in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of November 2, 1998
Apparently NHRA paid off the weather man and finally put the MATCO Tools Supernationals to bed in Houston earlier today. We've got the all the important (ie: Top Fuel and Top Alcohol) numbers posted on our MATCO Tools Supernationals results page and the updated points standings for Top Fuel and Top Alcohol in our points index.
While Gary Scelzi continued his awesome string of 4.50's at over 320 mph, his last remaining challenger for the season championship, Cory McClenathan, fell by the wayside in the semi-finals with a huge engine explosion opposite Tony Schumacher. Then young Tony provided his own pyrotechnics show in the final against Scelzi.
It must have been an expensive (and long) weekend for Schumacher and the EXIDE Batteries team as they had an even worse engine explosion in the second round versus Kenny "The Lizard King" Bernstein. That round saw Schumacher smoke the tires, pedal, push out the head gaskets and have a very big KA-BOOM at the finish line, ending with the car losing a rear tire and sliding/grinding to a halt in the shutdown area. The explosion and resulting fireball was so violent that it tripped the timers in Bernstein's lane, long before he reached the finish line.
With the semi- and final rounds run before (almost) empty grandstands and no (live) TV crews present, the race lost much of the impact associated with the successful running of an event. While the spectators went home feeling ripped off by the weather and the remaining racers had their five days in Houston extended by another day, the sponsors must feel like they got the worst of the deal.
I wonder if NHRA provides partial refunds for lost promotional and media opportunities? I definitely wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that refund cheque in the mail. I can just imagine the responses from the marketing department in Glendora this week: "Well yes, we weren't able to - due to no fault of our own - (other than scheduling too many events too late in the year) to provide you with all the contracted elements in our agreement, BUT we will make it up to you next year . . . In fact, if you renew your sponsorship marketing contract for next years' event - (which will be even bigger and better than this years' extravaganza!) we can offer you, for a limited time only, a larger and better package at the same price!"
Now it's on to Pomona and that proverbial pot of (fools?) gold at the end of the rainbow. Plenty of time for the teams to go home, check the mail, feed the dog, have a shower and hit the road for Southern California. Wonder what the weather forecasts are like for next weekend in the L.A. area? With NHRA's current "run of luck" I'd be prepared for anything short of snow . . . heck, let's throw in a snow advisory just for good measure. Somewhere way back in the darkest recesses of my mind I've got this vision of the Top Fuel final being run on Christmas Eve, with the Safety Safari using snowblowers to keep the track groomed for the Top Fuel Snowmobile final. On a more serious note, let's hope the final race of the season goes off on schedule, because there's only 77 days until the gates open for pit parking at the 1999 Winternationals.
So what's happening in THUNDERville this week?? Still no pictures of the new race car; if you think NHRA's got weather problems, try living in Vancouver and you'll think rained-out drag races are only an occasional irritation. This is one of the only cities in the world where it can rain on any day of the year. Any day: January, July, October, whenever, it can rain. The standard joke about Vancouver weather goes like this: "if you can't see the mountains, it's raining; if you can see the mountains, it's about to start raining". One of these days we'll get it done, so please be patient.
On the positive side, we've just firmed up a deal to sell our entire remaining inventory of 392 Chrysler parts to a good home in Kentucky. Believe it or not, it will be a sad day when I see the truck leaving with all that stuff. The 392 was my introduction to blown alcohol racing, and while we stayed with it about 10 years longer than originally planned, the old reliable '92 served us well. The engine(s) would take lots of rookie abuse and even on 7 (or sometimes 6) cylinders would still get us down the track in a more or less respectable fashion. We delighted in explaining to visitors to our pit area the number of stock parts in what appeared to be a full-on race engine. Stock block, crankshaft, oil pump, heads, rocker assemblies were mind-boggling to those used to seeing nothing but aftermarket pieces between the framerails of an alcohol dragster.
Eventually, time and an upgraded blower, fuel system, magneto and a new chassis contributed to our "divorce" from the old girl and the "marriage" to the all-new TFX/B-1 combo that's currently going together. We found that the '92 just didn't like all that compressed air and fuel being ignited so efficiently in a longer (and heavier) car. The end result was a block split in half on our last run with the 392 and finally facing the fact that it was time to "step up or step away". For anyone who's ever contemplated running a 392 Chrysler in a blown alcohol car, take my advice (learned at great expense and over many years of beating my head against a performance wall).
