Night Of Fire! Lebanon Valley Dragway, Friday August 3rd
Our big outing for the season was coming up. Our home track with lots of family and friends, and our first attempt at putting a sponsored funny car program together @ Lebanon Valley Dragway. We had plenty of help this night, John Napoli, Jeff Bradt, Jim Jones and Mike Reyner all signed up to get their hands dirty. 90 plus degrees and high humidity would keep the evening interesting. This show is the biggest show for Lebanon Valley with the biggest and best crowd!

The day started off a little rocky, Jim was traveling up with me, John, Jeff and Mike would meet us there after work, and we had to fight with a minor wiring problem with the trailer plug on the dually. This put us a couple of hours behind, so much for a relaxing start. Jim and I get to the track around 4pm, showtime is 7pm, and we need to hustle. No time to set up the tent. Jim and I get the car unloaded and begin to get it ready for the warm up.

I discover that Rob Bundy, who was booked in for his first trip down the LVD quarter mile, has suffered an unfortunate set back. A pulled rocker stud ended his night before it started. Rob and his crew were gracious enough to hang around and help set up our affectionately known not-so-easy-up tent.

John, Jeff and Mike all arrived around 5:30pm and we got right to the alky warm up. We noticed that #6 was huffing some smoke and we would definitely keep an eye on it. John ran through the gears on the freshly rebuilt B&J transmission and we were ready for a dose of the good stuff. Jeff and Jim handled the starting duties and John was in the car warming it up, so I got to observe the process in a different perspective this time. Jim gave the little Chevy a dose of gas, Jeff wheeled it over and pulled off the mag wire and she cackled to life. A quick check of the fuel gage, open the enrichment valve, check the pipes for an even mist. Also making sure #6 is no longer huffing oil, she was not. John grabs a handful of brake and I give it a quick couple of wraps, sounds stout and wer shut it down. A quick refuel, cool down and set the valves and we are ready at 6:45pm!

Since there were only 3 of us, we decide, Chris Massarella and Scott Ringwood would run together and I would do the bye. We all pull up to the lanes and Chris and Scott kick off the show with a couple great burnouts. My crew wheels me up to the back of the water box. All of a sudden I hear a car die and see that Chris is taking a solo pass. Trouble for Scott, hope he is able to return. Chris posts a solid run and thy push Scott off, now our turn. As Jim moves the tow vehicle into position, I notice that the setting sun is DIRECTLY in my eyes! I HOPE when the body is down, it may shield it. Jim grabs the squirt bottle, Jeff locks on the starter and John is waiting to grab the stuff from them. We get the fire up signal and after a minor squirt bottle miscue she fires up and sounds great. Jeff lowers the body and..nope does not shield the setting sun! Into the water box, I can see Jeffs shadow, but since I cannot see his hand signals, I wait for him to walk out of the way. I roll on the throttle and the Chevy screams up the rpm scale, begins to grab and I feed it more throttle and do a nice 400 foot burnout. I bring it to a stop and slide it into reverse and turn on the fresh air. I cannot see in front of me, this will be interesting! Johns shadow comes into view at about 100 feet out and he guides me back. I slide it into forward and be sure I am in the right gear. Jeff pulls me up, opens the enrichment valve and gives his signature fist pound on the hood. I pull down the visor and pre-stage, toe hook the clutch pedal back and stage. YELLOW.GREE.. I stab the loud pedal and she takes off! I short shift at around 300 feet and just leg it down the track. The car is charging hard and sounding great, but I cannot see in front of me. I see the shadow of the scoreboards, which is @ 800 feet and decide to click it there and bring it back in one piece. I get the chutes out and make the first turn off. unbuckle and climb out the hatch and wait for the crew. An easy 7.19 at only 151 is an encouraging start. We ran 4.46 @ 169 to the 1/8 mile, Corrected altitude is almost 4000 feet. We get packed up and now for the fun part. We wrapped up a handful of t-shirts and John is ready to toss them into the crowd. They love it! and we are happy to do it for them.



We get back to the pits, cool down the clutch, engine and leak the engine (worst cylinder is 8%). Refuel it, sign a bunch of autographs. We decide to add 2 degrees of timing to get some heat in the cylinders. Eric Paone is selling t-shirts for us and we chow down on a platter full of burgers. Our next pass is @ 9pm. We decide to run Scott Ringwood and give Chris the bye in the second round. Scott has a 6 second car and we are planning on running it out the back on this pass. We head up to the lanes at a delayed 9:45pm armed with �anti-dew� gear!

Scott and I get into the water box and we get the all clear signal. Jim and Jeff fire it up, and I can tell it�s idling a touch too high. I�m ready for it, may just need to work the clutch a bit. I roll in the box and Jeff gives me the signal and I�m off again on another smoky burnout. This time a little wheel wobble extends the burnout distance. A little trouble with keeping it in reverse gives me an uneasy moment, but she finally stays in. I have to work the clutch to keep the reverse speed in check, I see Scott and back up with him and then John pops into view. I get behind the line, Jeff brings me forward and I�m yarning on the brake pretty heartily and need to use the clutch more than I want. Jeff opens the valve and I pre-stage, Scott then stages and I step off the clutch and roll in. The tree comes down and I see Scott dart out for a quick moment, then the Chevy gets up on the tire and is gone. I pull high gear around 400� and at about 600� it begins to washout to the left but I�m able to bring it right back into the center. I begin to search for the finish line. I start to see some clutch dust creep up from the bell. I pass the scoreboards and all of a sudden the car is FULL of clutch dust and I cannot see a thing. I begrudgingly lift and coast on through, well ahead of Scott, but not the pass I was hoping for. I pull the chutes and follow Scott into the dark of the second turn off and hop on out. We spend the rest of the evening with the crowd and friends and service the car for the car show at the VA hospital in Albany.



Deemed a moderate success, two passes with no parts falling off, leaking or breaking, we hoped for more. This is an exciting step in the right direction after 3 tough years.

Special thanks to Gil�s Garage, Burnt Hills, NY, Lakeridge Restaurant, Round Lake, NY and Northstar Chevrolet, Clifton Park, NY. For their sponsorship of the funny cars at this event!
Thanks for reading; we hope you enjoyed the ride!

Keith
- Go To News Archives -