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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Chicken Choker Chronicles:
2003 Gatornationals

Redemption! Seven Cylinders! A/Fuel Cars! 

By Len Cottrell

The Gators was amazing as expected. The miracle was that the rain that was predicted every day never came. We arrived Thursday at noon at Denny Savage's house (thank you again Denny & Kathy) to pick up our rig and proceeded to the track were we set up camp, got some new tires and got the car teched in. 

We made our first qualifying run (make that attempt) on Friday morning and had to abort the run in 2nd gear as we had a bad tire that caused severe vibrations.

We then installed our spare set of wheels with 16 runs on the tires and made the next qualifying run which yielded a 5.49 ET @ 255 MPH. After our first trip to Gainesville, we felt redemption! We were also pleased that we had run 5.40's at the last 2 races of 2002 and were getting consistent. After reviewing the qualifying list Saturday evening, the dominance of the A Fuel cars was beginning to show in that the top 5 spots were all A Fuel cars posting 5.20's and 5.30's will all of the Blown Alcohol cars running in the 5.40's or slower. 

Sat offered 1 last qualifying session at 10:00 am and first round of eliminations at 1:30 pm. As we were in the #8 spot, we elected to pass on the last session even though the air was awesome and would probably produce some tremendous runs. As it turned out it did provide the blown cars an extra .05 to .10 ET improvement and we were bumped 2 spots but we were ready for eliminations. We were paired up with Guy Kelly and his Ronnie Swearingen prepared entry in which I felt we were pretty evenly matched. Our first round got off to a bad start when Guy had an outstanding .015 reaction time to our .077 and then he ran away from us as I noticed a "dead" cylinder on the right bank (due to a bad spark plug or wire) slowing us to a 5.68 @ 241 MPH to Kelly's 5.43 @ 259 MPH. 

About the "new" reaction times, NHRA has changed the reaction times for us in that previously a .400 was a perfect time and has revised it to a much more logical time of .000 with any below being a negative number and also a red light. All of the National meets will use this as well as most of the Divisional races.

After first round this left very interesting match ups for the final 4 pairs on Sunday, all included a Blown Alcohol car against an injected nitro A Fuel car.

The dominance continued as all 4 A Fuel cars advanced to the semi's with Bill Reichard beating the defending champ Art Gallant and Tony Bartone taking out his brother Michael Bartone's entry with Richard Bourke driving. Tony then went on to win his 3rd race this year in 3 starts!!!!

Till Atlanta ....... 

Len Cottrell 


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