APD Member Spotlight Blog (August): Jason MacNeil
This has been a crazy month. I went from riding high on my first double win and leading the ADRA points, to a frustrating race in Cape Breton, some consistency issues and a bit more stripe hogging. This marks the mid-point of my season, and I ended the month almost back to where we started; here’s how it all went down.
The Geliget Gear Monza….Let’s get this started.
Prince Edward Island
Before we get right into the racing results, let me tell you about the other one of our islands in this area, Prince Edward Island (PEI). This place is easily recognized by its iron-rich “red” dirt, and beautiful sandy coastline. It’s accessible only by ferry and the Confederation Bridge which is over 8 miles long. Their main industry is farming and the potatoes they produce are known throughout the country. PEI has a rich history as it was the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of “Anne of Green Gables” and attracts many tourists from all over the world including Prince William and Kate after their wedding. This place is also known for its great food and offers a very distinct culinary experience. Raceway Park is located in the heart of the island, about an hour drive from the ferry or bridge.
The Confederation Bridge to PEI.
The people here are also very trustworthy; that is a cup attached to the trailer where you can leave your money.
ADRA Race #3/ Pro-Tree Race#2 in Cape Breton
This particular weekend was one of the ones that I was looking forward to for a long time. The track has a test n’ tune all day Friday, a gamblers and pro-tree event on Saturday, and the ADRA points race on Sunday. It’s in my hometown, I get to celebrate my birthday with family, and I don’t have to work on Monday. What more could a fellow ask for? How about a win! The weekend started off great, we landed at the track early on Friday to make some adjustments to the car and go at the throttle stop settings a bit differently. At the end of the day the car was working very well mechanically and we had a good, working ratio for the throttle stop. Saturday morning rolls around and a couple of time trials later my numbers are looking good, but the 60’s are not repeating very well. I make a good qualifying pass for the pro-tree deal and once again get to wear the circled one for the day and a bye in round #1. They also start the box/no-box gamblers race, and I get a first round win from Josh Goodwin who just missed the tree. Now things start to rapidly go south! Round #2 of box pairs me with a 40 mph difference door car so I opt to hold maybe .01 at the most. A hard pump at the finish line and I think I am safe, but the .001 breakout ended that thought. Just as some preface to the next round, the track doesn’t use Autostart and the tree is activated manually, a recipe for disaster especially for a pro tree race. Due to my staging method I am usually the last one in, but not by choice or too long. Second round of pro-tree I start to bump in and the stage light flickers, one more bump and I reach for the button, but so did someone else as all the ambers were lit before I even thought about touching the gas. I floored it and let go, but a .329 tells the tale of a quick tree victim. A chat to those running the show didn’t offer any results, so it’s off to the trailer to vent a bit and try to suck it up for tomorrow. This really seemed to bother me, not because of the loss, but more of the fact that there was absolutely nothing I could do to prepare for it. I only planned on attending three of the four races, and this might have blown my shot at being in contention for the pro tree championship.
Sunday morning, a new day and some promise in the air. There was still some jammering around the pits about the “quick tree” and most that saw the episode thought that I got the shaft, but I had to put it behind me, remain positive, and concentrate on the ADRA event. We get a couple of time trials and the car is being predictable, even more so if I can catch a good 60’ guess. Round #1 I am paired with Jim Green who has 30mph on me and this would be an important race since he is #3 in points right now. We had close lights and a good drop at the stripe to take .007 moved me into the next round. The track was also having a quick 8 event this weekend, so guess who got paired with a six second top dragster? Now I have a 60 mph difference to deal with and some mixed up numbers from the last couple of passes. Just before the round, a head wind picked up and I feared this would slow me down, so I took a bit more out of the stop and hoped I wasn’t holding any. That headwind must have had some good stuff in it, as it picked up my numbers all the way down the track. Couple that with the best 60’ of the weekend, and you have a breakout by .05. Hard to swallow, but nobody else in the top 3 did much climbing, so I am safe for now. The weekend was full of emotion and I think it may have had an effect on my driving, so in my two weeks off I will concentrate on getting positive and focus even more on the goal at hand.
Still leading the ADRA points, but being chased hard.
This month I have witnessed some great acts of “drag racing” kindness, and here is the best example. A friend of mine, Mark Green, who races a Road Runner in the Super Pro class recently installed a new engine and made the seven hour trip to Cape Breton to try it out. First pass of the weekend, he breaks an axle and it doesn’t look good for finding a replacement for the weekend. While making some phone calls around to try and find one, fellow racer Bruce Howatt says to him “Leave the car apart until I get there”. Bruce rolled in Saturday morning, pulled the axle out of his car and puts it into Mark’s; just so he could make a couple of passes and try out the new engine. Not too many people would park their car for the day so that someone else could race, but Bruce did. In an unrelated event Mark’s son Rylie broke the crankshaft in his Jr.Dragster on Saturday, and one of the other racers let him use their “for sale” dragster on Sunday. He even drove it to a runner-up finish to gain some ADRA points and tied himself with Hannah for the lead. Drag racers always seem to be willing to lend a hand or some parts, and these are just two examples of what is commonplace at the track.
