Moneymaker Season 2, Article 5
Article 5 Season 2
By Chuck Morris
(Brought to you with limited grammatical editing for readability and limited commercial interruption by associate editor Michael Beard)
So here we are. It’s been a few months since Article 4 and I sit here in Windsor Locks the weekend before Halloween (a Noreaster came the day I was finishing this and we here in Connecticut lost power for as much as 10 days! Which delayed the article another couple weeks). Season’s over for a couple weeks now due to two reasons. One, I got a new gig driving for another car service. (Gonna try to not piss this boss off by mentioning any indiscretions I learn about him like I did the last one with the farm animals. I didn't realize the last boss was breaking any laws. The goat looked happy. Anyways...) Two, I hadn't any more funds to continue. When you don't win and have no other income, I've been told that’s when you're supposed to stop. Rarely have I adhered to this rule and sometimes have looked more like a junkie looking for a fix than someone attempting to race successfully. Luckily, this time I have had enough time and experience to not keep chasing a win like I have in the past. There will be a next season.
I didn't do much racing since my last article, but I did go to the NED Bracket Finals held at US 13 Dragway in Delmar, DE. I went as a spectator, to tow my friend (Bill Kirpens, Jr.) street truck for him. [Because that’s what you do with street trucks, right? Tow them? At least he got Billy to leave the house. Look. There are times you might have to drive past more than two WalMarts to get to a race track. –ED] I hadn't joined points this year and had told Billy (that’s what I call him when I'm not calling him a slew of nicknames I have for him. Never poke the ones who are way more skilled then you. They need no extra motivation to tear your head off when you race them) I would tow one of his two rides if he had qualified in both classes. So Jr. (kindest of the nicknames, since he is a Jr.) went out and won both Pro and Street at our local track (Lebanon Valley Dragway). These are his 12th and 13th track championships (time for THE GNAT to move PERMANENTLY to Stock eliminator). He can't get ticked about being called THE GNAT, he's actually proud of “that” nickname.
I was already ahead of the game not racing the event this year (Guaranteed not to crash my car or get bounced for excessive braking like I had the year before) [Wow. Excessive braking AND excessive breaking at the same event! – ED]. Then came the forecast. Let’s just say they weren't calling for high and dry. Our Bracket Finals in Division 1 is run on Saturday to give us a rain date of Sunday for the race. Many years, our race has finished on Sundays (due to weather) and once on a Monday also, including this year. Having never been to a race without a racecar really was a lot better than I expected. I still enjoyed seeing the folks I have spent most of my weekends with since 1997 when I first went racing, and I had a reason to be there until the end when they bounced the Race of Champions from Friday night (rain) to “time permitting” status on Sunday. Billy was in the Street ROC (likely because he was scared of the other competitors in Pro. OK actually, him racing Street allowed his father a chance to race the Pro ROC). Though they will allow you to race in two classes for the main event, they still won't let you run the Race of Champions in two classes. Super Pro (name of our electronics class) had only completed round one and would be starting the day on Sunday part way through round two. Street and Pro had already run their second round and Bike had only run first round.
When I got there Sunday I began to realize this was exactly the same as the year I won this event. Only difference was in 2004 they had run the Race of Champions and this time I was a tater (spectator in this case). As I was watching the event I started to remember exactly how that day went way back in 2004 and began to really enjoy being there watching this year’s event. The similarities of an overcast day, having been plagued by rain all weekend and starting Pro with third round really brought back the memories of the day I got to win an event I had no idea I could win. I began noticing “the usual suspects” in Pro as the day went on. I didn't mean to focus on Pro more, but since that’s the class I run I did. These are the guys who have scored at the biggest races we attend all the time and the list this year in Pro included Brock Moser (wicked wheel standing blacked out Vega wagon), Dave Raser (great footbrake family and talent in a street driven Ford station wagon), Mike Barber (won Street in 2004 at the same event and part owner of PaintWorks where he and his Dad do some of the nicest autobody work out there) [Yup! PaintWorks did the Turismo in the late 90’s thanks to Parkway, and the thing is straighter than they came off the showroom floor! – ED], Steve Vancranest (killer car craftsman and driver) and Jim Young.
Jim needs no introduction if you have been racing big dollar footbrake events in the last decade. He has won a ton of big events and when he’s not winning he is a late runner deep into money more often than any of the folks I have had the privilege of being around. This is the guy who you want to emulate. You rarely see him get upset at an event and never a bad word about anyone. He is and always will be a champ. And like so many of the “Joisey” racers is a prodigy of Jimmy “The Shoe” Harrington. Jim “Happy” Harrington passed away late in 2009. I didn't know “Happy” but all the folks who have been my racing heroes from “Joisey” (Anthony Fetch, JP. Jr., Bob Mullaney, Bud McNasby and especially Jim Young) all got some (if not all) of what they do on the race track from this one guy. Harrington. This guy is their hero and a drag racing legend. So as the day went on and I saw Jim Young advancing round after round, I truly had a sense he was going to be the one this day. When Jim advance to the final and won it, I probably cheered louder than I ever have for any one of my wins (at least the ones folks get to see I usually go nuts in the helmet when the win lights on and get the emotion out of the way.). Right then I realized being at the race was really right where I was suppose to be, just for the fact I got to relive my own experience winning this race while I watched a friend do the same.
