Georgia NMRA '08 - Points South
Racers Looked To Get A Points Lead Out Of The Gate At Silver Dollar Raceway
From the September, 2008 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson
Photography by Michael Johnson
Horse Sense:Located just outside the gates of Silver Dollar Raceway is a day spa. We only noticed it this year,so it must be new.Just think: If your significant other doesn't want to hang out at the track, drop her off for a day at the spa while you go enjoy some drag racing. There's also a strawberry farm across the street. You have to try their strawberry shakes. Yum!
Brian Carpenter has always had a fast car, even in his old 10.5 Outlaw GT. Whenever he's at an event, everyone knows they'll have to run their best to get past him. It has been no different in 2008. However, like every other racer at Reynolds, Brian had little opportunity to work on chassis setup or engine tuneup. Though he missed the top qualifying spot by a nose hair, he did boast the top mph with a 208-mph hit. Brian's Pro Line Racing Engines twin-turbocharged '03 Mustang ran 7.0s at Reynolds, but he encountered problems in the second round, handing the win to Tim Essick.
Last time we checked, it's hard to drag race in the rain. As a matter of fact, it's impossible. Even though some racers claim their cars can hook on ice, we have yet to see a drag race held in the rain-with cars at least.
The rain was an impenetrable force at the NMRA race at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, Georgia, starting during Friday's first-round qualifying. It fell all day Saturday, which left racers and yours truly inside trying to find something to do while in the Warner Robins, Georgia, area. There isn't much unless you really like bowling, playing pool, or throwing darts. Most of the day revolved around keeping our bellies full of food.
We filled our day by eating lunch with the JPC Racing crew, then shared a beverage with the ProCharger crew, Dan Schoneck, and Pro Outlaw 10.5 racer Jerry Morgano. After that, we closed out the day at a local steakhouse with Johnny and Jean Cooper, past-feature-car owner Jerome Shumate, and future-feature-car owner Justin Lathem. You should be reading about Justin's self-built SN-95 GT soon. Oh yeah, we can't leave out Crazy Pat Stratton, who supposedly has a Mustang back home in Alabama. Maybe one day we'll get to see it in person.
One thing we finally did get to see in person was racing. On Sunday, the NMRA held a round of qualifying, then blitzed through eliminations to get the event finished in one day. It was quite a feat, but they pulled it off seamlessly.
When we saw these bees strangely attracted to the roof of this early Ford Victoria in the car show, we were reminded of the part in the movie Tommy Boy where characters Tommy (the late Chris Farley) and Richard (David Spade) got out of a ticket by jumping out of the their car proclaiming, "Bees, bees, bees in the car...bees everywhere." The difference between the movie and this Victoria is that there were actual bees present.
Jimmy Wilson hasn't had a...
Jimmy Wilson hasn't had a good start as defending Pure Street champion. He destroyed an engine prior to Bradenton; at Reynolds, he was dealing with clutch slippage that was allowing the engine to rev higher than normal on gear changes. The increased rpm caused the computer to momentarily shut down the car against Shawn Hansen in round one, and as Jimmy acknowledges, all it takes in Pure Street is the slightest bobble and you're on the trailer. After Reynolds, Jimmy was able to do some testing and get the issues sorted out. "All my fellow competitors will be glad to know that," he says.
If you're around the SCT trailer...
If you're around the SCT trailer and smell the sweet savor of hamburgers, it's most likely Jim Roberts working his magic on the grill. We were able to sample his culinary skill at the NMRA Bradenton opener, and we'll just say it's a good thing our moms weren't with us. We can still taste and are still trying to replicate Jim's burgers, but he also cooks on the track in his '03 Lightning. At Reynolds, Jim was caught sleeping at the light against C.J. Ciggaran in round two. He must've been daydreaming about his next burger concoction on the way to a 0.757 light (0.500 pro Tree start). Jim, wake up and make us a burger.
Even though Filthy Phil Hines...
