eye was unmistakeable. They knew we were right where we needed to be. We adjusted the rear of the car just a touch to make her track straight, tied the front end down, stacked all the weight we had in the nose of the car and decided to see if we could rock the house on our last test pass. Now i dont need much talking into stuff like this. So i put a tune up together that if it didnt flip the car over, should run in the 4.60's . I burned in hard and backed through the smoke. Brian and Johnson put me dead in the groove and gave me a thumbs up as they shut the doors. Little did I know that we were about to blast into the record books. I let loose and the orange car jumped out the hole like cheetah chasing a gazelle, I passed the 330 mark with the tires still dangling, I knew I was freaking flying. I blazed past the 1/8th and rocked the scoreboards with a 4.53 at 170 mph. A new Drag Radial World record. I was so excited that I drove the car back to the trailer. I had already blown my voice out by the time the boys got there. We partied like rock stars most of the night before heading to bed feeling invincible, ahhh but as they say, all good things must end. Saturday I eased back on the reins just a little for safety, First round qualifying we went a 4.67 at 171.99 mph. Which was awesome considering the air was bad and the track was slick. We decided to sit out the second session, feeling good about our number one spot and wanting to limit parts breakage. Last session we again went for the moon. The car left harder than it ever has, and was on another shot, until I shifted to high and the car stood sraight up on the bumper. I pedalled her and eased her down. We were still sitting number 1, and feeling like we were in good shape. That was the last of those feelings. First round Sunday we had a bye run. I had an awesome sixty foot and was straight as an arrow, all was going to plan until the orange monster shifted into high gear and rung the input shaft in the transmission off. We really dodged the bullet here. I yelled at the boys on the radio to get the spare trans out the trailer. We thrashed and changed transmissions in record time. I still wasnt worried, having confidence that my tuneup was dead on. We burned in second round and I was in the zone. I tiptoed the car into the lights and flash, I was off again, Like a bullet i shot down the track,and then the worst happened again. The spare trans gave up the ghost and I lost the round. We were headed home early. As disappointed as I was, I kept telling myself that it just wasnt meant to be. The competition in Limited Street is red hot right now and we love it. We are counting the minutes till the next race. It's easy to praise your sponsors in the good times, but in times like this weekend when we went down and they all called monday morning to tell me they were still proud of us and are with us, we realize once again how fortunate we are to have the support of some great companies and individuals. We are a low budget team, and without you guys we could not race. Thanks again to Procharger, Mickey Thompson, The Supercharger Store, Upr, Grp rods, 2Keys Customs, Aiken Augusta Paving, Abby's Performance Engines, Torque Converter Services, and Stainless Works.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

From Hero to Zero, and Back Again

Sorry it's taken me so long to update my blog. I have been on vacation in mexico without the internet, or telephones, and let me tell you it was amazing. Just what i needed to get me back in the game. Anyways, back to last weekends ORSCA race. Can you imagine the absolute delight of me and my crew when ORSCA announced last month that one of it's cancelled races was rescheduled at my home track in Jackson, SC. We couldn't we believe we would be so lucky as to have all the limited guys come to us so we could lay the smack down on their ass. Well thats how I imagined it anyways. Fast forward to thursday before the race. The car had been sitting in the paint shop for almost a month, So we were testing just to kinda shake the cobb webs out of the ole girl. I was trying a new blower and a few new things with the tune up and having no luck getting down the track. The car was shaking the tires so hard it hurt my back. So saturday came and we decided the smart thing to do was put the old blower back on, and go with some safe proven tuneups for 1st round qualifying. I mean this was my home track and i have enough testing data on this surface to just about tell you what the car will run to the thousandth for every race condition you could think of. So first round I put a soft tuneup in it, It left good then pulled hard right around 30 ft, causing me to pedal three times and only running a 5.17. What the hell was up? I went over the car from front to back checking shocks and struts and found nothing. So I'm thinking, maybe the track? Maybe a drop of oil under the tires? Maybe a fluke? Second round qualifying, it left hard, went a hundred feet and smoked the tires. Now we are panicking. Both of those tuneups that i had just tried would go down a mud road. So now im thinking, maybe the tires are shot. They had