As I detailed in the last issue of National Dragster, I’m dedicating my next few Science of Winning entries to documenting our big family adventure.
To bring you up to speed, as I write this we’re about halfway through our 10-week, 5,000+ mile journey to the west coast as a family of four. To date, our trip has been race heavy: 5 weeks on the road, 4 different race tracks, LOTS of racing.
My biggest takeaway to this point: it hasn’t been all fun and vacation. My wife often tells me that I tend to view life through rose-colored glasses – I’m an eternal optimist. I think I had envisioned more of a laid back trip to this point. To be honest, it’s been a lot of work! I’m not complaining; this beats real work any day of the week! And it’s been a blast. It just hasn’t been all sunshine and roses if you know what I mean. In reality, our trip to this point has included some good, some bad, some bizarre, and some, well, entertaining…
First, the good:
After a pair of lackluster national event showings, my Super Gas season took an upward turn at the Division 7 opener in Phoenix. There, I was able to take home the Super Gas hardware in race one, and then advance to round 4 in race two. The following week, I kept the positive momentum going in Tucson. The highlight for my weekend was a runner-up finish to Tim O’Moore in the $50,000-to-win main event. In addition to the runner-up, I accumulated a semi-final, quarterfinal, and eighth-final finish in the $10,000-to-win events. Obviously I would’ve liked to have sealed the deal at least once, but that was not to be this time around!
And the bad:
For me personally, the bad was the first two national events of the season in Pomona and Phoenix. Apparently I left my ability to hit the tree behind in Illinois! My reaction times were, in a word, awful. Thankfully, I’ve seemingly found my mojo in recent weeks!
Although I’ve driven well, obviously anytime that win lights are coming on in succession, I’ll readily admit that there is a fair amount of good fortune involved. As Alan Reinhardt likes to say, “It’s a right place, right time kind of sport,” and almost all of the thousandths have been falling my way lately. Unfortunately, the opposite has been true for my wife, Jessica. She’s driving well, yet can’t seem to buy a round. She’s been a couple thousandths red opposite 3 opponents who were .050 or worse on the tree beside her (to pour salt in the wound, they all continued deep into eliminations). At one point, she lost 4 consecutive rounds by a grand total of less than .005-of-a-second. I keep telling her to keep her chin up, that if she keeps making good runs, her luck has to turn. She keeps telling me that’s easy for me to say.
Admittedly, for racers in some parts of the country, things I consider bizarre are actually commonplace… Given where I come from, however, this blew my mind. We left Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix and drove 100 miles to Tucson Dragway. I didn’t drive up a mountain (at least, I didn’t think I did). When I turned on my Computech Race Air weather station in Tucson, I thought it had to be broken. The barometer went from 29.00 in Phoenix to 26.70 in Tucson. What?!? Upon making my initial runs, I realized that there was nothing wrong with the weather station… The motor in my Corvette pushed the same converter to 500 fewer RPM that it had just days before. I rolled into Tucson with two cars that worked great on the throttle stop at something that resembled sea level. I proceeded to work for two full days (converters, jetting, timing, etc.) to make them respectable bracket machines at elevation!
I’ll break this down into two parts. First, what I found entertaining…
I think it goes without saying that our trip to Disneyland was amazing. At this point it’s debatable which cost more money – Jessica’s engine explosion or 3 days in Disney – but making memories like this with our little guys is worth every penny!
Another entertaining tidbit… After the weekend in Tucson, I got the bright idea to venture down to Tombstone, AZ and check out the wild west. In fairness, Tombstone is pretty cool. That’s not where I went wrong. Where I went wrong was booking the RV park about 2 miles out of town (given our travel situation, we don’t have a “regular” car). The result: a 2 mile hike down a desert trail (complete with the threat of rattlesnakes and wild boars) to town (and back). Chalk that up as one of those “Dad” ideas that didn’t end up going over particularly well with the rest of the crew! On the bright side, we survived, and we got to see Tombstone!
Now the second part… The stuff that YOU will likely find entertaining (in truth, Jessica and I will laugh about this for years, even though it’s not the funniest thing in the world right now).
This all happened within a 10 minute span on the final day of the big bracket race in Tucson. As I’m on my way to the staging lanes with Gary and his Jr. Dragster (yea-he got to race for the first time on this trip in Tucson!), Jessica gets pushed back off the track after her car broke in the burnout.
As it turns out, the coil wire has fallen off. Easy fix, but strange, right? She drives back to the trailer, and dejectedly and tells our 3-year-old Jack that her car broke. Unprovoked, he walks right over to the coil wire, points to it and asks “Is this what broke?” As it turns out, crew-chief Jack decided to unplug the coil wire because he “wanted to see what was in there.” I guess he realized that it was important, because he eventually stuck it back onto the coil – he just didn’t push hard enough. He managed to get it just tight enough to fire all the way up the staging lanes and even through the burnout. I suppose that when the tires grabbed in the burnout that was just enough to jar it loose, and that my friends, is all she wrote.
Back to the 10 minute thing… I walk back from the starting line to the staging lanes where Gary is preparing for round 1. I watch him leave the starting line with over a tenth-of-a-second advantage in reaction time. Then I watch in dismay as his car falls on its face about 200 feet out. It eventually returns to wide open throttle, but not before he’s a full second over his dial-in for the loss. Beating myself up (which Jr. Dragster parents can readily attest to) for having ZERO clue what I’m doing tuning this 11 HP monster, I get to the end of the track to pick Gary up and say, “Sorry bud, what happened?”
My man just looks up at me and says, “I thought I hit the gas when I wasn’t supposed to or something. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I just let off the gas.”
Oh the joys of racing with young kids!
If these stories tickle your fun meter, you should check out the Moser Engineering YouTube channel, where we’re documenting our journey in a more detailed (perhaps more, umm.. entertaining) vlog format.