Even though Filthy Phil Hines stole the Super Street Outlaw top qualifying spot, Jarrett Halfacre came back during eliminations to put his Hellion Power Systems-sponsored, single-turbo LX hatch at the forefront. Final-round opponent Don Burton took care of Filthy Phil in the semifinals for a rematch of one of the most memorable staging duos in NMRA history. It was Jarrett and Don who sat in the lights for several minutes before staging, and we wondered if we'd get to see a replay at Reynolds. However, both were good boys going right into both lights, and Jarrett almost gave it up at the start with a 0.649 light compared to Don's 0.469 reaction time. Good for Jarrett-Don ran into troubles and was only able to muster a 7.82 pass, which wasn't good enough to stay out front.
Don "Burndown" Burton has had a myriad of crewmembers, but former Pro 5.0 standout Tom Sanders has been in his corner so far at Bradenton and Reynolds. That's a lot of nitrous knowledge on one team, and the two use it on every pass. Don's Gene Fulton Racing Engines' big-block-powered '80 Mustang didn't do well on his one qualifying pass. As a matter of fact, Don found himself at the bottom of the qualifying list, so there was only one way to go-up through eliminations. Don and Tom had the car running 7.50s in eliminations until the final round when a 7.82 wasn't enough to overcome Jarrett Halfacre's 7.47
So far in 2008, the sight...
So far in 2008, the sight of Conrad Scarry in the other lane has been downright scary. He started eliminations with a 7.03, but followed that up with 6.90s the rest of the day. His twin-turbocharged 10.5W Mustang has been consistent so far, which is what every racer wants, but running consistent 6.90s is no easy task. Conrad's team has been working hard to keep the car in top form, and the effort showed on the track at Reynolds with another win.
The lack of test-and-tune...
The lack of test-and-tune passes wreaked havoc on the Pro Outlaw 10.5 racers. Tim Essick was one racer off pace of his usual bottom 7s, but his 7.44 showed promise, and his 201-mph trap speed showed the power was there. Tim is always working on applying the power earlier in the run to realize quicker e.t.'s. At Reynolds he was able to return to 7.0s at 205 mph and take out Dan Millen, Brian Carpenter, and Ed Rice. That's quite the list for sure, but Tim was unable to overcome Conrad Scarry's 6.94 in the final with his own 7.15.
We're two races in and John...
We're two races in and John Kolivas' Cobra is still powered by a Bennett Racing-built Four-Valve modular. He's not sure how much is left in the combination-if anything-but so far it's been enough to keep him out front in Drag Radial. At Reynolds, the gap between John and his Drag Radial brethren was 0.2 at the end of qualifying, but if there's a class that needs a couple rounds of qualifying it's Drag Radial. However, John and his crew are always testing back home so he's usually on top of the game, and it was the same story at Reynolds.
To hear EFI Renegade racer Brian Mitchell at a race, you'd wonder how his car makes it down the track. Something's always wrong with it, whether it be a warped crank pulley or a snapped widget holder. This reverse psychology is most likely used to loosen up his EFI Renegade competition, but at this point in the game, we don't think anyone is fooled by Brian's "aw, shucks" demeanor-especially when he runs an 8.60-something right after saying the thing was going to come apart any second. With his new car, Brian doesn't have many of those arguments to fall back on anymore, but we're sure he can come up with something. After running in the 8.40s at Bradenton, he was "only" able to run 8.60s at Reynolds. Final-round competitor Bob Cook was in the 8.50s, so Brian had to push the Tree. It pushed back with a red-light start.
Bob Kurgan left his car in Florida after the Bradenton race and flew back home to Illinois; he then flew back to Florida to haul the car to Georgia. The only thing Bob changed on it was the rear gear. "After sitting for two days while it rained, we ran a single round of qualifying and my car started idling funky," Bob says. We normally think funky is good, but not so much in this case. He checked the car's ignition and the fuel system, but he traced the problem to a faulty map sensor. Bob and his crew fixed the problem, and the car ran consistent during eliminations until the final round against John Kolivas. Bob was hoping the track would be there for him like it was in previous rounds, but he blew the tires off as John pulled away for the win.
It looks as though the coming...
