APD Member Spotlight Blog (June): Jason MacNeil
The Maritime drag racing season is now well underway, and so far things are going as planned. The weather has been co-operating very well, the equipment is working as it should and now that we’re back in the swing of things, it’s time to dig in and start collecting some winning time slips.
One of my first “money earning” time slips of 2012 with the help of my new CHEATER t-shirt
Since I received a few comments about Maritimers and hockey, I’ll try to give everyone a small insight to life here on the east coast with each new blog. For this month, I’ll touch on what I was giving Bruce Howatt in the last pic of the May blog….it was a Tim Hortons gift card courtesy of the ADRA. Some of the readers here are well aware of the popular coffee franchise called Tim Hortons, but what you might not know is that this part of the world would probably collapse if there was a hiccup in the distribution of the addictive brew. Maritimers truly make Tim Hortons a part of their lives and “Goin’ to get a Tim’s” is a part of almost everyone’s daily routine. The chain was started in 1964 by Ron Joyce, and then in 1967 he partnered up with Tim Horton, who was a popular NHL hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. What’s great about this now billion dollar company (besides the coffee and tea) is that they give back to the community with children’s camps, minor hockey, soccer and they have even sponsored a Top Fuel entry owned by Paton racing. Bruce received the card in appreciation for bringing coffee to the race track every morning for the die hard Tim’s drinkers.
Tim Hortons #1
Testing 1, 2, 3…..
My weekend of testing went well, so now I finally get to talk a bit about racing and give you some results. We headed to Greenfield Dragway for their season opener and a warm-up for the ADRA races that start later in June. Saturday I made some time trials to get a few things sorted out and a couple of runs on a fresh engine. They decided to have a gamblers race that afternoon and ran a box/no-box format. I had been playing with my throttle stop rpm and timers when the race started, and let’s just say if you kill 25MPH and still breakout, you misjudged something! That was it for the box class, so then onto some no-box racing. If you want to run the no-box class here, you need to physically remove the box from the car…….there goes the throttle stop I had been working on all day. Oh well, I’ll just play the driver, right? It actually worked OK for a couple of rounds until I got a bit greedy and went -.006 red. I think I might have a handle on my no-box reaction times. I started utilizing an adjustable rpm limiter for the starting line, coupled with leaving my electric throttle stop in the closed position. This seems to put me right where I want to be on the tree, but I will need some more practice with this set-up to dial the car.
Sunday morning rolled around, and we had two time trials and then qualifying. Still playing with the throttle stop and trying to get an accurate ratio, I made a run on either side of 10.90, then in qualifying went for the number and turned a 10.88… I can deal with that. So off to check out the ladder and I see that I am paired with a buddy of mine, John Rankin, who is one of those guys that can win a race. We line up, I let go of the button and say “Damn, I wish I had a tap down button”, but wait I do! I give the thing a hit and we’re off. Not a total loss at this point, I seem to be catching him and I look over at his side window. There he is motioning for me to come on and catch him! Another look down track and I think to myself “Yeah… I’ll bite”. We go through the traps and it’s close, but I’m not sure. Back to the ticket booth and I end up with the losing slip, he got there by .007 and the end result was that I should have hit the button three times and not just once. All in all, it was a good weekend in the car; I made twelve passes and got to do some driving. I think I now have a good set-up for the pro tree class, and I will probably run with the throttle stop in Super-Pro for the first part of the season to try and get some more data.
A shot from the Greenfield pit area
Hannah’s first weekend out with the new beast was the show stealer. She made a couple of shakedown passes on Friday evening, and was set to put the pedal down on Saturday. I made up a series of restrictor plates for her engine and put the smallest one (.875”) in first. It put the car in the 9 second zone, and she felt comfortable, so we went with it for the weekend. Steve and Breanna O’Handley (the previous owners) came by to lend us a hand, and it was nice to have them there to answer some questions and help get the car set-up. The Jr.’s had their own gamblers race, and Hannah ended up winning the deal in her first race with the car, while posting some good reaction times in the process. In the final round she had a close race with only a .0008 difference at the stripe! On Sunday the car picked up a bit and she ran a personal best of 9.49 at 69MPH and also got her first perfect light, which is no small feat in one of these things. She made it to the semi-finals before pushing a bit too far and turning it red, but had a great weekend overall. She is really taking on a more serious role with her new car, doing all of the between round maintenance and keeping it looking good. She is also starting to “see” what is happening at the other end of the track, and is trying to strategize about what to do in different situations.
Hannah in her new ride
Hannah collecting her “Gamblers Money”
I should take the time to give you some insight about the track described in this month’s blog. Greenfield Dragway is a ¼ mile drag racing facility that is located on the south shore of Nova Scotia and about a three hour drive for us. The track is a temporary facility, which is assembled on a municipal airport runway. This means that for each race all of the timing equipment, tower, washrooms, everything has to be set-up and torn down until the next event. What’s even more interesting is that the entire operation is run by volunteers. There is a large group of very dedicated people who make sure that everything goes as planned each weekend and they do a fantastic job. The track is almost 4000’ long with concrete launch pads and the traction is usually very good. They run a PortaTree timing system and are installing scoreboards this month. They host five events per year, and draw from 125 to over 300 entries in any given weekend. The track is also about an hour away from our largest city and the crowds here can be in excess of 3000 people. It’s way out in the woods and a cool place to race.
Greenfield Dragway just after Friday’s set-up
I decided earlier this month that it was time to change the fluid and filter in my motorhome’s transmission. The job obviously had to be done outdoors, so I waited for a nice calm day when there would be less dust blowing around. Not minutes after carefully dropping the pan and getting too soaked with fluid, I heard a noise.
