Moneymaker Season 2, Article 1
MoneyMaker, Season Two
By Chuck Morris
Back by popular demand, I am glad to announce I will be able to continue with the MoneyMaker column for another season. First and foremost, thank you Luke for tolerating my poor Speiling and Grammer. I will do my best to figure out witch which is weetch and know where there is there (the last sentence is strictly for the benefit of Bud McNasby and Michael Beard.) Mostly what the columns will be about is how I race within my means and move towards turning a profit using the skill set learned first when I took guest instructor Bud McNasby’s Bracket Racing School and more recently the tutorials on ThisIsBracketRacing.com (TIBR).
Writing the column came about when last year I broke my engine in my car, and through the help of very good friends chose to buy a racecar on credit (seemed like a good idea at the time and still does). I then took the new car (known as Barney for its purple hue) to a combination of races at my local track and selected big dollar footbrake (or no-box) races to attempt to win the cost of the car back. By the end of the season I had cracked the poor ole car up when the steering column came apart, proving once again that wrenches (or any tools for that matter) are usually best used by someone other than me. A couple days after contact with the guardrail at US 13, Crutchy (engine builder, John Crutchfield) found that I had a crack in the block… Good times! At that point I scrapped the rest of the racing season and focused on reasserting my efforts in 2011. In the past I may have just kept trudging along putting together a “may pop” for an engine and hoping it might stay together, but I have never found that process very effective.
As I said in the first article, the project is named MoneyMaker due to the reality that making money is what I must do to continue to race at this time. This is still true even with being back to work. I would also like to give homage to the poker world, where the inspiration and similarities to bracket racing seemed intertwined. In Texas Hold’ Em Poker there’s a famous book written by Doyle Brunson called “The Super System.” This book describes the game at a very high level. It includes examples of techniques used when playing the game of poker, from many different angles. When you first read this book some of what is there is over your head. Even though the techniques are difficult to apply to the game of poker, attempting to apply them helps you become a better player. TIBR is a “Super System” for our game: Bracket Racing. Just like Doyle’s book, a lot of the content may be above a competitor’s skill level at the time it is read, but with practice and determination, the techniques and information from either Doyle’s book or TIBR can be learned. Ultimately, it will make you better at either respective game.
Before techniques can be applied to your racing, you first need a car that is prepared and suited for the class of racing in which you will be competing. In Tutorial 12
, Luke describes three categories our equipment falls into. The first category is a car that is in the top 33% of its class as far as consistency. Although we are racing on a budget, that is what we are striving for with this project. I believe if I have given a car that runs more consistent than more than half the field, then on average, I should be able to apply what I’ve learned on TIBR.
The cars I have seen that “work” seems to have a reoccurring theme. They have been thought out, not only for the parts they use, but also how those combinations of parts will work with each other. I had no background in drag racing when I started. At first, what I saw was cars with big tires that didn’t have a chance of turning the tire on wet pavement because they where underpowered being successful. I thought that would be the best way to win. I built my Malibu to emulate these cars, and in retrospect, it was not nearly as consistent as I expected. Over time and observation I realized the cars that leave right hook more consistently because they transfer weight. Bud was one of the first to open the avenue to understanding how a footbrake car that works, works. Leaving hard enough to transfer weight to the back tires keeps the tires planted, and there’s less chance to spin. All this is general knowledge for most, but as I said, I had NO drag racing background.
Since I am back to work and have more money that I can invest in this project, we are going to start with a fresh combination. Despite spending this “extra” money, I am just as committed to racing within my means, if not more so. I am spending the money on things to get the car to be reliable, and to replace parts that where not reliable last year. Besides reliability, all of the stuff being used is part of a combination to make the car leave “right.” Not only will the combo help the car leave “right,” the combo is being designed to make the car better suited to the way I want to drive the finish line. I will get into more details of what I mean about better suited to my driving habits in the next article, when we begin to test and then race the car.
I have a 383 short block from my Malibu. The block has been checked and re-honed, and the crank has been turned and indexed. The old reliable will get a new set of rods before it’s ready to be back in business. This motor came with a set of AFR 210 CNC ported heads with new springs, titanium retainers, and locks installed (springs and locks have 40 passes on them). Although the heads that came with Barney have more work and are bigger (Brodix Track One 215 heads), in order to accomplish what we are looking to do (leave really hard), the smaller heads fit better with the rest of the combo. Bud and Crutchy collaborated and are in the works of picking a new cam. All the steps we took last year with Barney made the car leave harder. Each step also made the car more consistent and predictable. We are continuing with this theme and expect to see the same results: more consistency.
