Tigges Talk - Reading Regional - May 2019

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Our first race out for 2019 was the Regional at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania. Rick & I were both going to travel with the team, so we planned on meeting in Holbrook to head out together. Our target leave time was 9AM Wednesday, which would get us to the Grove in the afternoon, where we could get the pit set-up.

    Pit set-up is simple, but it is quite a bit of work. Once the actual pit space is selected (which is another story altogether) the game begins. First off, the trailer is decoupled from the tow rig. The RV is leveled and has frame stands installed under it.

    The next step is setting up the awning. The trailer is jacked up in the front & the rear door is opened, the race car tie-downs removed, & the car rolled out of the trailer & 'parked' outside the pit space. This allows access to the awning vertical & outrigger supports with upper & lower rails, the nylon, zipper & the ladder & step stool. The trailer is lowered to working level, then all the awning parts are removed from the trailer. Mark goes atop the trailer, working with the ground crew to install the 6 verticals which attach to the trailer side with two pins each. Next, the outrigger supports are arranged in order across the bed of the truck & latched to the verticals one by one. This goes pretty quickly with 4 guys, one on top of the trailer, one on the tailgate of the truck, one on the ground, and one driving the truck. The upper & lower rails are then attached to the outriggers (pins & velcro straps), the zipper slid into the zipper rail on the top of the trailer, & the nylon is spread over the frame. Assuming it is not windy, this part is fairly easy, but it still takes at least 3 guys to manage a huge 17' X 45' 'sail' of nylon. Lastly, the nylon is fixed to the awning frame with zippers & straps.

    Once the awning is up, everything else that goes under it is unloaded from the trailer & set up. It's a long list; pit tarp, 4'X 8' hard plastic pit sheets, 2 aluminum folding tables, air lines, four pit lights, jack, chassis stands, 48" fan, air compressor, generator, scooter, trailer step, fuel & oil jugs, wash bucket & soap, extension cords, facility supplied 55 gallon trash bucket (these can be hard to find) & all the tool sets that are commonly used for servicing (upper engine tray & hand tools, bottom end & clutch toolboxs & fans for clutch servicing). Only then can the car be fetched from its parking spot & rolled under the awning. The rest of the pit set-up includes unloading folding chairs & the food table, the all important grill, the various dog related items, the starter, batteries & cord, the racecar wheelie bar & lastly the racecar belly pan.

    With a 4 guy crew, no rain & no wind, this pit set-up takes about 1-1/2 hours.

    I was up at 4:30 AM Wednesday morning and after a traffic delay driving through Boston, arrived in Holbrook just before 9. Rick showed up a little later with his wife Sherry's awesome cooking (pasta salad, sliced calzones & brownies) & we loaded our stuff into the trailer. The only thing missing was the Chevy 3500 dually, which was at the garage getting the charging system repaired. Morning turned into afternoon, & we finally pulled out at 3PM. The tow down was uneventful, pulling into Maple Grove just past 11PM. The pit gates were closed, so we got in line beside Mercier Racing's hauler to wait for the morning, set up sleeping arrangements, & turned in just past midnight. Day 1.

    Thursday morning, the line started moving at 7AM & after having the track extract a new $60 fee for the RV, we got parked & set up the pit, interrupted by a 'welcome to Maple Grove' rain shower halfway through & medium force winds. We got the car up on the stands, got the wheelie bar bolted on, set the cold valve lash, oiled & fueled it, and made noise in the pits for the first time in 2019. It was great to hear the engine come to life after the long off-season.

    We got all the car certifications done, signed waivers (which strangely did not require a driver ticket or ID) & took notes for some additional stuff to make at home before the next race. The King of Salem rolled in around 3PM rounding out our active team of Fred, Mark, Claire, Chris, Rick & Keith. We did some visiting, & after a dinner feast of imported Maine ribs from Smokin' Dave's Backyard BBQ , we turned in early, at 10:30 PM. An Extreme Weather Alert on my phone & the radar on Mark's, brought us both out to the pit at 11PM, where Maple Grove served up tornado level winds & driving rain for 45 minutes. With no adjacent trailer to lash the awning down to, Mark & I struggled to hold it from ripping off, often being literally pulled up off our feet with the gusts. It was exhausting, cold, and very wet, both of us soaked completely through head to toe, with an inch of water rushing through the pit at the peak of the storm. Have I mentioned that I hate Pennsylvania? I can say that, I lived in Reading for 7 years. Between the cold & wet, emotional relief that the storm had passed & adrenaline rush wearing off, we headed back to the sack around 12:30. Day 2.