Bruce Howatt and Mark Green....The Axle Swap. (Indy Image)
ADRA Race#4 in Miramichi
After battling with some 60’ consistency issues and reading Nick’s blog last month, I decided that I needed to become pro-active and try to get my car leaving better. I was getting almost a bit of a hop after the initial hit and messing with rpm and slick pressure didn’t seem to have much of an affect. I filled my weight box and tried a different shock setting for this race and voila....my 60’s only varied .015 over the entire day from lane to lane. On Saturday I went a couple of rounds in the box and no-box classes, but a red-light and a bad light ended the day. The now consistent 60’s coupled with a good string of reaction times lead me to a good performance on Sunday. I qualified #2 with a dead-on 5 and round#1 was and easy one as my competition left before his tree came down and passed me around half track. Round#2 put me against a little quicker corvette; I hit the tree well and backed up a bit before realizing he was red. This gave me a bye in the next round where I put the first full pass on since qualifying. Next up was Jim Green, we were within .002 at the tree and a good drop in the traps made me safe for the win with a dead-on 1. Now we are down to five cars and I am paired with Mario, he gave me a .038 window to work with, but I fell into my old scenario of killing enough to think I am safe, but not being safe. It seems that the tighter my races are at the top end the better I drive, but when there is lots of room I am reluctant to back in too far. This is something that I will need to really concentrate on in the future…..still learning. Overall not a bad finish; some valuable points earned and I’m still safe at the top of the points list.
More consistent 60’s in Miramichi
Every once in a while a spectator, fellow racer or brave youngster will come up to me and ask.... “What does Mustard All The Way mean?” since I have the decal on my back bumper. Everyone gets a different explanation, but here is the full story. Back in 2008, three friends from QBC (Quick Bike Central) and I headed to Houston for the NHRA national, just as spectators. It was a great trip and made for lots of stories afterward, but the one that we brought home was the mustard. We went to a “Whataburger” for a late night snack one evening and the guy working the counter was an older fellow with a very heavy Texas accent. I ordered a couple of burgers and he asked what I wanted on them, so I said “Give me the works” to which he asked “Ya’ll goin’ mustard...all the way?” and it was born. Since then we use it as a metaphor for the act of “going all the way” or “getting it done”. The very next season I came back from winning a final and a friend was standing along the return road holding a bottle of mustard high in the air, since then it’s just grown and is something we strive for.
Now everyone knows the real story.
Whataburger it was.
Hannah had another good month in her dragster. I finally sized a restrictor plate to put her in the 8.20 to 8.50 range, and even though she had less wins, I think her driving has become better. In Cape Breton she had a runner-up finish in the gamblers race, but lost first round on Sunday. She was -.003 on the tree and only ran one over, telling us that both her and the car were dialed in, but the numbers fell on the wrong side. In Miramichi, she started to shine again, and on Sunday she ended up in the runner-up position while cashing in on the “$100 Best Light Award” with a .001 in the semi’s. This bumped her back to #2 in points with only one round separating her and the leader.
Hannah showing some focus before a round (pre-8.50 plate).
Raceway Park, PEI
Raceway Park, located on Prince Edward Island, is the oldest running dragstrip in Atlantic Canada. The privately owned, quarter mile facility was first opened over forty years ago and also has an oval track at the far end. They host around eight events a year and most people find this place very relaxed with almost a vacation-like setting. There are usually some great festivities in the evenings and is the home track of QBC. They are known to have corn-boils, fresh mussels, fireworks, karaoke, and guest appearances from the ShopTowel bandits from time to time. This area has a strong group of local racers, and they usually do well at the annual ADRA team race. This is also Mario’s home track and in an effort to find some actual numbers to back up last month’s discussion, I looked through all of my old timeslips and came up with 10 to 5 races in my favour. There is a distinct pattern in our runs, and I need to thank him for this discussion, since I now know where I have been going wrong lately; karma and Murphy can take a hike, I‘ll rely on history repeating itself! Grin!
Yes, that’s a strip of grass down the center of the track! (Indy Image)
I know it may be weird or even considered hoarding, but I still have every timeslip that was passed to me over the years! This is just one of the piles.
Tap-Down Button Re-visited
In one of my earlier blogs I told you about my newly installed tap-down button and my plans for using it this season. I only actually used the button twice all season, and it didn’t seem to offer the results I had hoped for. My plan was to turn a .030 or .040 into a light that would be competitive. The very first time I used the button, I knew I was a little late, but even after one tap that should have taken .010 off of it, I ended up with a .039. I didn’t think much of it until this month, when making some changes to my delay box. In one of Luke’s “On the Road” columns, he said that people like reading about the “bonehead” moves that we make... if that’s true, you’ll love this one: I was going through the manual for my Biondo 450 box learning how to set-up the throttle stop override, when I noticed that for the tap feature there was an up or down setting. Sure enough I had been tapping time into the box all along. This would have turned my .029 into a .019 which might have made things a bit different at the far end. Thankfully I had only used it a couple of times and not during any important rounds. The lesson learned: “When all else fails……….read the instructions!”
