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|3rd -5th May 2014 SPRINGSPEED NATIONALS at SHAKEY|
We were looking forward to the first event of our season at Shakespeare County Raceway, and hoping that the weather turned out as good as predicted. And we were also hoping to run some 8's after the long off season! This was the start of our 20th year of racing so a great milestone for us!!
We were the first Wild Bunch car there, and were again pitted up near the clubhouse not far from the pit entrance, so pleased to be there again. We set up our pits in the designated marked area, and later on Adam and Dex Price and family with the 'Go Hard or Go Home!!!' Topolino arrived and set up next to us. Mark and friends arrived later that evening. We had tea and a wander round the pits, chatting to friends and had a fairly early night.
Saturday morning dawned nice and sunny, and we slowly got ready for our first round, as we were 20th on the running order. I had recently repaired the front wing of the dragster and had not put it back on yet, so thought I might leave it off for a few runs to see if it made any difference to the speed or ET, as we had not run without it for years. We got called out around 11:40am and went down to the pairings lanes for the round. We then paired up with Adam for the run. We had chosen a Dial-in of 8.88 and Adam a 9.00. My launch was good but I smoked one tyre shortly after and had to feather the throttle so just recorded a 9.225 at 149.31mph, with a slight misfire at the top end. There had been some confusion on the startline where we were shut down for possible debris at the top end, but this was clear, so we had re-fired, but Adam ended up running separately. We then went back to the pits and started to get the car ready for the next qualifier. This then came at around 1:45pm, and again I was paired with Adam and we kept our same Dial-ins. He had a problem at the line and eventually ran through with a 24-second pass at 58mph. My run was nearly identical to the first, same bit of tyre smoke too, and I posted a 9.226, but at the great speed of 150.99mph! Always great to run the magic 150! But again, there had been a bit of a misfire through the traps. We decided to check the car over, and Mark replaced a couple of plugs. We also took the rocker boxes off, as Claire had thought she had heard a background sound when standing next to the car whilst I was staging. We found that a couple of the exhaust rockers were very slightly loose, so adjusted these and started to put the rocker boxes back on. We then got ready for the next qualifier, as the running order had been going through well. And this was just in time for the third run, which was around 4pm, me and Adam paired up again. I launched at lower revs and hooked up better and ran an improved 9.024 at 149.90mph, so more pleased with that. Meanwhile, in the other lane, Adam recorded his first ever 8-second pass, and 8.984 at 148.20mph! Congratulations to him and the whole team on this achievement! Very well deserved! We then went back to the pits, and as progress had been so good, the officials started on the 4th qualifier. We waited for a while but later there was an incident where poor Angie Woods was injured in the pairings lanes whilst marshalling. She was taken to hospital, but we hear she is now doing well. So a big Get Well Soon to her! We later had tea, and again a fairly early night as we were pretty tired!
Sunday dawned cloudy but nice, and the forecast was still good. We had been half way through the fourth cycle, so we were earlier on in the running order. I had put the wing back on the front of the car, and we got ready and were called out at about 10:30am. Once again we were paired with Adam. We had kept the 8.88 Dial-in and I ran a 9.091 at 147.02mph, so not far off the previous run, but still not in the 8's yet. Adam ran a slower 9.335 at 146.60mph with a slight problem. We went back to the pits and had an early lunch. We were then called out at around 1:30pm, and this time I was paired with Bob Hawkins in his new blown 'Time Traveller II' slingshot. The car had been the ex-'Speed Demon' slingshot belonging to Vic Hammond, who sadly passed away last year. We were still running a tribute sticker to him on the back of the canopy, and it was good to see the car has gone to a good home and being run so well. On this run, I was again out of shape and had to lift, so recorded a 9.382 at 148.71mph. Bob ran a 7.544 at 174.91mph, so fair play to him! Also, on this run, the tacho had broken. We went back to the pits and waited for another run. But later in the afternoon, there was a long oil down, and the transmission oil was proving hard to shift, so the officials decided to finish off the remaining few classes of the sixth cycle by running one lane only, to get them through that day. Because it was only going to be a solo, I decided not to run that qualifier, as didn't think would gain much over the previous runs so far. I always prefer to run an opponent anyway as more fun! I had qualified in 6th place overall, out of 7. We had found that ourselves and newcomer Phil James with the 'Rampage' funny car were the only ones who would actually have an elimination race in the first round Monday! As three other teams ended up with Bye runs for one reason and another! Phil had only had one race with the Wild Bunch so far, at the Easter 'Festival of Power' and was already proving himself to be a good racer! (And we had always loved the car when Dave Ward had it, so again, good to see it go to a good home and Phil realising his family dream!). Over the weekend, we also had a few chats with another brand newcomer, Steven East, who had bought Steve and Lesley Field's 'Black Pig Too' slingshot and renamed it after his daughter, as 'Ellie's in Trouble'. Steven had his teenage son Joshua crewing for him and they were very much still learning the ropes, but very keen, and already enjoying their first drag racing experiences! We had an early tea, and a wander round the pits and a good bit of banter with the Northern folk from the 'Bad Habit' and 'White Noise' teams. Again we had a fairly early night as it was still a cold evening.
