in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of September 22, 1999
Not much time to do it, but I've got to clean up a few loose odds and ends today. First up is another OOPS!!! from the TV schedule department. I didn't do too well announcing the times for the "NHRA True Value Keystone Nationals" broadcasts on Speedvision over the weekend. In fact, only one of the three show times listed was correct on my first attempt. So, my sincere apologies to anyone who missed any of the action due to my mistakes. The "repeat" broadcast on Monday night was, in fact, a repeat broadcast of the two hours of eliminations shown earlier in the evening. So, altogether, Speedvision broadcast five hours from Maple Grove Raceway, covering qualifying highlights and all rounds of Professional eliminations. Hope you got a chance to watch/tape all the action, and if you were led astray by us, sorry!
Viewers got a big bonus too: NO Eli Gold for a change. "Jabba The (Pizza) Hut" fortunately didn't have the chance to inflict his brand of commentary on us. (He was busy screwing up a college football game and a NASCAR race). The pairing of Bob Frey and Frank Hawley in the booth did a much better job. While the roving reporters were adequate, it's obvious that Chris "what am I doing here?" McClure doesn't belong on a drag racing program and Dave Reiff is just adequate. Makes you wonder whatever happened to Dave McClelland and Steve Evans, doesn't it? I know it makes me wish they were still doing these shows.
Turning our attention closer to home, as in my local track, Mission Raceway Park, I can actually report on what happened there on Sunday. For the first time in over a year I ventured out there and, despite missing the new entrance overpass (sign? what sign?), made it into the pits and spent some time in the grandstands. And there was lots of room in the pits and the stands, as with the points-earning season over and no feature attractions, the turnout of racers and spectators was minimal. For those that were in attendance, that was a bonus resulting in much shorter line-ups at the concessions, lots of elbow room and time for extra runs by the racers.
My main reason for being there was to see Leo Grocock's re-licensing attempts in Ken Rempel's Top Alcohol Dragster. Seven years out of the seat had left a few streaks of rust on Leo, but he did his job well and the car worked perfectly. On his second attempt of the day (and fourth of six runs required), Leo pedalled the car momentarily at the top of second gear, shut off very early and still put a very respectable 6.63 at only 170 mph up on the scoreboards. With not enough time to complete his last two runs on Sunday, the Rempel and Grocock combo will be back at Mission in two weeks, on October 9-10, to complete the licensing. Good luck, Leo, you're looking good and taking care of Ken's equipment.
Immediately prior to Leo's run, a new Top Alcohol Funny Car, driven by Tim Nemeth of Burnaby, BC, made a lap towards his license. I've never heard of him before, never seen the car before, and unfortunately didn't have any time to take a close look at the operation. They appeared to have all the right equipment and an on-off, on-off, 7.12 at 153 mph was the only run I had time to see before leaving for work. Still, it was a very pleasant surprise to see another blown alcohol car surfacing in the Lower Mainland. Good luck, guys!
The aforementioned cars weren't the only blown alky guys running, either. Rob Murphy of Chilliwack, came out with his wild-looking Dodge Daytona Doorslammer and attempted to lay down a few passes. The first one, after a blazing burnout, saw the car rev to the moon and die on the starting line when he let the clutch out. Going by his pit area afterwards, I found the transmission I'd sold him last year in pieces.... lots of pieces.... lots of itty, bitty pieces. Yikes! "Uh, gee, sorry Rob, but the warranty has definitely expired. Good luck, see ya later".... and then it was time to beat a hasty retreat. A later attempt, with another Lenco borrowed from Bill Edwards, saw the car out of shape early and shut down to a disappointing 12-second time.
Just as I was heading for the parking lot, Stu Eggen came out in (the late) Bill Phillips' front-engine 392-Chrysler powered dragster. This was to be my first chance to see the car run, and the first time I'd get to hear a 392 since my last run (three years ago) in my old 392-powered car. Man, are those suckers loud! I'd forgotten how great and nasty the early hemi sounded until Stu lit up the hides -- big time -- coming out of the water. Elation quickly turned to disappointment though, as the car just kept going, and going, and going after the burnout. The PA said "trouble selecting reverse", but with the car never slowing down to less than 20 mph at any point, my opinion was no brakes. Whatever, Stu punched the loud pedal one last time at the 1000 foot mark and took it down to the turnoff without making a run. Bummer!
