APD Member Spotlight Blog (September): Jason MacNeil

Welcome back to another inside view of my racing life. We left off last month with some mixed results and a few stories about the different things that go on around here. This month has certainly been a roller coaster ride with some twists and turns thrown in for good measure. It took some work to get through it, but we are on the right track as we head into the final stretch of the 2012 racing season. The weather so far this season has been great, with only a couple of days lost to rain so far and some nice fall weather closing in.

 
The month started by receiving some contingency $$ from MacLean Performance.
 
Miramichi
 
The last of our four tracks in the Maritimes to be introduced is Miramichi Raceway Inc., which is located in Miramichi, New Brunswick. It is a ¼ mile facility which hosts the ADRA races, a regular points program and is becoming a hotspot for really fast door cars and visiting ProMod’s. The track is under new ownership this season, and they are doing a good job of keeping the program running smoothly. The city of Miramichi is known primarily as a great fly-fishing destination and is the home of record setting salmon. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, which rise at 3.3’ per hour, and another cool fact is that New Brunswick is the producer of one third of the world’s French fries. That’s a lot of potatoes!
 
Aerial view of Miramichi Raceway.
 
The Greenfield Bracket Bash
 
This race is probably the best payday that is available in our area. On Saturday, the track hosts a Box/No-Box Gamblers race with a higher entry fee, one buyback, and some extra sponsor money added to increase the payouts. There was no way I was missing this one, especially since I’ve been going rounds in the no-box class this season, but Hannah had soccer this weekend which meant that I was hitting the road by myself. Saturday morning rolls around and I had a solid game plan for the day. Lowering my launch rpm to get a green light without the box slowed me down around .02, so when the box went back in I added a late “timed” spot drop that also killed .02. This would keep me from running out of shoe polish and let me do a better run completion while switching back and forth between the classes. One time trial for each class turned up a .006 and a .002 while the car stayed within .005.........we are ready! I snuck by the first round in each class without needing a buyback, which was a good start and saved me a couple of bucks. Round two of each class was simply a better light/ back-in for the win. Up to this point I have been trying to get up to the lanes early for each class and the car is staying nice and cool. Round three gives me a better light/back-in for the box class and a red-light in the other lane for no-box. Now things are starting to get quicker and I am not getting much cool down time between rounds. Round four of box my opponent just missed the tree and gave me an easy one, and in no-box I had a close run with Greg Nickerson. I knew I hit the tree well, but wasn’t catching him so I waited as long as I could before the drop to let him breakout. At this point I get back to the pits and ask a friend to take my generator and charger to the staging lanes to avoid the wasteful trip back to the pits as there are only a couple of rounds left and the track is trying to get the show in quick. Round five of box is the semi’s and I had a close race with the former track champion. A fight for the stripe gets me there by .003 and a trip to the finals. On to the no-box class and I am paired with my neighbour from the pits. We had close lights, but he wanted the stripe and I wasn’t getting there, so he took it for the breakout and this moves me into the semi’s of no-box. During this run though, the car had a slight miss when it got into the higher rpm range. I was running a bit warm, but the gage never reached 200 all day so I decided to ignore it for now and prepare for the final in box. I am lined up with John Croft, who I put out of no-box in round three. I left well, but about 300’ out I start to get the same miss as in the last run, so I had to bail. The car seemed fine until the rpm came up, so I’m thinking maybe a broken valve spring or something. I gave away the final even though I was .015 better on the tree. Now what to do.........I am supposed to run the semi’s in no-box and the car is hurt. My competition isn’t aware of this so I match his dial (2 seconds slower) and go up. Basically no burn out, I hit the tree well and I don’t hear any miss from the car, so I back in and stay beside him. He had a good light and was set-up tight which didn’t give me much room to work with and I ended up taking a little too much stripe for the breakout. Overall it was a good day; this was the first time that the car let me down in a while and no matter what, you can’t stop thinking that maybe the outcome would have been different if it weren’t for that. I ended up putting fourteen runs on the car that day, and even though I didn’t seal the deal, I still walked away with around $1500.
 
Still a good Pay Day from the Greenfield Bracket Bash.
 