Monday again began cloudy and mild and we were confident of a dry day. I had recharged the battery and put the sump heater on, and all was good to go. We discussed lane choice with Phil, and got ready for our first round. We were called out just before 10:45am, so not long to wait, until we towed down to the pairings lanes, for our Quarter Finals. Claire and Mark had deliberated the Dial-in and we went for a 9.10, as that was achievable based on the results of the 5 qualifiers, and we still hadn't quite got that 8. Phil dialled in at 9.37. On this run, as I didn't have the tacho, I listened by ear to the revs and launched on idle. Well, when Phil's side of the tree ran, I saw a cherry on the tree, so I just kept my foot in it all the way! We were all well chuffed when I recorded an 8.964 at 148.57mph! A big breakout, but it didn't matter as Phil had redlit, slowing to a 12-second pass. We were all pleased to win the race.
Our next round was the Semi-finals, and this was due to be against Keith Crampton in his 'Soul Town Shaker' slingshot, ably crewed by the Marras and other friends. We were called to the pairings lanes around 1pm. We now lowered our Dial-in to 8.98, whilst Keith had a 10.97. Keith ended up pulling the Wild Bunch 'Best Reaction' on that one and ran a close 11.020, so was tough to beat. Again I left the line on idle. I had a really good launch and chased him down, catching him by just before the line, and backing off. I was absolutely amazed when Mark and Claire told me I had run an 8.82! And at just 141.43mph because of the backoff! Wow! Where did that one come from? Anyway, we were all really glad that I had run that well! Even though we didn't win the race! I finished in 4th place for the event, so pretty pleased with that, and nice to go home with a trophy.
We watched the Wild Bunch Final between Adam and Keith, and Keith had a stormer just .009 off his dial to win the race, but in the other lane Adam redlit, and not seeing this had chased hard after Keith and got well out of shape mid track (90 degrees to the guardrail and up on one wheel!) and managed to save it, but just slammed the Armco. Thankfully Adam was a-ok, and there is not too much damage to the car. So best of luck to the team on the repairs.
Thanks very much to Mark and Claire and Joey for crewing! Also, huge thanks to all the marshals and officials and track crew for their hard work all weekend! They did a great job and ran a smooth event which was eventually completed early. This weekend Mark Coulsell and Linda Williams had again volunteered to be pit runners, and once again did a great job of giving us 15-minute warnings and calling us out, so many thanks to them for their tireless hard work! Much appreciated!
Congratulations to Adam and Team Gridlock, on their first ever 8-second pass! Fair play! Though commiserations on the incident where Adam tagged the Armco. Congrats also to Bob Hawkins who recorded the best ever Wild Bunch ET, of 7.492. And congrats to event winner Keith Crampton on his first MSA event win! Keith had said that he had enjoyed my smoky out of shape passes, as it 'took him back to the 60's'! So that was cool. And it was great to be part of some good close racing, back out with the Wild Bunch this weekend. Roll on the next event!
|That was the News|