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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Chicken Choker Chronicles

Delmar and Atco 2002

By Len Cottrell

Drag racing helps to prepare you to cope with life! Broken brakes! Bad breaks!

Delmar, Delaware Second Division 1 points race...

My old friend and partner, Ron Wood, was enjoying a nice cold beer some 30 years ago and decided that drag racing was important for mankind in that it helps a person get prepared to cope with life. Thirty years later, this is still true! It prepares you to deal with frustration and disappointment, it provides you with great expectations (Jim & Allison), you learn perseverance and humility and basically all of the highs and lows that life can offer. That brings us to this weekend.

The format has changed at several of the Division 1 tracks this year in that they are scheduling qualifying runs on Friday night and racing on Saturday night. This is good for the fans and track owners, but a little more dangerous for the drivers in some situations.

First qualifying session was at 7:00 p.m. with great conditions. We were the last pair to go and Cliff Bozzelli had the number one spot at 5.67. We felt that we could make a good shot at it. However, after the burnout, the car kept moving towards the finish line. Minutes later we discovered that Fran had lost the brakes after the burnout due to a brake fluid line fitting that had vibrated loose. We subsequently lost pressure in the master cylinder!

After we repaired the system and replaced a caliper due to a broken bleeder (thanks to Frank Manzo), we were ready for the second and last qualifying shot. We were at that time (we thought) the last pair to run for the night. Unfortunately, it was 9:45 p.m., 56 degrees temperature and we could see the dew on the track. We had backed it down considerably and all looked well at 1/2 track as we were on a very decent pass and then at the 800 ft mark the car got out of the groove, hit the dew and went for the right hand guard rail. Fran lifted, corrected, missed the retaining wall by about six inches, and coasted through at 6.090 at 171 mph. This luckily put us on the "bubble" in the #8 qualifying spot.

Then the bad break happened. Rich McPhillips had evidently pulled into the staging lane behind us to make the last run. My heart sunk as he ran a 6.088 -- .002 thousandths of a second quicker than us. He bumped us out of the field!

Fortunately, drag racing has prepared me to cope with life!

As Bozzelli has won the first two points races this year, he is the target for the next race at his home track in Atco, NJ.

Great fields! Good performance! Poltergeists!

Atco, NJ Third Division 1 points race...

Southern Jersey has always been a good location for attracting alcohol cars and this weekend was no exception. There were 13 top alcohol dragsters and 13 top alcohol funny cars competing for eight qualifying positions each. We had another new qualifying format with one qualifying shot on Friday night and one on Saturday afternoon with final eliminations from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday night.

We made a run Friday night and were very pleased to qualify #3 with a 5.63 at 252 mph, right behind Cliff Bozzelli and Doug Foley. After qualifying that well, we usually sit out on the final qualifying shot, especially considering it was 94 degrees temperature and the quality of the air was much worse than the previous night. In this case, we decided to make a pass and try to practice running in bad air. We were rewarded with the lowest ET of that session at a 5.66 at 252 mph. We were ready for eliminations!

We drew Steve Lamplough for the first round and then the little green poltergeist came out of our trailer and did his magic. Both cars staged and when Fran let the clutch out, the fuel pump pressure dropped from 63 pounds to 14 pounds and the car died on the starting line! Lamplough went on to the finals and lost to Art Gallant's nitro car. We still do not know what he (the poltergeist) did, but the fuel pump is currently in Ontario, California, being tested at Brad Anderson's shop to determine the problem.

After 42 years, this is another first!

With only four more Division 1 races left, we need to go rounds to have a shot at the championship. The next opportunity is in two weeks at Lebanon Valley (Albany), NY where we were the runner up last year.

Len Cottrell


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