Cruisin’ into the New Year - Are You Ready?
This is normally the “silly season” for all sorts of sports, drag racing included. Rumors, facts, “I heard this” or “I heard that” are all over the Internet in forums, websites and in online magazines. I think it is a great time to think about your own plans for the New Year. For me it always seems I have my own “silly season.”
I sit back, look at NHRA and IHRA schedules for points meets, national events and tell myself “this is the year” I am going to travel to as many as I can and see how I stack up against that type of competition. Yeah, right! Then reality shows its face and actually I think it is much smarter.
Why should I travel all over the country running at races that pay less than my local drag strip and charge twice as much to enter the events? I have won a few divisional events, a national event and several big-bucks bracket races. To be 100% honest, I think beating the bracket racers were the most satisfying wins. At the bracket races it doesn’t seem to matter if you brought a couple of $100,000 cars and semi truck converted to a motor home, you better not forget to bring your A-Game, though, or you are headed home early.
I have won divisional races with terrible strings of reaction times and off the dial-in ETs and the national event win included some of the goofiest runs I ever made in Super Comp.
I think what is happening is a lot of racers deciding to run the divisional races and maybe a couple national events. They are looking at it as a fun experience and aren’t used to the drawn out schedules, track prep, parking, tech hassles, etc. What happens is they get out of their “comfort zone” and are not as competitive as they are at local races.
I think that is why some racers have dominated sportsman ranks in recent years. They make the financial decision to go to the races, get used to the different situations and to some degree, and hold an advantage over the “part-time” divisional and national event racers. Are they better racers? I don’t think so, I think they are used to time trials one day, eliminations the next day, a run every five or six hours, and then the last three rounds in one hour. It takes practice to be good at that, no doubt about it.
I hold the guys who have multiple national titles under their belts high on my list of good racers. Guys like Dan Fletcher, Peter Biondo, Luke Bogacki, David Rampy, and many more. What I don’t see any more are these guys trying their hand at the Big Bucks bracket races. Why? They hold NO ADVANTAGE.
Seems several of them are now becoming race promoters. They have the contacts in the industry for sponsors, they have the knowledge of how a race should be run and what the racers need to have a great time. I think they have become some of the best race promoters in the industry. Why? They can focus on the one race event and make sure it works!
If you get a chance to go to one of the races put on by Scotty Richardson, Peter Biondo, Michael Beard, Luke Bogacki, Kyle Seipel and others, do it! I have heard nobody who thought those races were weak or disorganized. I want to thank the professional sportsman racers who are building a series of events that I hope continue to grow and promote the growth of bracket racing.
WE’VE GOT MAIL
Jok Nicholson’s most recent article in Dead-On garnered the most mail that we have received on one subject in quite a while. Here are our readers’ responses.
A Couple of Things
Nailed it... The only problem I have with is 1) I'm kind of old school. I have all the bells and whistles that were current 5 years ago but it’s gotten so out of hand that it’s not even in my dreams to go back to a big money race. Sure I could go spend a few bucks and get current but the 2nd problem is I'm not smart enough to use it.
Whatever happened to cut a good light and play the finish line. It is a crying shame to go to the buy-back window with a 6-thousand package. Great article.
FINIALLY!!!!! Someone actually addresses the issue. I own a pro/et Camaro that I'm going to race in 2015 after sitting out a number of years. Personally I want to race and have a chance. I believe in test and tune sessions to perfect my craft but it stinks when electronics or the progression of electronics make things almost impossible.
At my local track I've witnessed heavy eliminator cars run like a finely tuned Swiss watch. It got to the point I could predict their numbers once I saw their initial run. Yeah, they would seemingly "tank" a run but you could figure out the deal.
They should restrict/ban the use of electronics in the "non" electronic classes and do what it takes to inforce it. Like you said, if they want to run that stuff let them have at it in their own class - give us long timers - former racers - returnees and newbees a chance...
Harry ut. Garland III
Ask NHRA to clarify
Hi Jok, I read your article and wanted to ask you to do something for me and your readers: on NHRA's NHRA racer website, on "Tech Tuesday" ask them what is legal as far as rev limiters and their use in Stock and Super Stock.
The reason for this is that last year I ran a Super Stock car at the 2013 AAA Finals and when I was near this car at about 1,000-foot mark I could hear his car missing or on the rev limiter. Had I lost I would have told NHRA's Bruce to check his car, but what would they look for? You’re right, I don't know either, so it would have been a moot point, but I would have asked this racer what that missing was.
Let me know and the collector tethers are still working.
Super Stock #7171
The top 5%
Just thought I would chime in here on your latest blog, I guess that is what they call it these days. I doubt you know me my name is Jim Whalen, I live down in central Illinois. I first remember you from going to Texas in early '90s and freezing at Motorplex and Kennedale.
I started racing about 1978 so I have seen several things. I had Gebhardts build me a new dragster in 1996 and ran several big money races with it. Didn't take long to figure out what was going on; sold it back to them after that season and went back to a door car.