The “Miss”
 
Once the dust settled from the bracket bash rounds, I headed back to the pits to investigate why the car had developed a miss. I was hoping a valve spring or something simple to change as they were still running their regular points on Sunday, and I was sitting in the top five. I pulled the valve cover off and this is what it looked like.
 
The Royal Purple Smoothie.
 
Not a good sight to see, and now we know where the miss was coming from. The car was giving me an indicator previously as I was getting a slight coolant smell whenever I started it from cold, but it wasn’t using any water and a leak down test showed no issues. I guess the fourteen runs were enough to finish the job and later investigation showed a cracked cylinder wall as the entry point for the water. I was lucky that I shut it down when I did, as all the other parts are intact. The block that cracked was actually the same one that has been in and out of the car since 1983. It has been bored twice, grouted, welded and used very well for years, so there is certainly no shame in its failure 29 years later. It is however a little saddening since this was the last part remaining from the original comp motor that my father had pieced together for the car all those years ago. Luckily I have the 406 under the bench as a “just in case”, and hopefully it gets me through the rest of the season.
 
Big George came over for the Sunday Swap.
 
ADRA Race#5 Cape Breton
 
The 406 is now back in the car after sitting under a bench for over two years, so it should be an interesting weekend. I took it for a drive on Friday evening during the test & tune and everything seemed fine, so I made a pass just to make sure. It ran a 9.40 @ 144 which was a bit slow for it, but in the ballpark. Saturday morning I needed to get a few runs in just to gain some new data for my delay settings and throttle stop. After four time trials I hit a .009 followed by a -.001 so I think I know about where my delay setting should be. Gamblers race time...In box Round one he goes red, round two was his .135 to my .023 for an easy stripe and a bye in round three gives me some momentum. Round four I am paired with Benny Niesten and he is .003 to my .015, but at the other end it is .001 at the stripe in my favour. He immediately comes over and points to my stripe taker referring to it as a cheating device (in good humour). This means the “cheater” t-shirt is coming out tomorrow! Round five is against Kevin Lively, but he missed the tree and gave it away putting me into the finals in the first day out with a different engine. In the final I am paired with Doug Wrathall who drives a dragster, he is running 180 to my 140 so I dial hard and try to hit the tree well. The red one comes on in my lane and I guess now maybe I didn’t have the box figured out. Runner-up at the end of the day wasn’t bad and I took home a few bucks.
 
 Box runner-up payout.
 
Sunday brings a fresh perspective on things and a chance to do something in Cape Breton this year. I haven’t been having much luck here on Sunday’s, and there are a couple of racers chasing the points that are hot on my heels. Three time trials showed .010, .007, and .006 on the tree and I’m thinking that things are under control. Round one, my light is a bit better which let’s me back in for the win. In round two I am paired with Dan MacLeod and we head up to the lanes. I end up bumping in a hair too deep, but I think I should be safe, and then it happens again, the red guy is shining back at me. I idle down the track to conserve the engine and I think about what would happen if I pressed my “easy button” with a hammer? Not the performance that I was looking for at my home track, and it opened up some room for the guys chasing me in ADRA points. Now I will need to redeem myself in PEI.
 
We need to change the batteries in this thing. (Indy Image)
 
ADRA Race#6 PEI
 
Labour day weekend is here and for us it is a long standing tradition to head over to Raceway Park, PEI for their annual race. Over 200 cars showed up for the event, and the pits were pretty full to say the least. We also include some fun stuff for the kids on the weekend, so Thursday and Friday was a trip to the water park, a scavenger hunt, and a cookout. Saturday morning rolls up and there is a serious head wind coming down the track as well as some light showers. We don’t get going until about 11:00 and we are running 1/8th mile for the day. I decide to run box and Quick 32 today since it is nice and cool out as well as only 1/8th mile. Round one of Q32 and I am paired with Benny Niesten (again). I hit the tree hard with a .004 and he missed it letting me whomp it for the win. Next up will be Round one of box and I felt comfortable rolling a couple of numbers in since I felt the last hit still left room for improvement. A -.005 told me that there certainly was a better hit in me. I figured that was the best hit possible and rolled another .007 in giving me the most time that I ever ran in the box which is 1.139. Round two with the card system draws me a bye run and I end up .009 and close to my dial. Round three pairs me with Mario, I was .012 on the tree and for “good karma” I won’t divulge his light and just say that there was a bit of space to kill at the other end. Round four puts me against a dragster who simply missed the tree. There is a definite pattern emerging here and I am gaining confidence in my set-up. This puts me into the finals where I am facing one of the younger racers in our series, Cody Hobart who races a nice dragster. I let go and know it was good, he has around 25mph on me and I nose it just before the stripe to take the win. There was also a side bet going on for this race so overall I pocketed around $1500 which helped pay for the slicks I put on Friday and some other parts. I feel good going into the points race tomorrow, but I also know that I had a double win here earlier this year and the odds of doing it again are not the best, but I’ll go for it.
 
