Tigges Talk - Lebanon Valley Regional - July 2017

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Member

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    This past weekend we WON!!! YES!!!

    I left Maine at 5:24AM Thursday and arrived at Lebanon Valley Dragway 4-1/2 hours later. The 284 mile trip was uneventful. The Tigges entourage showed up about ten minutes after me and we pitted in a well chosen spot under overcast skies with no wind, which made setting up the awning much easier. Given the weather forecast for the weekend, we were happy to be all setup in dry conditions.

    Mark & Fred had a busy ten days of preparation before the event; buying a new generator, replacing the water pump in the RV, loading the tools & cupboards. The major surprise was the 5th wheel gooseneck trailer hitch didn't fit the taller bed walls of the new tow rig… no problem, just cut off the hitch & add an extension… Tigges men have no fear of jumping right into a challenge. The new rig towed fantastic, especially in the handling & braking department, with plenty of power to spare.

    We had a short crew for this event, Dave was still wrapping up his new house in South Carolina & Kevin had a 'must work' 4th of July weekend in the family ice business. Keith, Ruler Of Salem, drove down from NH with his private cook & lensman Aaron to help out & did a great job throughout the weekend. The entire event went off with only a few minor mis-steps. Other than the trash barrel making some fingers leak blood, there was no damage to parts or people.

    Lebanon Valley is a challenge to drive, with quite a few bumps and limited traction. With a short five car field in TAFC, we bypassed the open test sessions on Thursday & focused on getting the fit details of the car dialed-in. The parachute release cables needed to be replaced with longer ones, the roll cage padding needed some trimming, and we made some angle adjustments to the steering box to give Fred a better fit in the car. After checking the body clearance to the awning beams while raised on the body pole, we put the car up on the stands, filled it with new oil, fired it up and set the hot valve lash.

    Thursday brought a trail of admirers to our pit, with many comments about how great the car looked & recollections of following the build on the web. It felt good, but didn't calm the anticipation inside. It's been a long time since we ran. I wondered if I would remember the procedures… would I be rusty from time off? The first thing I did was show Cora how to attach the wheelie bar upside down. How would I handle new tasks, like parachute packing, driving the tow vehicle up at the starting line and other tasks I might not have foreseen? Mark's butterflies were eagles… so many unknowns: new chassis, new body, new wiring, new plumbing, all untested on a greasy track with a short crew. We went to bed under a starry sky but didn't sleep well.

    Friday morning it was overcast & muggy, very muggy. There were three scheduled qualifying sessions, at noon, 3PM & 6PM. The track said the later sessions could come earlier due to incoming weather. Jim Bowen from NHRA stopped by in the morning & teched the car in, then we reviewed who was doing what up at the starting line, warmed it up, put it on the ground & towed up to staging. The dragsters ran first all weekend, and the track was giving them fits. Finally, we were at the line. We had a single in the unpredictable left lane. Fred staged the car, brought up the RPM, & swapped feet. It left straight & pushed through some tire wobble as Fred short shifted second then lifted just before half track. Our first squirt down the track in the new car netted us a 6.679 ET at 154 MPH. Lessons learned… the car left straight & stayed straight, the vibration the old car had was gone, the vision out of the windshield was better, the chute handles were very difficult to reach & foggy Simpson helmet visors don't easily lift with fire gloved hands. Success… A to B & the chutes came out.

    Back at the pit, after a bone racking ride down the unreasonably bumpy return road, we did between round service. Mark & Cora had practiced clutch servicing & she did a great job filling in for Kevin. Keith & I covered the top end & fluids while Fred & Clair packed the chutes. Fred adjusted the valves & retired to the trailer with Mark to make tuning decisions. After adding some weight to the clutch, adjusting the ignition timers, warming it up & modifying the chute levers we headed up for round two of qualifying. That first pass was behind us but the eagles had only reduced to hawks.

