Tigges Talk - Reading National - September 2019

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Three days to a different world. I live in Maine, where the trees are just starting to turn into fall colors, the temperatures have not been above 82 degrees for weeks and the thermometer is dipping into the 40's at night with regularity now. My family & I moved to Maine 24 years ago, from Reading, Pennsylvania and this past race weekend reminded me why. We rolled into the pits Wednesday mid-afternoon under a blazing sun (odd for Reading) with the humidity sky high and the temperature 94 degrees. I left home with long pants on, but the shorts were on within minutes. We worked slowly at pit set-up with frequent breaks, drinking plenty of water but were all pretty much gassed & wet through with sweat by 5PM. Our crew filled out by the end of the day, with me, Dave & Rick joining the Tigges'. We all turned in pretty early after the long drive & hot pit work. At bedtime, the temperature had dropped (I use the term loosely) to 75 degrees, the humidity staying the same. The southern sky provided a fantastic lightning show as a nightcap.

    Thursday's goal was to finish the work we did last weekend in Epping, get the car re-fueled & oiled, install the fresh clutch parts that were serviced over the week, fire the beast up, set the hot valve lash & make sure everything was A-OK, which it was. Somewhere in there the car & equipment got certified & we all went down to the credential trailer to sign waivers & get restricted area passes. Actually, for the third year in a row, we went to two trailers before finally being directed to the old tech shed where credentials was set up. Maple Grove really seems to have a hard time figuring out how to properly locate & advertise where the racer credentials trailer is. All during the day the radar was constantly being checked, as Reading is most certainly going to rain on the parade, which it did, pretty violently in mid afternoon, then in a more steady fashion into the evening.

    That afternoon rain provided a common theme to the variety of bedfellows in drag racing. Pitted to our left was long time Super Gas racer Ricky Hall with his 1968 Camaro. Ricky had pulled in solo with his RV, the Camaro following on an old school open trailer, a transport method I have not seen in decades. One guy with his racecar enjoying the racing.

    [​IMG]

    To our right was Randy Meyer's operation, with the huge twin screw Freightliner hauler, full pro trailer, and a small city of people supporting Top Alcohol Dragster points leader Megan Meyers & team driver Julie Nataas. Directly opposite our pit was the Elite Motorsports shared pits of two time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders & four time Pro Stock Champion Jeg Coughlin. All of us, regardless of class or size of team, were scrambling to get everything under cover for the approaching storm. Yup. We all did.

    Friday we were scheduled to have two qualifying passes, but persistent afternoon rain showers cut our session count to one. Friday's weather was much cooler. I had walked the track out to the 330 foot the evening before, and it was glass smooth with a good groove. NHRA had prepped out to the 200 foot mark with a slight change in stick past that. We headed up for qualifying just past noon. We were the third pair and ran a right on the edge of tire shake 5.58 at a career best 262.64 MPH that landed us in the #3 spot at the end of the session. Needless to say, we were delighted that the car repeated yet again, this time on a very tight track. Five out of the last six passes have been between 5.571 - 5.586.

    Back at the pits, we had a normal service including checking the rear main bearing. Everything looked as it should save the left header that had developed several bad cracks around the pipes & flange, so we replaced it with a spare. Having the second session cut let us work at a non-rushed pace, leaving ample time to discuss the Saturday tune-up. We decided to alter the fuel curve to hit the tire harder right at the starting line, got the car all ready for the next pass & had time to go up to the racer grandstand & watch the pro fuel nighttime qualifying, highlighted by Ron Capps setting both ends of the Maple Grove track record with a 3.837 pass at an amazing 339 MPH. Friday closed out with Mark's patented mac & cheese with brats & hot Italian sausage on the grill followed by awesome butterscotch pecan brownies Dave's wife Tanya sent down, Thanks Tanya!

    Saturday started with high cirrus clouds that thickened to that low, dead gray cloud cover familiar to those who frequent Maple Grove. We got the call for our 2nd session just past 11AM, did a shortened warm-up to try to prevent oil dilution, bagged the engine & packed the chutes. As expected, the low gray cloud cover started leaking shortly thereafter. Maybe we would get a second qualifier, maybe not. Happily, we got the call at just past 3PM & towed up to staging with high hopes & occasional sprinkles.

    The Q2 session was run right after the third pro qualifying session, and the 87 degree track was incredibly tight. Our changes were not aggressive enough & we did not improve on our Q1 effort, leaving us qualified in the 8th spot, giving up lane choice to DJ Cox in the first round of eliminations. E1 was scheduled right after the final pro qualifying session, which was coming up fast. We sprinted back to the pit & performed a super fast normal service, with the addition of adding some ignition timing & more tweaks to the fuel curve to overcome the tight track.

    We rolled up for first round of eliminations just before 7PM, made final decisions on wheelie bar height & tire pressure in the staging lanes & lined up in the left lane against DJ. Although we matched our career best ET with a 5.553, DJ's telepathic .019 reaction time overcame our better short track numbers and his Camaro body was 6 MPH better than our down track performance, giving him the win light in a close race. It was a hard race to call, both from the starting line and in the car... Fred looked over to DJ's lane just past half track & didn't see him. Nothing like drag racing... a weekend with career best speed & ET gives you a first round loss.

    All in all, it was a great race weekend. We got three more solid laps in on a national event prepped racetrack, had a consistent, tunable racecar, didn't blow anything up & enjoyed the fans & racers alike. From young first time drag race attendee & autograph seeker Jacob to Cruz Pedregon, our pit & dinner table shared the love of racing we all enjoy. Is our 2019 season over? Likely it is, but then again, we are only one thousandth of a second from a new career best and there is a regional race in Richmond, VA in a few weeks...


    Random Observations:

    The honey mustard dip at Maple Grove concessions tastes like plain Jell-O mixed with tempera paint.
    Tire rubber deposited on a cell phone during the burnout will stay stuck to the glass for three days.
    One header from an alcohol funny car weighs as much as seven of Erica Ender's Pro Stock car doors.
    If you put a plastic fork in your cargo pocket, then do between round servicing, the fork breaks.
    It is possible to pull off a valve cover after a run and find a dead fly in there.
    On average, tire temperature only rises 18 degrees on the burnout.


    Congratulations to race winners Troy Coughlin & the McPhillips boys in dragster & Sean Bellemeur in funny car.


    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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