The Geliget Gear Monza getting it done in PEI. (Indy Image)
 
Sunday morning looks great, the wind died down and the sun is out. They get started around 10:30 and this allows us one time trial and then qualifying. I am off a bit on the tree, and in round one I am paired with the same car I qualified with so there are no secrets. I had some time to think before the round, and I came up with a plan. The weather changed to about .01 or .02 slower since qualifying. My opponent qualified with a 9.73 and he dials 9.74 for the round. He is expecting the same change as me, but I don’t think he is holding much if any. I qualified with a 10.70, so he is thinking I should run a 10.71 or 10.72. I dial it to 10.69 and hope that he thinks I can’t run that number. The only difference is that I am using my throttle stop and change the timers so that I will run .04 quicker, now I am holding maybe .02 and it will look a bit better for me on the top end. I let go and it didn’t feel great, we get to the top and I kill maybe one just after the 990’ mark. He is right there and we go through together, not knowing who took it. Turns out I got the stripe by .003 and ran dead-on 3. We were only .007 apart at the tree and he was close to his dial. I was a bit lucky here, but it worked. Now onto round two; my opponent has trouble and rolls through the beams, I’ll take it. Round three, I meet up with Jim Green who pilots a faster dragster, I set up tight and hit the tree with a .008 to his .024 but he passed me early and I bailed to be safe against his breakout. Round four puts me against a Camaro with a very similar mph. I left good and he wasn’t getting there, so a couple of pumps and I am safe again. This puts me into the semi’s and I am paired with Cody Hobart in a repeat of last night’s final. I knew he was on today and I set up accordingly. I left OK and decided that a tap was in order, on the other end he was right there and once again I couldn’t judge who got it. Turns out I was .001 to his .004 and I took the stripe by .003, a really close race and off to the finals it is. I’m feeling fairly confident again at this point and my .001 would have been a .011 before the tap so I decide to leave the box where it was at. I’m paired with a bit slower of a car and I decide to go back to the left lane so that I’m not looking into the sun on the way down the track, we leave and I knew it was bad, I’m gaining but probably not going to get there so I bail, probably a bit too early and he takes the easy win. I was dialed 10.67, but a run completion shows that I was on the way to a 10.70 due to a loss in 60’ and maybe partly due to the lane change, but hey that’s bracket racing. Still a good finish to the weekend and I gained some much needed points. As an added bonus I was informed after the race that I accumulated enough points to tie the current leader and become the PEI track champion. A title I will share with my good buddy Ray (Lucky Pierre) Bourque....Bonus!!
 
Two visits in one weekend to the $$ Lady, Shirley.
 
Points after ADRA race #6....still holding on.
 
