Brandon Schmall Guest Editorial
I would like to first thank Luke and ThisIsBracketRacing.com for providing an opportunity to share a few of my on-track racing experiences to all of the members that support this great program. I believe that TIBR is the perfect program for all racers to become involved with, and I am just fortunate enough to be a part of such a neat experience.
The event that I would like to share based on the “How I Won It” format will be the rounds leading up to my 2011 NHRA Pro ET National Championship. The specific races would include select rounds from the Division 5 E.T. Finals, as well as the rounds occurring at the World Finals in Pomona, California.
I will begin briefly with the Division 5 E.T. Finals at Brainerd International Raceway. All together it was an 8 round race, the first 2 rounds of eliminations occurring on Saturday and ran on the quarter mile track, and the remaining of the race was completed on Sunday on the eighth mile track. Now enough of the story, here are the details of how the race progressed, but due to the fact that I am sharing two different events, I will put much more emphasis on the second one.
To save some time as the next race could get a little lengthy, I will start describing the race beginning with the time gap between 4th and 5th round of eliminations, on the short track.
One of the rounds after the rain delay on Sunday
In between 4th and 5th round: I notice the car is sounding like a freight train when I am coasting in neutral back to the pit area. Immediately when I get back to the pit area, I slide the jack under the rear end and turn over the rear tires. When doing so it stops in certain spots, giving the easy clue to a broken gear set. In an attempt to have the car last a few more rounds, I decide to completely change my driving strategy. I switch from the “spot drop” and “driver” approach to the “dialer” method.
5th Round: When I roll on up to the staging lanes I get paired up with one of our local racers, Bryan Edler, who is always tough no matter where you race him. He was not even driving his own car, and I do not think he had any seat time in this car before the event! I dial a 6.27 (previously would have ran a 6.277 and 6.262) to his 6.79. He hands over the win at the starting line, which is a very rare occurrence for him. Talk about a lucky break, I was .069 on the tree to his -.005 red. I lifted before the 60’ and drive the car through to a steady 7.786 at 68.45.
6th Round: I am lined up against Kurt Mullen who is dialing a 6.78. He has won multiple track championships and proven to us all why he is continuously in the late rounds. I paste a 6.26 up on the dial in board thinking it would run very similar to the previous rounds, and I would be setup more on the honest side of things. I let go with the startling line advantage, I am .029 to his very unusual .080, and go through the traps with my foot through the floor to run a 6.282 at 109.47 to his 6.766.
7th Round: I get drawn for the bye run, I stage up the car, and my crew pushes me back off of the starting line allowing us to have some charge and cool down time. Then again, maybe I should have left the car on and threw it in reverse instead because the only thing the people watching could hear was the clunk, clunk, clunk sound coming from the rear end.
Final Round: I am lined up to race Jim Noben in his spotless, orange Camaro. Jim, whom beat my brother earlier in the race, was looking to defeat two different Schmalls by the end of the race. I had kept the same dial on the window from the previous round expecting it to pick up a bit due to the cooler air; I dial a 6.26 once again, and he dials 5.91. I had a slight starting line advantage; I was .022 to his very competitive .029. We get down near the finish line, and luckily with as dark as it was and the fog setting in, he breaks out by a little and I run a 6.292 at 108.68 for the win.
Throughout the race I was very fortunate that the car held together when we were running it on literally its last life. Everything fell into place where it needed to be, and I caught the lucky breaks when I needed them most. It was very neat to finally do something that my brother had done multiple times a few years back.
Next I would like to go in-depth for the event occurring at the World Final in Pomona California. It was on schedule that all of the Summit cars would each get three time runs before the first round of eliminations. Due to the terrible weather that was occurring throughout the days of racing, we were only given one time run on Saturday, and surprisingly enough one final time run two hours before first round got underway.
1st Time Run – 3:10 P.M.
1753 ft – Corrected Density Altitude; Starting Line RPM: 3500
I elected to find a drop spot on the first time run, then later use past runs on the car to predict what the car would have ran. After looking back at past log sheets, I would have ran around a high 9.84. As for the tree, on the hit meter I would have to rate it about a 6 using the blinder off of the bottom. There was definitely some room for improvement, and I figured that with that RPM I would be set up in the red zone.
First pass down the track.
2nd Time Run – Sunday – 12:43 P.M.
2170 ft – Corrected Density Altitude; Starting Line RPM 3300
I chose to locate various lift spots on the second time run that we received. According to past log sheets once again, it would have been around a high 9.85. I was able to lower the starting line by 200 RPM with the help of my new FastronixSolutions.com RPM Selector Module. I got rid of the blinder on that run knowing that if I got to the late rounds, I would not be able to block the tree anymore. I felt that I connected with the tree much better than the previous time run, and I felt comfortable as to where I was setup on the tree and did not feel the need to adjust the starting line RPM anymore.
