APD Member Spotlight Blog (September): Nick Shepherd

Here it is late September…I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m doing everything I can to hang on to the summer. I really don’t want the racing season to end. I really don’t want to scrape frost off my windshield and I really don’t want our days to get short.

I’m trying so hard to hang on that I’m actually trying to plan racing opportunities for this fall/winter. At current, I’ve got my pre-entry form ready to go for Boise’s Halloween Classic for the middle of October. After that I plan to freshen some stuff on the old Nova, then have it back together and maybe try racing in Sacramento in early January. Their track opens long before ours does. Sacramento is 10 hours, but it might be just the fix I need to get through the dark, wet winters here.
As I write this, fall is here. Our winters traditionally have this gray color in the sky.
I can’t complain too much about the weather. As I was driving down Interstate 5, this triple trailer in front of me rolled over. Life could be worse. Fortunately, all were okay.
ET Finals
I love the ET Finals. It’s so much fun to race with my local friends against all of the other tracks. I am proud to say that my home track, Woodburn Dragstrip took home the 2012 overall track championship besting about 15 other Northwest tracks in Division 6.
Here’s us telling lies between rounds. It’s so much fun to hang out with friends from all different cities. I’m not sure how we all ended up with black shirts on.
ET Finals - Friday Gambler
I won this Friday gambler race in 2010, but this year was no bueno. I’m tossed round two after I’m .053 on the tree. .053? Why is Luke even letting me participate in this blog?
ET Finals - Race of Champions
Well, the big day finally came and went and I can say that I’m not going to Pomona. For a weekend warrior bracket racer the pinnacle event is to win the Race of Champions at the ET finals and get yourself into the World Finals at Pomona. Like the day before I’m dead late at .046 first round and I’m done. I finished runner up in this race in 2007 and since then I can’t best second round.
ET Finals – Big Race
Our Sunday race is where everyone races together. The winner is the Division Champion, but doesn’t go to Pomona. There were 168 cars in Pro bracket this day. For some reason in about five of these events I’ve never raced well. Finally, this year things start to roll my way….
First round I’m .010 on the tree, take a conservative stripe as I’m .04 over. Win.
Second round, I’m .024 on the tree to his .011. I dump to dead on (10.681 on 10.68) and get behind as he goes .004 under. Win.
Third round, I’m .011 to his .034. Start whomping it around 1100’ and set up to take .009, but he dumps and feeds me a little more. We’re both running slow and way over. Win.
Fourth round, I’m .015 to his .024. I figure I’m going under my dial, but I also think I’ve got the tree. I take .006 and even though we’re both way under, it works. Win.
Fifth round, I totally miss the tree. This is the only round so far that I was the fast car. I’m .059, fortunately he was .117. Easy, but lucky win.
Sixth round, I’m .021 to his .029. Cut him loose and he goes under by .005. Win.
Seventh round, I’m .023 to her .033. She’s running .04 slow. Win.
Eight round. I’m embarrassed to even write this. I went .086 in the final. His car was a low 12 second car and the wait just got to me. I was ready to let go of the button and just hesitated for a moment because I thought it would go red. Lose. His total package is .016 and I’m done. Like always, it was a costly mistake. Runner up wins $1,250 + contingency. Winner gets $2,500 + contingency + a gold card. Packed up and headed for home after a bittersweet day.
On Labor Day after the ET Finals, April and I went to the zoo.
Woodburn – Fall Classic
So I roll into Woodburn’s Fall Classic back at home. I enter the electronics and non-electronics gamblers on Saturday. I lose round 1 of the electronics gambler taking an unacceptable .022 stripe. 
Fortunately, non-electronics goes better. I’m able to post some decent reaction times, .043, .024, .033, .014,.019, .012,.009 and get the win on Saturday. There were two key rounds. First, I had a high 13 second pickup and I didn’t want to miss the tree so I waited as long as possible before even looking at my side of the tree. Second, I didn’t want to lose another late round, especially a final, so I was setup pretty tight in the late rounds. Fortunately, it was the right gamble.
Saturday, I almost executed the same plan to perfection, but lost by going .004 red in the semis.
I had one round I was able to use a little math trick that I’ve never seen anywhere so I thought I’d share it. My friend Ryan had a time slip for a competitor that I was going to race. The only problem with it was that the competitor had hit the brakes after 1000’ so we didn’t have a clean 1320’ time for this competitor. In these instances I take the 1000’ time and divide it by .83. It seems that almost every race car uses about 17% of their time on the track between 1000 and 1320’. It’s not a perfect science, but it can get you pretty darn close.
Here are 2012 statistics to date:

Opponent Broke Something
Opponent Red Light
Opponent Break Out
Opponent Too Slow
Better Light (more than .010)
Good Race!


I Broke
I Red Lighted
I Had a Worse Light (at least .010)
Too Much Finish Line (>.015)
Gave Finish Line Back
Just Bad Luck (Good Race)
I Couldn’t Run My Dial

Round win percentage: 75% - I think this could be 5% higher if I were driving at my top each and every race.
Average green reaction time in elimination: .027 (my goal is .017 – I have had some bad RTs recently, moving this up)
Final rounds this year – 9, races won – 6
For now I’ll cling on to any good weather I can. We have a few more local events coming up and hopefully I’ll be blogging about my Halloween Classic experience in Boise.  That race is a load of fun and hopefully I can coordinate my work schedule to make it happen.
Good luck racing!

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