Tigges Talk - Epping Regional 2020

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Covid 19 delayed the first race of the Tigges Team season until this weekend at the Division 1 Regional at our home track, New England Dragway, in nearby Epping New Hampshire. It was challenging leading up to the race with all the governmental 'maybe it will happens' and shifting requirements & schedules. The previous weekend I drove down to the shop in Holbrook, Massachusetts & helped put the last touches on the car & load it into the trailer for the race.

    Things looked good going forward, the daily updates from NHRA & the track kept moving around, but Mark, Fred, Claire & I traveled from north & south converging at the track at 6PM Wednesday to be able to set-up the pit in the relative cool of the evening. We were joined there by Eddie, and after a long process of entry into the facility were done setting up just before 10PM.

    The forecast was hot on hot on hot. The ten day forecast seemed to be almost identical for each day, lower 90's & blazing sun. The only saving grace was a near steady dew point in the 60's & a fantastic barometer. Personally, anything over 70 degrees is too hot, but racing is about the only activity I can think of that makes weather like this bearable.

    Thursday had a scheduled test & tune we had planned on taking advantage of, but with all of the Covid-19 protocol delays & confusion combined with very green track conditions we decided to make no passes. Keith arrived with his RV & Rick drove up from Rhode Island to round out the crew. We towed up to tech, baked in the sun for 1-1/2 hours, got our annual chassis certification done, set the initial timing, ran the valves hot & repaired some minor little things that you never seem to have time for. Even with the light work day, the heat was draining.

    Friday qualifying was scheduled for 1, 4 & 7PM. Our first pass was a right lane single on a 127 degree track & put down a slower than expected 5.67 due to a timer issue, but the car went down the track. With many others in the short 7 car field having traction problems, our pass landed us in the #2 qualifier position. At 4PM, the track was up to a blazing 137 degrees, and the changes we made in the off season in the power department worked great out to just past the sixty foot mark, where the dreaded tire shake scrambled Fred's brains to a shut off pass that was useful only to gather short track data. This dropped us two spots to the Q4 position.

    During the warm-up for third qualifying session, we had a first time issue happen. Fred was revving the engine up to stage RPM when the clutch suddenly engaged, bunny hopping the car on the stands. This is a pretty impressive event when you are just a few feet from the engine checking the nozzle lines for leakage. Fred was quick off the gas & to the brake & we shut it down. The clutch pedal was completely slack & nothing appeared wrong looking through the inspection cover, so the transmission & bellhousing needed to come off.

    It was all hands on deck as we thrashed on the work, identifying the problem as a slipped spline joint between the linkage & the crossbar that applies leverage to the throwout bearing. Just as we diagnosed this, they called the Top Alcohol Dragsters to the lanes. We were under the gun, as we were scheduled to run right after them. Once the clutch was fixed, we still had more to do in the normal routine. Top off the fuel, drop the car off the stands, mount the body, pack the chutes, get all the tools in the truck, suit up & get in the car. We flew up to the starting line through empty staging lanes as we were the last class of the day to run. We showed up one pair too late & had to tow back to the pits without a pass, but were still qualified 4th, due to face Brian Gawlik in the first round on Saturday afternoon.

    It was an interesting weekend for all, as the blazing sun & hot temperatures made the track very tricky. Dan Pomponio was pitted to our right & had a rough weekend, with engine damage & a scrub on the wall, capped off with a round one loss. DJ Cox was to our left, he was one of only two cars that ran multiple passes in the 5.50 range during qualifying, the other being Matt Gill. The end of the day found us drained from the heat & ready for sleep. Thanks so much to Maura McGonigle's hospitality keeping us fed all weekend with her amazing cooking even under the duress of her RV troubles.

    Saturday was one of those 'hurry up & wait' mornings, as first round was not scheduled until 2PM & we were all serviced & ready to go. We towed up & put down a 5.69 that got us to round two. The car is definitely making more power than last year as evidenced by our early numbers & sustained 3.2G acceleration, but transitioning in and out of the tire shake zone is still something we are working on with this new combination. Our win put us up against #1 qualifier & world champ Sean Bellemeur in round two, who was having his own problems, only making it down the slippery track once in four attempts.

    Back in the pit, the #2 exhaust valve lash was slightly loose again, this time more than normal, so we pulled the supercharger & intake to check the lifters. The roller was seized on the lifter so we replaced that & remounted the blower only to find another suspect lifter, so it was rinse & repeat with the heavy blower removal before getting it all back together & ready for round 2. The Saturday heat was relentless, we were all staying well hydrated, but working under the awning with the big pit fan going was still like being in a blast furnace.

    Round 2 fired off at 5:30, with a western storm front keeping us on lightning alert. Sean Bellemeur again shook the tires opening the door for for advancement to the final. Unfortunately the heat had burned a disconnect between the foot and the brain with Fred having a rare foot swap before the tree was activated leaving us behind the red light of defeat.

    With our next race at Lebanon Valley just ten days away, we did some prep work during teardown & found a silver lining to the loss. The oil screen had some hunks of aluminum in it. This was pretty odd as they were larger than the dry sump oil pick-up baffle. We dropped oil pan & found the issue, the tire shake we saw in qualifying had fractured the internal pan pick-up which had broken off in the last pass. Making a full pass with that pickup broken would have certainly meant major engine damage.

    All in all, it was an exhausting weekend. Fred & Mark have steady shop work coming over the next days; lifter & cam replacement & bellhousing crossbar repair in preparation for a hopefully cooler Lebanon Valley. Congratulations to Sean Bellemeur for his telepathic perfect .000 reaction time win in a close final over Matt Gill, for the unbeliveable string of .50's the Gill guys put down over qualifying & eliminations, and to Jackie Fricke for her A/F dragster win.

    Happy Father's Day. Somewhere, Larry Dixon is winning something.

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
    #1
  2. russ allen

    russ allen New Member

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    good read!
     
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  3. Billy Anderson

    Billy Anderson New Member

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    Thank you for these updates - I love reading about these in-depth reviews of your racing weekends. Also with Tigges and Gill being the deFactor Karp and Bell teams from the 80s, you are my favorite team to cheer for!
     
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  4. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Thanks, my pleasure. Especially cool to stand across the valve covers working with Eddie Parker, a real live connection to those days!! I'm really the one blessed to do this.

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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  5. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Friend of the Keith, chef & photographer Aaron Shamshoyan was at the track with us at Epping & was kind enough to send me a batch of photos & a few videos from the event. For long time fans, the trailer is the same trailer, just repainted white in the off-season. Much cooler in the sun than the black one!

    Epping Regional 2020

    Thanks Aaron!

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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