Willie Burnett: September Blog
“In The Ditch” with Ivan NoDrivin
Welcome back, one and all (1 may be all of the readers left by now) to my tales of incompetence and stupidity told one pass at a time. I’m happy to tell the committed ones following my travels around the Midwest that there will be a happy ending to this months story. No worry for those of you that come only to read of my disasters on and off the track because I have plenty for you as well. Let’s light this candle and see if you like how it smells.
August was a rough one, to say the least, and my tease when I left you was that I was going to one of my least favorite series at one of my least favorite tracks. As I rolled down the road to Heartland Park Topeka on Thursday night with the digger in tow for the NHRA D-5 race all I was trying to do is forget about why I disliked this event. I had concocted a plan to run the Blue Beacon in Top Dragster and the Malibu in S/ST. Thanks to my dad and “T-Dub” Tyler Wudarczyk the plan turned into reality. I brought the dragster form KC and Tyler flat trailered the Bu up from Manhattan for me. This should be an interesting weekend. After getting everything into the facility and teched my next worry was how the Beacon was going to muster qualifying in TD. There were 37 dragsters that decided to show up for Friday and my little bracket car looked out of place in the staging lanes full of wings and beadlocks and blowers..oh my. I left the 250 shot on it and put up a 7.09 but I knew that wasn’t gonna cut it. The second session was that night so I better bring my A game to avoid a $150 donation. Unbeknownst to my engine builder or anyone that would be concerned for my safety I moved the pills up to a 350hp shot. Since I’ve never tried this much spray and have been told not to by Mr. Driskell I could only hope my little dragster wouldn’t…
A: become a fireball
B: break the scoop off in tire shake
C: wheel stand and break the front wheels off
D: all of the above
To everyone’s surprise the little blue streak went right down Broadway and tossed up my first sub-7 second run ever. I don’t like to boast but I was damn proud of a 6.950 @ 192.88 out of a 235” 1960lb bracket car with 33.5 slicks, no bead locks, a 582 conventional headed big block and a loose screw behind the wheel. Ok, sorry to waste so much ink on qualifying but I was a happy kid.
I almost forgot I was running the Malibu in S/ST as well. I was wheeling both cars decently thru the first couple rounds of TD and S/ST and was feeling like it was finally my time to kick this season in the junk… and that’s where this season fought back. I’m paired with a sweet little old lady in S/ST and know she’s gonna be chasing me down (I’m short shifting the Bu with no throttle stop so she will run a mid .80 at 124). I’ve been decent at the stripe so as we leave it feels like it’s my race to lose. I start cutting her in at the stripe and this is what it sounded like. WHAAAAMP, WHAAAMP, WHAAAMP, WHARACKA TACKA RACKA BANGA BANG BANG BANG. That last part of my aural rendition was the connecting rod leaving the oil pan. So as the Bu is filling up with smoke all I can think of was “Did I win?” No…I didn’t. After the Safety Safari stuffed what looked like a beach towel into what remained of my oil pan I got a tow back to the pits and didn’t have much time before I was headed back up for Top Dragster. After the smoke and carnage I just encountered it’s easy to say my mind wasn’t in the game. With 8 cars remaining I staged up next to my buddy John Lobner and let the button go…approximately .145 before the first amber came on. There’s nothing better than to finish off an expensive weekend of parts failure with an episode of complete brain failure. Why does this race hate me so much? I’m still working on answering that question. As usual my dismal night was brightened by one of my buddies doin’ work and going rounds. “Hollywood” Kyle Lawrence was the man of the hour as he put in a solid showing by getting to the semi’s in Super Comp and a R/U in Super Street. I was in shock the kid didn’t double up because he was making the finishline his bitch all day long.
