Willie Burnett: May Blog
Well Toto, We’re Still in Kansas
Welcome back to the adventure that is bracket racing in the Midwest. My alter ego, Ivan NoDrivin, will be your tour guide for installment number 2 of what is becoming a step by step journal of how not to turn on a win light. For those of you that enjoyed last month’s beat down then you’re in luck again. So let’s get this party started.
I left you last month with a sputtering dragster and a feeling of disarray at the first CDRA race at Mokan Dragway. I figured it was time to get down to the cause of the Blue Beacon’s mystery miss and start tearing her apart in my garage before the first points race a KCIR. With body panels scattered everywhere the evil culprit finally showed its frayed wire face. It turns out that the power wire to the coil had decided to find a new connection with the lower frame rail. After running new wires and building some custom anti-rub protectors to keep them safe I was feeling good about my season’s new lease on life. What better time to shine than my home track at the opening points race. Let’s wreck shop!
Here is the cause of my miss. It’s amazing how the little things can be costly in the end. Stupid pipe rack!
Saturday afternoon at KCIR in April doesn’t get much better than this. Mid 70’s and sunny is all you could ask for. I am staying busy running the digger in S/P and the Quick Series. Super Pro starts off with a bang as my .013 take .022 1st round came up about .005 from turning on the light against Brent Camerlink. I can’t go out like that so after sneaking out a decent hit 2nd round I’m happy to see my first win light in weeks. 3rd round doesn’t cement my positive thoughts though and my .019 tree getting behind by .013 at the big end finishes up a short day in S/P. That was a bit of a buzzkill but there is still time to step it up in Quick.
In Quick things start turning around. Going .006 take .003 (using my patent pending “it sounds like he’s not getting there” technique) gets me thru 1st round. That’s followed by a competition bye and gets the ball rolling until…curfew cuts the day short. Yep, KCIR has a 10pm noise curfew and since they don’t start until mid afternoon it makes every race a challenge to beat the clock. The perk is I’ll get a chance to redeem myself when we finish the race in June and winning 2nd round gets my entry fee back. With the way my year has been going I’ll treat that as a “winner winner chicken dinner” moment.
Crushin’ the tree! I sure this was a time trial since that’s when I do my best work.
The next weekend takes me back to Heartland Park Topeka. The select few still following along with me from last month will remember HPT is not my favorite venue. However this time I’m pumped to get to the track because it will be the debut of The Blue Bu, my low buck bracket bomber, and she will be turning double duty in the Pro and S/P classes. A Friday night shake down before the main event turns out par for the course this season. I try to make packing material out of the 330’ clock first hit (mental note: a back halved door car doesn’t have the same steering response as my dragster) and make a failed attempt of doing a burnout with the throttle stop on the third run. Not realizing my mistake in wiring the t-stop I spend the rest of the session trying to figure out why the car won’t go over 4000 rpm. You‘re seeing pure genius at work here folks. After a full carb teardown, I finally realize I need to manually override the damn stop and hope things get better for Saturday.
I’m happy to report the Bu held strong being hot lapped as I make 4 time trials in the course of about 45 minutes Saturday and finally get a plan for eliminations. Although my “vintage” delay box was deciding when it wanted to leave (somewhere between 1 and 3 seconds after the green) at least I was going down track. I borrow another box, throw some numbers in it and hope for the best in S/P. No win lights shine thru first round and after my bottom bulb loss the ticket shack attendant said I might be leaking something. A peek at the trailer shows my getto fabulous tranny cooler line setup has decided to put a shiny new candy coat of red all over the bottom of my poor Bu. After a hack saw, pry bar (don’t ask), hose clamps, not reinstalling the grill, and missing the call in S/P, I am back up for second round of Pro. Finally things start falling my way as a couple red lights and an unfortunate mechanical issue from my buddy Tyler Wudarczyk puts me in the semi’s…in bottom bulb…a class I haven’t run competitively…ever. I was, shockingly, welding the tree too with 003 and 005 lights the last 2 rounds. I decide it’s time to take some advice from my boy T-Dub and stop flirting with disaster and get my reaction times back to reality. I chip down 200 rpm for the semi’s and put up a respectable 037 to his 030 on the tree. That’s the end of the highlights since I forget a brick going 10.50’s into a head wind and a change in launch rpm have a little more effect on ET than I thought. Being .060 slow didn’t give me much of a chance but getting in the money on my first outing with the Blue Bu left me wanting for more bottom bulb action.
