Dukes of Hazard

Motor City Nationals

07/15/05 – 07/17/05

Race Report #5                       


Find a comfortable chair, and settle into this one, because it is going to be long.  Between the weather, yellow jackets, toddlers locking themselves into motorhomes, blow overs, oil downs, a rumble with the Milan track staff, and actually going rounds, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.


Our first ever experience at an IHRA sanctioned event!  Yes, we’ve been to some IHRA bracket races, but never a divisional or national event.  We came to this event for a couple of reasons:


  1. To compare it to NHRA events that we’ve attended.
  2. To check out the Motor City Nationals, a national event right in our back yard.
  3. Milan, MI is a whole lot closer than the NHRA Div. 3 event in Joilet, IL.


Thanks again to the Sniesak racing team for loaning us their “Stock” Dakota ‘E’ Fuel Injected Automatic (or in this case, ‘C’ Truck Stock Automatic, as IHRA still runs truck classes) to run this weekend.  Actually it was probably more the doing of the newest Sniesak, Andrew, which kept Chris and Dan from the track this weekend.  At any rate, we were lucky enough to use their truck.


Thursday -07/14/05

The plan is to load up Thursday night, and head to the track early Friday morning.  I get to the shop Thursday evening after work, and begin the procedure of loading up.  The crew chief is attending to a generator problem on the motorhome, seems the generator shuts off when anything puts a load on it.  You know, anything like an air conditioning unit.  Now, being that it is going to be pushing 100 all weekend, with humidities in the 80% range, it is decided that operation of the generator, and therefore the AC units is a must.


After getting the trailer loaded and parked ready for motorhome hook up, seems the generator is still not working. Even a fresh fuel, air & oil filter, along with AMSOIL engine lube didn’t solve the issue. I begin to help the crew chief with the troubleshooting, and we quickly decide that the problem is not mechanical but electrical; something with the inverting system is not working, and shutting off the generator.  Now what do two mechanical engineers do when you start using words like circuit breaker, generator, and inverter?  That’s right, you shut the system off, and turn it back on again!  If this doesn’t work, we are screwed, because this is the extent of either of our electrical troubleshooting skills.


Good news is, it worked, and all seems well with the electrical system.  Bad news is it is about midnight at this point, so the driver (and author of this report for the first time all season) decides to finish the hook up the next morning.


The goal is to leave the shop at 7am.  I somehow get myself up at 5am, shower, and make it to the shop by 6:30.  I make a stop to buy some hamburger, pop, and beer for the weekend as I have some guests coming on Saturday.  I learn that you can’t buy beer before 7am in Michigan, and leave a lonely case of Michelob Light on the check out belt.


Friday 07/15/05

To my surprise, the crew chief stayed up an additional hour the night before and loaded up the motorhome with supplies and water.  All we have to do is hook up.  Somehow even though we have one thing to do on our list, we still don’t manage to leave until just before 8am.  We also have to stop and get some final groceries before we head to the track, and this puts us further behind.


We arrive at the track about 9:30am, they started running at 9am, and when we got there, they just called our class for the first qualifying run.  One thing we overlooked in running an IHRA event is that I’m no longer a member of IHRA, so I have to renew my membership, register my car number, go through tech, and get to the staging lanes all in about 46 seconds.


This of course doesn’t go as planned, and thanks to all but one of the IHRA officials telling me the truck has to run ‘D’ truck, we don’t make the call.  We finally get the truck registered and through tech, and we missed our first time trial by about 3 days.  Thank you to Duane at IHRA tech who straightened out the whole ‘C’ vs. ‘D’ truck thing, because although I consider myself to have at least average intelligence (I know I’m giving myself too much credit), I had no idea what was going on. However, we’re ready, Race truck is fueled, tires “aired up”, windows clean, weather station on line, and AMSOIL Racing stickers shining bright.


It is hot!  The second run (well our first) yields a 12.06 ET with a 1.55 60’ time, slowest I’ve ever gone in that truck.  My light a disappointing .078, but it’s not eliminations, so a good place for it.  That’s it, we get one run, and have to wake up a 9am the next morning and start racing.  The good news is it doesn’t matter if we get 1 run or 8 runs, we really don’t know what we are doing, so it is just as well.


Saturday 07/15/05

We wake up Saturday morning to rain.  Now three of my buddies are supposed to come down to watch me race.  My buddies were planning on riding their Harley’s down, and to my surprise, they call, AND are on their bikes AND are a really wet.


After finding out from track officials they are estimating racing around 3pm (it is about 10am at this point) we decide to head into town to get some breakfast.  We find a coney island, which conveniently has a coin laundry next to it, so the Harley guys can dry some of their clothes.  These guys are beyond wet; it looks like they just rode directly through hurricane Dennis, and they are in need of some heat.  With the help of a blanket that was stashed in the car (which has since been burned), the raincoat of another rider, and a towel, all three bikers are able to cover themselves while their clothes dry.


