2019


October 11-12, 2019

NDRL E.T Genie Fall Finals at the Nostalgia Nationals

Beech Bend Dragway
Bowling Green, KY

NDRL E.T Genie Fall Finals at the Nostalgia Nationals

Our Season Ends with a Bang

We were heading to Bowling Green for the NDRL Fall Finals and our last race of the season. The forecasted weather had us questioning if we should go but we decided to take our chances. We left early on Thursday and 10 hours later we arrived at the track to set up our pits for the weekend.

Our regular crew, Norm, wasn’t able to join us this weekend so we invited our friend John Wunch to fill in. He arrived at the track on Friday morning in time for the warm up. Qualifying for us was going to be around 3:00 and 6:30 pm, but the lanes were open for test runs starting at 10:00 am. There was rain in the forecast for later in the day so we decided to take advantage of the test session, just in case we didn’t get both qualifying sessions.

We invited our friend John Wunch to fill in for Norm, our regular crew.
We invited our friend John Wunch to fill in for Norm, our regular crew.

Q1 Rained Out

The weather on Friday morning was great, 76 degrees with the corrected altitude just above 2000 feet; the track, not so much. The car launched OK but the track didn’t hold and car got loose. I had to lift early and only ran a 7.48 @ 147 mph. That didn’t help us much for dialing in on our tune up. Things were running a little behind schedule so it was past 3:30 when they finally call us up for Q1. There were only five cars left in the lanes when it started to sprinkle, and we were one of them. We made a dash for the pits and hurried to get the car put a way. The rain wasn’t going to let up so racing was done for the day.

NDRL Fall Feast

Being that this is the last and final race of the NDRL season, our group has a big pot luck dinner on Friday night. Each family/team signs up to bring something and we gather in a pavilion at the track to enjoy the food and comradery. Chili was the feature and there must have been 20 different kinds to choose from, plus finger food, salads and a variety of deserts. It was cold and pouring rain, but in true NDRL spirit, several hundred people found their way to the hall and took part in the end of year celebration.

Q1 Continued…

Since only five cars had been stuck in the lanes when the rains came, rather than throw out all the other runs for the class, we agreed to take our Q1 passes first thing Saturday morning. It had rained hard over night and temperatures dropped drastically. When we got up it was only 37 degrees and the corrected altitude was 511 feet BELOW sea level. Thank goodness it would be a few hours before we would have to run. The track staff worked hard to dry the track and although it warmed up to 50 degrees, the corrected altitude was still -33 feet. Conditions were anything but good. A few cars made decent passes, but we just didn’t get the right set up. The funny car was all over the track and I had to lift without making a complete pass.

Final Qualifying Attempt

The weather had improved some by the time we headed to the lanes for Q2. We were only 12th out of 16 cars and this was our last chance to improve our qualifying position. When the car left the line it felt like I was on a really good pass. It was hooked up and going straight, until about the 1000 foot. I felt something let go and heard a bang; suddenly I was without power. I coasted to the turnout and got off the track. I knew something broke. I just hoped the motor was still in one piece and I wasn’t leaking any fluids.

I climbed out and checked to be sure there was nothing on fire or leaking. When Steve and John arrived they lifted the body and we could see the blower belt was broken. It didn’t take long for Steve to guess the crank shaft must have broken. It was a sad slow tow back to our pits.

It didn't take long for Steve to guess the crank shaft must have broken.
It didn’t take long for Steve to guess the crank shaft must have broken.

We were done and wouldn’t make first round. This was a big disappointment but at least this was our last race of the season. Just wished we hadn’t driven 600 miles one way to have this happen. It was too late to head for home so we stuck around and watched eliminations. It was a close battle in almost every class and the Pro 7.0 championship was settled in the last round.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Sanborn and his team for a very successful season.
Congratulations to Jeffrey Sanborn and his team for a very successful season.

The Damage

Shortly after getting home, we unloaded the race car and got it into the shop. Once Steve had the motor out and got it apart, he could access the damage. It was indeed a broken crank. There was damage done, but it could have been so much worse.

The block can be repaired and has been dropped off at Bowens’ shop and they are already working on it. The heads went to Total Flow. A new Bryant crank is on order to replace the Winberg that broke. New Diamond pistons and MGP rods will be ordered once we get the block back. It’s now officially a winter project and there is plenty of time to rebuild. We will start fresh next spring.

Once Steve had the motor out and got it apart, he could access the damage. It was indeed a broken crank.

Once Steve had the motor out and got it apart, he could access the damage. It was indeed a broken crank.
Once Steve had the motor out and got it apart, he could access the damage. It was indeed a broken crank.