Pro-Tree Race #3 in PEI
As mentioned earlier I wasn’t excited with the results of the last Pro-Tree race, so in an effort to redeem myself, I decided to add another race to my schedule and headed over to PEI for the weekend where they were running 1/8th mile on Saturday. There were good fields for the class, and I qualified down the list a bit with a bad but good 6.998 on the 7.00 dial. The car was working really well, and my lights were tight so far. Round #1 I was paired with Terry Short who I knew was running a bit fast, I got a little on the tree and was able to catch his dump to stay on the winning side of a double breakout. I also entered the box class and was switching back and forth between them. Second round of pro tree I was paired with local racer Todd Myers, who had his car dialled deadly. I pre-staged and started bumping in, the stage light flickered and I set the brake which usually settles the car in the staged position; not this time, then when I let go of the button to stage the timers and shifter cycled. Uh Oh, now I have to pull it back into gear and continue bumping in. I actually got away with it, and caught a good light, but took a little too much at the end to lose another double breakout. Overall not the result I was looking for, but I had fun hitting the pro tree nevertheless. In the box class I ended up with Mario in the first round but he went red to my .009. I held it out to get a full run and ended up 6.9992; wow, this thing is dialled. Next round was a close one, but I wasn’t going to get there, so I dumped and my competition broke out. This puts us down to four cars and I’m paired with long time and tough racer Ray Roach. He had been having some car issues but I didn’t know the extent and I wasn’t taking any chances. I was trying to kill the tree, but let go too quick and had to hit the button again to be safe, and I was really, really safe making it .068. I’m thinking to myself at this point “Boy, you’d screw up the Lord’s prayer right now if you had the chance”. I knew I was dead late, but he wasn’t gaining so I backed in a bit, and still broke out by .005. Not a bad end to the day, considering we were lucky to even get the race in between showers.
Sunday gave us a couple of time trials, then a qualifier and in round #1 I am paired with a quicker dragster. I had the advantage on the line and dropped to a barely safe dead on 1. Next round pairs me with Kandy Mitton in her mustang. We are very close in numbers, and I was looking forward to a close finish. She was able to get a bit on the tree, but I passed and backed up a hair for a .003 MOV and another dead on 1. Things were going good…………..then the rain came. I had a bye to the semi’s and they actually called the race after my burnout when I was pulling to the line. But, “Safety First” and they paid us out which was cool. Donna had to work in the morning, so now we had to high-tail it to the ferry to try and catch the last boat across, and we made it.
If you have never had a carburetor custom tailored to your application, I highly recommend it. I recently installed my brand new APD carb and I am very impressed with the results. When I received the carb and read the calibration notes, I questioned their jetting choices. I called them and after some discussion, they assured me that this is a good baseline to start with. Friday afternoon in Cape Breton is all test and tune and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out the new piece. I set a baseline run of 9.61 @ 141, quickly switched the carb and installed my custom Marand Engineering fitting. Next run down the track I could notice much better throttle response and with very similar weather, it turned a 9.52 @ 143 right out of the box....hard to believe that it would make that much of a difference, but it did. I will highly recommend APD and their carbs.
The new APD 750 carb
Pictures are one of the greatest things we can own. They immediately bring back memories of special events, people or places. My buddy Gerard Bryden of Indy Images has been an avid drag racing photographer for a while now, and every Monday night for the past seven years he has posted his pictures on our local racing website. Last Monday he did a special presentation of past and present photo’s to try to “sum up” what he has captured over the past several years. The first photo that popped up immediately brought back some great memories of a special day in Cape Breton. It was in August 2007 and it was the first Jr. Drag racing school that we did at the track. Hannah was in the first class and believe it or not the big guy in the back row, Steve O’Handley, actually pushed her all the way down the ¼ mile in a dragster, just so she could get used to it. The fellow in the red had is the aforementioned Gerard Bryden and the stud in the black t-shirt is Steve Campbell of Quick Bike Central. My cousin Emily who now drives a Jr. was also in the first class, as well as Tony’s son Clayton who went through the program. It was a great day and a learning experience for everyone there. If you want to take a look at the rest of the slideshow, here it is:
Cape Breton Dragway Jr. Dragster School August 2007
That wraps it up for this edition; I hope you enjoyed reading it and having another glimpse of what goes on in my world. The next races on our schedule are the Greenfield Bracket Bash, a trip to Cape Breton for the ADRA race and then back over to PEI for theirs. After that it will be back to Cape Breton again for their points finale. Hopefully I can gain some momentum toward the track championship and hold on to my ADRA lead. Hannah will have a tough fight for the Jr. Dragster championship, as of right now she is in second place by just one round. The next edition will feature our fourth Maritime track and the “cake” story, as well as a couple of winners circle pics. (Hopefully!) There were no “Big Cheques” for me this month, but the credit card hasn’t exploded either. 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.
Thanks again for reading and don’t forget to take some pictures, they hold memories better than our brains do. By the way, I may not have mentioned it before, but I was also a photographer back in the 1970’s.
Actually it was a dress-up contest at one of the tracks last year, nice shades eh?