It looks as though the coming together of Sutton High Performance and driver Bob Cook is going to pay big dividends for everyone involved. The man with a million nicknames, Bob has an established EFI Renegade past and Sutton is known for building fast cars. At Reynolds, the team was unstoppable with an 8.50 pass to qualify number one; number-two qualifier Bart Tobener checked in with an 8.64. That gives you an idea of how well the Sutton car was working. The Sutton team put together a fast car, but Bob's talent at the Tree made sure the Reynolds win was theirs.
Tim Matherly has found the...
Tim Matherly has found the sweet spot with his Real Street ride's tune-up. He's no longer changing engines every other race-or every race like he was most of last year. Instead, he's down to performing regular maintenance on the car between rounds to get him to the final. Tim had to concentrate on the suspension setup more than power delivery at Reynolds. However, by the time the finals came around, he had the chassis dialed in and was able to get past his teammate Jim Breese to take the win.
Ask Tim Matherly which Real...
Ask Tim Matherly which Real Street racer scares him the most, and he will say teammate Jim Breese. A trait he learned from his days racing Modular Muscle, Jim can cut a light, and Tim knows the ins and outs of Jim's car since he built it. He knows what Jim's car is capable of, and especially of what Jim is capable of as a driver. At Reynolds, Jim qualified number one ahead of Tim and was able to get past Kevin Scott in the semifinal round for a race with Tim in the final. Jim had the quicker reaction time with a 0.435 light compared to Tim's 0.471, but Tim was able to power around Jim ever-so-slightly for the win.
The top six Hot Street racers were all in the 8.80s, which is what we've come to expect from the all-motor class. Mike Demayo stood at the top of the mountain after qualifying with an 8.80 at 150 mph. He utilizes a 360ci combination, the smallest in the class, but that obviously affords him a weight break over his larger-displacement running mates. Mike made a full pass on his first-round bye run to make sure everything was OK with the car since he was unable to make many passes otherwise during the weekend. He survived a squeaker against Charlie Booze in the semifinals, and then went uncontested in the final with Robbie Blankenship not making the call due to component failure.
Robbie Blankenship changed converters prior to arriving at Reynolds, but he changed it back to the previous converter when he discovered he wouldn't get any test passes. Robbie's Matuckas Motorsport Race Cars-built '04 Mustang still qualified with an 8.84, but everyone was in the thick of it in Hot Street. Luck went his way in the first couple of rounds, but he knew he needed to throw everything at it for the final against Mike Demayo. Robbie changed carburetors after the semifinals, switching to one that made more power on the dyno. However, that carburetor's throttle got stuck on the air pan in the burnout box, which kept Robbie from giving it a go. He is still getting acquainted with the new car. It kept getting quicker at Reynolds, so he believes it is on the right path.
Michael Washington likes to...
Michael Washington likes to play around when filling out his tech card by entering a different home city at each NMRA event. We don't think he has ever listed Amsterdam, but maybe he should-more on that in a moment. Michael put Justin Burcham's Real Street ride in the third qualifying spot with a stellar 9.79 at 137 mph. That time had Michael in the thick of it, but we think he should list Amsterdam as his home city because he visited the red-light district in the first round against Kevin Scott, which-no disrespect to Kevin and his Real Street program-Michael had covered by at least a couple tenths. We wouldn't want to be Michael having to drive Justin's car back to the pits after that pass.
It's no wonder Tremec Transmissions...
It's no wonder Tremec Transmissions sponsors Pure Street. Tremec need look no further than the Pure Street class for durability testing and new product development ideas. Brandon Alsept, along with his final-round matchup Ryan Hecox, had transmission issues during the event. Brandon hurt a transmission in the semifinals against Brad Meadows, and it was a good thing Brad redlit against Brandon or he would've been on the road by the time the finals started instead of racing. However, since Brad did red light, Brandon had a transmission to change-and fast. Fortunately, Brandon and crew were able to swap the tranny in time to beat Ryan with a 10.38 to a razor-close 10.39.
If Brian McCormick is ever...