    Friday was a 6AM wake-up to a rare sight at Maple Grove Raceway, zero clouds in the sky. It was dry and windy. After a great breakfast served up by Claire we joked about the qualifying schedule for the day... 1PM, 4PM & 7PM. Our car number is TAFC147, how could we miss? Other than a quick warm-up & re-fueling around noontime we had little to do with the car, so the morning was spent helping out Ken Winward's dragster team with a problem, going over who was doing what up on the starting line, packing the chutes and making sure all the proper tools & cold water was in place on the tow vehicle. Personally, I had the jitters. The first race is always like this. This year I had decided to leave the camera at home to focus (horrid pun intended) on working on the car, so at least that distraction wasn't around.

    We towed up for Q1 and lined up in the right lane across from Joshua Haskett. I've been wanting to actually set the wheelie bar height each run, rather than just checking it, & that process worked smoothly along with the rest of the fire-up, burnout & pre-staging. At stage, the car rolled the lights, but oddly we got a timeslip, netting a 5.76 at 259 MPH. This was not the number we were expecting, but the car did not shake & went nice & straight.

    Q2 brought us a single. Our tow-up & lining up of the car before the waterbox went perfectly, something Mark has been trying to get spot on in the Maple Grove left lane for years. Performance improved to a 5.71 with a great 60 foot time, but the car was in and out of the groove downtrack. Just past 7PM we went up for Q3, back in the right lane alongside Ryan Stack. We raised the wheelie bar & dropped tire pressure a 1/4 pound. Again we improved, qualifying 4th with a string straight 5.69, which gave us lane choice over Phil Burkart for eliminations. The numbers still were not what we were expecting, we have the power, we have the short numbers down, but there is still a mystery in the clutch can to figure out.

    First round of eliminations were 5PM on Saturday & we were all pretty tired, but we put the car on the stands to check hot valve lash & drain the oil. Good thing we did. There was no lash on the #2 intake valve, and a leakdown test confirmed there was a major problem in that cylinder. We had our work cut out for us Saturday. We were wildly entertained by Keith's onset of laryngitis which made him a dead ringer for Eddie Parker, and talked (or attempted to) after dinner with our pitmates, the Gills to our left and Comp Eliminator racer William Scott to our right. Nice people! Late in the night talking with Frank Schuster we suddenly found it to be 12:30... then talked another 1/2 hour. Day 3.

    Saturday wake-up was 6:45. We did a ton of work, pulling the blower & heads, replacing the time bomb #2 intake valve (nobody in the pits had ever seen such a failure)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    dressing valve seats, replacing rod bearings, checking the rear main bearing, replacing manifold gaskets, repairing a header, servicing the clutch, re-assembling it all, setting cold lash, firing it up and setting hot lash. Back in business for the first round with time to spare!

    Drag racing is a quick sport. Although we outperformed Burkart in the first round, our 5.67 to his 5.74, the car rolled the beams again giving us the red bulb on the tree and him the win light at the finish line. A tenth of a second and it's all over, pack it up and head home. I towed the car back to the pit for the first time, & we went through the motions of breaking down, wandering up to the stands to watch elimination rounds we wanted to be in, eating grilled chicken & ribs, then a relatively early 11:30 turn-in. Congratulations to Sean Bellemeur for his Funny car win, & Duane Shields for his Dragster win.

    Sunday was another 6:45 wake-up. We had everything packed up and towed out at 10:30, making a welcome stop at Blue Colony Diner in Connecticut for a nice sit-down lunch. Back in Holbrook, we parted ways and I got home to Maine around 11PM. Day 5.

    We do this for fun.

    Our next scheduled event is the regional at Lebanon Valley in New York, the last weekend in June.


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

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    Had an intake valve do that in Tulsa a couple years ago. The piece broke off and sneezed the blower in the final round. Still have the valve on my desk now I've seen two do that with yours.
     
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