Willie Burnett: August Blog
“In The Ditch” by Ivan NoDrivin
I decided to carry on the title from last month’s column since it continues to prove as a proper prelude to the story that follows. As I left you last month a dark cloud of failure was looming over the Burnett Motorsports camp after numerous losses and limited success. My hopes were to finally see the sun again this month but if you’ve been following my self-destructive ramblings long enough you can guess how this story is gonna end. They say it’s not the destination so much as the journey so feel free and ride along on this trip thru the mind of a struggling Midwest bracket racer and maybe feel a little better about yourself along the way.
As most of you have realized by now I try to pull something into the stage beam on every available weekend there is during the season. The positive onlooker would call it persistence and the more cynical viewer (myself included) would see blind stupidity but this is the path I’ve chosen. To continue in my “persistent” approach Amy and I headed out to Manhattan with the Malibu in tow. My plan was to use my dad’s shop to do some 4-link rebuilding on the Bu in preparation for the Summer Doorcar Shootout the following week and test the new changes on my way back home at Heartland Park Topeka Saturday night. After a sweaty day replacing the 4-link bars, heim joints, and squaring everything up I turned the rig back east to try some long track action. As I check my phone in the driveway of dads shop I learn that Topeka has been cancelled due to a water main break near the track. As I go thru the rest of the texts I discover that all of my boys have headed to Mokan in Pittsburg, KS. Normally, the 2 hour drive from home and a late day start time would make heading to the ‘Kan an easy choice. However, Since it’s an hour before the gates open and I’m 4 hours way in Manhattan my chances of making the buyback round are all but erased. We decide instead to call it a valiant effort and head home with the Bu to KC after not seeing a stage light for the first weekend in awhile. At least only a work week and a few hundred miles stand between me and Luke’s Jeg’s Summer Doorcar Shootout in Benton, IL.
And that week came and went in no time. JR Lobner and I had a plan to take my Bu and his S-11 pickup to The Jeg’s Summer Doorcar Shootout. We planned to double both cars for a chance at $7500 on each of the 2 days. JR and I decided to head out at 3am Saturday morning which would put us at the I-57 Dragway gates right as the 10am cattle call to the lanes is given. Surprisingly the plan actually works and we roll into this little back woods 1/8 mile track that is packed full of the nastiest top bulb door cars in the country. We busted ass to get unloaded and thru time trials in both cars and almost had 1st round complete (had 2 red lights to get me thru unscathed) before the temp dropped about 30 degrees and the skies opened up. Although the temperature drop was a welcome change from what had been the most hot/humid racing conditions I’ve ever competed in (100 degrees 70%+ humidity 0mph wind), the rain seemed to put a hitch in Mr. Bogacki’s plans of completing Saturday’s activities. After a full force effort from Luke and the I-57 Dragway staff to wait out the slow rain the decision was made to call it a day. The plan was revised into a jammed packed Sunday composed of 2 big races, no time trials, and a return of sweat drenched heat and humidity.
In the first race I took both entries into 3rd round without even a buyback and was feeling pretty salty for once. I take the Bu up first and throw down a .010 take .005 pass for the “L”. I’m sure the ticket shack guy enjoyed my blank stare that turned into a padded room worthy crazy laugh when I read that ticket. I rush back to grab JR’s S-10 and head back to the lanes for my last shot at race 1. I know I wasn’t .010 take .005 that time (by a long shot) but the results were the same. I’d give you the details on that pass but the time slip mysteriously disappeared (out the window in a tightly crumpled ball) so I don’t have the info to share. I lost ok. Let’s move on. Quit living in the past dammit. The only good thing to come from race 1 was that I had some free time to jump on the P.A. mic and do what I do best…run my mouth. Luckily Jared Pennington needed a breather so he let me have free reign over the loud speaker for a few minutes. It was a blast and no one was standing at the bottom of the tower waiting to kick my ass when I was done so I call that a success.
On to the second race of the day. To save some words I’ll just post the stats:
Malibu 1st Round .013 take .027 for the loss
S-10 1st Round .018 behind by .009 for the loss
$150 in buybacks and 2 free rolls of duct tape
S-10 2nd Round .016 behind by a bunch when it blew the tires off
Malibu 2nd Round .021 take .024 breaking out by .003
JR putting the Blue Bu thru the ringer at I-57 Dragway
Yeah, it was a rough go but at least JR decided to pick up the slack as he took both cars down to 19 cars and his S-10 down to 5 cars (actually 3 cars and 2 trucks). That loss at 5 stung a little since it was for the bye to the final but these doorcar guys were serious. We felt happy to see any W’s (and the win lights at I-57 are an actual LED “W”) with the packages these cats could lay down. We are primarily pipe rack racers on the top bulb so we walked away with a new found respect for the door car guys. Congrats again to Luke and the I-57 staff for putting on an awesome event and I’ll be back next year. 48 hours and 750 miles had passed since JR and I left for the doorcar shootout so my own bed felt like the black hole of comfy by the time we rolled in Monday morning.
