Tigges Talk - Reading Regional May 2015

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, May 24, 2015.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    After the first six passes of last year, Team Tigges had a win at the Reading Regional and a number three qualifying position at Lebanon Valley. After the first six passes of this season, we have yet to run the car down the track in an elimination round. Such is drag racing, it will keep you humble.

    After the rainout at the Richmond Regional, we elected to not tow back for eliminations, as there was a big storm brewing that looked to bring rain again. Of course, the rain stalled south of the track, and eliminations went on without us. Leaving a #2 qualifying position on the table was tough, but it is what it is, you move on. We did take that weekend to put a few test runs on the car at New England Dragway, trying out some stuff and at least making some noise somewhere.

    This past weekend we went to the Reading Regional, at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. Everybody drove in to this one, with Dave and me having equal long trips of about 8-1/2 hours to get on site. It's funny how Maine & Detroit are the same distance to Reading. The plan was to make one or two test runs on Thursday to scrub some new tires. Of course, being Reading, Thursday morning brought light rain showers and cold weather. It rained on and off until they cancelled the open test session around noon, then promptly stopped raining for the rest of the day.

    We had our pit all set up and helped out the Anderika guys next door get theirs up as they only had two guys at the track in the morning. With not much to do and another opportunity to scrub tires taken away my mother nature's evil son Murphy, we did what racer's do during downtime…

    Mainly you think. Usually way too much. About the endless possibilities of what could be causing that pull to the right, about how good or bad the track is or might be, about how much timing to take away or how much base to put in. Of course you have technology to help, graphs that make perfect sense except when they don't, wobbles and dips and digital lines on the screen that do nothing but intensify and stimulate the thought process.

    Being in the engineering field, I have trained myself to think in a very calculated linear fashion. Given the constraints of money and project schedules, this usually allows the development of designs to progress step by step, and changes or deviations to be tested and planned to see their cause and effect. I'm learning that racing a TAFC does not offer that same luxury of calculated linear thought.

    Everything affects everything else, and often in opposite directions depending on how far the variables change. The variables are not even all under your control; there is the weather, the quality of the brand new parts that are just like the last ones but from a different lot so they don't act the same, the hidden details that got forgotten or overlooked and didn't present themselves until the car is under power on the track. Every pass is expensive, every pass changes the variables a little bit, and you don't really get a lot of passes to figure it all out.

    So you think. Making passes in your head is cheap. Exhausting, but cheap. The things you never run out of are 'what-ifs', 'it did it that way befores', and 'I just don't understands'. Those little tormenters are always there, fighting for the front row of your brain. Even if you try to shut off the brain with cooking or photography or stories of days gone by, the few extra grams on the levers last year in Norwalk or that six chip you tried on the last run or the 2.48 330 time when the timers were backed out a little sneak back in. It is anything but linear.

    Friday morning brought perfectly blue cloudless skies and wind. Plenty of wind, like enough to blow the Follow A Dream dinner awning over their hauler into Mark Dier's dragster pit right behind us. More that once we all looked up at our own DMP awning as it tugged on the tiedowns and rattled around over us. We got the car oiled and warmed up then pulled up to the lanes for Q1 just after 1PM. It was a string straight hold onto your lugnuts run for about 60 feet in the left lane until the car pulled off to the right with Fred swishing briefly across the centerline between the 330 & 600 foot cones and ending any chance of qualifying on the pass.

    Back at the pit, all we could see was a large black eight ball, which we were behind. We were not in the field, we had every reason to suspect that the variable called tires was causing the pull to the right even though they had not caused it during testing at New England Dragway, and the solution hung on the wall of the trailer, two big Hoosier slicks, not scrubbed in. We did regular between rounds service, mounted & laquered up the fresh tires and towed up to staging for Q2 at 5:45PM.

    Being out of the field, we were first pair up, in the right lane alongside John Headley. Our thinking was all about getting in the field, what would the numbers be, will the new tires fix the pulling issue? Why didn't we scrub those tires before this eight ball? Fred made a good long burnout, the tree came down, and the car flew straight down track into violent new tire shake. Sometimes new tires shake, sometimes they don't, another variable… that is why you scuff them with some nice easy passes before you use them when it matters.

    The shake was bad enough to pull Fred's fresh air tube off and disorient his vision to the point where he wasn't sure what direction the car was pointed, so he stayed of the throttle and coasted to a DNQ for the event. Six passes so far this year, none in an elimination round.

    Back in the pit, the mind is still racing even as the car is being prepped for the trip home. Everybody handles it a little differently. I get quiet & busy, putting stuff away, sweeping, cleaning. We all know the drill, we go through the motions, we don't talk much. We got everything packed in except the car, scooter, compressor, fan and awning. Other teams generally don't bother you much either, but everybody knows how it feels.

    This was only my second DNQ, but it was different from the first. Top Alcohol Dragster qualifying was continuing as we worked, and every pass that roared past us was like a slap in the face. The silent thinking goes on, you should have been in there, we have a great car, why didn't we scrub those tires?

    Everybody goes to the track hoping to perform well, wishing to win, all tempered by the fact that drag racing is a merciless sport, with few chances to do it right and hundreds of ways to do it wrong. DNQs are especially disappointing, it hurts to have put in all the effort to prep the equipment, the RV, the tow vehicle & trailer, the food, fuel, travel, time off from work. You can rationalize why you got the DNQ, you can look at the positives like the fact that the car came back dry with nothing hanging out of the engine, or even the money you will save not having to make eliminations passes, but like Bill Wruble from Chuck's team said to me that night, it is still disappointing.

    Later that night, Mark pointed out Mars & Venus in the night sky, brightly shining on either side of the moon over the pit side stands. A fine analogy to our first six races this year. We spent too much time thinking about the god of war, allured by the beauty of the killer run and the love of the timeslip, and fell into Venus' flytrap, behind the eight ball with unscrubbed tires. It won't happen again.

    The weekend was still a blast, hanging out with good friends and hard workers, and enjoying all the little oddities of the racetrack from the variety of dogs & food to the general hilarity of it all. Mark walked up to me Thursday night with a funny screwed up facial expression which had us both laughing so hard we could barely stand… Fred came out of the RV wanting to know what was so funny, and neither of us could really tell him what it was.

    Saturday morning we had a great pack-in, getting all the loose stuff stored, the car in and strapped down, the awning disassembled and the trailer hooked and ready to go in 37 minutes. Part of that process was getting the RV off the blocks and backed out from in front of the trailer so the truck could hook up. In the tight pit spacing this was quite the task, with Fred backing into a long narrow spot between trailers. Getting out of the RV he smirked to me 'that's the best driving I've done all weekend!' We rolled out at 9AM and all made it back home the same day.

    I don't have very many racing pictures from this event, but have a few nice shots of track life & an inexpensive motel 15 minutes from the track that was pretty nice. You can view them here:

    Reading Regional Pictures

    The next race for us will be Lebanon Valley, New York, June 26 & 27
     
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    Last edited: May 24, 2015

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