APD Member Spotlight Blog (October): Jason MacNeil

On April 12, 2012 I received an email from Luke Bogacki. I wondered, “Is this the email that I think it is?” so I quickly looked over at the subject line and it said “Congratulations APD Member Spotlight Participant!” Upon reading just that one line, my mind began to wander and some excitement started to build as I realized that I had just won some great prizes from the program sponsors. I then opened the email and was introduced to the other spotlight members and we were given a quick run down about how the program worked and what was involved. In the last part of the email was the line “Your first blog is due on April 25th” (which was less than two weeks away)……….uh oh, what the heck did I get myself into here! But I stumbled through it, and now as I write this last blog I’m a bit disappointed to see it come to an end. I’ve really enjoyed writing about my racing season and sharing with you guys everything that has transpired during it. The positive feedback and comments that I received from friends and blog readers made me want to make each one better than the last. In these blogs I’ve tried my best to introduce my racing team and competitors, our area, our local tracks, and some little things that make us unique. I think it has actually helped my racing by going back and writing about what happened during each run and what I could have done better. That being said, hang on for another rundown of the trials and tribulations of a Maritime drag racer.

 
I started reading about drag racing in 1984, so I guess it was time to start writing a bit.
 
We left off last month with only three races remaining in our season and the ADRA championship still up for grabs. I was bragging about the great weather we were having all summer and well.........I don’t know if someone has been killing spiders or what, but that took a major turn for the worst. It got so wet that ADRA race #7 was called off before the event started since it was 100% chance of rain in the forecast for the entire weekend. We don’t have any rain dates for these races, so the points remained unchanged and now there is only one chance left to finish the job.
 
Don’t throw in the towel yet, there’s still one left to win.
 
ADRA Race#8 Miramichi + Pro Tree Race#4
 
The forecast once again didn’t look good for the weekend, but they decided to try and get the event in regardless. Saturday would host the pro tree race and then Sunday we would have the final ADRA race of the season. There is certainly some pressure building for both Hannah and I, as this weekend could either make or break us. We both feel really confident going into the race and have a definite game plan: Win the last race of the year and go out with a bang! Saturday morning we got the track dried off and headed up for the pro tree qualifying sessions. I hit the tree with a .025 then a .008 and the car was getting to where it needed to be. Then it happened..........the rain came, then it rained some more and it never actually stopped until Sunday night. It was certainly bittersweet as we were able to finally claim our championships, but both of us would have rather raced all weekend. So what do you do when it rains hard for two days straight?? You have a limbo contest, charades, movies, lots of stories and bench racing, a few drinks and lots of great food.
 
This is what happens when you’re stuck in a motorhome for the weekend. Here is Tony’s turn.......how low can you go?
 
View from the pits on Sunday afternoon, you couldn’t even see the end of staging.
 
That concluded the ADRA points series and as mentioned both Hannah and I were able to hold on to our leads and win the 2012 ADRA Championships. This is the first time in the ADRA’s fifteen year history that a family has won both the SuperPro and Jr.Dragster categories in the same season and we will receive our trophies and prizes at the banquet next month.
 
ADRA final points standings.
 
ADRA Team Race
 
This is it, the last race of our season. Hannah and I both earned positions on Team Cape Breton and we were really looking forward to this annual race. My first place finish in PEI points qualified me for the Race of Champions, and I was anticipating a great battle between the five track champs. I took our cars into the garage to get everything cleaned up and look over a few things in the days leading up to the race. On Thursday afternoon I went out to load up the cars and when I hit the starter button in the Monza I got that unmistakeable, unwanted, and curse word-causing sound of a motor that was locked up with water in one of the cylinders. This engine was already sleeved and due for a new block, but I had hoped it would get me through the season.... guess not. I investigated the situation and after weighing out my options, it was time to head for the phone. I knew of a guy who would have a car at the track that weekend, and his driver wasn’t confirmed for the team race. It was a leap of faith, but ten minutes later I had a car for the weekend and we are back in business.
 
There is not supposed to be any water coming from that header.
 
I head up to meet Jerry Stafford (the car owner) on Saturday morning and get a run down of where everything is in this beast. The car I would be driving is a beautiful SunCoast Corvette that has a SBC in it and normally runs low 9’s at around 147mph. This car couldn’t have been more different from mine as far as where all the buttons were located, where you sit, what you could see, and to top it all off I never drove another SuperPro car besides my own. Oh well, let’s do this!
 
The “borrowed” car.
 