This officially ends our race season. It was a good season. We ran our quickest and fastest passes and reset our personal best several times. We made it to the very end of our season without breaking. We raced with some amazing teams, saw lots of friends and met many new fans. We are thankful for our sponsors (listed on our page), to the people who support us, and for our fellow racers who make this sport so much fun. Thank you, Norm Rapson, for being part of our team throughout another season. Also thanks to John Wunch for filling in when we need you.

I will try to post occasional updates during the off season so feel free to check back. Thank you for taking time to read our story and follow us on this site.

Susie Q

Pictures from the Pits

Since this race takes place in October, many of the teams use this event to break out the Halloween costumes and have some fun. Here are a few fun ones.

Pictures from the Pits

Pictures from the Pits

Pictures from the Pits

Pictures from the Pits

Pictures from the Pits

Pictures from the Pits


September 21-22, 2019

Nostalgia Drags

Milan Dragway
Milan, MI

Hot September Morning

This time of year we are usually wearing jackets in the morning but not this weekend. Saturday hot and humid, in fact it was almost miserably hot. There was a chance of rain but that didn’t seem to keep anyone from showing up. The pits were full of race cars and spectators; it was a good turnout. Time trials started at 10:00 am and we were scheduled to run at 2:00 and 4:00 pm. There were eight funny cars this weekend and we were all ready for some good old match racing.

Here are the featured Nostalgia Funny Cars for this weekend.

Monty Stotz in Urban Legend
Monty Stotz in Urban Legend
Bill Anderson in RoadShow
Bill Anderson in RoadShow
Rex Jordan in his new green (yet to be named) Camaro
Rex Jordan in his new green (yet to be named) Camaro
Monty Stotz in Urban Legend
Nick Tilley in Shyster
Steve Timoszyk in Detroit Tiger
Steve Timoszyk in Detroit Tiger
Sue Christophersen in Susie Q
Sue Christophersen in Susie Q
Bill Hallett in Red Barn
Bill Hallett in Red Barn
Steve Crook in Feeling Groovy
Steve Crook in Feeling Groovy

Thanks to Tom Turrill and Mike Grosso for taking these great photos

We always try to warm up the car about two hours before our first pass. The warmup routine puts heat in the oil, engine block and transmission. The time in between allows it to cool down some while retaining just enough heat to make sure the bearings, and everything else will be well lubricated and we don’t hurt anything when we go full throttle on the racetrack.

It was a cool vest kind of day with temperatures up to 88 degrees and the humidity at 50%. The corrected altitude was 3260 feet. With these conditions we knew we weren’t likely to set any new records. We wanted a good clean pass and go as fast as the conditions would allow. Due to the big car count and a few delays from several incidents on track (clean up in aisle two), it was around 3:30 when it was our turn to run. It was a pretty good pass at 6.54 second to the quarter at 205 mph. Of the eight funny cars, ours was the second quickest, with Steve Timoszyk in his Detroit Tiger running a quicker 6.27.

And Then the Rain Came

There were clouds in the sky and for a while it looked like the weather would go around us, but then it rained. Pretty much everything stopped for a bit and thank goodness we have an awning to keep our car dry. The track staff went to work drying the track as soon as the rain was done. It took a while but eventually the racing resumed.

The sun was down and temperatures had cooled some, but not a lot and humidity was 88%. It was after 8:00 when we finally made our second pass. Unfortunately the surface was not what it had been earlier and almost no one was able to make a good pass. My car was all over the place and it was all I could do to drive it to the other end. I lifted early and only ran a 7.96 at 154 mph. Better to save the car then save the run.

Once everyone had their cars parked for the night, we got together for our end of year pot luck and some socializing. This is what makes racing together so much fun. When we’re revving up on the starting line, it is each one for themself, but when we get back in the pits, it’s a family of friends. When someone breaks and need help, needs a spare part or a spare hand, there is almost always someone in our group that is ready to help.

End of year pot luck and some socializing.
End of year pot luck and some socializing.

Sunny Sunday

One of the nice things about being at the race track on Sunday morning is that I get to attend the morning chapel service with Racers for Christ Chaplin Rob Herman. He always has a short but inspirational service with music and a message for the racers who attend. When the cars start firing up in the lanes he wraps it up and everyone goes racing. Rob may be our Chaplin, but on the track in his Righteous Ride, he’s a formable competitor.

Racer's for Christ worship service
Racer’s for Christ worship service
Rob Herman's Righteous Ride
Rob Herman’s Righteous Ride

While I went to chapel, Steve was checking the valves and oil filter on the hemi, something he does at the beginning of each race day. It was going to be another hot day so he also made a few changes to the tune up. We were ready to warm up the car by 10:00, getting ready for our scheduled run around noon.

