Lebanon Valley Dragways Night Of Fire!
Friday August 5th 2011
Lebanon Valley Dragway

Well we finally got the opportunity to have 4 cars run @ the fabled Lebanon Valley Dragways Night Of Fire. This is their biggest show of the year, jet dragsters, jet funny cars, wheelstanders and a jet semi plus fireworks etc..

We book in 4 funny cars, Chris Massarellas Total Insanity Monza, Scott Ringwoods Mascott Racing Corvette, John Walls Quickie Too Monza and my Bits And Pieces Oldsmobird.

I arrive at the track with my 30+ year buddy John Saupp. John is one of those guys who makes the best out of every event he attends. Hes a great hand with whatever we need from cleaning, holding body poles to T-shirt sales!

We get set up and wait for John Napoli, Jeff Bradt and his buddy Jared to show up. Its about 4pm and were not running until 8pm or so. The car is ready to fire and I begin mingling with the fans that are trickling in. Signing handouts, talking to gearheads (some of whom I used to street race against that cant believe what Im doing now) and visiting with the kids.

The crew gets there, Jeff and Jared mix up two more batches of 92% and we get ready to fire the car on alky. Johhny hops in the seat, Jeff grabs the starter, I the squirt bottle. I look over and the crowd is 2-3 deep around the car. I CAREFULLY selected the end spot of the row for MAXIMUM exposure..lol. We spin it over, pull on the mag and it roars to life. I wanted to get the RPMs up and make sure with the wholesale clutch changes it would be OK. Seems like it might need a 1/2 flat more stall. Check the timing 52*. John reaches over and pulls the feed tube out of the alky jug and the motor shuts down. I reset the BV for the nitro warm, up, we grab out masks and get ready to make some real noise! Jeff spins it over, flicks on the mag, I feed the gas and John rolls on the fuel lever. The lil Chevy cackles to life. Sounding crisp we check our hat pressures, make a small change. John grabs a handful of brake, Whomp.....Whomp....sounds great, we shut if down and get ready to run the valves and put the body on. The crowd loved it. This is the best crowd around, they truly appreciate everything the racers do to make sure they have a great time.

Well, we get word that they want us now to run at 7pm. Ummmm its 6:10 now, so we need to hustle a bit. As the evening progresses, the show gets delayed slightly and we are asked to be in the lanes at 7:30. Thats a little better! Were running Chris Massarella and his lovely wife/back up artist Krista. But we have a little surprise of our own. A little impromptu back up girl contest. We enlisted the help of my buddy Brians friend, Marcy. We get into the lanes, they play the National Anthem and we are the second set up. Scott and John fire their cars. John rolls into the water box and does an OUTSTANDING burnout. Scotts was not too shabby either. They both get down the track in the 7.30 range. We roll up to the water box. Jeff grabs the starter, Derek Lobban is helping with the squirt bottle on the starting line. We do all our checks, pins pulled bottles on etc. We wait for for Chris to get started, hes in the far lane and want to give him ample camera exposure. I get the nod, Derek gives the Chevy a squirt and Jeff spins it over. I pull on the fuel and it cackles to life. Jeff lowers the body, I push the buttons into high and roll into the water box.

Right at the burnout, I knew something was wrong. That along with the dead #1 cylinder at the fire up should have been the clue. I roll to a stop after the burnout, push in the cluch. Chris is wayyyyy out in front of me, but hes backing up quickly to meet up with me. Marcy pops into view, a MUCH improved sight over the hairy back up guys Im used to. Shes doing an excellent job. She looks like a pro out there. The get me well enough behind the line to do a couple of dry hops. Whomp....Chris responds....Whomp! Feels pretty good. Jeff pulls me up and reaches in and rolls open the Crawford valve. Pipes go wet, RPMs drop. He pounds on the hood and gives me the thumbs up and disappears off to the left. Chris is pre-staged, I roll in, glance at the oil pressure and come off the clutch and stage. He stages. We nail the throttles together and off he goes. Feels like Im tied to the Titanic. At about 1/2 track I decide to hit high gear, well just to give me something to do. Car starts to pull on Chris a little then noses over and I click it at 700 to a disappointing 7.70 run. It never RPMd. And now I wonder why.

Well, what I happened before the start of round one may explain some. We had an issue with the blower belt scuffing the rounded allen bolt I use on the dual drive unit to keep it in place. We had to move that strap slightly 10 minutes before we ran, and I reset the timing with the buzz box, BUT was not able to refire and check with a timing light. Well after we made the pass and my crew guys slung free Bits And Pieces T-shirts into the stands, we get after it.

Jeff and Jared begin mixing fuel Johnny goes to town cooling the clutch and dropping the oil. I try to address the fuel system and timing all while signing handouts, t-shirts and various body parts..lol. I decided to put 55* in the mag, leave the clutch gap @ .048" and add 1/2 flat stall to it. We fire the car on alky and the timing is at 52*. Now Ive moved the mag a ton, so I must have been below 50* for the first round. Never again will I adjust the timing without checking with a light. I move the mag some more and refire the car. Now where at 55-56* running with the light. We pour in a fresh batch of fuel and head back up.

The car fires up and all the pipes are clean and it sounds like a different animal! On the burnout it was much snappier. Marcy does her great job of guiding me back. I decided no drop hops this time (the track crew was nervous with the fuel from the overflow last pass after them). Jeff starts to look down at the track in front of me. Derek, Jeff and the starter are all pointing. "Uh-oh what now?" I think. Jeff walks up and gives me the cut sign. "Damn" another freakin leak. Words cannot describe the frustration. Until we get back to the pits and determine its the same seal that leaked on us 6 weeks ago. We have some sort of problem we need to find. This cant continue.

So all in all, even tho it was a frustrating night for me, the fan response was great and Chris, Scott and John put on a helluva show!

Hope you enjoyed the report. Well be back, cant wait to get another shot!

Keith

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