It was already warm when I pulled out of the garage… gates opened at 10:00 am, and it was already 10:20 am, and I wasn’t feeling good. I stopped to get some water bottles and put a splash of fuel in the car, time to race.
I decided I wanted to race for points this season for the first time for a variety of reasons and this morning I was regretting it slightly. My family was out of town, and I just didn’t feel well. As all of you know, the first race went well overall. Despite the red light in Round 1, I bought back in and ended up Runner Up for the day. It’s a long season with a lot of racing. I pulled up and ran my time trials, solid runs, still stinking at the lights. Round 1, you guessed it, RED and DEAD. I said a few expletives in the car and went over to the tower to buy back in. This is when the day fell apart, 5 hours later the race was canceled due to timing issues for the tree. The race was rescheduled for the following day. I went home tired, sunburned and annoyed at myself. Sunday will be a new day.
I got to the track about 10:45 on Sunday morning. Ron, with the Scat Pack, was running a few minutes late; his battery was low. Trent was a few cars behind me in his Hellcat. A quick note about Trent, he is running the car in 500hp mode to stay above the 7.50 index for the class. The car is crazy consistent running 7.90’s all day long. We made it through tech, got our pit area set up with chairs and sunscreen, set tire pressures on all three cars, and it was time for time trials. The first pass was a solid 8.08 with a decent light. Ok, I got this. The car was about a tenth and a half off from the day before. Time trial 2, a good 8.03 but I went RED. Sigh, this is getting really stinking old fast. Round 1, I got paired with a nice blue Dakota R/T. Pulled up to the lights and RED again… I was seriously angry at myself. I went and bought back and then took some time to myself under the stands alone. Geez, the pass was good, at least. I ran an 8.06 with a 1.80 60 foot. The track was nowhere near as good today because it was hotter, but at least the car was consistent. Ron won his first round race with the Scat Pack against Trent in the Hellcat. Trent bought back as I did. All of us were back in the game for Round 2.
I pulled into the staging lanes for Round 2. I got the cameras turned on for both cars, let’s see what happens next. Trent with the Hellcat got the Bye through to Round 2, NICE! I got paired with a regular at the track with an 80’s model Malibu. Good looking car and he’s a good driver. I dialed an 8.00, did my burnout, and then pulled up to the lights — finally, a solid 0.015 reaction time. I drove by the Malibu and ran an 8.03 for the win. Wooo! I needed that. Ron got the win he needed against a friend of ours named Floyd in his Chevy pickup. This was a close race, Floyd had a big head start on Ron, but Ron was on the dial and made it happen. So far so good, the whole team is moving on to Round 3.
Round 3 is where it got interesting. I’ve known Ron for years, his sons and I were close growing up, he considers me to be one of his kids, and my Dad feels the same about Ron’s boys. Ron is also the king of trash talk at the drag strip, and we love him for it. Unfortunately, Ron and I got paired up for Round 3. Oh boy, this is NOT what we wanted at all! This race could have gone either way, and one of us was going to be upset, and one of us was going to be happy. Here we go. So we pull into the lanes, one of these quickest Scat Pack Challengers around with literally thousands of drag strip passes versus my Charger SRT392. I stuck with my 8.00 dial while Ron stuck with his 7.78 dial. We both warmed up the tires and pulled up to the lights. Pre-Stage, bring the car up to 2,000 rpm, bump, bump, bump, staged, 1, 2, BAM! I’m off with a terrible light, but I’m looking over, and Ron is not pulling up on me yet. Got to the 330 and now he’s starting to pull up. We went pretty much side by side all the way down the track, and I took the win by 0.0280. That was a race that could have gone either way! There are a total of six cameras on both cars, and only one camera has both cars in it, that’s how close this race was. I ran an 8.04 on an 8.00 dial. Ron ran a 7.86 on a 7.78 dial. I did it. I put Ron on the trailer. I was excited, happy, and excited but also a bit sad. That’s racing; you have to race your buddies, and sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. I know the target is on my back now, Ron said so himself.
I pulled around to the staging lanes for the Semis. Trent pulled up next to me, he won his race in Round 3, and a young racer in a late 80’s Firebird pulled up behind me. I drew the bye into the final, woohoo! Got me a test pass! I ran the first three rounds in the right lane, so I chose to run the left lane for my bye run. I pulled into the lanes behind Trent and the Firebird and watched Trent lose, dang it. Okay, now for my test pass. It was cooling off, and I could tell on the hit it was a better run than the others. I ran a 7.98 on an 8.00 dial. Well, we know precisely what to dial for the final against the Firebird. I circled around the pits and went straight to the staging lanes to take a few minutes to myself and get my head straight. Two races, two final rounds. I’ve been lucky thus far, but I really want to win a race at my home track. Let’s do this.
Final round, I put the 7.98 on the window of the car. Looked over to Firebird and gave him a big thumbs up. Either way, we both had a great day. We are in the Final. This is my race, and I got all the time in the world. I pulled into the water box to heat the tires. I could hear Barb, Ron’s wife cheering me on from the stands. I pulled up to the lights, pre-stage, 2,000 rpm, bump, bump, bump, and stage. The Firebird dialed a 9.05, and he cut a solid 0.0227 light, but I was hungry. 1, 2, Bam! I cut an astounding 0.0027 light, drove by the Firebird and then let off the gas just in time to run a 7.98 on a 7.98 dial. WINNER!!! Holy crap did I just run a 7.98 on a 7.98 dial?!? I was so freaking excited in the car; I about lost my mind when I saw the time slip. I ran a 7.9809 on a 7.98 dial. I drove around to find Ron, Barb, Trent and all our friends that we pit with waiting for me behind the stands to celebrate. WOO HOO!!! Ron reminded me the target was now on my back and gave me a big slap on the back. I loved the Challenger I had before my Charger, but geez this Charger absolutely blows me away. It never ceases to amaze me, and I have just had an absolute ball in this car.
The best part is I won with Alamo Hot Rod Parts (AHRP) on my car, that was special for me. Gordon, a close friend of my dad and the owner of Alamo Hot Rod Parts, has been an enormous influence in my life since I was a little kid. He has raced everything from front engine dragsters, alcohol funny cars, dirt and asphalt circle track cars, and currently holds a record at Bonneville with my buddy Ian Brown driving their injected roadster. To win, at home, with AHRP on the car just made it perfect. In all honesty, I’ve met my goals for the season already, anything else at this point is just icing on the cake.
One last thing, I’ve never had a time slip that good. I’m framing it! A picture of the Charger in winner’s circle and that time slip will be going on my wall.