Photography & Motorsports
Win #3 at Atco Raceway
This event by far was the toughest to date and was won with a little luck and consistency plus help from my volunteer friends in the pits.
The "week end" started on Thursday after I flew to Richmond, VA where the car has remained since the Richmond event at the PCS Shop to swap out the motor after competing at the match races in Florida. The GOOD motor was freshened up at Kilo's shop while we were in Florida and decided to use it for the Atco event. It was also time to load up all my spare parts and new parts that I did not have time to install on the car such as the gun drilled axles, lightened spool & gear and titanium studs to reduce the rotating weight. The motor sounded really good and crisp so we loaded up in preparation for the trip to New Jersey.
We left Richmond on Friday morning and headed straight to the Best Buy store where we were scheduled to display the car and participate in an autograph session for the fans and customers. It actually was rather good as it was a blistering hot day and inside the store was nice and cool.
Saturday morning was time to set up the pit and ready the car for the first round of qualifying at 2pm. The only major change to the car was the addition of the new Pro Stock style wheelie bars fabricated by Tito Chassis following the Englishtown brush with the wall.
I was paired with Luis and elected to run in the right hand lane for Q-1 and ran a 7.480 @ 177.74 (See the in-car video) Not bad right out of the trailer with the density altitude at 2035 feet and into the P1 spot. The data reveled quiet a bit of tire spin down the track so the only change I made between rounds was tire pressure. I also elected to sit out round 2 of qualifying as the other competitors were well off the pace. That soon changed however!
Round #3 of qualifying had improved conditions as it had cooled down. I was put in the right lane again and just as soon as I let the clutch go, the car immediately started shaking the tires so I pulled 2nd gear and it shook again so I just got out of the gas and eased on down the track. By the time everyone had run, I was in the #3 qualifying position and learned I would have to run Brent Rau in the second round if I made it past Luis in the first round. Wow, what a challenge that would be; my 7.480 to Brent's 7.039 ET. What should I do?
I decided to service the clutch on Saturday evening and not make any major changes then took my time at analyzing my data to see if I could do anything that would help me beat Brent. I had to come up with a plan!
With my stomach in a ball (like always) just before the first round of Eliminations, I checked the density altitude and elected to make a minor change and I would run a "normal" round just like it was any other racer. I had to be consistent.
I had Luis in the first round and elected to take the right hand lane. Following our burn outs, we had to shut the cars down for the officials to clean up the top end of the track. Following the second burn out, we staged and Luis had a problem and went red as he was not able to stage in time but when I let the clutch go to make my pass, the car went straight to the center line. I got out of it and got on the gas again only for the car to do the same thing. I knew then something was wrong and it would not be long before I was waved over to the side of the track. I had just oiled down the entire track! It turns out that an aluminum AN fitting that screws into the front cover that connects the main oil line from the pump to the external oil filter broke off consequently loosing oil pressure and pumping the 6 quarts of oil out onto and under the car and the track. This was a huge mess to clean up for the track and the car.
From this bad and embarrassing experience, I will have radio communications with my crew from this point forward at every race as this could have bee avoided had I known plus I will replace every aluminum fitting on the motor with steel ones.
The big question was "was the motor OK"? We removed the broken fitting and screwed in one from my spare motor, added 6 quarts of Idemitsu Racing Oil to the pan and started it up. Oil pressure was good and it sounded OK but would it last? I had to run Brent the next round. Between all of the cleaning and making the repair, I did not have time to service the clutch but we made it in time.
Round 2: "The big one" Believe it or not, I had lane choice. I walked the track and felt the left lane was better and even though I had not run the left lane at all, I selected to run it and put Brent in the right lane. The burn outs were normal and once the top bulbs were on, I focused and did what I usually do by cutting a fairly good light and drove down the middle of the track, wheels spinning some and expecting to see Brent come flying past me. It didn't happen. I won the round but it was really close. WOW, I was going to the final against Paul. Great for the points. I just love the quote from the NHRA results:
(W) Ken Scheepers ('05 RX8) 0.068 7.416 181.11 (L) Brent Rau ('99 Eclipse) 0.094 7.442 189.63
Scheepers had an oil line come off in the previous round, the result was one of the biggest oil downs of the year. The crew here at Atco did a great job getting the track back in tip top shape. Upset!! Everyone has been buzzing on Rau's potential to run the first six in Modified history - instead it's the Nuclear banana from Texas that is going to the final round.
The Pro Rotary crowd here at Atco loved the result of this drag race. Ken Scheepers' MOV: 0.0524 seconds (approximately 15 feet).
Round 3: The finals against Paul. Again, all I did was service the clutch and change spark plugs between rounds. I felt I had a good shot at winning provided I did not make any mistakes as I my recent 7.416 was just 0.042 seconds slower than Paul's qualifying. Again, I had lane choice and elected to run the left lane again. Once we completed our burn out's staging was "normal" and I actually remember making SURE I didn't go red and consequently had a bad reaction time of .107 to Paul's 0.075. Luck would be on my side again as I went down the center again spinning the tires but never saw Paul.
(W) Ken Scheepers ('05 RX8) 0.107 7.414 177.93 (L) Paul Efantis ('03 Solara) 0.075 8.205 141.73
The Pro Rotary crowd goes wild!! Efantis rattled the tires off the line for the first time this weekend, then had a big puff of smoke at the top end. Scheepers has been lucky and good this weekend, congrats to the whole team from Texas.
I was ecstatic in the car and had just won the third event in 4 attempts this year. A great boost for the points and retaining the points lead going into Las Vegas.
I want to thank all the guys who lent a helping hand this week end to service the car, shine the paint, cook some wonderful Spanish food and to Victor and Eduard for sharing the driving for the 27 hour trip home to Texas.
Here are the points standing following this event:
See you in Las Vegas!
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