Back then 95% of the money was being won by 5% of the racers, at the big races. Were they better? Maybe. Better equipment, possibly but actually a lot of the same names are still winning today. Once in a while somebody might sneak in and win but not often.
Funny thing is you can go to any local track and have a small package put on you every weekend. My son and I have a stocker we bought from Gary Emmons now. Both of us drive it, I race at the IHRA and Heartland events and he runs at the NHRA events. It is back to fun now and old dad can still win an event.
I enjoy your stories.
Why is bracket racing the only form of racing without rules?
I have known for a while that the sport I have had so much involvement in and passion for has been “broken” for several years. I realize we have lots of safety rules, procedures to follow, rules about certain things you can and can’t do, but we are missing perhaps the most important rule of all: ignition rules. I have decided to lay it all out for everyone to read and hopefully talk about. Then, maybe come up with a workable solution. I will not bitch about one thing that I cannot offer a “fix” for or at least a couple of ideas to get us back to where bracket racing needs to be to survive and grow.
I am trying to make you racers aware and to discuss what I am talking about. The reason is I see something that I have been a part of for 40+ years falling apart because of several reasons I’m going to talk about. I do want to be clear on one thing before I get going. I am not going to accuse anyone of cheating. I don’t think the racers using the latest forms of engine RPM controls are cheating because there are no rules against what they are doing. They are simply smart enough to use the available technology.
The problem is a general lack of rules pertaining to ignitions, data acquisition systems and electronic fuel injection. Until there are specific rules to prevent the use of Programmable RPM to Time controllers (Slew Rate Programs), programmable electronic fuel injection that can be programmed to do Slew Rates plus change fuel delivery, timing and even more, there will be no parity in bracket racing. I can respect the racers who figure out how to use programmable engine acceleration rates to make their cars more consistent but I cannot understand why the tracks and track owners, NHRA, IHRA and other sanctioning bodies have let it get out of control.
Let’s start with what I have witnessed firsthand during the Florida Winter Series tour I have been on. Cars that can keep the same dial-in not only throughout the day but from day to day and day to night racing. Huge swings in the atmospheric conditions, so much so that some cars I know are consistent were struggling .03 to .04 run to run and especially day to day. Maybe some cars are just “better”, right? I can’t say that is impossible but I will say I think it is unlikely.
If you are not familiar with something called a Slew Rate, which is the ability to program your ignition to create an RPM-to-Time ignition program, let me try to explain it real quickly by using an example.
You have a form of data acquisition on your car that you can look at or transfer to your ignition program. Naturally this means you have to have a “programmable ignition system”. You make a series of runs and determine you have a nice engine RPM graph that your car seems to like. You simply have to program the feature of the ignition system that allows you to set an RPM limit for every 1/100th of a second. You plot the graph out in the Programmable RPM screen so that your “race setup” is 150 to 200 RPM below the actual good run you made. Here is where it gets strange and where we need rules.
Flood cops $25K at Footbrake Frenzy
If anyone in the betting crowd at Piedmont Dragway for the sixth annual Fall Footbrake Frenzy VI put their dollars on cars with great paint jobs to win they were betting the wrong “horse”. Farmington, NC-based footbrake racer Jeff Flood's primer-painted Vega absolutely dominated the 200+ entries to win both big money races at the sixth annual Fall Footbrake Frenzy to take home more than $25,000 in cash and parts.
Flood’s Vega has always been a primered workhorse, not a show pony, and after recently suffered a ride on a guardrail, it sported even more primer paint than usual for this race but none of that has any bearing on the inner workings of the car itself or the long-proven driving skill of driver Jeff Flood and the car were absolutely deadly consistent for the entire race.
"I want to thank Rhonda Norris who kept me pointed the right way all day, and Paul Mosley and Robert Bryan for all the help. Can't run a heap that many rounds without good stuff!" he concluded.
Friday's Summit Racing Equipment $5K Warmup was cancelled due to steady temps below 40 degrees, so co- promoters Anthony Walton and Michael Beard of Loose Rocker stacked the $5K from Friday on top of Saturday's NitroPlate $20K Main Event, along with all of the round money and prizes. Saturday’s cash payout was over $50,000!
Thanksgiving Showdown at San Antonio Raceway
With the 2014 points racing season in the books, San Antonio Raceway (SAR) hosted a special Thanksgiving weekend show on the eighth-mile track just east of San Antonio. On the race card for the weekend were the Electronics (Box), Foot Brake (No-box) Jr. Dragsters, plus Little Pooch.
Michael Keylich rounded up an additional 16-car shootout with a $100 entry fee, for a winner-take-all race. SAR added another $400 to that purse making it a smooth $2K to win event. Entry was open to both dragsters and door cars.
The weather was nearly perfect for a late November day, with air temperatures in the low 70's at the start of time trials. By the end of eliminations it had cooled to the 60's, making it great for horsepower and the track holding its afternoon conditions.