1st Round – 2:56 P.M.
2350 ft – Corrected Density Altitude; Starting Line RPM 3300
My Dial: 9.91 Opponent Dial: 10.46
My RT: .037 Opponent RT: .008
My ET: 9.881 Opponent ET: 10.427
My MPH: 123.05 Opponent MPH: 123.25
Margin of Victory: .0049
I decided to dial up to a 9.91 for the first round of eliminations. I was paired up with a slower opponent, making it easier to stripe race against, and I did not want to short myself (dial something that I could not run all-out) if the track all of a sudden went away, or I was late on the tree. I chose the driver approach for round number one against the always though, Steven Parrish, going back to using the blinder, and leaving at the same RPM as the previous round. I did not get a good read on the tree when I left, the sun was right on the bulb, and to be honest, I could not tell you if I was .00x or .05x on the tree. As the race progressed, the plan was to get ahead because of the reason that I thought it would be a slow round, but what I was actually viewing told me to get behind. I then chose to go with the “spot drop” approach, using a spot similar to what I had discovered during the first time run. I get down close to the stripe and give it a late drop to somehow end me up on the right side of the numbers by just .0049 on the double breakout win. According the math, I would have run a low 9.83. I was very fortunate to win this round as I spot dropped a bit later than I wanted to, and had the disadvantage on the starting line by .029.
2nd Round – 4:38 P.M.
1926 ft – Corrected Density Altitude; Starting Line RPM 3300
My Dial: 9.86 Opponent Dial: 11.78
My RT: .007 Opponent RT: .053
My ET: 9.892 Opponent ET: 11.777
My MPH: 132.06 Opponent MPH: 108.84
Margin of Victory: .0115
I chose to dial down to a 9.86, still holding some numbers, but the mile per hour difference between my opponent and I helped the decision to dial a bit more honest than I did in the first round. The air was also getting better and I figured that I could possibly go a hundredth or two quicker than the pass before if the car hooked the same. I chose the same driving approach as the round before, get ahead. I got rid of the blinder for this round, and when I let go it felt that I had connected with the bulb a lot better than all of the other runs. Down track, I knew I had to get rid of some numbers whether I wanted to get in front or get behind. As the race progressed, I made the assumption that if we both flat footed it to the finish line, I would get ahead by quite a bit. I decided to continue the race being a driver, and take the stipe. I gave it a couple pumps of the throttle just past the eighth mile to get rid of some numbers early on, then as the stripe was getting closer I got rid of the other numbers that I appeared to be holding, and then some more to hopefully still end up ahead. Luckily the approach worked, and I would have run a low 9.82. My opponent, Jesse Ivy, did however do a great job on the finish line. He gave me a tough race dropping at the finish line to only come up under by .003.
3rd Round, Final – 5:18
1770 ft – Corrected Density Altitude; Starting Line RPM 3300
My Dial: 9.84 Opponent Dial: 9.49
My RT: .014 Opponent RT: .075
My ET: 9.918 Opponent ET: 9.521
My MPH: 119.52 Opponent MPH: 140.08
Margin of Victory: .0142
The final round consisted of me running Paul Comeau and his beautiful gold 1939 Chevy. We were parked next to him all weekend; he and his family are a great group of racers! With the air improving for the final, and this time driving over my shoulder, I decided to dial more honest than the other two rounds, but still leaving myself enough room if I were to spin due to the fact that we ran immediately after Top Fuel. I did not want to change my driving style too much for the final, and I tried to continue to follow the same routine and game plan as all of the other rounds. When I let go of the button, once again without the blinder, I felt that it was about the same as the round before. As the race went on, it appeared that he was further back than he should be so I chose to follow the “driver” driving approach because of that. I started lifting after I crossed the 1000 foot mark to scrub off some of the numbers that I was carrying. Continuously looking back at the opponent, I figured that I still had enough room to get rid of some more numbers, so a little past the mile per hour cone I felt the need to get on the brakes. I did however get a little too carried away hitting the brakes at the end to come up .052 over the dial-in. Luckily the numbers game fell in my favor, and I did not give the stipe back as I could have easily done.
Standing with all of the winners; Third from left.
I once again want to thank everyone for making all of my racing experiences possible and memorable. I could not have had the opportunity to share all of this with you all if it was not for Luke and Jessica Bogacki with ThisIsBracketRacing.com, FastronixSolutions.com Performance Automotive Wiring Components, Rick Beaulieu out of Lakes Transmission Service, B & L Custom Trailers, C & R Sod and Landscaping, G & S Dyno and Chassis, Digital Delay, car owner Dennis Remer “Big D” for his endless efforts to get the car to the track every weekend, of course my family for everything that they do, and all of the other people and racers for making this all possible.
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