After the Illinois trip I was happy to stay a little closer to home the next weekend (about 350 miles closer). The CDRA Series came to my home track so I had 2 days of racing for good money and my own house to sleep in at night. Since I was feeling a little guilty about having it so easy I decided to spice it up and take both cars out for the weekend. Since my trailer won’t haul both cars I had to talk my dad into bringing up the flat trailer and help with the logistics. I know I’m getting long winded again so here’s a summary of how my weekend went. In the digger I was:
.014 behind by .011 / .002 red (bumping out .007) / .003 behind by .009 / .019 taking .027. That is 0 for 4 for you scoring at home (and you all thought I was overemphasizing my inabilities at the finish line). Footbraking the Malibu had disappointingly similar results. I found my spot on the bottom bulb but it just happened to be that my “spot” was between .066 and .089 on the tree that wasn’t gonna get the job done.
The Malibu actually showed the skinnies some daylight off the footbrake
The boys and I doing some staging lane domination in No-E at the KCIR CDRA race
Total score for the weekend was 3 for 11. A 27% winning percentage left me feeling like it might be time for a break because I was having a ‘Goose’ moment singing, “I’ve lost that winning feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone, and I can’t go on, no oh oh”. Luckily for Amy this ride of shame back to the house only lasted 20 minutes. I can’t end this weekend without giving props the beautifully vivacious Jeryka Lobner for her Sportsman win in her big brothers S-11. I wasn’t in the mood to stay for the winners circle pic and, rest assured, I got an earful the next day for not being there. Sorry sweetheart.
Here is Jeryka’s winners circle pic I was absent for. You’ll notice her dad John didn’t make it either and he was still at the track so I don’t feel as bad.
I will say there’s nothing like a week of sulking to make me want to go out and prove to everyone (primarily myself) that I’m not going down without a fight. I said screw it and headed to Mokan for their weekly bracket race. My broken record skipped back to the part where I’m feeling good and driving decently (for myself at least). I turn on a couple win lights and think it’s time to get this season back on track. That is until I pull the classic rookie mistake 3rd round against a 5.20’s doorcar. I say 5.20’s because I obviously wasn’t paying attention to what he was dialed and it showed. Somehow the 5.27 is put in my crossover and the 5.23 he was actually dialed on turned my .020 tree into a .060. That compiled with the fact that I don’t get the stripe by .007 and allow his .078 package to go on to round 4 was all I needed to finish off my positive streak. But wait…there’s more. As I kept my composure and started loading up without throwing/breaking anything I was reminded that some days just aren’t your day. As I back the digger into its hole the tongue jack breaks in half and drops the trailer (with me inside) to the ground. Luckily the only thing damaged was the jack, the side door step , and my pride. After 2 floor jacks, 3 wood blocks, 4 jack stands and 50 minutes I finally get the trailer back on the hitch and limp on home.
This is right before the wheels (and tongue jack) fell off the racing operation at Mokan
Ok, now is when I throw in the towel on this season, right? Oh, no. Amy and I head to Manhattan the next Friday night to get the Malibu (which my dad took back with him after The KCIR race) ready for another triple entry day at Midwest Raceway. As Saturday morning came we find out that Manhattan is rained out. Maybe I’ll give up now? Nope. I’m gonna race this weekend dammit. We head off back to Kansas City so I can fix my tongue jack and take the Blue Beacon out to KCIR instead. Well, that race rained out as well so another valiant effort to see a stage bulb was thwarted by the hands of the racing gods.
That’s it folks. One month, 1300 miles driven, 3 of 6 races attempted actually saw a pass down track, 9 wins and 15 losses. I’m sure by now I’ve lost a few more optimistic readers and have successfully shown that the fine line between persistence and stupidity can be a tricky one to walk down. I will end this month’s sob story with one of my favorite quotes (that I clearly should use more often in my own decision making). “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results”
As usual I need to make some shoutouts to the peeps that keep this crazy train at full boil. Thanks to Amy, Micala, and Jeryka for the pictorial evidence of my trials and tribulations Also a thank you goes out to APD, Nitro Plate, J&J Engine Diapers, K&N Filters, and “LB Money” at ThisIsBracketRacing.com for all the sweet product and giving a guy like me a place to tell my tales. If you just can’t get enough of Ivan NoDrivin (you know you want to) feel free to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter at @IvanNoDrivin. I hope to see you all back next month so for now remember…it’s the effort not the results that you will be remembered by…actually that’s probably not true at all.