Tigges Talk - How It All Started - Part 1

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Started for me that is... What my first race as an active crewmember looked like...

    The Best Day I Ever Had At The Racetrack

    I've been a drag racing fan for a long time. From reading my first Hot Rod magazine as a young boy to sneakily following a crewmember across the New England Dragway pits up through the funny car staging lanes to get my first close up face full of nitromethane as a ten year old, I've been hooked.

    I've always dreamed of being able to work on a racecar. That memory of standing between the cars in the staging lanes, my vision blurred and ears ringing, with the cars turning into specks through the smoke as they flew down the track never left my mind. Fred Tigges has run a competitive alcohol funny car for years, and he gave me the opportunity to play out that dream as part of his five person crew on the NHRA National Event stage.

    Friday was the first day of qualifying, with two sessions, one at 11:30AM and one at 3:30PM. The day's first task was getting my restricted area sticker to allow access to the starting line. Then we unloaded the car from the trailer, warmed it up which involved setting the cold valve lash, starting the engine, checking all the transmission functions and bedding the clutch. After that, the hot valve lash was checked, the body put on and the parachutes packed. We ready to go!

    The car was towed up to the staging lanes where you hurry up and wait for your turn to make a pass. During this time, the starter was mounted on the supercharger, covers were placed over the tires and fire bottles to keep them cool and the tire pressures were checked often. Different side to side tire pressure will make the car turn. When we were three or four pairs back from the starting line, Fred's wife Claire helped him with the fire retardant suit, gloves, boots, HANS device and helmet, then Claire and his son Mark strapped him in the car.

    Once at the starting line, things moved fast, everyone had a job. The sun covers came off, the car was pushed into position, the towstrap and body support strap were removed, and the battery cables were attached to the starter. During this process the pair of cars in front of us were making their run. Once cleared by the track workers to start, Mark squirted a gasoline/alcohol mixture into the engine while cranking the starter while Claire pulled the shorting strap off the coil, bringing the 3,000 HP engine to life. Mark handed the starter and cables to Pete who put them into the tow vehicle. Mark pulled the fire bottle safety pin and showed it to Fred before he lifted the body off the body support which Claire took to the truck. Mark lowered and latched the body while Doug moved the truck away so the next pair has a spot. We were ready to race!

    Claire had run up track, while Fred shifted and rolled the car forward through the waterbox spinning the tires to heat them up in the burnout. After the burnout, Claire guided Fred from the front of the car back to the starting line using hand signals to place the car properly depending on track conditions. Mark, behind starting line, signaled Claire where to place and stop the car. Fred shifted, moving the car forward, toward Mark who was now at the starting line signaling him to the proper position. Behind the car, Doug recorded the tire and track temperature with an infrared thermometer, while Claire flipped the switch under the wheelie bar that starts the data recording computer. Mark sprayed de-icer into the supercharger intake to prevent the throttle from freezing, as the evaporative cooling effect of the methanol creates ice on the throttle plates. A few fist pumps between father and son, now it was all in Fred's hands.

    As we stood behind the car, Fred revved the engine to let the other driver know he was ready, was answered with a courtesy rev, then relaxed the handbrake allowing the car to creep forward into the prestage beam, then the stage beam. When both cars were staged, Fred brought the engine up to 6,500 RPM and held it steady with his foot. The Christmas Tree flashed and Fred did three things simultaneously… release the handbrake, release the clutch pedal, and hammer the gas pedal. The cars blasted down the track, then we ran back to the truck to go pick up the car.

    The last three paragraphs took about ninety seconds to transpire. The first time it felt like 15 seconds, after five rounds, it felt like a few minutes. The car had shaken the tires and only run a marginal pass of 5.95 seconds at 250 MPH, which qualified us 9th out of 17 cars. Most everybody had problems shaking. The track had great grip, but the air was bad, high humidity with a temperature well into the 80's.

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
  2. slowpoke96z28

    slowpoke96z28 Member

    Jan 14, 2016
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    Something tells me the above is spam lol.

    Letting go of the brake, clutch, and nailing the throttle is a lot. I always wondered how the the process went from the time the prestage bulb was little to the time the tire hit the rollout beam.

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