Tigges Talk - Epping New Hampshire Regional 2018

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    It's funny how sometimes you go to familiar places & find faces you haven't seen in a while. New England Dragway is our home track, so it was not too strange to see Northeast legend Arnie Karp, but seeing Bill Naves, Steve Harker & Ray Martin was a surprise. We showed up early Thursday morning, got a great pit spot beside the Mercier guys, and had everything set up well before the heat of the day. It was hot & humid, with a cooling front & thundershowers on the radar for the afternoon, so we didn't make any test passes, but spent the day doing what racers do... talk, move stuff around, eat, walk the dogs, move stuff around, catch errant rolling racecars from running into the Sunoco fuel truck, eat, talk, rinse & repeat.

    Larry Wiggins was kind enough to get us all teched-in early, and we managed to all get waivers signed, so the paperwork was all set for Friday qualifying. As advertised, the rain came dumping out of the sky mid-afternoon ending track activity for the day. The rain dropped the temperature some, but the humidity was hanging around. All was forgotten with an unbelievably good ribeye & sirloin dinner provided by Fred & Mark with rice & beans. As is the case sometimes, 9:30 at night suddenly felt like midnight. The preparation work of going to the races, the long drives to get to the track & the pit set-up work all are draining, so we all bedded down early, looking forward to a full day of qualifying on Friday.

    We had some extra hands for this race which gave us time to help out a few other racers, one of which was the afore mentioned Steve Harker. We helped him get the racecar out of the trailer & were spending some 'talk time' catching up on what racing life has been like since his 2016 Norwalk wreck. Suddenly the driveshaft free car started rolling away from us down the pit, headed right towards the fuel truck! Fortunately, one of the pan bag catches was hanging low, tingling on the pavement, which alerted us to the situation, preventing the International Incident from causing a more localized conflagration.

    Friday morning brought us Chamber of Commerce racer's weather. High barometer, low water grains & temperature, great corrected altitude & cloud cover. The track was unbelievably good, too good in fact. Most of the teams on the funny car and dragster sides were just sticking the tire, unable to get any wheelspeed. With a safe tune-up we ran a 5.64 at 261 MPH which ended up qualifying us in third place going into raceday. Unfortunately, it was our last good hit of the day. As with most competitive endeavors, knowledge is power. Even our only good run was compromised, as I messed up the simplest of tasks, not properly taping the computer turn-on switch cable to the wheelie bar... of course the connector rattled apart on the burnout & was not noticed in time to reconnect & turn on the computer. All we had to go with for the next qualifying passes were the incrementals on the timeslip.

    The only knowledge the next two passes gave us was how fickle drag racing can be. In Q2 the car rolled the beams before the tree was activated, which gave us no timeslip at all, then to add injury to insult, the car shook the tires so we had no useful computer data. We went up for Q3 in the early evening, recording the lowest driveshaft speed in the history of drag racing when the car left in second gear instead of first. The labored 5.94 loaded the engine excessively, and other than providing a very entertaining column of smoke from the clutch when the bellhousing came off back in the pit, there was little to celebrate. We did a leakdown test on the cylinders, with the resultant numbers dictating that we do a deep dive service to inspect the rings. We worked until 9PM or so getting the supercharger & valvetrain out of the car, then doing all the normal fluid service while the oil was still hot & easy to pour before taking a dinner break at the Lobster Fest.

    Arthur Gallant, Dan Page & John Finke provided another fantastic banquet for the alky classes, with everything from sweet corn on the cob to dessert laid out & served. The lobsters and chicken were exceptional this year. Thanks guys for all the hard work & the chance to not have to cook! After dinner, we tore the engine down to the short block, stowed all the parts in the trailer and covered the car for the night. With the first round of eliminations not scheduled until 3PM Saturday, we had plenty of time to complete the work in the morning.

    I've been with Team Tigges over five years now and I'm really starting to feel 'in the groove' working on the car. Saturday morning provided one of those times. Dave & I were working on the bottom end of the car, removing each pair of connecting rod caps, and then pushing the rod/piston assembly up out of the block for ring inspection by Fred. Fred would inspect, load new upper rod bearings, and then slide the piston/rod assembly back into the cylinder while we guided it back onto the crank journals. We would fit new cap bearings, re-assemble the rod caps, torque them then move to the next pair. After that work was complete we pulled the main caps to check the main bearings. This is the kind of work I have always wanted to do, it is so satisfying to be able to do it, and to be trusted to do it well. During the main cap work I happened to notice that just inches from my head, Mark had re-installed the left cylinder head, his feet just to the left and right of my prone body. I was so focused in the zone of my work I had been unaware he had been working right over me. It was a true thrill to find myself doing what I have always dreamed of doing.

    We had the car all back together & warmed by 1PM, then it was 'hurry up and wait' mode until the call for the first round at 3PM. The track gave a nice starting line remembrance ceremony for the Follow A Dream crewchief Tom Howell who lost his battle with ALS last year before the cars were fired for eliminations. We were the third pair, and shared in the elation of Dan Pomponio's team as they made all the perfect tuning calls and made a stunning event best 5.492 pass to clinch the Division Championship and take away our long standing track record ET. Nice job guys! Our day came to a close in the first half of the track, with tire shake driving the car left on the tight track where Fred had to lift to keep it off the wall. Matt Gill was having problems in the other lane, but he managed to get around us for the round win, eventually making it to an event win in the final round. Congratulations to Gill & the Moduline guys and for Duane Shields who reset both ends of the track record on his way to the dragster Wally.

    Being so close to home, I traded my trailer sleeping quarters to getting the car and awning all packed in Saturday night, then headed out Saturday evening for home. By Tuesday, Mark & Fred decided to not go to the National Event at Reading, as hurricane Florence was barreling towards the east coast. As of this writing, they are racing in Reading, and we are not... such is the nature of the disease, sometimes every decision just feels wrong. Maybe we will make it to the last race we can this year, next month in Charlotte, maybe not. Time will tell.

    Like the last episode, Epping pictures will have to wait, I forgot my camera in the trailer so it will be a while before I have some to post up, including some cool Lobster Fest shots.

    Added pictures from the event.

    Epping Regional Pictures

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
    #1
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  2. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    Added picture link to the bottom of the post, enjoy!
     
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