The Blue Bu finally lives. Looks like it’s time for some suspension limiters
Amy even helps clean the trailer and race cars. I’m very spoiled
The next 2 weeks brought about some of my least favorite races to attend. There’s this sanctioning body we call N – H – R – A. You may have heard of it. They have all these sweet classes to run and figure that taking 3 to 4 days to complete one event makes sense. I don’t feel making 2 passes a day sounds like much fun but it beats sitting at home listening to myself bitch so I head to the booming Mecca of Great Bend, KS for the first D-5 event of the year. The only perk is that I am running in Top Dragster so I get to spray the wheels off the Beacon and go fast (at least for my junk) a few times. The track at Great Bend is a well run facility but no matter when they schedule this race it is accompanied by frigid temperatures and a 30 mph cross wind. The event did not disappoint this year either. I decided to give the old girl all she had which put me at a respectable 7.03. That plan didn’t turn out as well as I hoped since my first round draw was none other than Phil Unruh. Phil is a regular at the top of the qualifying charts and he can drive his low 6 second rocket ship to boot. I was lucky to have him turn on a rare red light 1st round but my long weekend didn’t last much longer as ol’ Ivan NoDrivin decided to show his ugly head again. After going .000 on the tree 2nd round I decide I’m gonna go kamikaze at the stripe and in turn don’t get there by plenty instead of running it out to the easy win. Nice work Ivan. Although I did get my first stand-in winners circle pic of the year as one of the home team picked up the Wally in T/D. My boy JR Lobner put on a free clinic at the Spray and Dump Acadamy for Winners. He’s a bad man when he gets fired up so I bet you’ll be reading more about his winning ways as the season progresses.
JR, Tyler, and Ivan talking shop in Great Bend. “How far are you sprayin’ it?”. “From burnout to turn out. Is there an off button I don’t know about?”
The next weekend I turned up the NHRA to 11 and decided to enter the Summer Nationals at HPT. I waited until the last minute to make sure I could qualify. Since I was the 31st and last entry in the 32 car field I felt there was a decent chance I’d make it in and the plan worked. I ran the Blue Beacon down in the rain Thursday and headed back to work on the Malibu. Friday was a fun filled day of watching the rain until it cleared enough to run the pros and try to get some sportsman cars down the track. Saturday was now jam packed full of one qualifying session and 2 rounds of Top Dragster eliminations. I made a clean hit and set up for “Superman” Hank Brown 1st round. Hank is another blown alcohol car that you don’t want to take lightly and he proved my point by putting a nice .000 take .008 pass next to my time trial worthy .024 and 2 above. Thanks a lot Superman. Now I know how Lois Lane feels after a drunken night in the Fortress of Solitude.
That’s when the most exciting part of the weekend occurred. I got to experience the first time I was at a race that was tornadoed out for the day. Yes…TORNADOED OUT (insert your favorite Wizard of Oz quote here…we’ve heard them all). After we stood in the parking lot watching the funnel cloud like a bunch of drunk rednecks saying “we coulda been killed…or worse” it was time to eat, dodge another tornado, and call it a day.
The funnel cloud from the pits at HPT. That’s what I call a home track advantage kids. Let’s see the California boys dial for that cross wind
Well, as we all come up on the busy time of the season, my schedule will keep me hustling as well. I’ll be heading to Tulsa for their Memorial Day Mega Bucks race then see if any more NHRA racing is in my future after that Thank you, again, for fighting thru the drowsiness (and possibly nausea) that my column can induce. I hope I can lull you to sleep again next month and maybe throw a win in there to mix it up.
On a side note please have the people of Joplin Missouri in your thoughts after the devastating tornado tore thru the city on May 22nd. Many of us have friends and family that live in or around the area (Mokan Dragway is less than 20 miles from the damage) and any help, donations, blood drives, etc is imperative in helping the community recover from the destruction.
Also thank you 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 feel free to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter at @IvanNoDrivin. See you all next month. Word to Big Bird!