2012 OZARK RACEWAY
Memorial Day weekend we went down to Springfield, Mo for a match race with Greg Jacobsmeyer and the All-Star Rug Doctor Dodge Nitro Funnycar. It was set up for 2-runs on Saturday after it got dark.
We arrived at the track on Friday night and dropped off the trailer. This was after a major week long flog to get the car finished and all put together after going through everything in the off season. It was all on schedule to be ready to fire on Monday when I discovered some debris in the rear main bearing. This required a complete tear down and additional cleaning. New oil line hoses from RCD overnight from California. Then put everything back together. We didn't have time to fire it before we left the shop. I spun it for oil pressure and loaded it up.
We were a couple of hours South of Des Moines driving in nice sunny weather. Pulled into a the Eagleville truck stop and all kinds of wind, hail, rain blasted down on us. For about ½ an our you couldn't see 20-foot in front of the truck. Lucky we were sitting under the awning of the diesel pumps island. When it finally slacked off we headed out, and in 15-minutes were back in the sunshine again. Welcome to the Midwest for changing weather conditions.
Saturday AM we went out the the famous restaurant Lambert's, home of the throwed rolls. Imagine a Cracker Barrel on major steroids and that is this place. Huge plates of food, and a guy walking around throwing hot fresh rolls across the room to anyone who raises their hand wanting one. One crazy meal to have on raceday. Glad we didn't have to run until later at night.
We got to the track and were greeted by Al, the track manager. What a super guy he is to race for. He kept checking in all day to see if we needed anything. It is always fun to hang out with Jake, Mark, and his guys. They are a blast to race with and always have a good time at the track.
Since the car hadn't been run yet, I asked Jake to sit in the seat for the warm-up. We had a completely new group of guys working on the car for the weekend. We had a discussion on who was to do what. I was impressed by how smooth it went all weekend with a new team. The guys did a great job of stepping up to be able to make both runs. I am a bit nervous as a crowd gathers around, and I don't even know if it will start yet. What a great feeling when it fired the second the wires were pulled. We checked the timing, idle temps, all while Jake was checking the clutch and trans. All seemed fine. Ready to go to the line. Jake and I had previously inspected the track and the the starting line area. I chose to take the tighter/more confined side for the first round. So I was in the left lane, right near the retaining wall. Remember this part for later.
Here is where the weekend took a rough turn. I asked Jake to let us fire first to give my guys enough time to make sure they didn't feel pressured or hold him up. While strapping me in the car, the fire bottle lever got hit sitting off the fire bottles. Then with the car running the brakes wouldn't hold it and it backed up about 3-feet when I let out the clutch. Lesson learned, never believe that a firm brake handle means you have fluid pressure at the calipers. It bumped into the retaining wall of course, putting some scratches in the left qt.
Well alright then, forward march little lady. Rolled through the water box, hit the throttle and things got a lot better. Up on the tires and a nice smooth burnout, with a long roll at the end because of course I had very little brakes. This was a ¼ mile track that we were only running to the 1/8th mile so I had no worries about stopping after the run. With the clutch in the car would stop with the brakes, given enough distance. One nice dry hop, and time to stage. I then discovered that I couldn't get low enough to see the prestage light. I just rolled forward until a caught a glow, tried again to sit lower, still couldn't see the stage light even. I saw Jake roll up so I tried stepping off the clutch after putting it on the high side hoping the slower idle would let the brakes hold it. No dice, the second I stepped off the clutch it rolled through the the stage beams went out. I just sat there with the clutch in, waiting for Jake to stage and figured would could both leave together. After a bit when the tree didn't activate I just left and drive it down through there. It felt pretty decent, but of course no time slip to judge it by. Jake rolled up behind me and the 1st round was over, everybody was safe.
Back in the pits we bled the brake system, and the handle came around to how it was supposed to feel. We were a bit low on Nitro so we just serviced the car and went to the line without a warm up.
This time things went as per normal. The burnouts were side by side. Two real nice dry hops, staged but still without seeing the tree. I thought I was out of practice at scrunching down in the seat. Later I found out the tree is a bit higher than most, and a couple of feet closer to the starting line. It probably doesn't effect too many people, just with the low roof line of the Vette I couldn't see it. When sitting on the line I could see the bottom Yellow and the Green. Both cars left well, I felt mine pick the front end up. Around 400 feet out it was moving around pretty good so I stuck it in high and the spinning continued. About 550-feet out I felt it start to nose over and lifted. We coasted through to a 4.35 or so at 155 mph. Jake lifted about the same place and he coasted thru at 4.28 or so at 158 mph for the win. So Jake continues to whip me in the finals when we race. But his days of doing that are numbered. The car ran well, until it ran out of fuel. I guess a couple of dry hops may be too many without a bigger fuel tank.
Thanks again to Ozark Raceway Park for inviting us to share in their Memorial day race.
I hope you like my “What I did Last Weekend” story,