This time last year I was in first place and all was going great. This year we’ve needed to have a sense of humor to keep our sanity. Actually Dallas is doing pretty good, but I’ve blown two engines and missed eliminations twice — but that’s just the beginning of what’s made this year interesting — and proving that some years you’re the windshield — and some years the bug. A very very expensive year for me.
Doug Duell has had quite the year — winning the first three races and runnered up at the Dave Duell Classic (named for his father). Since you only count four of six races in the NMCA Champion Chase this year — he’s got it all locked up. Many of the other Top Ten racers had pulled the plug on the season (tow of the top five were no shows) because of the cost and no chance to win — but Dallas and I had promised sponsors we’d make all of the races — plus we’d never raced in Norwalk before. Dallas also has a good chance for 2nd place for the year.
My wagon is still without a motor as I’m negotiating with a couple of new engine builders — so I was again relegated to the Vitamin C backup car. A very different car in a very different index — requiring a very different strategy as I’m most often being chased instead of chasing.
We spent Tuesday loading up the rig and making it ready, taking care of business for the week we’d be away from home; and pulled out of the shop Wednesday morning. While in Arkansas, Dallas (who was driving) noticed that one of the trailer tires didn’t look right and pulled to the side of the road. We’d gotten talked into buying 6 new Gladiator G Load-Rated trailer tires back in March — and have lost two of them since then. The photo below shows another Gladiator with the same sidewall bubble forming and popping issue.
We changed the tire (a real pain in the ass on a loaded stacker on the side of the road!) and pressed on, spending the night in the parking lot at Walmart in Jackson, TN. In the morning we took the spare into the auto center and had then mount another tire we brought along. We usually have one mounted spare and one unmounted. On the road by 9:30Am and all was going well when just north of Nashville — boom! Another Gladiator blowout.
So we again change the tire on the side of the road in 100 temperature. Now we’re out of spares, so while Dallas is driving I’m working the phone trying to find three new Goodyear G614 to put on the left side, and eliminate the remaining two Gladiators and have a spare. I find three in Bowling Green — although they tell us they can’t mount them. A bird in the hand (they’re hard tires to find on the road) is better than two in the bush — so we head there. Two miles away — boom-boom go the remaining Gladiators. Before you think we must not check the tire pressure — I assure you the maximum is put in before we leave the shop every time. This isn’t our first rodeo.
So we pull into back lot of a Kroger, as it was the only place to get to, and I start working the phone to find a tire place that not only has the Goodyear G Rated and can mount on wheels — but will come and get us with three flat tires and return us with three new. I find such a place and we get to removing the tires. The process took damn near five hours in almost 100 degree heat. When done we each showered up and I drove while Dallas grabbed a nap. I turned the driving back over to him between Cincinnati and Columbus — and we got the to track’s staging area at about 2:30AM.
8AM we get to our pit and started setting it up, establishing credentials, and teching in the cars — while holding a pit spot for Doug Duell — who would be coming with a pickup and trailer on Saturday and staying with us.
We had two time trials on Friday afternoon and the first round of qualifying at 7PM. We generally set up the cars to be .02 seconds slow to make sure we get in — then use the next two Qualifying rounds to push the envelope for a #1 spot. I ran a 11.022 on a 11.0 and Dallas a 9.547 on a 9.50 and we had the third and fourth spots (25 cars) after the first round.