If Brian McCormick is ever able to beat Tim Matherly, he may just retire from racing. OK, maybe not, but Brian really wants to beat him. Every other Real Street racer shares that sentiment, but if Tim was ever there for the taking, it was at Reynolds. Brian's qualifying time was right with Tim's, and he got a chance to trailer Tim in round two, but Tim was more than equal to the challenge with a stellar 0.435 reaction time to Brian's equally stout 0.457 light, and a 9.76 to Brian's 9.80.
Ryan Hecox not only busted a transmission during test and tune at Reynolds, but while being towed back to the pits, the transmission locked up, which took out the car's ring and pinion-giving credence to the phrase "when it rains, it pours." He was able to replace the transmission, but since he runs a 9-inch rear in his car, it proved more difficult to find a corresponding 4.88 gearset. Ryan did have an extra 4.88 at the hizzy, but Maryland is quite the jaunt from Reynolds, so Wheelchair Wayne went to the Hecox household to overnight the gears for Saturday delivery at Silver Dollar Raceway. Of course, Saturday was rained out, and the gears arrived at the track just before everyone went out for food. They were set up back at the hotel and installed Sunday morning. Ryan's car ran well during eliminations, but not well enough to beat Brandon Alsept to the line in the final.
We don't think Steve Gifford and John Leslie Jr. had it planned at Reynolds, but both racers had an interesting weekend. As part of the race-within-a-race format in the NMRA, it was Factory Stock's chance at extra cash to make up for increased fuel prices. The shootout gave qualifying a new meaning. Instead of running for position, Factory Stock racers wanted that money. Though Steve showed he had the power with 118- to 119-mph trap speeds, John took the shootout. However, Steve redeemed himself in eliminations, gaining a tenth over his qualifying times. That may not sound like much in the real world, but in drag racing, it's everything. In the Factory Stock final, Steve and John once again lined up against each other, but Steve saved his best run of the weekend for the final with an 11.46 to exact revenge from the shootout.
John Leslie Jr. has thrown a wrench into the otherwise happy-go-lucky Factory Stock class. The JPC Racing crew figured 2008 would be its year with Tommy Godfrey at the wheel of Michael Washington's whip once again in a battle with Steve Gifford. However, John, with Rich Groh Racing handling the engine-building duties, has stepped up in a big way. Speaking of the JPC crew, Justin Burcham wasn't too happy when John squeaked by Tommy in the shootout thanks to a holeshot, but what's worse is that John beat Tommy again in eliminations even though Tommy had a tenth on John thanks to his own holeshot. John was able to beat Steve in the Factory Stock Shootout to make the ride home more manageable, but unlike Tommy, Steve would turn the tables on John in the final to win the event.
We have a feeling the final-round...
We have a feeling the final-round match-up in Modular Muscle between Tom Motycka and Susan McClenaghan won't be the last time these two will face each other in the money round. Both hail from Michigan, both run every NMRA race, and both are great racers. This time around, Tom got the win against Susan, even when she got out quick with a 0.519 light (0.500 being perfect), but Tom countered with an even better 0.505 reaction time en route to running a 12.458 against a 12.47 dial. Usually that means an automatic loss, but Susan broke out by a larger margin so Tom went back to Michigan with the win.
No one was going to get in...
No one was going to get in Mike Olencheck's way in winning Open Comp at Reynolds. Mike ran right on his 10.26 dial four rounds in a row during eliminations, including the final round against Danny Towe. Mike runs a 427 in his '82 Fairmont, the other Fox white meat.
Two out of three isn't bad....
Two out of three isn't bad. By winning Truck and Lightning, Mike Motycka made the Motycka family two for three in their respective classes. They could've gone three for three had Robert Motycka not blown his engine while competing in Open Comp, but he was trying something different with his big-block '88 LX. Mike, however, had his big-block Uncle Jesse special dialed in to 12.03 index. His worst run was a 12.113 against the 12.03, and combined with stellar reaction times, that's hard to beat. Johnny Lightning was unable to put Uncle Jesse on the trailer in the final