Tigges Talk - Between Race Rambling

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    Likes Received:
    ITA has been pretty quiet lately, so I'm penning up a between race ramble to fill the void.

    For me, one of the odd results of working on an alky funny car has been a diminished interest in the professional stars of the sport. As I type, the big NHRA show is going on just 1-1/2 hours south of me. For decades, the closest National event was at least an eight hour drive. I'd go every year and have a great time, enjoying years of record runs and memorable weekends. After years of waiting, my home track, New England Dragway, finally got a National. I attended the first two years, but this year I had a hard time deciding to go or not.

    Between tickets, travel & food I'd spend at least $100 to go alone for one day of qualifying. I'd get to stand or sit in the hot sun with no shade, and watch at least half of the runs go up in tire smoke. I'd want to stay late, but that would mean missing game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and leaving early would mean sitting in a parking lot for two hours just to get off the property.

    Most importantly, I'd just be watching with no investment in any of the competition, like a fish out of water. Being part of a team changes things. I really started to notice last year at Indy. During downtime in our pit I'd be interested in going over to the track to watch the pros, but I was more content to hang out with the team or wander around the alcohol pits. I'm still interested, but the thrill is gone. Standing on the starting line is a heck of a lot more satisfying than watching it.

    So this morning I got up, cooked up a nice breakfast for the wife and me, did some yard work, fixed the lawnmower carb, made a run to the dump and caught up on other chores. I had a refreshing shower, spent some time on the internet and here I sit, happy as a clam I'm not baking in the sun at Epping. I'll watch on TV.

    Our last race was three weeks ago, the next one is two weeks from now at Lebanon Valley, New York. Back at the shop the car has been completely gone over in preparation for three races in four weeks, one of which is the national event at Norwalk, Ohio over the July 4 weekend. I'm looking forward to that fly-in event, it is another track I have never been to. After Norwalk, we will be back at New England Dragway for the Regional. Speaking of the shop, there has been some construction going on, a little expansion preparing for the winter months. Rumor has it the chassis jig might come out of storage…

    Completely going over the car basically involves taking the entire thing apart (like all of it) then inspecting, cleaning and reassembling all the parts. Some parts are replaced due to observed wear or a standard service schedule even if they look fine. An example of standard service parts would be connecting rods & valvesprings. Spending over $1,000 on replacing eight rods that look just fine might seem painfully expensive, but if one breaks during a pass, it can easily cause $10,000 of damage. Since we have been though a few pretty violent tire shake passes, certain items get extra attention, like chassis welds and electrical connections & wiring.

    Then there are all the disposables you need to have… methanol, cleaning solvents, oil (cooked or otherwise) , rags, Coors, Pepsi, Moxie… and of course, all the other non-racecar preparation and stocking that has to happen too. Vacation time forms submitted, plane tickets purchased, tow vehicle and RV maintenance, food supplies, preparation of a 'road' box to leave on the trailer in Lebanon Valley so when I fly into Norwalk my air mattress and everything else I don't want on the plane is all ready for me. Racing the car is the easy part. Getting it there ready to go is the hard part!

    I've had a few people ask about tire scrubbing… scrubbing tires does not involve soap & water… it is basically a method for heat cycling the tire to stabilize it. Road or circle track racers will swerve back and forth during warm-up laps to do this. Drag racers make long burnouts followed by detuned, easy passes to get the tire to heat cycle. Scrubbed tires are much more predictable.

    As a fan, I used to wonder how champion racers could make two 'lousy' qualifying passes, then come back in the third qualifier and run a #1 qualifying pass. I remember being amazed at this, but now realize they very possibly were scrubbing tires on the slower passes.

    So the internet tells me fellow alky racer Dan Mercier qualified 15th in Top Fuel at the New England Nationals in Barry Paton's pro dragster, and the TV tells me it's time to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Congratulations to Dan & go Lightning!

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine

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