That orange beach towel is what replaced the missing oil pan after it got in the way of an errant connecting rod
With the wounded Bu back at my dad’s shop I had a decision on what to do Labor Day weekend. Do I go to the Triple Shot in Tulsa and spend a bunch of money I don’t have or stay home and sulk about what it’s gonna cost to fix my broke junk? After a weeklong deliberation I chose option “C” and headed north to Eddyville, IA. After my first trip earlier in the year I figured I’d see if the field of dreams could help pick up my spirits one more time. As before Amy and I brought the rain with us and Saturday was a wash out. The track decided to run both regular races and the Quick series on Sunday so it was gonna be a busy day. I was feeling decent that the Beacon was deserving of a Zerox sponsorship with the timeslips she was printing out. It so happened to be that my positive feelings didn’t set well the locals as my .006 take .013 2nd round of TD and .016 take .004 3rd round of S/P weren’t enough to get the W. My Iowa step brother Josh Kanselaar picked up where I left off tho and collected the Wally for the first race so our pits were well represented.
The Blue Beacon is at full glow in the cool Iowa night air.
In the second S/P race things came back around and as the semi’s came around 13 hours later our little team (Josh, Matt Driskell, and yours truly) made up 3 of the 4 still standing. We sent Josh to strike a deal with the 4th man left, Stan Livingston, so we could split the purse down the middle and pop open a little of Keith Stone’s finest. I still haven’t won a race in Eddyville yet but when you can pay the fuel bill and still have enough left to start my Bu Fixin Fund then that’s a successful weekend in my book.
I made another winners circle pic when Kanselaar put it on em at Eddyville in the Peanut powered Ghost
This is the way to race. Josh always has the family with him and they take good care of me too. Watch out for Tucker (far left) cuz he’s gonna be crushing a lot of hopes and dreams when he gets in a big car.
As the next weekend rolled around I had an odd feeling building inside me. Is this what confidence feels like? It’s been so long since I’ve had this feeling that I couldn’t be certain. I knew I needed to get to a racetrack asap to make sure. The only option was to head south 2 hours to Mokan Dragway for their Sunday points race. Those of you that have followed along this far know that Mokan hasn’t been very good to me over the years (What track has been? Remember the tongue jack incident?) but I was ready to give it another shot. I slopped my way thru 1st round and then I had an epiphany of sorts as I returned from my 2nd round victory. I looked at my time slip and knew I was a little lazy at the big end but didn’t expect to see a finshline margin of .072 on my side. “Are you f*#king kidding me?!?!” That’s right…I won with a .017 package taking .072 STRIPE!!!!!!!!!!! After that I was done screwing around and looking like an idiot. It was time to get on the wheel. I don’t know what switch tripped in my head but I wish it would’ve happened a long time ago. I’m not saying that it was all my doing but my MOV for the next 4 rounds were .0078, .0057, .0051, and .0061 in the final. Hey…that’s where the finishline is. I will say that Lee Marcum probably gave me that last one in the final but I was OK with it. I FINALLY WON SOMETHING THIS SEASON. I actually got my own winners circle pic to post in this damn article. Take that Eric Bowling!!! (Just kidding Eric but you have had something like 8 winners circle pics this year).
It’s official. I actually got to be in my own winners circle pic. That’s my “happy” face in case your wondering.
That’s it for this month. I did go back to Mokan the next weekend for the CDRA race but Momma Nature decided to postpone my newfound winning ways and rained it out as soon as I pulled thru the gates. Next month (the last article I get to write…tear ;-\….) is jam packed full of cool weather racing. It’s back to KCIR for a 2 day points race and then CDRA back to back. After that it will be Eddyville, KCIR, Mokan CDRA Finals, and KCIR to finish up the season. Sorry I won’t be able to tell you all about the last 2 races (maybe Luke will let me write an extra installment).
You know I can’t leave you without doing the deed of tossin’ some luv out to all those that keep the fire burning (not including the one under the hood of the Malibu). Thanks to Amy, Chrissy Kanselaar, and Gary Lyster for all the pretty pictures that make this literary disaster worth reading. 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.