Back to the track, we get there to find out they are beginning racing around 12:30, and they’ve already called our class.  We are ready to rock, and head to the staging lanes. 

First Round Eliminations

Draw in the first round is a 70 Challenger dialing an 11.75.  We put a 12.03 on the window, and get ready to deal with the first round jitters, which are a little thicker for the driver this afternoon, because I have actual fans in the stands for this one.

My side of the tree comes down first, and I leave, keeping the red light off.  The problem is that I notice my opponent left about the same time, and since we were suppose to get about a .030 second head start, I know I’m in trouble.   I stay in the throttle the whole way, because he has me good and covered up (ahead of me) by half track, and is on the brakes pretty hard before the 1000’ marker.  We cross the finish line, and I’m pissed that I’m going to have to load up already, when to my surprise my win light comes on!!!!!!  Time slip tells the tale, and thankfully my opponent didn’t get on the binders hard enough, because he runs an 11.747 on his 11.75 dial which is just a hair too fast!  Our time slip looked like this:


.103 RT

1.55 60’

12.056 ET on our 12.03 dial


As I type this, I still don’t know how we won.  Worst light I’ve had in a bunch of races, my opponent cut a respectable .047 light, and somehow we are on to round two.  Like I said, we don’t know what we are doing, but somehow it works today anyway.


This will do it for the day.  Because of the on and off rain, they have decided to postpone the rest of the sportsman racing and run the pros and the night of fire, so we will finish our rounds up tomorrow.  The super stock guys don’t even get a pass on Saturday.  So much for catering to the little guys.  The IHRA, like the NHRA knows the nitro belching vehicles puts butts in the seats, not the 12 second stockers, so they skip over us for the big guys.  So far, this is EXACTLY the same as the NHRA.


The good news is the rest of the day we get to be fans, this means, rolling through the pits, watching the cars run, drinking “barley pops”, you know, the reason we are all there.  In the midst of being a fan we discovered that when you put 6 people on a golf designed to hold 4, and put 2/3’s of these people on the back of the golf cart, it tends to pull the front wheels off the ground quite easily.  The first time this happened, the driver of the cart (and of the race car coincidentally) was caught off guard a bit, and tried to correct the problem.  I believe most of the passengers were caught off guard a bit as well. 


It was quickly learned that with a little throttle control, and instant ballast adjustment at the rear, this wheelie could be carried for quite a distance, and we got really good at carrying the front wheels for yards at a time.  The only thing keeping us from going further most of the time was other carts, cars, race cars, or innocent by standers.  The main reason we got good at the wheelies, is because we pulled the front end up pretty much anytime we had more than 6 inches of straight away to do so.  This definitely turned some heads of people walking by, and got us some laughs, but most importantly it made the passengers of the cart laugh, and let us act like we were 15 again.  You would think after the 50th or so wheel stand in a golf cart, it would start to get old, but it really didn’t, every one was just as fun as the last one.


This was everybody’s first time watching nitro belching top fuelers run, so I always have fun when it is somebody’s virgin viewing of these unbelievable machines.  I was going to warn them that they should plug their ears, but decided it would be more fun to watch the reaction.  My favorite quote was from my buddy Ed who said, “I stuck my fingers out and wanted to plug my ears, but I couldn’t move!” 


Yep, that about sums it up.


Sunday 07/16/05

Final eliminations, and because they have to run a bunch of classes before us who didn’t even make a pass on Saturday, we get to sleep in.  Easier said than done when there are Super Stockers right outside your window warming up, not to mention a rottweiler who can’t distinguish between a Tuesday at home, and a Sunday at the track, I was still up by 8am anyway (actually 6:30 to let the dog out to potty).


Once again we are joined by some guests, this time my buddy Brian with his (almost) 4 year old son and his father.  They get through the rest of the sportsman classes, and decide to call all the pros but top fuel before they run us again.  Finally about 1:30, we get called for our second round.


Once again all our guests were first timers, and loved it, couldn’t believe the “percussion” of the cars as one of them stated.


Before this round, I thought I had a bye run if I were to win (I later learned this to be false) so I wanted this win real bad.  We got our lucky run in the 1st round, and I needed to drive this time to win, because you only get one lucky round a weekend, and sometimes not even one, I guess that is why you are “lucky”.  This time was much better.


Second Round Eliminations

We draw a 68 Camaro dialing an 10.34, so I will get a good head start.  We decide to stick with a 12.03 for our dial as the weather is just like it was all weekend…terrible!


My side of the tree comes down, and I leave on what I KNOW is a good light, so good I was somewhat surprised it wasn’t red.  About half track I notice my opponent is no where near where he should be, so I get out of the throttle and back into it.  He catches up a little, but I still have a car length on him before the 1000’ marker.  I this time drop to half throttle and hit the brakes.  I believe he gave up at this point, because he never gained on me after this.  One more brake application to make sure I don’t brake out, and, as expected, my win light comes on.


