Day 3 at Valdosta (Saturday)
Saturday dawned bright and cool with the Density Altitude at 139 feet. The first run got us another 8.78. Next up was a nozzle size change, going up one size on the front cylinder to try and balance out the EGTs a bit. The front was getting hotter than the rear and the air went up to 864 feet of altitude, and we saw another 8.78 at 153 mph.
We were joined by Bill Shields from the shop and Perry, a regular visitor to the shop as well. Perry’s photos are some we are using for this day’s events. They drove down, stayed in Georgia somewhere and then drove to the track. A marathon, for sure. Thanks to both of them for that.
It was when we were getting ready to make the last run of the day that I noticed one of the ignition pickups looked funny. I guess I must have left the ignition on again and burned it up…again.
Bill and Perry were trying the various Harley dealers within 100 miles we had no success. So we were off in search of a comparable ignition in the pits. Good luck finding one in the place. It was based on a Harley series of electronic conversion and the only Harleys here were running magnetos and nitro. I was wandering by the MSD booth and met Ray Corral. He didn’t have what I needed, but took the time to search the midway, looking for a workable substitute. Finally at the Star Racing booth we found a Kawasaki ignition that had a chance of working. You throw down your money and take your chances. Well if we ground off the ends of the pickups, and squeezed them together, they approximated the 90 degrees of offset we needed. Adapt the wire ends and presto! It started (a good sign) and sounded fine, so back out we go. This was our last chance to qualify the bike and not having a clue how close we might be to the actual target timing number, it was definitely a roll of the dice.
We took a little timing out (at least that what the marks said, but with the new parts….. Well as we had messed with the clutch and gearing, and the fuel system seemed pretty happy, so now we had to mess around with something. This came up as our third 8.70 of the day, an 8.761 @ 151.71 mph. Hell Yeah!
Well that pass put us nearly at the bottom of a 46 bike qualifying list.
Here are a few photos of the last round of Top Fuel Qualifying.
The Scandinavian contingent was well-represented, having come over with five bikes! These were not trailer queens – these bikes had been raced and raced often. There is a great deal more activity in the nitro twin ranks in Europe than there is here.
Here is a close-up of “The Beast” from Norway, a very impressive machine. You can see the other four-cylinder Top Fueler of Chris and Sharon Hand, the “Redneck Express” from Alabama. Chris came into the race with the points lead, but continuing mechanical issues kept him out of the show. A disappointing end to the season (or so we thought) for a truly nice group of folks. Ray Price and Tommy Grimes were the #2 qualifier and it was great to see Ray back out at the track again.
Oh and Larry McBride went a solid 5 second pass to qualify #1 in Top Fuel, a 5.81 I believe. They were exorcising the demons that had bedeviled them most of the summer in a spectacular manner. Larry’s brother Steve looked very relieved at the end of it all.
It was at this point in time we needed to make a decision. I had entered us in Super Comp that morning, which is an 8.90 second index class. That means you can runs as close to that 8.90 e.t., but not under it to win. Since these were qualifying passes and we ran beneath that index, that put us at the bottom of the heap. I didn’t feel too badly about it, because if you told me we would qualify for Super Comp from the quick side even a day earlier I wouldn’t have believed you, but been very happy. Well in true executive fashion we decided to wait until dinner to decide the “strategy” to be used on Sunday.
It about now we discovered the new synthetic oil we had purchased at Bonneville wasn’t so new anymore. It was in a black jug, as was our waste oil and someone had poured waste oil into 4 gallons of very expensive synthetic oil. We were out of our usual oil and had packed the synthetic “just in case”. We were out of oil and darned near out of nitro because we had made twelve passes so far this weekend, and had figured to make a total of eleven when packing for the race. The extras on Thursday were the difference. Trotting over to Larry McBride I asked if he had any oil and all he had was the synthetic RedLine product. Well since that was what we bought at Bonneville it would work. Two gallons later, we were ready! This stuff is $12 a quart, but when ya gotta, ya gotta.
After loading up, we were at the restaurant again and discussing the two paths we could take. The first was to slow the bike down to run closer to the index and the other was to “see what she’d do”. Well considering we didn’t have a lot of laps working on reaction times and may only get two or three passes on Sunday, the second option was chosen. We had all winter to fix whatever we might hurt. It was a unanimous decision. It was a bit scary running nearly two tenths of a second quicker than we ever had before, but scary in a good way.