very few runs on them but maybe sitting for a month had an affect? So we changed tires for last round qualifying. Desperate to get down the track for some hope at a good qualifying shot. Now had this been just a last round qualifying round I would have loaded a mid 4.90 bull crap tune in, Something to just put us in the middle of the pack. But, This wasnt just an ordinary round of qualifying. This was also the final round of eliminations for the Montgomery race. I was racing Jeff Paulk in the car killer, So I couldnt just take it easy. My balls wouldnt let me. I put a mid 4.60 tune in and we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. The tree came down and i didnt move 2 inches before i smoked the tires. He took the win and what made it really bad is that the track was really good. I mean exceptionally good. I knew something was wrong with the car but i couldnt figure it out. We were up shit creek without a paddle. Qualified dead last. At our home track, in front of my sponsors and my friends and family. I was blindsided. It was like the civil war when all the yankees came down to watch the Battle of Bull Run, expecting an easy victory, and the south came out swinging and kick stomped that booty. Anyways i didnt sleep saturday night. I was determined to find out what was wrong with the car. I started taking things apart and found two bent control arm bolts in the rear suspension. I guess all the tire shake thursday bent them. We were however on the wrong side of the ladder. Having to run the all the heavy hitters if we were to go any rounds at all. I put a low 4.80 tune up in for 1st round eliminations and prayed alot. I had an extra long pep talk with the hot rod, explaining to her that i was sorry for bending her and that she deserved better and that it was ok to crucify me in qualifying, but this was showtime. I burned in hard figuring that if we went out first round, at least we put on a good show. We staged and off we gallopped into the sunset, straight as an arrow, and pretty quick, We won the round with a 4.80 on a 140 degree race track. It was like we won the final round already. That was the first full throttle pass we had in the car in over a month. But next round we were up against Jeff Paulk, the car killer. Again. The Orange car was looking jazzy and Big Johnson and Brian were still sore from the last nights ass crushing and looking for some get back. I pepped her up just a tad, Not wanting to overpower the super hot racetrack. We both lit the bulbs and I tore out the gate like a banshee. Winning the round with a 4.77. Now we were on track but like all good things, there is always a catch. There was all kinds of electronic noise in my run data. Meaning that something was going on in my ignition box, or Efi box. The computer was spiking all of the sensors and inputs during the run. This is bad for many reasons, First the computer was adding and taking away fuel and timing all over the place. The rpm were showing erratic which put the car into different cells on the timing map, Also it was turning on rev limiters sporatically from the MSD box. All in all we now have an inconsistent car. So i went through everything trying to find it. Nothing. I took off all the rev limiters, and tried to program a timing map that would not be so sensitive. In the third round we squeeked by only running a 4.88. But we were off to the semis, bad news was that we were running the number one qualifier. I had no idea what to do about the box malfunctions. So i went old school and turned off the fuel correction, programmed the same timing in the whole map, which is bad. Basically threw the kitchen sink at the thing. We staged and launched and I took off like a bullet. But at 100 feet it shook the tires and i had to pedal. Only running a 4.87 to his 4.77. BUT WAIT. My win light was on. He had redlit, giving me the round win. I hate to win like that, but at this point i'll take em however i can get. We were headed to the final. Who would have thought it? We were facing the master of disaster, Eric Dillard. He had just trashed my Limited Street record in the last round and was on top of his game. We burned in hard and long. I was really feeling good. The track was awesome and i had the car set on kill. We staged and i drilled the tree. Cutting a .015 light and putting up the best 60ft time we had ever had. I was an entire car length out front at the 80 foot mark, But then all things turned to poop. I smoked the tires like a funny car and he blasted by winning with a 4.67 to my 5.00. All in all it was still an amazing day. We were happy to just be racing past the first round. I wanna thank my boys for not giving up and trusting me. Brian, Big Johnson, Wingnut, and Dad worked their tales off this weekend. So you may be asking yourself, or have noticed, how we seemed to make it to alot of finals this year, but have no win yet? It's true, We have been to nine finals so far this year, and not a single win to show. I can't tell you why this is, or how. but I promise i will figure it out. We head to Atlanta, August 23-25. Its time to get the monkey off my back, and in Atlanta, The monkey gets it.