    With the last pair of dragsters on the starting line, it began to rain. We just made it back to the cover of the awning before the skies opened big time… really big time. Roads were closed, trees & electric poles downed, but the track was spared. Mark & Fred's pit decisions paid off. With severe thunderstorms & rain over us & an EF-1 tornado touching down just seven miles away, we only had wet ground. The dragster guys down by staging fared far worse. Norwalk winner Jackie Fricke's entire pit was under six inches of water. Soon enough the track announced the alcohol fields were set & racing was done for the day. We would have liked that second qualifying pass, but were happily surprised when we were presented with the 'Best Engineered' award for the event. It was great icing on the cake we didn't have yet. We were qualified 4th out of five, heading into eliminations with a single half track pass under our belts.

    We had all gotten pretty much drenched so we just walked around & played in the impromptu pit lake, with Toni & Cora having splashing fights. Spectators bring ponchos, racers bring spare shoes & flip flops. We enjoyed the track hosted racer dinner over in the circle track dining hall, then prepared the pit for any other storms & turned in early. Eliminations awaited on Saturday at 11:30 AM.

    The new chassis wants more clutch than we have used before. It's kind of uncharted territory for us, but we came to figure out stuff like this… test, tune & make soft passes. Saturday morning we gave it some more clutch, pulled out a little less timing & headed up to race John Fiorini in round 1. Fiorini went red but all our incremental numbers improved from our qualifying pass & we took the win with another early shut-off 5.943 at 234 MPH. The tricky left lane pointed the car towards the wall after the bumps so Fred clicked it off early. Again, with weather approaching, the track was speeding up the schedule. The crew worked flawlessly & before we knew it we were staging against Phil Burkart Jr. in the Follow A Dream car. Phil shook the tires in the preferred right lane while we improved again with our early shut-off 5.884 @ 214 MPH besting his trying to catch us 6.205 @ 244 MPH. Mark said he forgot it was a new car. The hawks were nowhere to be found. We were in the final with lane choice against Eric Lourie!

    Weather wise, Saturday was a rinse & repeat of Friday. The rain came, with less violence, & the finals were delayed until Sunday at noon. Saturday night was time to cook and tell stories. This race's quote of the event came from Tom Benkovich - 'I started drag racing in 1961, and it still costs the same… all you've got!' We were all delighted to be in the final but wondering how we got there. It was just like the Reading Regional in 2014, where we showed up with the brand new BAE engine to test and ended up in the final, winning the event.

    Sunday there was virtually no threat of rain. The air was hot but better than Saturday. The hawks were lurking, it was just like round one again. We made some tuning changes to calm the car down in the first 330 feet & headed out for our first pass in the right lane with the new car. In the left lane, Eric fell to the dreaded tire shake that plagued us all of 2015 & we made our first full pull to improve yet again with a 5.813 @ 249 MPH for the win. To say we were ecstatic would be an understatement. We should go testing more often.

    Once the winner's circle celebration was complete, it carried over to the pits with Cora & me having a Monster pouring party during pit breakdown under dry conditions. It is so nice to put away all the stuff dry, from the awning to oil pan. We all were realizing over & over we had won. High fives, hugs, Wallys and winnings were passed around. The car worked well, the numbers all improved in the right direction every time, the team functioned smoothly, Fred drove exactly like he needed to with rock solid reaction times. It was a great weekend. Congratulations to Josh Hart for his A/FD win, great performance over on the dragster side.

    Next stop for us will be the Regional at our home track, New England Dragway, July 21 & 22. Come on out & see us, it's time to really get after it!

    Pictures from our Lebanon valley win here:

    Lebanon Valley Tigges Win


    Chris Saulnier -
    Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
    #1
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  2. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Member

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    D'oh! In all my excitement about the win, I completely forgot to mention we also won 'Best Engineered' for the event, which was really cool. There is a lot of innovative bits & pieces Fred & Mark have on the car, some seen, some unseen. Icing on the cake to have that recognized.

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
    #2

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