Two San Antonio Raceway veterans ended up in the 2K Shootout finals and decided to save on equipment and split the pot. Leroy O'Bryant, in his O'Bryant Automotive, ‘79 El Camino beat David Cain, who went red, in the semis on one side of the bracket. On the other side it was Todd Zampese in his Dragster getting the best of Michael Keylich.
O'Bryant got by Jeff Rabedeau in round 1 and then Gilbert Sanchez in round 2. Zampese took out Scott Ball and Jon Hernandez in early round action.
American Doorslammer Nationals at Piedmont Dragway
Aman crowned champion; Krushinskie, Johnson, and Pelo also score
A record 225 entries shared in over $77,000 in cash and prizes at Loose Rocker's 3rd Annual American Doorslammer Nationals presented by McCarty Auto Parts, hosted by Piedmont Dragway, November 7-9. Competitors flocked to "The Doorslammer Capitol of the World" in Julian, NC, from as far away as Georgia, Ohio, and even Canada to vie for the $20,000 top prize.
Mount Olive, NC's Eric Aman, a former IHRA Div. 9 Modified ET Champion proved his mettle off the top bulb, wheeling the Ronnie Roberts Racing "White Lightning" Nova to the winner's circle in Saturday's $20,000 main event.
Aman held off engine builder and TS/TD standout Brett Nesbitt of Graham, NC, in the finals, using a .027-backed dead-on 5.554 to encourage Nesbitt's 5.997 breakout (6.00 dial-in), despite a .006 reaction time. Aman advanced to the finals by defeating last year's $5K Finale victor Frank Mark, with a .010 at the tree and an .01-over 5.560 to Mark's .013 and 7.313 (7.29). Nesbitt had the semifinal bye run.
Of special note, Nesbitt recorded a perfect run on Friday, a feat that was duplicated by Stacker Steve of Murrysville, PA, on Saturday. Ironically, both perfect runs were posted in the re-entry round.
Saturday night also featured the Brodix Legendary 64 Shootout, with $4,000 on the line plus a $1,000 Brodix gift certificate. Lester Johnson of Cynthiana, KY, and his fan favorite "Dragzilla" Nomad wagon treated everyone to not only one massive wheelstand spectacle after another, but also a master class en route to the winner's circle.
LODRS Division 7 at Las Vegas
Severance and Leanders lead winners
Joey Severance, Woodburn, Ore., and Ulf Leanders, Viksjofors, Sweden, took home the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively at the Short Line Express Market Gambler Shootout at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Nov. 9. There was a 25-car field in TAD and 20 in TAFC and to make it into the top eight to qualify was a challenge with the great competition that was in attendance at this event.
With a good pass right down the groove, Severance picked up his second win in the last two weekends in Las Vegas and also scored his 16th divisional win.
STRANGE Tales from the Road, Part 3
Project 10 developed an “issue” but we finally figured it out.
Our three races at Immokalee Regional Raceway went very well. We got to four cars and that is pretty rare for one of the slowest cars at the track. I went over that in STRANGE Tales 2.
We spent four days at Manatee State Park and did some actual relaxing and got caught up on laundry and stocked up with food for the Fun in the Sun 5-Day race at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
NHRA Sportsman Finals at Pomona
Wrapping it up
The 2014 season ended at the Finals national event on Nov. 16.
Top Alcohol Dragster: Duane Shields (far lane), 5.412, 264.13 def. Cameron Ferre, 5.625, 265.74.
Tony Bartone raced newly crowned TAFC champion Steve Harker (far lane) in the semifinal, but T-Bone’s late .276 light proved his undoing. In the Top Alcohol Funny Car final: Steve Harker, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.489, 266.21 def. John Lombardo Jr., Ford Mustang, 5.519, 263.36.
Quick 32 Sportsman Champion – Jon Schmid
The first-year entry of Jon Schmid dominated the 2014 Quick 32 Sportsman Series with the Top Sportsman driver winning the Championship Point Award Series in fine fashion.
This was the sixth year of competition in the Quick 32 Sportsman Series, presented by NAPA Auto Parts.
Driving his 2006 Pontiac GTO-bodied car, Schmid, from Orchard Park, New York, did not race in the season opener at Grand Bend, but took runner-up in the next event at US 131 Motorsports Park at Martin, Michigan.
He went rounds and not only won the Top Sportsman side, but took the event win over Top Dragster driver Buddy Forrest of Rochester, New York at the next event at Empire Dragway.
Schmid drove to a semi-final finish for the next race, held at the Grand Bend Motorplex, and then for the season closer at Grand Bend, won the Top Sportsman side, losing the event final to Top Dragster driver Mike Everitt of Stratford, Ontario.
Schmid’s GTO is a Jerry Haas Race Cars product, powered by a 762-cubic Chevrolet engine from Jan-Cen Racing Engines coupled with an Abruzzi Racing transmission and converter. The car is capable of quarter-mile times in the low seven-second range at speeds of 200 mph.