Keep it SOFT!! We achieved our best results with an almost stock (bus blower) GMC 6-71 at 30% overdrive, a Vertex magneto at 32 degrees lead and a fat (block off that high-speed, throw away the port nozzles) fuel system. Plus an old Engle cam with 276 degrees of duration and .600" lift. It would fall on its face (at least it felt that way) in high gear, but would make laps all day with no more than oil and plug changes, retorquing the heads, adjusting the valve lash, putting another 3 or 4 gallons of methanol in the tank and repacking the parachute. Really, not much more work than a SuperComp car. And a heck of a lot more fun!!
So, it's a fond farewell to a faithful companion and the hope that the new owner treats her as well as she deserves. For us, it's on to bigger and badder things!! This week should see the arrival of the crankshaft with many thanks to Jay Syvertsen at MOPAC Auto Supply for "expediting" its delivery. Crower quoted me a "six to eight months" wait when I called, but Jay managed to pull it off in less than a month. Don't ask how or why, but it's on the way.
Also, the T&D Machine rocker assemblies, Brooks rods, RCD (top) blower pulley and some (classified) pieces from PSI are slowly working their way(s) up the coast and should arrive later in the week. Then next week a big box of goodies from MSD are expected. If you think the new PSI blower scared me . . . I'm not even sure if I want to take the MSD 44 AMP magneto out of the box. I keep thinking about our last mag, a 3 AMP Mallory Super-Mag III, and then try to mentally compare it to the 44. Major chills down the old spine.
It's no wonder my crewchief, Tom Mohan, is actively searching for someone to handle the starting duties on the new car. Any takers out there? Prime requirements: Well-"grounded" personality, no fear, and (preferably) no brains; just the ability to hang onto a 70-pound starter long enough to kick the engine to life and not think of what might happen if something goes wrong. Oh yeah, one other small detail: The ability to pay your own way to Willowbank Raceway. Did I mention that it's located in Australia? Just e-mail your applications to the BOMB SQUAD Personnel Office.
I'll finish off tonight's update with a few miscellaneous bits that have been hanging around and just won't go away. First, the new Mission Raceway website is still not anything more than a "welcome to nowhere" page. Of course, it's only two days past the due date, and as soon as I post this, will probably be up and running and making a liar out of me. (So what else is new?)
Second, some local "troublemaker" has been promoting the idea of a drag racing version of the (CFOX) "Larry and Willy" show. (Larry = Larry Pfister of Horsepower Heaven fame and Willy = Bob "Willy" Wilson of Northern Thunder infamy). I don't know which media it would work best in; over the net, on the radio or television, but the concept is an interesting one. Seriously, with Larry's "straight" lines and my "punch" lines it could be quite an entertaining combination.
We all know how much natural comedy material exists in the world of drag racing and the opportunity to skewer the guilty in public makes my mouth water. All we have to do is find some company rich enough (dumb enough?) to buy the airtime to make it happen. Applications are now being accepted at the BAD IDEA INC. corporate headquarters.
Final item for the night. Larry Pfister has been a great help and inspiration to my efforts in this web "game". He's been a big supporter since day one, and still is, despite my efforts to drag him into the mud that I stir up from time to time (like every other week). Now he's got "official" permission from his wife to fly off to the other side of the world and spend some time with us in Australia next year. He's so gung-ho on the idea that he's willing to go downunder in the shipping container - bad idea Larry, it's 40 days on the ship and there's no porta-can inside.
Well, after breaking my commitment to him to sponsor a trip to the Winston World Finals next week, I feel that the least I can do is pay his way to OZ next year for the Winternationals. Yeah, I know you've seen the Winternats a few times already Larry, but this version will be something completely different. Trust me on this. Though it would be pretty hard to top this year's version for excitement: six major crashes, more drag babes than you can shake your stick at and NO crocodiles in the car park!
So here it is for all to see: Larry Pfister, you've just "won" an all expenses (except BEER) paid vacation for ONE (sorry Denise) to Brisbane for the 1999 Konica Winternationals (sanctioned by ANDRA, if it still exists then). Start packing, the plane leaves on June 5th and don't forget the digital camera and the laptop. We've got to show some proof of what actually happens down there. Well, at least some of it anyway.
Not sure when the next update will be, so you'll just have to tune in regularly to catch it. (Sneaky, eh?) As usual, we'll bring you the latest news as soon as it happens (or we make it happen).