(In a TV infomercial voice) Do you have a neighbour that’s not looking after their lawn?? Well here’s the solution..... It’s called the “outdoor transmission service”. Just pull the transmission pan off of your RV out in the driveway, and just like magic you will hear your neighbour’s lawnmower start up.
Always the way isn’t it?? Oh well, their lawn looks really good and I don’t think it caused too much debris to come my way. Also a word to the wise; if you are in any way self-conscious about your height, don’t check the transmission fluid level in a motorhome! You start pulling the dipstick out slowly… three, four, five feet later, and you’re starting to wonder when this thing going to end… it’s longer than I am tall!
No Joke, it’s almost six feet long.
ADRA Race #1
It was back to Greenfield on June 17th weekend for ADRA race #1. There was a good car count with 216 entries for the weekend. Friday night they ran time trials for a bit, so I took a couple of hits at the tree and tried a couple of things to try and improve on my throttle stop consistency. At the last race, I was getting a slight bog when the throttle stop came on, so after talking to the guys at APD, I decided to put a smaller carb on it for the weekend. It seems to have cured the problem and now I can set the “stop rpm” where it should be. Saturday morning was a couple of more time trials followed by a gamblers race in the afternoon again with box and no-box. I entered both classes and ended up losing at three cars left in the box class. Question…. How old is the oldest drag racer that kicked your ass and put you out in round #1? Answer…. In no-box I was put in my place by my old buddy Henk Niesten; he just turned 73 last week. I was .019 and he was .022, not knowing what my car would run I was strictly playing the driver and had him lined up with what I thought was a safe distance. Next thing you know he buries the bumper of that old car into the pavement and made me eat the stripe, nice job on his part.
Sunday rolled in and it was the first ADRA points race of the season, which always seems to set the tone for the season. There were over 40 entries in Super-Pro and I really wanted to win this race and get a jump on the rest of the field. I decided to run both pro and super-pro this weekend just because I can, but I will concentrate on the Super-pro points for the season. One time trial, one qualifier, and on to round #1. My box lights so far this weekend were really decent and ranged from .003 to .018 after 10 passes. Round #1 I end up against Greg Nickerson, a really good S/SS racer who has been on fire last year and the early part of this season. I was .013 and he was surprisingly .053, which allowed me to get beside him early and stay there for the win. Next pairing was with Barrett Bonnar, a former ADRA and track champ, he turned on the red bulb with a -.008 giving me an easy round in which I was .000. The trip zip earned me a $100 prize from VogueOptical/ADRA and an excuse to roll a couple of numbers in the box. Round#3 was against Lonnie Wright who would have about 20MPH on me. I knew I had a good hit, and whomped a couple of times before he got there. Next round was with Josh Goodwin, a newer but good racer with a deadly consistent Camaro. I again had a good hit, and played the whomp trumpet at the other end. This earned me a bye to the final where I would face Jim Green, the first dragster of the day. I was set-up for a good run, but ended up -.004 to give him the first ADRA win of the season. It’s always disappointing to lose any final round, but there were some valuable points earned and I got to get rid of all the “rust” by putting 19 runs on the Geliget Gear Monza over the weekend.
First round with Greg Nickerson (David Corkum Photo)
Runner-Up pic for ADRA race#1
Hannah once again had an excellent weekend in her car and the next bigger restrictor (1.00”) put her in the low eight second range. This is a bit faster than we were looking for, but went with it for the weekend and will decide soon where to go for the rest of the season. On Saturday she had some great runs and really started hitting the tree hard, but in the jr. gamblers she ended up going out first round with a breakout. In the ADRA points race she pulled out all the stops and had a string of good reaction times that included a .044, .007, .007, and .033. She mowed through the field and won her first ADRA race. This sits her at the top of the pile in ADRA points and the G&C Concrete dragster is now the one to beat. She also set another new personal record by going 8.09 @ 80.94MPH and made me the proudest guy at the track on father’s day weekend.
Hannah during a Friday time trial
Hannah Wins ADRA race#1
We all have those moments when we do something embarrassing and hope nobody noticed, but Donna had a real doozie this weekend. We tow Hannah’s dragster around with a golf cart using a retractable tow strap mounted on the back of it. Donna decided to take the golf cart for a little cruise on Saturday afternoon and made it about half way down through the pits before she heard a bit of a noise behind her, she looked back and realized that Hannah’s car was attached and was being towed through the pits without a pilot! We were lucky it actually followed the golf cart and there were no sudden stops. Needless to say, she quickly disconnected the car and did the old “look around to see who’s watching” routine. She’s now known as the Ghost Rider.
Fill It Up
An “eye opener” for me this month was my first trip to the gas pumps this season with the titanic. Fuel prices have been on the rise since last year and we are now paying in the vicinity of $1.25/litre which is equivalent to almost $5.00/gal in the US. Some quick math of doing thirteen races with a thirsty mule puts us at over three grand for the season, but hey, it comes with the territory.
The Thirsty Mule’s drinks aren’t cheap!
That wraps it up for this month. We were really glad to finally hit the track and get back to what we love doing the most. On Sunday evening while packing up the trailer I could hear Bryson outside with his mom crying. I popped my head out and said “What’s wrong buddy?” and he quickly replied “Daddy, I don’t wanna’ leave the races”. Things like that make it really clear why this is a great sport for the whole family. Next month will be a busy one with the season opener at Cape Breton Dragway, ADRA race #2 in PEI, and the first Pro Tree race back in Greenfield. Hopefully I will have some positive results for you and maybe even another winner’s circle pic.
Relax…..He’s telling us that we were #1
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 workwear, please visit www.geliget.com
to check out all the latest in FR and arc flash rated clothing.
Thanks again for reading and “Gook Luck Racing!”