Photography & Motorsports
NITTO TIRES CALIFORNIA NHRA SPORT COMPACT NATIONALS
#1 Qualifier & ET Record Holder!
What a crazy week end.
Finally, the first event of the season was here and the anticipation was over. It was time to visit old friends and meet some new ones.
The weather was great which was encouraging yet when I walked the track for the first time, it looked like there had not been much action in the past. My first thoughts were that it would be a challenge to get traction and I was not sure about the transition from the concrete to asphalt.
On Friday afternoon, the car passed tech inspection. Additionally, the roll cage was certified thus making it legal to run in the 9's thanks to Neil Elliott down in Killeen, Texas.
On Saturday, we would have 3 qualifying passes. Who was going to do what was the big question. Out of the top NHRA contenders from 2003, Leslie Durst in her CRX and Scott Mohler in his Mopar SRT4 were there. Additionally there were several local All Motor cars that I had not competed against before.
The first few cars that went down the track were in the mid 11's. My first pass in the right lane was one of the weirdest I have ever made. The data log revealed a lot of wheel spin all the way down. A 10.541 @ 127.37 mph. #3 Qualifier.
This was the first 1/4 mile pass I had made since the 2003 final's in Pomona. The car felt really strong but I had never experienced this amount of wheel spin before. What would I do?
Bisi Ezerioha set the new record with his first pass. A 10.396 @ 130.79 mph and Eric Agular ran a 10.414 @ 127.98 mph.
For round 2, I made two small changes. I ran this pass next to Bisi and improved to a 10.453 @ 127.27 mph. Still a lot of wheel spin and still in the #3 position. Bisi and Eric made no improvement.
Round 3. The final attempt to make a good pass. I changed tire pressure and shock setting. The changes I made were uncharted for me, as were the track conditions.
In the left lane for my final qualifier, I ran what I thought was a conservative pass, short shifting to get traction and when it was all over, I moved myself into the #1 qualifying position. A 10.387 @ 127.84 mph just barely edging out Bisi's 10.396
A margin of just 0.009 seconds. The new 2004 ET Record up to this point.
My immediate reaction was "YES" for the points race. Additionally, this just confirmed that the rule changes were indeed going to make this class one of the closest in this series.
Sadly, Leslie crashed her car in the second round and Scott failed to qualify. I know how disappointed they must feel.
Sunday morning, we would have our first round at 10:30am. This because of the 16 car field.
I was thinking CHAMPIONSHIP.
The air was a little better and so was the track. I analyzed Saturday' data, performed some routine maintenance and made a tuning change. I was ready do battle all the way to the final round and to clinch another "Wally"
In the staging lanes, I learned I would run against Larry Kelley who came in as a alternate.
After the burnout, we staged and I was ready. As the bulbs on the tree began to fall, I dropped the clutch and then there was an explosion like I never heard before. The car barley moved.
I was shocked and did not know what had happened. The officials came running over to see if I was hurt. I climbed out of the car uninjured
There was a gaping hole in the rear of the floor pan and pieces of universal joint all over the place. What happened was truly scary.
The diagnosis revealed that the axle tubes turned in the rear end housing. This caused the drive shaft to be at a radical angle and consequently the rear universal joint housing and flange disintegrated sending pieces everywhere.
That was the end of our day unfortunately and as the saying goes, "THATS DRAG RACING FOR YOU".
Final thoughts. We leave California with yet another #1 Qualifying position, the 2004 ET Record, 58 points and the car felt really strong.
I am looking forward to defending my 2003 Moroso victory and lowering the ET record again. See you in Moroso, April 17th - 18th.
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