The other changes to the combo will be a converter and gear set change to work with the cam and added torque due to the 383 compared to the 355 that came with the car. Bud will pick the converter since he has been working with Eddie at Select to come up with a converter designed for a footbrake combo to leave quicker. The gear set that comes with a Th-350 is 2.48. We will be installing an after market gear set with a 2.70 first gear to get more starting line ratio.
All of these changes will make that car leave quicker. The same theory of a hard leaving combo that transfers weight being more consistent is our goal. The ultimate goal will be to leave shallow while footbraking on a pro tree. You may ask why would you do so much work (and spend so much more money) to get a car to leave shallow on a pro tree when we bracket race on a full tree? One reason is to make the car get through the first two increments with aggression and as fast as possible, to make the car more consistent. It will also help me be more consistent because it is easier to shallow stage a car, limiting a crucial variable: the extra distance needed to deep stage. Some would choose to change themselves to shallow stage but I would rather make the car be the difference, because another working theory is that the most consistent way to hit the tree is to simply react, just like when you hit the pro tree.
We found MANY things that needed to be addressed to make the car a copy of Crutchy’s old blue Regal. I brought the car back to the man with the master plan. Crutchy is reapplying the Crutchifications necessary to make the car what it was meant to be. Crutchy and his Regal use to regularly annoy everyone with its consistency. Once he is done I will go over the “stuff” that was done. Crutchy is one of the most technically minded folks I know, especially when prepping a footbrake car.
I’m not saying I will have the same kind of results my buddy had with his car. Crutchy is not only an awesome engine builder/mechanical guru, but also a great driver. What I do expect to have is a well-prepped footbrake combo suited for exactly how I want to drive both ends of the track that will give whatever I can do a better chance to kick on a win light.
The car is also getting necessary repairs. Back in November, Crutchy found a nose for the Olds and I sent him the funds to get it. The parts wounded in the unfortunate contact with the guardrail at the Bracket Finals have been removed and the new nose is awaiting the installation of the motor before being installed. The guy who originally painted the car will then match the Purple and we will be ready to get the lettering redone. The bent ladder bar cross member will be replaced also.
Besides the racecar needing attention, my tow vehicle (a 2002 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel) will need to some TLC before racing, and I will include the cost of the maintenance as part of the racing budget. The car trailer is an open trailer that I replaced all the lights and brakes 3 years ago, and it will get looked over too.
Each column I will summarize the cost of the racing, including equipment upkeep and repairs). This season I can afford to invest more initially due to having a job, but I am still determined (even more determined) to race within the means available. When I chose to do this project I knew it would be one of the most difficult things I chose to do in racing. It will also be the most rewarding when I succeed.
Gary Treager was paid by the first week of December. Accounts payable for the parts used last season where also done being repaid by December. Both where paid for out of pocket (not with money made from racing or related to racing), therefore both amounts are still in the cost column of the budget. Keith chose to get paid only when I win with the car. I made sure he didn’t want to start getting payments and he chose to continue with our original agreement. I truly can’t thank him enough for his continued support.
Total owed on Barney: $2,500
Total paid for Gary’s loan and parts: $3,000
Total spent for parts for the racecar through January: $2,450
Total expenses so far: $7,950
So I’m at $8,000 in the red and I’m not racing yet and have more expenses to come that may be as high as another $5,000! I must be freaking nuts to believe I can get back to zero. Maybe, but I am going to put forth a plan and work it the best I can, paying back Keith the rest of what he is owed first and go from there. Stay tuned, as I have found out the story of success or failure never goes exactly as anyone draws it out on paper.
Thank you for reading, and good luck if you’re already racing. Up here in the very frosty northeast, we have gotten 70 plus inches of snow and the favorite past time is roof shoveling! Thank you to John Crutchfield of Crutchybilt Performance for his continued support. Thanks to Bud for his help (along with Crutchy) for the design of the combo I am about to race. Thanks to Michael Beard of Staging Light Graphics for his graphics work and proof reading. (Yes, there is usually proof reading before you read this, even if it doesn’t look like it. Use your imagination to determine how bad it was before proofing!)
Have a good one!