Despite that sour ending to my day at Mission, it was really enjoyable being out there for the first time this year. The weather was great, sunny and pretty warm for late summer/early autumn. Everyone I met was happy to see me again, it was fun being around race cars again and I was constantly reminding myself how nice a facility Mission Raceway is. It almost (but not quite) makes me wish that I could have made a few laps there with my new car before it went to Australia. You never know though, maybe sometime in the future, it just might come back to Canada for a summer tour.
As a follow-up to my day at the races, I received a phone call from a member of the BC Custom Car Association (owners of Mission Raceway) executive yesterday. As usual, I immediately felt guilty and expected to receive a harsh blast for an article that I posted on this page several days earlier. Surprisingly, the tone of the caller was quite relaxed and cordial, but he did want to point what he felt were inaccuracies in the story. And, as almost always is the case, there were indeed two sides to the aforementioned story. As a consequence of the call, I've decided that discretion would be the wisest course of action and have removed the article from this page.
While I never like to have to do this, the possible ramifications, to both myself and the author, have dictated this course of action. After getting myself in some serious hot water with several parties last year, I vowed to get away from the mud-slinging, unless I knew the whole story and could post it with no fear of libel or slander accusations. Since then I've pretty much stuck to that plan, but occasionally find myself drawn into things that maybe I should just stay away from. And this looks like one of those times. Let's hope that the current "impasse" (the best word I can think of to describe it) between the parties can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. End of subject.So what happened over at Santa Pod? You may remember my mention of Bob Haffner's trip to England for the "FIA European Finals" ten days ago. He called me last week and we talked about how successful a venture it turned out to be, with Bob helping Eero Kilpelainen set new FIA Top Methanol records (and all-time bests outside North America) of 5.691 and 248.06 mph. A large part of my day at Mission on Sunday was spent with Bob in the Rempel-Grocock pits, looking at pictures of his trip and discussing his plans for next season.
Eero was so impressed with the performance gains at the Finals that he's asked Bob to come to Finland over the winter to see what needs upgrading for next season. Then, he wants Bob to travel with him to all the 2000 FIA season Championship events. With only a five race schedule, and two pairs of back-to-back races, the travel logisitics wouldn't be too onerous. Bob feels that with a few minor upgrades, that 5.50 elapsed times are possible next year, barring any major rules changes.
While the European dragsters have to run at 4.60 lbs. per inch with a screw blower (as compared to 4.40 in NHRA), there is no limit on blower overdrive listed in the FIA regulations. Presumably, the manufacturer's limits would be the criteria. While the European tracks are not all up to NHRA standards for preparation and traction, the 5.69 at Santa Pod was run with the engine "very soft" and no clutch preparation or time to fine-tune anything. "There's still a long way to go with that car" is Bob's take on the situation.
There isn't enough time to properly prepare a report today on Bob's weekend at Santa Pod, but I've randomly thrown together some of the pics in a photo gallery and will flesh it out with a full report later this week. NOTE: Some of the pictures have a rather "arty" look to them; that wasn't intentional, merely a failure of a brand-new "automagic" camera to work correctly. (You should see some of the shots we left out!) It was a major disappointment for Bob to discover that five rolls of film yielded less than one roll worth of usable pictures. Ain't technology grand ?
There's lots more happening here that I'd like to be able to report, but there just isn't time today.... and tomorrow doesn't look any better. But, there are ominous clouds on my job horizon and if the situation doesn't miraculously improve in the next few days, I may have LOTS of time to work on the website starting very soon. Lockout or strike? Who knows, but it's virtually guaranteed to be one or the other. I've got to go now to make some phone calls enquiring about laptop rentals; may as well make my picket duty time useful, eh?