Big Yohns and Mendy at the March Meet
By Ron Johnson
This is the first real chance I have had to set down and relate our experiences from the Bakersfield March Meet weekend. Prior to the meet, certain that we were too light to make weight, Bob Meyer smelted some 35 pounds of lead into four weight bars. We put about 15 on the car (waaaayyyy up front), calculating that would make us legal. I think it weighed about 1395 against a needed 1400 prior to our first run with empty fuel tank. So we figured this would put us at 1405-1410 after a run.
We basically left everything alone from our runs at Phoenix, just trying to match fuel to Bakersfield air. Our first run was a 7.562 and 171.20 mph. Mendy cut a .478 light and our 60-foot time was 1.074. Our best previous E.T. was 7:62 and our best previous 60 foot had been 1:11. We were cautiously optimistic. We were also fourth quickest, our best ever. Mike Chrisman had a 7:30 for quick E.T. Ramay and Algire-McKray-Enriquez were below us also.
Second run was scratched, so the next morning we just richened the main jet a little to experiment. It ran 7.573 and 172.24 mph, but it showed evidence of being too rich. We were moved back one spot to fifth because Bill Wayne stepped up in front of us to second quickest, I believe.
First round of eliminations was at 9:30 Sunday morning on a cold track but in good air. We decided to lean it back to our original Friday settings because with the much better air, this would be leaner than we had been on Friday. The result was a 7:487 and 173.11. We got to single because our competitor (a slower car) was unable to come to the line. Even so, Mendy's reaction time was .438 and our 60-foot time was 1.066.
We drew Chrisman in the second round of eliminations, but we had heard rumors that his engine was degenerating. The air started to go away and we leaned it out some more. Mike Chrisman had a .407 reaction time in the qualification runs. That plus his E.T. advantage would be tough if not impossible to make up. But Chrisman couldn't get oil pressure back in the pits, so we dodged that bullet. Since we had problems pushing the rear oil pan seal out each run, we decided to forsake the chance to check performance and gave up the possibility for lane choice by running through first gear and coasting. Mendy's reaction time was .462 and our 60 foot was 1.068. Also our 330 foot was better than the last full run so I felt we were on the right track with our tune-up.
In the semi-finals, we drew Algire McKray Enriquez. They had a performance advantage of less than a tenth, but Don Enriquez is no slouch with the lights, so we were hopeful but not confident at all. The air stayed the same so we left the tune-up alone. Mendy cut a light on Don with a .442, but their performance was better and they nipped us by about a car length. We ended up with a 7:537 at 173.34 mph.
All five runs were better than our previous best E.T.s and we believe we are close to the right balance on the car. There are some thoughts about what we can do to improve top end, but I am not too worried about that. With what is really a six-year-old combination, we have way less motor in the car than anyone who is faster than us. However, we picked up two mph over four runs and we probably can continue to improve on that modestly with simple incremental adjustments. I don't see us running a 180 mph with the cast iron motor that's in the car now. However, the new motor should be done for Las Vegas. Comparing parts between the current motor and the new one, I expect a good bump in horsepower. Bigger injectors and heads, more compression, lighter rotating assembly, more cam, and a lighter valve train are on the way.
Mendy is a tough competitor and I want to put the best car under her that we possibly can. Of course, I well know that performance improvements can be elusive and no sure thing. No one else among the top runners is going to stand still either, so we have a moving target and right now we're behind the curve. I guess I'll just remain "cautiously optimistic." Thanks to all of you who are interested.