.001 RT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


That will do it.  We ended up running a 12.10 at about 100MPH (truck usually runs about 108 or 109) so I was no where near breaking out.  My opponent ran a 10.47 on his 10.34 dial confirming my thoughts that he gave up.  Good run, and a win, that light is hard to beat, I know, because I’ve been beaten by a light like that many times!!!!!


We get called again about a half hour after our 2nd round run, and start to get ready to run in the third round, and that is when it starts raining!  And this is when the fun begins.  You wouldn’t think 5 pages into my first report that there was a bunch to go, but there is, I tried to warn you.


The rain finally stops, and they decide to get the pro semi-finals out of the way to keep them on schedule, again, not that different from the NHRA.  It is in the second pass of the semi’s that the action starts, when Clay Millican’s General Lee dragster is caught in a blow over.  This rarely happens, as most drivers will lift when they feel the car start to lift, but Clay didn’t.  Never seen one, or don’t really know what one is, check out the link below:




So this adds more delay to the action as they now have to clean up all the body panels that blew off the car in the blow over.  While this is going on, a green golf cart comes flying…well as flying as a golf cart can go…back to our area of the pits, and is pursued by some street vehicles.   The street vehicles begin to circle around the golf cart, and several Milan track officials proceed to get out of the cars, and beat the crap out of the guys on the golf cart.  At one point, a woman from the track hauls off and kicks one of the guys in the ribs while he is already being held on the ground by another track official.  She happens to notice that I saw this, because I took my dog for a walk over in the area, because “he had to go to the bathroom”.


I’m instructed (to put it nicely) by the rib kicking woman that I can’t be back here, and I have to leave.  I inform her (as I point) that I’m pitted back here, this is where the IHRA put me, and I’m simply taking my dog for a walk, when I happened across this most unfortunate situation.  She was removed from the scene by other track officials.  The two guys on the golf cart who had the snot beat out of them were detained on the ground for almost an hour before police showed up.  Come to find out that they two guys tried to steal a Milan Dragway golf cart, and this is why they deserved the beating they got, not to mention laying on the freshly moistened ground from the rain for an hour in 90 degree heat with no water or anything.  Wouldn’t be surprised if a lawsuit came of this.


Note: There was no IHRA involvement in this “incident” it was all Milan officials, about a dozen of them for the two golf cart bandits.


This fight night in the pits did pass some time, but after the ordeal, the clean up was still on going.  The 4 year old who joined us must have been getting bored, because he proceeded to lock himself in the motorhome.  Well, he wasn’t alone, Cletus, the crew chief’s dog was in there to keep him company.  He somehow was able to override the key pad entry on the coach that is outside the door, smart little feller.


After a little fib about having to go to the bathroom, he got the door unlocked, and all was returned to normal momentarily.


While standing around shooting the breeze about “what can happen next” my dog jumps up in the air and yelps.  Now he is a 120lb rottweiler and I’ve heard him yelp exactly one time in the 2.5 years that I’ve owned him, he never does this.  After the first yelp, he yelps again and this time moves away from where he was standing.  I look to try to see what the problem was, and notice there is a yellow jacket nest in the ground about 10 yards from the door of the motor home.  Now, how we didn’t see this the prior two days we were here is beyond anybody, but…


Well, my guests decide they’ve had enough, and leave around 7:30pm.  This marks the second day that I had guests out that stayed for the better part of 8 hours to watch me run once.


Finally (right after they leave) they call us up for our third round run.  This time we draw a beautiful 64 Dodge 440 car that runs again low 10 seconds, this time 10.34 is his dial.  I will be chased again.  Before they let us run, IHRA decides they are going to run the pro finals, I’m slightly perturbed this time and consider writing the sanctioning body a letter.  They are lucky I don’t have a race report, but a race novel to write, and this will take up enough of my free time that by the time I can write the IHRA I will have forgave and forgot about the situation.


We get to run, and my side of the tree comes down and I’m able to leave without turning on anything red.  I take a peek at the score board after I shift into third (as I usually do when leaving first) and notice my win light is on…red light for my opponent, so I get to run it out the back door and head to round four.  Time slip this time says:


.021 RT (nice)

12.018 at 107 MPH (on our consistant 12.03 dial)


Onto round four!!!!


As expected, the next call comes a lot quicker.  Now we have a 73 Charger that is painted somewhat like the General Lee, but this one is just white, and called “Private Lee”.  His dial is an 11.11, we decide to go with a 11.99.


My side of the tree comes down, and I finally do it, leave too early, real early, like I left just after the 3rd round early (-.036)!!!!!  Oh well, can’t be two upset, 49 cars lined up Saturday afternoon, so there are 41 guys that wished they were me!!!!  4th round, quarter finalist, not too shabby for an event we just decided to go to, and a division we never ran before!  I’d take it again.


Thanks for hanging in there, and until next time.

Keep the Revs Up!