NSS Racing At NMCA's Race #2 in Atlanta
The following is recap of my personal perspective of NMCA's NSS event in Atlanta, GA this last week. Before every event, we create a thread for the event on the Nostalgia Drag Racer's forum — so people can post their version of the play-by-play of the event. I invite all attending the race to please post your perspective of it there. As I write this, the play-by-play of how the Atlanta Event went can be found by CLICKING HERE.
The motorhome and trailer were cleaned and made ready Monday; and Tuesday we loaded up the cars and supplies for the trip. I bought the Vitamin C (which I'll run the NMCA races in) and Dallas had the black Coronet. Dallas and I pulled out of the shop at 9:30 Wednesday morning, and the 925 mile trip to Commerce, GA was uneventful. — which is always good. We paid an average of $4.08 gallon for diesel — and the total for the round trip and generator ran about $1900 in diesel. We arrived at the track at 2:30 in the morning — and the 12th in line in the staging area.
Thursday morning had Barry banging on the door at 6:30Am to get Dallas' dog barking — and me out of bed. Coffee, breakfast, shower — and I was outside by 8AM — shooting the bull with the other drivers. At about noon there were about 70 rigs staged — and they started to let us in. Lynnwood "Cowboy" Dupree took good care of us — and selected for us a good pit where our rig was facing in one direction, and Doug Duell's rig (we pit together) facing the other way — giving us a large shared pit between us. We set up pits, established credentials, and had the cars teched in by 3PM. There was no racing Thursday — so we put the cars away for the night.
Friday NMCA's plan was to have TT from 9AM-to noon and then get two qualifying rounds in. I was one of the first ones to go down the track. The track was horrible — with most all of the cars spinning badly. I was almost 2/10 second off — all in the first 1/8. Doug had to abort his TT run from getting loose. I asked Dallas to wait a little before going down. Charlie Harmon (the event promoter) rode by to visit, and we told him the track was bad — and he radioed for them to fix it. Dallas was one of the last to go down the track in TT. Because this was a combined NMCA, NMRA, LSX, TS, and Brackets race — we only got one Time Trial, and that's why they wanted to have two Qualifying on Friday.
My first Qualifying was at 1:39PM. I'd taken some weight out, but my 60's were way off and I was still almost a 1/10 slow.
In the previous 20 NMCA races I've run, they ask your Index while in Tech, and then when you have your first qualifying they come through the staging lanes and verify with you before your first pass. That didn't happen this time — which caused two phases of drama later. Despite my car having a big C/NSS on all four windows — I and many others were just arbitrarily lumped into A/NSS. Phase one was most of us storming up to the tower to get it fixed after the first Qualifying pass — but the phase two of the drama were the drivers who ignored that until they'd made all three passes. NMCA gave those people a Mulligan — and changed their Index after they'd finished all of their qualifying rounds. 16 NSS cars had come to the event and made the first qualifying round. Remarkably — all 16 also made it through the event — with no breakage or oil downs in NSS. I hope NMCA took note that not a one of us were the cause of track delays.
Round two of qualifying occurred at 6PM because of the high number of wrecks and oil downs — and the lack of hustle in the track staff to get them off the track and cleaned up. There must be a Union dispute — as they mostly looked like a group of orange vested road crew looking at one guy in a hole with a shovel. The schedule was about 3 hours behind when I ran Dallas in the second quallifying. As you can see from the below — despite taking more weight out — I was still not keeping up with the weather change, and I was still spinning. All weekend long — the left lane was having most of the problems. I really wish we would have had more than on TT to get the cars right.
There was a pretty bad storm over night — but the rain stopped at about 2 am. At 9AM, I rode down to look at the track, and while dry — they were scrapping the starting line (which needed it) at a very slow pace, which sucked as there was still three hours of last night's qualifying still needing to be finished. I have to say here and now that NMCA looked to be busting ass — but the Atlanta track staff didn't have their heart into it at all. The first cars started going down the track in the afternoon — and our third qualifying happened at 3:30PM in a pretty strong headwind. Just past the bleachers a strong cross wind (which had been causing problems with the Pro Thug car's chutes tangling all day) caused me to move my right hand to the wheel for the first time in many years. This same wind had Warren Johnson flip his Pro Stock car a couple of days earlier at this track. The below is my ticket — still too slow.
That .031 put me the number 9 qualifier — and naturally that means I again take on the number 1 qualifier Brian Merrick. I hate Sportsman ladders. I think 1 should take 16, 2 should take 15, and so on. It makes no since that 9 takes on 1 and 15 takes on 7.
The plan called for Eliminations to start Saturday — but that never happened. Shortly after we ran — a fuel line popped off a car at the starting line and flopped around with no one getting to the battery cut off — and the resulting fire killed the rest of the day. The 3rd qualifying was the only pass NSS made the entire day.
By Sunday morning, the event was maybe 5 hours behind — and Sunday is Bracket Day. We initially thought we'd be running our first pass at 10AM — but we soon were told it would be closer to 2PM. That looked like it could be pushed closer to 5PM with all of the track problems. The crew were acting like babies slamming mops around and then it appeared many of them flat disappeared. I observed Trey (who works for the NMCA) swinging a mop at the line. Doug called up to Charlie Harmon that NSS was getting impatient — and they changed the schedule to where our first eliminations occurred at 3PM.
I went -.003 red against Merrick, Dallas beat Vise, Duell beat a 67 Ford GTA, Camp beat Bates, Ray beat Hopkins, Neighbor beat Poskevitch, Young beat Davis, and Wilson beat Sanders.
The next round went quick with Duell, Wilson, Neighbor and Merrick going to the Semis. At 8:30 they called NSS to the line for the Semis. By then the track had gone to hell, and the left lane was having a lot of drama. Wrecks, oil downs and few cars were making it down the track with a decent run. They decided to run all of the heads up classes first before the track got too crazy — and Dallas and I decided it was too late to wait any longer — and pulled out of the track at 9:30. It was 10:30 when Doug returned my calls on who had won. It turns out that after watching no one getting down the left lane — that the four remaining drivers in NSS didn't want to risk wrecking their cars — and agreed to just split the remaining prize money 4 ways ($425 each). Word is that NMCA wasn't real happy with this plan — and their official news item of what happened is: "Indy Cylinder Heads Nostalgia Super Stock had Brian Merrick at the top of the qualifying ladder. On elimination day, due to a late evening, the final four racers (Brian Merrick, Doug Duell, Kurt Neighbor, and Steve Wilson) decided to split the points and the prize money for the weekend.", making it sound more like it was past the bed time of old men rather than the track was shit.
Dallas and I drove all night — and were back home at 1PM yesterday. Cars, trailer and motorhome was unloaded by 3PM.
In a nutshell, while many feel that NMCA might have bitten of more than they can chew with so many classes racing — I've seen this pulled of at tracks with a good staff. I feel it could have been pulled off at many tracks we run at — but it is the competency of the track personnel that make it or break it. Atlanta was not up to the challenge. Quite a few have blamed NMCA for this — but I watched them all hustle while the track people leaning on their mops. Why not replace Atlanta with a Texas track?