We only have one time trial before the team race, so I just add a bit to what they had in the delay box and go for it. The car seemed to leave well and it really pushed me back in the seat more than my own does. It was a different feeling ride, but when I was about 330’ out I looked up and saw that I was .010 on the first hit. The car ran a 9.14 at 146 and it looks like I might be able to pull this off after all. In round one I am paired with John MacKinnon’s dragster and I know I won’t see him pulling up beside me, so I dial fairly honest. I was .021 to his .052 and I gave it a rip at the end to kill 4mph and take the win on a double breakout. Round two puts me beside Barrett Bonnar, the Greenfield track champ. I got away good, but I’m not closing in like I should be so I try to keep pushing till the end and hope for him to breakout. He didn’t breakout; he was .009 to my .017 and was dead-on six to my two over. My teammates also fell a bit short, but we pulled off a third place finish overall in the Team race and had a blast doing so.
 
Team Cape Breton group picture.
 
I didn’t gain as many points for Team Cape Breton as I would have liked, but now it was time to turn my concentration toward the Race of Champions. Being the number one qualifier I received a bye in the first round and then in round two, I ran Ray Bourque. I hit an .023 to his .049 and I was able to rip it a couple of times to take .0009 of stripe and the win. This puts me into the final where I will meet Barrett Bonnar once again, but he hurt a transmission and I was able to take the solo pass for an easy win. It wasn’t as pretty as it could have been, but I got the plaque that reads “King of the Tracks 2012”.
 
What a great way to end an already awesome year. (Indy Image)
 
Hannah’s Results
 
Hannah also ended the season on a high note. She held on to her points lead to capture her first ADRA championship and take out the former champion who has sat at the helm for three consecutive seasons. Her focus was good through the entire season and she is getting more comfortable in her car every weekend. She was able to get down to the final four cars in the team race before losing to a better light in the other lane, and on Sunday she didn’t hit the tree as hard as she would have liked and let a couple of rounds get by her. Overall she had a superb season and as an added bonus, she found out that she had placed in the Tim Horton’s Jr. Drag Racing Series that was held in Miramichi and this won her a trophy and a nitro powered RC car. She is already making plans for next year and will send her engine back to Craw’s for a freshen-up this winter.
 
Hannah receiving her Tim Horton’s Series award from Jerry Stafford.
 
Hannah with Paul MacKenzie, a racing friend that we recently lost.
 
My Stats (Nick Style)
 
After seeing Nick’s neat record keeping charts, I decided that maybe I should try that out for the season. It’s a great idea and something that you can monitor; it really shows you your strengths and weaknesses, and gives you an idea of where you stand. I didn’t have any previous charts to compare this to, but the win percentages give me some extra confidence going into each round and I now know what I’m doing right and what needs improvement. 
 
Box     No-Box     Pro Tree  
WINS     WINS     WINS  
Bye 6   Bye     Bye 1
Opponent Broke Something 4   Opponent Broke Something     Opponent Broke Something 1
Opponent Red Light 7   Opponent Red Light 6   Opponent Red Light 1
Opponent Break Out 2   Opponent Break Out 2   Opponent Break Out  
Opponent Too Slow 5   Opponent Too Slow     Opponent Too Slow  
Better Light (more than .010) 28   Better Light (more than .010) 6   Better Light (more than .010) 2
Lucky 3   Lucky     Lucky  
Good Race! 10   Good Race! 1   Good Race!  
  65     15     5
               
LOSSES     LOSSES     LOSSES  
I Broke 1   I Broke 1   I Broke  
I Red Lighted 4   I Red Lighted 2   I Red Lighted  
I Had a Worse Light (at least .010) 7   I Had a Worse Light (at least .010) 1   I Had a Worse Light (at least .010) 1
Too Much Finish Line (>.015) 6   Too Much Finish Line (>.015) 1   Too Much Finish Line (>.015) 1
Gave Finish Line Back     Gave Finish Line Back     Gave Finish Line Back  
Just Bad Luck (Good Race) 3   Just Bad Luck (Good Race)     Just Bad Luck (Good Race)  
I Couldn’t Run My Dial     I Couldn’t Run My Dial     I Couldn’t Run My Dial  
  21     5   Quick Tree 1
              3
               
Total Percentage Win 76%   Total Percentage Win 75%   Total Percentage Win 63%
 
Looking over these statistics I can see that I usually have a better light than my opponent and I rarely give the finish line back. The reason for not giving the finish line back is probably because I often still take too much stripe and this is what I need to work on the most. I hope to eliminate the “I Broke” losses next season and further improve the consistency of my lights to avoid some more “Worse Light” losses. My overall delay box reaction time average for the season was .019 and I think there is still some room for improvement there as well. I knocked out a couple of wins in the “Lucky” column, and I have to give credit to my little buddy Gavin for providing me with a secret weapon early in the year to help with this. I actually didn’t want to take it when he first offered, but then he said “Don’t worry, my mom finds them all the time”...imagine.
 
Here’s my good luck charm provided by Gavin, it’s the real deal.
 
To read the second half of Jason's blog, click here:

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