Island Dragways Funny Car Throwdown

We were invited to attend our first nitro match race on Sunday August 6th at Great Meadows NJ Island Dragway.  We were to match up against hometown favorite Chuck Exton in his nitro powered BBC Wild N Crazy Daytona.  We wanted to take out the hometown guy in a big way.  We had tested at Lebanon Valley a few weeks before so we were ready for our first battle.  Our crew consisting of Jeff Bradt, Ron Cocca and Jeremy Rorick headed down at 5am on Sunday to get a pit spot.  I headed down at 6am with my family.  Looking forward to a great day of racing, family and friends.

We arrived and immediately began to prep the car.  Most of the stuff had been prepared the weeks before.  We just had to put the diaper on fuel it up.  We warmed the car on alky and checked  the clutch settings and was ready for our nitro warm up.  One of my most favorite aspects of running a nitro car is the warm up and throttle whack in the pits.  Brings me back to my childhood. We kept the clutch the same and then added 2% to the mix to bring us up to 91%.  Car sounded mean and we were ready to face Chuck. 

After a quick photo op with the other drivers I was strapped in and ready.  Well I was ready for a while because it took about an hour to get to us.  Oh well lots of time to go over race procedures in my head.  At least it was only 75 degrees out.

We get to the line, Chuck is in the right, we are in the left.  We get the OK to fire up.  Ron wheels it over, Jeff feeds the gas and then I roll the fuel on.  Our little 438 big block Chevy cackles to life.  I do a quick check of oil pressure and watch Jeremy lower the body over me.  The fumes are stout, I’ll turn the fresh air on after the burnout.  I start to roll forward and put it into high gear. Jeremy disappears and Jeff brings me into the water and gives me the hit it sign.  I give a quick stab to the throttle to get the tires going and work the throttle to give a nice smokey burnout.  Tires start to grab, lift off the throttle and grab the brake.  Put the trans in low and ease the shifter in reverse.  Reach over and turn the fresh air system on.  I start backing up using the clutch to monitor speed.  Jeremy pops into view and guides me back to the line.  Behind the line Jeff guides me forward just before the pre-stage beam.  I ease the shifter into forward and creep up.  I check the  oil pressure and wait for Jeff to set the idle pressure.  A quick pound on the hood and he dis-appears off to the left.  Just me and Chuck now. I put down the visor and pre-stage, Chuck is already in.  I glance one last time at the oil pressure, stage the car and Chuck rolls in, I’m ready!  Tree flashes yellow and I nail the throttle and tree Chuck.  The little Chevy screams to life. No sign of Chuck out the side window, I start to look for the 660 cone and then all of a sudden tire shake grabs my attention and I quick pedal it and try to hit high gear.  Crap!  I missed the shift.  I pedal it again and Chuck roars by.  I put it into high and just motor on through to a disappointing 7.24ET.  We’ll try again in round 2.

We get back to the pits, service the car, change the oil, set the valves and check the clutch.  The clutch guy, me,  decides to leave the clutch alone.  With 3 guys we were a little pressed for time to turn the car around, but we made it.

For round 2 the air is better and it’s now 5pm in the day.  We take the same lanes.  Chuck has his car hopped up for this pass.  This time Chuck leaves on me by a couple thou and we’re staying together until  violent tire shake ensues and I have to once again pedal it.  This time I was able to make the shift and head off after the Wild N Crazy guy.  He’s gone and I click it early to save it for another day.  Chuck ran a best for him 6.66 @ 208. We coasted through to another dis-appointing 7.32ET.  Not the showing we wanted, but we keep learning every time we go out.  The track was happy and so was all the great fans at Island.  We saw a bunch of old friends, made some new friends and sold a bunch of T-shirts.  So all in all a great day!

Thank you for reading.  So long until our next weekend report!

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