Hannah’s Results
 
Hannah had another really good month in her car. She is staying solid on the tree despite a rash of red lights early on in Cape Breton. As mentioned she wasn’t able to make the bracket bash, but in Cape Breton she fought through the field and wound up in the runner-up position on ADRA points day which put her back in the lead. In PEI she exited in round two, but still gained a bit on her next closest competitor. Hannah is really pushing the tree, and her car is working well. The plan now is for her to have a good showing in Greenfield as she is doing well in the track points there, and maintain her ADRA points lead. It will be tough, but she is focused on the goal and I see her and her friends strategizing and counting points after each round. She is even dabbling with some ladder manipulation which is cool for them to be aware of. Here is a short video of her in Cape Breton. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd9ehtngfck&feature=plcp
 
Hannah getting some “bite”. (Indy Image)
 
Hannah and Emily after the Cape Breton ADRA Race. (Indy Image)
 
Cake
 
As promised in the last edition, the story about cake. It all started last season at a race in Cape Breton when Gavin, my cousin Chris Pozzebon’s four year old son made an intelligent observation. It was late evening after the races and his father asked him if he wanted to head down to my pit space for a party. After we hung out for a bit Gavin looked at us with a very serious look and asked “Where’s the cake?” to which we inquired “Why would there be any cake?” and his response was “Well ya can’t have a party without cake!”, and it was born. Now one of us always brings a cake to the track as a treat for the boys and as you can tell, they really get into it.
 
Our boys enjoying some cake.
 
Cape Breton Final Points Race
 
This will be a real short one, and was probably one of those weekends where I should have stayed home. It started off good with just me and my boy on the open road, he slept most of the three hour drive there and we decided to drop into Mom’s for dinner before heading out to the track. After getting our pizza fix, I went out to the motorhome to leave and click, click……….no starter. Luckily there is a parts store nearby and now I am changing a starter on the side of the road with a flashlight in my teeth. No problem, the new one worked and we are off to the track. Saturday I had two time trials and got the car dialled to the 10.90 it needs to be for next month’s pro-tree race and my lights were .001 and .020. Round one of box I am trailered by a 70+ year old woman by the name of Rosa Niesten. Rosa is the wife of that same old guy I wrote about earlier this year in Greenfield. I guess they must be tired of me picking on their son Benny, so they’re trying to teach me a lesson…it’s working! This made for a long evening at the track, and in the morning it was pouring rain. Things actually started to look good at one point but it was eventually called off. This was the end of racing in Cape Breton for another season and I didn’t finish even close to where I planned to in points. Then as I was leaving the pit area, I buried the motorhome in the mud. Luckily the tear-down crew was still there and a little tug got me on my way. The price of gas also took a hike this month and the bill from this trip was over $300 for less than a tank. But that’s all behind us now, and this gives me even more drive to do well at the final three races.
 
My co-pilot for about five minutes of the drive.
 
Overall it was a great month despite the everything-go-wrong trip to Cape Breton. There has been a lot of excitement in the points chase and plenty of winning time slips collected. The next events will be ADRA race #7 in Greenfield and #8 in Miramichi. After that, all that remains is the ADRA team race in PEI. I’m not sure which team I will be competing for this year since I have been doing well at every other track but my own. For this particular race, each track sends a 26 member team to represent them and last year I was on the winning team from Cape Breton. It’s a great race, and they are also having a “race of champions” this year that I am invited to. Hopefully everything holds together for the remainder of the season, as there will be lots of rebuilding during the winter with both motors in need of major work. Next month will include the race results, a recap of our entire season and some statistics. I really, really hope that it will all be positive but it’s not over until the last round is in the books.
 
Last year’s winning team from Cape Breton. (Indy Image)
 
Thanks go out to APD, Nitro Plate, J&J Engine Diapers, K&N Filters, Wiseco Performance, Milodon, Huntsville Engine & Performance, Dedenbear, the JEGS U.S. Open Bracket Championships, and of course TIBR for providing this cool program. If you or your business has a need for flame resistant work wear, please visit www.geliget.com to check out all the latest in FR and arc flash rated clothing. If you are looking for more info about Miramichi, visit http://www.miramichi.org/en/ and for Miramichi Raceway, visit their site at http://miramichidragwaypark.com/ . To follow the ADRA points battle you can find the results at http://www.theadra.com. You can also check out our racing page at http://www.facebook.com/JNBRacing or email me directly with any feedback and questions at jmacneil5@hotmail.com.
 
Thanks for reading. I decided that I would finish this month’s blog with a tip for all the racers out there: Don’t try to jump up into your trailer after dusk, if you miss the step, the grip tape will kindly remove the hair and skin from your leg for you.
 
Just another battle scar.
 
 

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