Tigges Talk - Epping Regional - September 2019

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    What an event! This was a 'numbers game' kind of race for Team Tigges. Things started the prior weekend, when Fred & Mark helped out longtime friend & racer Jim Libby make test passes on his new A/Fuel dragster. These passes were intended to shakedown the new car, get some good baseline runs, and prepare Jim for re-licensing for competition. Bob Ottow is tuning for Jim, & over the course the weekend made some observations that shined a beam of light on the path out of the tangle of 5.60’s we have been stuck in.

    To sum things up, the last time we ran a 5.50 was way back in 2014. Having that performance as a distant memory is very frustrating. ‘Where is that car we used to have?’ is a nagging reminder of every underperforming pass, brain rattling episode of tire shake, or disappointing teardown after yet another round loss.

    Mark, Fred, Claire & Eddie drove up to New England Dragway from the plant in Holbrook while I drove down from Maine. We met up at 1PM Wednesday afternoon & got pitted. It was strange being the very first alcohol car on the property, but kind of fun to watch all the other racers show up. Our plan was to run at least two test passes on the track’s Thursday Test & Tune Session. As the pits filled, we were surrounded by dragsters, with Jim Libby to our right, and the Horner Brothers to our left.

    Thursday morning the rest of the crew arrived, Keith & Dave in their RV’s and Rick in his car. There was a bunch of dragster guys who tested, but oddly we were the only funny car that went up to the line. With the previous weekend’s beam of light providing a ray of hope, some minor changes in the clutch can, and some fresh ignition parts, we towed up to the line at 2PM and ran a smooth 5.622 at 261 MPH, the best run we have made since 2017. Back at the pit, we made minor tuning changes to the fuel curve, ignition timing & clutch & headed back up to try again.

    It is absolutely amazing how good it feels to have a racecar respond to what you tell it to do. Our second pass netted us our first 5.50 in five years, with the 5.579 at 262 MPH leaving us all jubilant on the starting line. More importantly, interval results on the timeslip showed the car to be responsive to what it was being told to do. Next door, Jim had a great day too, with his second test pass of the day earning him his competition license, who Fred & fellow dragster driver Tom Pickett signed off on. Mission accomplished for Jim, congratulations & thanks for the shrimp sticks!

    Friday was slated to have three qualifying sessions. We set the car up pretty much identically to our second test session & ended Q1 in second position with a 5.58 to DJ’s 5.52. In Q2, we made some larger changes to the tune-up in an effort to find the edge, and found it with a left lane shaker right at the hit of the throttle. As painful as those tire shake edges can be on the driver, if you have a car that will respond to changes, knowing where the tuning boundaries are make decisions on what to do much easier.

    Servicing for Q3 the tell-tale filter told a bad story, with flakes of copper in the screen. In a racing engine, the only part that has copper in it is the bearings, so that is not a good sign. We had a long pit thrash, dropping the oil pan, replacing all the rod bearings, the rear main bearing & polishing the rear main crank journal that was fortunately not blackened. Delays on the track gave us the opportunity to make it back into the lanes for Q3 where some changes to tire pressure & wheelie bar height made the car repeat Q1’s 5.58 in a string straight, smooth as silk pass on a cold 60-degree racetrack under the NED lights. After a five-year drought, three 5.50 passes in two days had us delirious even if we had dropped to the fifth qualified position in a stout field. We hit the sack after a great BBQ dinner supplied by Matt Gill & the Moduline guys. Thanks for the dinner & thanks to the Dream guys for all that untouched cole-slaw & Miller Lite.

    Saturday eliminations began right on schedule at 3PM, and we came up four hundredths short to Phil Burkart’s 5.53 in a great drag race with both drivers putting up fantastic .03 reaction times. Not that anybody is ever really happy in a loss, but we were happy with our best timeslip of the event, a 5.573, our fourth 5.50 in six passes. We have our car back, and it is responsive!

    Here are the short numbers on the four 5.50 passes to help the non-racers reading to understand why we are so happy over here in the Tigges camp. (all numbers in seconds)

    Pass / ET / 60Ft / 330Ft / Half Track

    Test 5.579 .968 2.511 3.704

    Q1 5.586 .965 2.508 3.703

    Q3 5.584 .969 2.511 3.707

    E1 5.573 .981 2.507 3.695

    Including the ET, that is an average of only .011 differential at all the increments of the track. Having a car perform that consistently over three days and different weather conditions is really fantastic, especially when you have been chasing your tail for so long. In comparison, the average differential on the previous seven full passes this season was a whopping .150, with ETs ranging from 5.66 to 5.82. So we are not only enjoying a faster car, but a much more consistent one as well.

    My boss at work asked me before the race if I thought I would be needing time off for the Reading National event the following weekend. I told him it all depends on how the car performs… if it runs 5.50’s we are going. It ran 5.50’s, so back in the pit after round one, we worked into the evening, checking everything, replacing the #7 connecting rod, bearings, and several valve springs in preparation for next weekend’s Reading National in Pennsylvania, where the track preparation will require a whole different approach to the tune-up.

    This weekend was really satisfying for me. I’ve been with Team Tigges now for six years, and have had the pleasure of enjoying the racing camaraderie of all the competitors in the alcohol community, the emotional rewards of working hard & doing a job well, the satisfaction of learning new skills & being trusted with decisions based on those skills, and now, the thrill of driving the racecar behind the tow strap. It is tight there behind the wheel, you can easily see over the supercharger, and yes, you need the clutch down in both forward and reverse to keep the Lenco sprags happy.

    Congratulations for a great #1 to #1 win on the Funny Car side to Dan Pomponio and to Josh Hart for the win in a stacked dragster field.

    Back at it in three days, thanks for reading!

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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