Englishtown: Monaghan's second race! More career best runs! Out of
Matco Nationals, Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ. It looked like we were
going to be rained out on Friday for our first qualifying pass, but NHRA
dried up the track quicker than we thought and gave us 45 minutes to come
to the starting line. As we were warming the car up, we noticed that there
was a shower of fuel spraying out between the supercharger and the
manifold. Not good timing as we were the second pair and they were now
calling us to the starting line. Our teamwork paid off, as we were able to
make the necessary repairs. Thanks to NHRA officials and our qualifying
partner, Jason Cannon, we made it to the line in time.
We then made our first pass at a 5.54 @ 250 mph to qualify #5 in the
16-car field. However, during the thrash, we forgot to tape the fuel shut
off open and it partially closed which leaned the fuel system out and put
the rods out at the 1100-foot mark! Not a problem; we have a spare engine
to put in for eliminations. We elected to pass on the remaining qualifying
and when qualifying ended, we were only bumped one position to #6
On Saturday's first round of eliminations, we paired up with our NJ
"girlfriend" Karen Benkovich. This was a potential conflict of
interest as her father Tom just picked up our aluminum engine block to
repair for our next race. But then we remembered we are only friends when
we are not racing each other, so we promptly beat her with a 5.51 @ 255
mph over her career best (congratulations) at 5.69!
That is when our fun ended! After the finish line while the car was
decelerating, it kicked a rod out of #7 and ended our weekend as we were
out of parts!
As the Division 1 opener was at Maple Grove the next weekend, this
provided us with some challenges. I had to call Mr. Visa and Mr.
MasterCard in order to get parts for the next week. But we were determined
to make it!
Maple Grove: Problem: fixed! Performance: good! Luck: poor! Outlook:
Maple Grove, PA, Division 1 Opener - Preparing for this race was a
monumental task for our crew. Four of us took off work on Friday to get a
new engine built, to set up and install a new rear end, and to do
necessary repairs to the transmission, chassis, etc. The challenge was
that as of Thursday night, our crankshaft was in Los Angeles being
balanced, our block was in NJ being welded up and machined, and our
connecting rods were in Colorado being finished. Not a problem for this
team! We arrived in Reading, Pennsylvania, about midnight Friday night
with a complete car. What a crew!
As we have been having problems the last couple of races with blacking
crankshafts on every run, we had to implement five different fixes to
eliminate the problem. Normally, you should try one at a time so that you
know what fixed it, but we were out of parts and had to try all solutions
at the same time.
We had 15 entries competing for 8 qualifying positions. At 6:00 p.m.,
we sent the car down the track and ran a 5.52 @253 mph which qualified us
in the #2 position. If the crankshaft survived, we planned to sit out the
final qualifying lap at 9:00 p.m.
The crank looked so good after the run that we put the same bearings
back in the engine and prepared for the first round of eliminations. As it
turned out, we were only bumped to # 3 position to race against Dave
DeAngelis, who drove for us at the Gainesville Gatornationals race earlier
I was concerned with the first round as DeAngelis had qualified with a
5.63 and he is one of the best drivers in Division 1, based on reaction
times. As it turned out, Fran left first with a .458 light to Dave's
.473 light. Then our car shook hard. Dave pulled ahead, and then Fran
shifted and came back to catch Dave. Then the magneto wire fell off our
car and Dave went on to win at a 5.76!
Our nemesis Cliff Bozzelli went on to win the race with times of 5.59,
5.55 and 5.53.
Good time to thank Rich Bozzelli for diverting a new crankshaft he had
on order to us and to thank Tom Benkovich for repairing our aluminum block
in time for us to race this past weekend.
The positive side is that the crankshaft problem is fixed, the car is
serviced and ready for Delmar, Delaware, in two weeks, and we will have a
chance to rest up and be ready for the next chapter.