Tigges Talk - Atco New Jersey Regional - August 2018

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    For those of you wondering where Team Tigges has been, it has been a long wait, but we are back. It's been over ten months since we were last on track at the Keystone Nationals in Reading, PA. Since then life & work have gotten in the way of racing. Work has been crazy busy, good for paying the bills & supporting the disease called drag racing, not so good for taking weeks at a time off to attend distant races. Anyhoo, a crack in the daily grind opened up and the Tigges entourage headed off to Atco New Jersey for our first 2018 outing.

    Like last year, I drove down to Holbrook, MA from home in Maine then rode along shotgun with the team to Atco. Dave drove up solo from North Carolina. Google lied to both of us, with traffic causing 6-8 hour trips to be 11 hour trips. We got on the track property & got the rig parked in a good pit area late Wednesday night. Dave & I headed off to a motel in Hammonton, about 20 minutes from the track, since our normal sleeping quarters in the trailer were occupied by the racecar & stuff. After a good night's sleep, we headed over to the track at 8AM Thursday in soupy, hot, humid Jersey air.

    The weather forecast for the entire weekend showed potential thunderstorms. Atco was stuck between a low out over the Atlantic and a high bearing down from the Great Lakes. These stalled fronts kept unsettled weather around all the time. In the morning it was sunny, but in the afternoon cloudy. All the time it was hot, well into the 80's, without letting up much at night. Fred brought a portable stand-up AC unit for the trailer with a neat fabricated duct to vent the exchange air under the trailer. We got that set-up, and then Mark went up top armed with a can of red Brakleen to exterminate a wasp colony in the roof AC unit. Those two units, with a makeshift plastic flap door, kept the trailer in the high 70's with a much needed reduction in humidity.

    Some teams made test passes on Thursday; we just went over the car, checked the fuel system & valvetrain, fired the engine & prepared for Friday qualifying. It was a very satisfying day, getting back into the racing groove, with all the sounds, ordered procedures, tasks and camaraderie that come with being part of a team. This event's crew was Fred, Mark, Dave, Cora & me. We were all happy to be back at it… there is nothing like standing a few feet away from a 3,000 HP blown methanol engine during warm-up to get your juices running.

    Drag racing is like family, especially within the individual classes. It was great to see DJ Cox walking around after his bad wreck at Lebanon Valley and also cool to visit with other racers we haven't seen since last season, hang out & catch up. It's not all about racing either, Sheryl Hopewell (team chef for Duane Shield's A/F dragster) and I spent 45 minutes just talking about life… thanks for the fresh watermelon too Sheryl! The alcohol pits at Atco are set-up perpendicular to the staging lanes, so it is also fun to just watch racecars going up to stage. I love the stock & super stock classes & got quite a few nice pictures out at the back of the pit hanging off the fence.

    Speaking about stock & super stock… I know you guys like to drive around for a while to get some heat in the engine before running, but do you always need to do it through the alcohol pits? Having to break normal conversation into bite size pieces because yet another open header 396 is rumbling by over and over gets old. Some of us discussed taking the funny car out for a spin around the stocker pits early Sunday morning just for some friendly payback… wack the throttle a few times as a wake-up call LOL. I like the sound of a stout race engine as much as the next guy, just not all the time & definitely not if you stop right at the end of the pit to check your cell phone.

    Friday was scheduled for three qualifying sessions. With the weather stacked up for rain we figured we would be lucky to get in two. There were only six funny cars on the property to fill an 8 car field, so getting in wasn't an issue, but Fred did some clutch & bellhousing work in the offseason & we were itching to see if it would fix our inconsistent performance. Going into this weekend we only had 17 passes on the new car and a best of 5.61 is not what we want. It's pretty frustrating knowing the old car had been well into the 5.50's and we haven't even cracked them yet with the new pipe.

    We towed up to the starting line for the first qualifier and the car left well, ran string straight, didn't shake, but only ran a 5.77. The computer showed the same issues we were seeing last year, but we made some adjustments and got all ready for the second qualifier. Hurry up and wait time, then we got the call to the lanes… that was a funny scene… a bunch of racers milling around alternately looking down at cell phone radar & up at threatening clouds. We sat there for 20 minutes or so then I heard Mark yell 'Here it comes!!!' You could see a wall of rain approaching fast about a half mile up the road. A mad scramble ensued, tools & starter into the truck back seat, engine bag on the car, drop the body, the rain arrives, drag the body cover over the car, got it!!! Now picture five car crews doing that same drill, all left standing in the rain with nowhere to get out of it. Protect the stuff, give up the body. About 20 of us found shelter under a track official's pop-up canopy which we anchored from flying away in the wind.

    Ten minutes later it was over and we all towed slowly back to our pits like wet dogs. By the time the track was dry and we were called for our second and last qualifier it was 8:15. We made an encouraging pass in the right lane that landed us in the #2 qualified spot, running a 5.63 at 259 MPH, but more importantly a 205 MPH half track speed with computer graphs that showed the clutch doing what we wanted. With first round of eliminations not scheduled until 3PM the next day, we put the car up for the night and went down to the class banquet hosted by fellow funny car racer Dan Pomponio. Like last year, it was a great spread, especially that killer fresh tomato spiced salad. Thanks Dan!

    Unlike last year, there was only light rain in the night, and Saturday morning we did a full service. I've wanted to check and adjust the valves, which Fred & Dave taught me, then Dave & I went down under the car, dropped the pan, checked the main bearings & replaced the rod bearings. I managed to punch myself in the forehead pulling 100 foot pounds of torque on the rod bolts when the socket slipped off, which really was pretty funny. Soon enough we were headed up for round one, where our competition shut off after the burnout, giving us a right lane single. The free pass netted us a 5.66 at 259 MPH, not quite enough to give us lane choice for the second round, but the better news was the computer looked good, and for the first time in a long time, the clutch had done the same thing two times in a row.

    Between round service was all hands on deck for a quick turn-around. Draining the oil I spotted a loose fitting on the in feed side of the oil pump that took extra time to tighten, but before we knew it we were back in the lanes for round two. Most of the time, the 5 seconds behind the car after it leaves the starting line seems like twenty. Some runs feel good right from the hit, others not so much. It is often hard to tell which car is ahead. Atco's left lane has two long shallow dips in the first half; you can see them clearly on the driveshaft speed graph. Sometimes they affect the run, sometimes they don't. This time they did, the second one showing a brief glimpse of the side of the car as it darted toward the wall, the last seconds of the run taking way longer than the hope in our hearts. Taking the long way to the stripe cost us a few tenths and the round loss.

    Like most race weekends, there were highs and lows. I flagged down a young family walking by and saw the elation of the kids getting a real part from a racecar, after giving them a broken blower belt. The low came late at night and involved a device called a macerator, a five gallon bucket and trips to the porta-potty. This is stuff you never dream of when you sign up as a crew guy, but it sure is part of racing & beats being at work.

    Congratulations to Phil Burkart for his second Atco win in a row & Josh Hart over on the dragster side for his third in a row. We now have 21 passes on the new car, but still none in the 5.50 range. We plan to change that in a few weeks at the New England Dragway Regional, September 7 & 8. Come on out & say hi if you are in the area.

    Atco Pictures

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  2. Unlimitedaero

    Unlimitedaero Member

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    Always a good read
     
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  3. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Added picture Link at the bottom of the report
     
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