Too Fast and Loving It
Adam Sorokin's Adventures in CIFCA Land
By Adam Sorokin
Second generation drag racer Adam Sorokin keeps us up to date on his racing efforts with the Dave and Lynda Smith Firebird on the California Independent Funny Car Association circuit. Here is Adam's latest installment. bp
Well, for our first race of the season we were a little nervous. We had been having a bit of difficulty in the clutch area and we weren't sure whether we were on track yet or not. In pre-season testing, the car had developed a tendency to hop pretty violently at the hit of the throttle, unloading the back end of the car. This almost put us into the wall at Vegas when the car went sideways about thirty feet off the line. Anyway, it seemed that a combination of too much clutch, tire pressure, and launch RPM was causing the problem.
The first pass we did at Sacramento Friday night was just a launch and a 1-2 shift to see if we were headed in the right direction. It was better, but there still was a bit of hop. But we felt I could drive through it for sure. On our first qualifying pass Saturday, we ran a sluggish 7.99 ET. We got the car back to the pits and found out we had taken 26 thousandths off the clutch (we like to see around 13 thousandths). Off came the clutch can and transmission along with all the other surrounding tin. In came Roger "Riceman" Lee to help car owner Dave Smith yank it all out and get it sorted out. We had 45 minutes to do this mind you and they just kicked ass!
It wasn't looking good as the other cars had already started pulling into the staging lanes. I look over and see that the can and tranny are still on the ground! But a little while later, the car was back together and we were putting the seat back in. Dave pounds on the seat to get it back in and snap -- the bracket that holds the seat (and me) off the driveshaft breaks. Roger and I are looking at it and we decide to put some zip ties and a little duct tape on it, so it's functional. Dave looks at me and says, "You're gonna sit in it that way?" I push up and down on it and it isn't gonna go anywhere, so yeah I am.
We get in last in line and just make the second round of qualifying. The car ran a 7.36 ET at 195 MPH (too fast for the 7.50 bracket we run -- I sure wish it was just heads up racing!) It put us pretty far back in qualifying (13th). In the first round we raced Jim Maher who won with a 7.53 (I think) to our 7.68.
I wasn't too happy with my performance in the reaction time department. It was very inconsistent this weekend. I'm usually in the .460 to .490 range with the pedal clutch but we've never actually had the same clutch setup twice as we are still sorting out the car. In the future, I want to decrease the air gap to .045 as opposed to the .065 that was in the car this weekend, which should help a bunch. I found that I was thinking more of when the car was finally going to roll in than I was concentrating on the light, which I'm sure didn't help my reaction times. Most of the other cars in this class run a Powerglide with a trans brake, which are quick off the line. You have to be on your game in this arena if you run a pedal clutch. Practice, practice, practice. It doesn't happen overnight, right?
Anyway, we start getting the car ready to put back in the trailer and one of the officials comes up and says we're back in because somebody broke and we were the quick loser. We prep the car again, tune it to what we think will be a 7.50, and pull it to the line. We run Sean Dale who has a real strong car and is a good racer too. We lined up and left the line real close to each other. About mid track I look over to his lane and don't see him but don't want to start pedaling the car yet either. Well, we ran a 7.14 at 194 and broke out again! When we tuned the car for this round, we didn't take into consideration that the car hadn't been running on all eight cylinders in the previous round due to a loose spark plug wire. (Still not sure what happened there). We upped our shift points and launch rpm and voila -- too fast, running on all eight cylinders!
In the immortal words of 90% of all racer interviews... THAT'S RACIN'.
Also, gotta say a very public THANK YOU to Roger and Julie (Potatowoman) Lee. They both contributed tremendously to our effort this weekend and we/I really appreciate it. Loved having them there.