in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 25, 1999
8:00 am: Less than 24 hours until the fifth class of students starts the latest Drag Race School and there's still lots of preparation to do. Dave and myself have to get the car ready -- a three page, single-spaced checklist -- to go through and turn in to "Professor" Lowe. Obviously, in this situation, no shortcuts or cheat sheets are allowed. In fact, I'm more nervous working on this car than on my own race car. At least if I screw something up on my own car, it's only me that's going to get hurt, but on a school car....
The weather forecasts are looking better this week -- so far -- and we're confident that Ken's perfect weather record at the first four schools won't be broken at this one. Starting tomorrow morning at Willowbank Raceway, the group of six students (and one observer - me) will be put through the most thorough and complete drag racing indoctrination and instruction possible. Hey, maybe this old dog might even learn a new trick or two... at least that's the plan. And anyone who thinks they know it all, no matter how long they've been involved in the sport, is in more trouble than they can imagine.
Enough talk for now -- it's time to get to work, with Crew Chief (of the school car), Dave Coles, delegating to me some of the less critical tasks, while he attacks the serious stuff. Even though this is "just" a Modified Eliminator dragster (best of 8.45 at 155 mph), Ken won't allow us to cut any corners when it comes to maintenance and preparation. In fact, I'd venture to say that this car receives more attention than many faster cars, even some professional-class cars.
While Dave starts taking down the Big-Block Chevy engine, I'm grabbing "spanners" and checking every nut and bolt from front to rear on the car. Nothing is bypassed. From the diff mounting bolts, to every steering component, to all the hoses and fittings and even all the electrical connections. And there's lots of those. After all, how many dragsters have a horn and headlights? Or front brakes? Or a CD-player? (Just kidding on that one, even though that delay box looks like it could play them). I'm certain I've owned street machines with less wiring and fewer controls than this car.
While Dave and I continue preparing the car, Ken and Tracey attend to all the other details to prepare for the school tomorrow. Textbooks for the students, Audio-visual displays, lecture materials, food and soft drinks to prepare and pack, truck and trailer to wash.... oops, that's on page four of my checklist... and on and on it goes.
At each class Ken has learned ways to streamline and improve the teaching process, so each group of students receives an updated textbook and curriculum handout, along with an ever-improving level of instruction. So it's going to be a long day for Ken and Tracey as they review and rework the material. And if I don't stop writing this update, it's going to be a long day for Dave and I getting the car prepped, loaded in the trailer and ready to go tomorrow.
6:00 pm: Sunset was an hour ago, but quitting time is still well in the distance. We're just starting page three (of the checklist) and we've still got twenty-two items to cover. Over the years, many people have had different ideas of where the term "drag" racing originated. Well, at this point in the day, the term "drag" can be easily applied to how I feel about all this maintenance work. It's not fun, but it is necessary. On to the next item. Before Dave cracks that big whip again. Got to keep reminding myself that it's only seven more days until my Top Alcohol dragster arrives... then the real torture begins. I can hardly wait...
11:00 pm: We've achieved "liftoff" as the now-completed race car is winched up into the trailer and its travelling cradle. Only a few more minutes of lashing it down, loading up the last minute supplies and equipment and we're done for today. Tomorrow will come all too early (5:00 am wake-up call), so we better get it done and get gone. See you tomorrow with the description of my first day at the Drag Racing School. Wonder if the teacher likes apples?