- 7026 b/nss randy stansbury ragley la 10.512 10.5 0.012
- 7025 e/nss 66 farilane ford 390 doug poskevich deland fl 12.02 12 0.02
- 7601 c/nss 63 savoy dave schultz richmond tx 11.022 11 0.022
- 7602 b/fx dodge 540 dallas schultz richmond tx 9.542 9.5 0.042
- 7681 c/nss 65 belvedere hemi 426 jeffrey hoblick flushing oh 11.083 11 0.083
- 7270 c/fx 64 savoy plym jeff millward columbia station oh 9.884 9.75 0.134
- 7295 c/nss 64 belvedere plym 426 john dinkel pinckney mi 11.357 11 0.357
- 7014 aaa/fx 68 barracuda plym 632 michael sanders brook in 11.165 8.75 2.415
- 7105 a/nss 36 dodge dodge 493 russ konkowski aurora oh 9.999 10 -0.001
- 7442 d/nss 65 olds 442 olds 400 jim clay delta oh 11.494 11.5 -0.006
- 7421 d/nss 63 tempest pont 421 gary beemer atica mi 11.491 11.5 -0.009
- 7464 c/fx 64 dodge 440 dodge 572 joe midile jr medina oh 9.724 9.75 -0.026
- 7534 b/fx 64 belvedere plym 426 doug wright waterford mi 9.463 9.5 -0.037
- 7017 b/nss 63 polara dodge 426 joe ewing evansville in 10.419 10.5 -0.081
- 7251 aaa/fx 65 chevelle chev 477 bill white demotte in 8.665 8.75 -0.085
- 7022 b/nss 64 thunderbolt ford 427 skip koester columbia station oh 10.386 10.5 -0.114
- 2 a/fx 65 comet merc 517 kurt neighbor twinsburg oh 9.131 9.25 -0.119
- 7437 b/nss 64 savoy plym 437 frank nadvit grafton oh 10.349 10.5 -0.151
Norwalk is one of the nicest tracks in the country. It has the reputation as being the most racer friendly, and it is as good as any I’ve ever been at. While our NSS class was able to ultimately muster 25 racers because of so many living in the area — the rest of the classes had a real light showing. About half the car count than what was expected. I’m sure it is a combination of the cost of diesel, lack of sponsor help, and run-aways in most of the car classes are the reason. We did twice over the weekend take advantage of the $1 pound ice cream they’re famous for.
On Friday night I had Dallas change the shift light points in my tach to adjust for the weather expected Saturday. We adjusted the weight in both cars and Dallas was able to run a 9.507 — but my car didn’t act right in both the burnout and started to sound weird and breakup at 4500 RPM so I immediately lifted and pulled to side while looking in the mirror. When I saw that I wasn’t oiling it down I drove off the track at 55.
Back in the pits we poured all over the car — finding absolutely nothing. I took it for a fast drive — although not able to get close to the RPM it was screwing up. We thought maybe a convertor issue and I decided that I’d have to run it until it broke so we could figure out what the issue was. Since Dallas had the #2 spot with a .007 we decided to push the envelope on his and he broke out with a 9.497. I was able to determined that my problem was the tach was reading wrong by a lot — almost double. In the previous round I’d hit the red line but the tach had said 4500. Same happened in the last Qualifying so I shifted to third by ear for a 11.202. I thought the tach must have been configured to 4cyl — but that wasn’t it. We don’t carry a spare tach and couldn’t find a tach or shift light before the first round of eliminations at 9AM Sunday. I set the car up based on my Friday run and shifted by ear. I ran the exact number I was set up for — but was -.007 red on the tree. The guy I ran had the run of his life with a .017 light and a 11.002 ET — so I would have lost anyway. Dallas was also a first round runner up. He’d been cutting great lights all weekend, but was just a tad slower than the other guy — and brokeout with a 9.497.
We were on the road at 1PM. The plan was to drive the 1350 miles straight — but at 2:30AM — BOOM!
This one was by far the biggest PITA as it was up against the guardrail on a steep incline. We had to jack it up 5-6 times and use jackstands to move the jack around to get the spare on. When done we headed to Walmart in North Little Rock for the night — as we were whipped and needed another spare.
We slept until 8, showered, and then headed to a truck stop. While I was in the tire shop waiting in line to talk to someone — Dallas weighed the truck and trailer to see if being overweight was blowing the tires. The trailer (triple 7,000 axles) is rated for 21,000 pounds and I figured we we’re around there.
So we get another tire mounted and I’m driving and it keeps bothering me that the trailer weighs so much. We have two cars – and the backup car is all metal/glass and very heavy; golf cart and big tool chest; and a spare transmission plus 9 crates of spare parts — but still can’t buy 35,000 pounds. I’m thinking I’m going to have to sell my trailer and get and heavier one — plus move parts to motorhome and leave stuff home; then I decide to pull into a Flying J for a second opinion.
I’ll assume Dallas didn’t do it right and I’m real glad I went for a second opinion. I’ve ordered 8 new 17.5″ forged wheels and H-rated/75MPH rated Goodyears for (ugh!) $6,200. That will increase the load from 3,750 per tire to 4,500 per tire.
We finally got home Monday night. The truck’s dash A/C crapped out, so it was windows down, and to cap off the weekend — and piece of artwork shipped to me was left outside the shop by UPS and it was ruined from rain.
Yup — sometime you’re the bug, and sometimes the windshield. You just wake up in the morning and realized you survived the drama from the day before — and that life is just a bungee cord of ups and downs. The light at the end of the tunnel is that Dallas will have second place if he can go one round more than the Michael Sanders– who won the Norwalk race. If not — he should have third unless someone runs away with the 1.5X’s points for Indy.