The Upset of the Race -- Almost!
By Lyle Greenberg
Lyle Greenberg breaks the bolts on the body panel after severe tire shake.
Photo by John Pattison
February 15-18, 2001 - Almost every year the teams in the west have to decide whether to start their season at either the Pomona or the Phoenix national events. However, this year NHRA added early season divisional races in Phoenix and Tucson -- four races in a span of five weeks. All were within a reasonable towing distance. Always mindful of budget constraints, the Lyle Greenberg Motorsports team could really only go to one of those races, so they chose to go to the Phoenix national event.
Lyle drove the rig over to Phoenix on Wednesday and was joined Thursday morning by crewmembers Ron Miller and Jeff McKinney of Winslow. Since it was the first national event of the year for the car, the body had to be inspected and approved. This process is quite involved, as they make probably 50 different measurements to determine if the body is legal. With that process finished, the next step was the actual technical inspection, which was easily completed. By the end of the day, the car was completely prepped and ready for the first qualifying session bright and early Friday morning. Blake and Andy Johnson got into town Thursday night along with their brother Mike, so we now had a complete crew.
By Friday morning, the rest of the "Winslow Gang," Derek Nelson and Derron Sheets, joined us. We got the car out of the trailer, warmed up, and went off to make run #1. Lyle had taken his best guess at a tune-up for the new 92% supercharger overdrive limitation (vs. 125% in year's past). The conventional wisdom from the racers who had already run with the lower limit was that the cars were more manageable in low gear. Lyle tried to run the car out in low gear and ended up in pretty severe tire shake. He pedaled the car twice before finally calling the run off and coasting through with a 6.74 second ET at 163 MPH. Upon closer inspection, the shake had put a crack in the nose of the body and broken all of the nylon bolts that secure the body burst panel.
The team completed their routine between rounds maintenance and then went back for session #2. This time the car
launched very well with a 0.961 60-foot time. Lyle short-shifted into 2nd gear and the computer showed the rear tire spinning slightly and then going into the shake mode again. A quick pedal and the shake cleared up, but the car was still "upset" and sashayed its way to a less than straight run. In spite of all the wasted motion, the 6.16-second ET at 233 MPH was good for 13th position.
The bearings all looked great, indicating that the fuel system was on the safe side. Lyle knew that the clutch was in need of a better tune-up. A relatively big change was made for the final qualifying session. The team briefly considered trying to be at the very end of the staging line and skipping the session if there was no chance of being bumped. However, it was finally decided that more run data was needed and that we needed to try to improve our qualifying position. For the first time all weekend, the car made a totally smooth, shake-free run. Unfortunately, it was pretty weak on the 60-foot time and ran another 6.16 second ET at 232 MPH. With a little movement in the order, we ended up qualifying 14th and would have to run Bucky Austin (the #3 qualifier) in round one.
Not only had Austin qualified #3, he was coming off a big win at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona two weeks earlier. Lyle knew that his team had nothing to lose and made a huge change in the clutch tune-up. In the race, Lyle launched to an early led with a very quick .448 reaction time (.400 is perfect), to Austin's .488. Based on the incremental times, Lyle led the race until just before half-track, where Austin pulled ahead. At about the 1,000-foot mark, Austin's car started smoking badly. Austin took the win light with a 5.97 second ET at 234 MPH to Greenberg's 6.10 ET at 236 MPH. Austin appeared to have hurt some parts as he oiled the track from 1,000 feet all the way around the turnoff at the end of the track.
Lyle has Bucky for the first half of the run. Photo by John Pattison
But Bucky comes around Lyle at half-track. Photo by John Pattison
The Greenberg team got some nice PR coverage at the event. A photo of the car appeared on the
Summit Racing Drag Race Central site and in race coverage several places on the Internet, including
NHRA Online. After the first two national events of the season, Lyle is in 7th place in the "Top Gun" reaction time statistics.
Although they had hoped to go faster, the entire team was very pleased to have qualified for a very tough field. The outing was also a success due to the absence of parts breakage. Lyle has found an engine tune-up that has the car running very respectably while being very easy on parts.
The Lyle Greenberg Motorsports team is tentatively scheduled to race next at the NHRA Summitracing.com Nationals in Las Vegas, April 5-8, 2001.