The winner in Super was a guy named Jim Harrison, Sr., a guy I have known and raced against from my home track of Lebanon Valley. Jim has won a lot of races at the Valley, been in the mix to win a season long championship, and a lot like when I won, this is the biggest win of his career. Then came the ROC final in Street which Billy Kirpens, Jr. had advanced to for the third time in his career (second season in a row). His opponent this day would be Brian Mullaney (they call him “shortchange” because his Dad is “Big Bucks” Mullaney) Brian is a constant winner in the Joisey shark tank and a great racer. In the 2011 season at Englishtown (tough place to race, with a deep field of talent) he was dominate. The race between these two prodigies (both of their Dad's are great racers) of our sport was inevitable at some point during the weekend. The race didn't disappoint, both had good lights and were almost tied at the starting line. Billy got there by a few thousandths on the other end to win a double breakout decided by a couple thousandths! For a couple years after I won the Bracket Finals Billy and I would go out to dinner with our significant others and I would wear the championship ring (only time I would wear the ring) and tap it at him from across the table. Hey, the kid has won everything else. Take your shots when you can and this was the only shot I could give my buddy. I still get to tap the ring at him for now (you don't get the ring when you win the Race of Champions).
Watching Jim Young, Jimmy Harrison,Sr. and Billy win reminded me why I started racing in the first place. Racing to win and on a budget came about only because I love to race. I have given every nickel I had earned to race at times. Can't do those things when in the balance is your family. That’s why racing on a budget and racing for a profit had to become the priority if I was going to get to race the last two seasons. No matter if I was able to make my living (which I didn't do) or keep costs down by paying attention and “picking” races where I would have the best chance to cash in (which did happen a couple times each of the last two seasons). Racing on a budget allowed me to race the last two seasons. I also learned a ton about bracket racing because of what I had to focus on.
Before Christmas, the original goal of the article (race on a budget and pay off the car I am racing with winnings) will be complete. Not all of the cost ($6,000) came from winnings (around $1,500 of the $6,000 came from winnings, half of what I won). Another part was parts I sold from the original deal (about $3,000.) [I’m seeing a career in ebay in Chuck’s future… -ED] Some of the money I got for the parts went back into my racing, so I could continue to attempt to win the money back. So $1,500 is the amount that was unaccounted for from either winnings or sale of parts from the cars “other parts” of the original cost of the car (before having to use my motor from the car I already had owned). To get to this point I spent $13,000.00 out of my pocket (including fixing the car after last seasons mishap and replacing the engine). Now if I was a government I guess this would be considered a success but I don't understand the thought process behind operating like a government. I do however understand calculated risk and the cost of that risk. So in summary, I spent what averages out to $6,500 a year to attempt to win the cost of the car back. So I failed to win the amount back and get to zero, but didn't spend more than I could attempting it (this means bills all got paid, didn't piss off the bride TOO MUCH, etc.) Now I had expected to spend (when I was employed earlier this year) $20,000 to attempt to get back to zero and am quite sure if I just spent more it would have all worked out (this last sentence is what it costs me to have Beard edit the article). [That doesn’t really cover the aggravation, but we accept credit card payments. –ED]
So where does the article go from here? Already having gotten the OK from Luke to write next year (thanks again buddy) [Aww, no… - ED], I am going to continue writing about racing on a budget. The main reason for writing was to pay for the car, so why continue to publicly humiliate myself by failing to make a profit in front of anyone who reads this? [It saves us the effort of having to track you down and do it for you. –ED] I have found writing this article to help me stay focused on the parts that make any of us better racers. The article does also give me the opportunity to promote folks who wish to help me out (like Crutchybilt and Staging Light Graphics). Helps take an average racer (on a good day) like myself and makes it possible for me to be marketable. This means to me I can bring a product to an audience of folks here on TIBR, whose subscribers are the who’s who in our world of bracket racing.
Next season’s plans now include a company from right down the street from ATCO called RadicalRacingOnline.com. Craig Radovich has been part of Bud McNasby's program for a while now tuning Bud's EFI system with his in-house chassis dyno. Thanks to Bud and Craig, Barney is going to be tested and tuned on the chassis dyno as we convert from carburetor to a “budget” minded EFI system. All the results (and more of my faults) will be reported here, likely more often (monthly) than this season’s articles. Next season, my main focus and goal will be to return to my home track (Lebanon Valley) and compete weekly in their points to attempt to qualify for the Bracket Finals and compete for a year long track championship. It really was inspiring watching good friends do well at the Bracket Finals, and I am looking forward to being there next year. I will get to bigger money events if (and only if) I have been doing well enough locally to warrant a trip to the money events I have been chasing after for so long. My first weekend will be down in Joisey (at ATCO, then Englishtown) because I will test the new setup there to shake out any bugs before my points season starts.
Thanks to Luke for letting me write of my adventures (and misadventures) [He beat me to it. –ED] here on TIBR. Thanks to Micheal Beard for his editing [Seriously? He didn’t even spell “Michael” right! –ED] and support with Staging Light Graphics. Thanks to John Crutchfield (CRUTCHYBILT PERFORMANCE) for his loyal support. Lastly, but not least, thanks to my partner in crime Bud McNasby [Deep staging is NOT a crime. Except when Bud does it. – ED]. Without his help, none of the last two seasons would be worth writing about. Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read about our attempts and failures.
Until next season,