We were running a Chicago Shootout style race, where the two quickest runs from Saturday would determine the final pairing for Sunday. Timoszyk had been number one, and I had the second fastest pass, so we were supposed meet in the finals. Unfortunately, he hurt his motor on his last pass so I would race Bill Anderson instead. We met up in the lanes and I took the left lane and Anderson took the right. My ’57 Chevy has been running strong, and based on Anderson’s previous times, I should be able to out run him. However, racing can be so unpredictable.

By the time we were in the staging lanes, the wind had picked up and it was blowing across the track from the left, maybe 25 – 30 mph. It was strong enough to be a concern to the track officials. They didn’t stop the race but they did warn us to be careful with our parachutes at the far end. Anderson and I did our burnouts, backed up and staged. I cut a good light and was out first, but right after the launch the car headed for the centerline. Maybe I wasn’t lined up straight, or the wind caught me, but either way, I had to lift to save it. Even though I was able to get back on the throttle, Anderson nosed across the finish line just ahead of me, winning the race by a mere .07 of a second.

This was a special race for Anderson; it would be his very last. After this weekend he was retiring from racing, selling his car and starting a new chapter in his life. We have raced with Anderson over the last few years and we wish him the best. I hated to lose but this one was his. He can end his racing career in the best possible way, with a victory. Congratulations Bill.

This was a special race for Anderson; it would be his very last.

He can end his racing career in the best possible way, with a victory. Congratulations Bill.

Our next race is our last race of the season. We will be heading down to Bowling Green, KY, for the NDRL Fall Finals at Beech Bend Dragway, Oct 11-12. It’s back to racing in the Pro 7.0 Index class and a major tune up challenge for Steve. Wish us luck.

Susie Q

Pictures from the Pits

Norm and crew taking care of business while Steve brings John up to speed.
Norm and crew taking care of business while Steve brings John up to speed.

Norm and crew taking care of business while Steve brings John up to speed.

It seems drag racing is popular with international visitors looking for something to do on the weekend. We had race fans stop by from as far away as England, Australia and these two young men from Czechoslovakia.
It seems drag racing is popular with international visitors looking for something to do on the weekend. We had race fans stop by from as far away as England, Australia and these two young men from Czechoslovakia.
Lots of "local" friends, like Jill and Gary, hung out with us over the weekend as well.
Lots of “local” friends, like Jill and Gary, hung out with us over the weekend as well.

Sept 6-7, 2019

15th Funny Car Nationals

15th Funny Car Nationals131 Motorsports Park
Martin, MI

We arrived on Thursday to park and relax before the busy race weekend began. The weekend line up included the Top Fuel dragsters of Larry Dixon and Dom Lagana, Bob Motz jet powered Kenworth, the Nostalgia Drag Racing League (NDRL), and the southwest based Funny Car Chaos series. Normally we would be running with the NDRL in the Pro 7.0 class, but with an opportunity to run all out in an all funny car field, we just had to give it a try. The Chaos is an eighth mile race; any body style, old and new, and any engine combination, nitro and alcohol, permitted. We’ve been turning up the wick on Susie Q and this would be a good chance to race with some really fast funny cars.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The weekend forecast had been pretty good, but Friday started out cool and overcast. The pits filled up early with the NDRL teams and some 400 bracket cars. Fourteen funny cars, some from as far away as Texas and as far north as Ontario, Canada were here ready to compete in the Chaos.

Things were getting off to a slow start, however. It had been drizzling on and off all afternoon. Our schedule was for two qualifying runs around 7:00 and 9:00 pm and one more on Saturday morning before heading into eliminations in the afternoon.

Keeping the raindrops off the race car
Keeping the raindrops off the race car
Friday night under the lights.
Friday night under the lights.
Blowing the water off the track
Blowing the water off the track

The rain stopped, but it kept misting for a while after that. The track workers kept after it and eventually had a dry track. After waiting all day, they finally called the funny cars to the lanes for our first pass around 8:00 pm. Not knowing what the track surface would be like after all this, I was a little apprehensive. Conditions weren’t the best, with 94% humidity and a temperature of 65 degree.

The first two cars went down the track and put up some good numbers. This gave me some confidence that we might make a really good pass. We were up next with Chaos points leader Ken Singleton from Oklahoma in his “High Risk” Camaro, in the other lane. My car launched hard and it felt like I was on good pass, but not for long. Just past the 330 foot marker the car made a sudden move to the right. It slid across the center line into the other lane, taking out a timing block as I went. Fortunately, Singleton was ahead of me so I fell in behind him and drafted the rest of the way down the track. There was moisture on my windshield and by the time I shut off at the end of the track, it was raining. I was lucky no one else got caught up in my mishap. They finally gave into Mother Nature and shut things down; no more racing for the night.

Saturday and Sunshine

We woke up to a beautiful morning on Saturday. It was cool but sunny. The gates opened early and the spectators were pouring in. One of the things we love most about racing at US131 is the fans. We meet people from all over and of all ages. They love drag racing and bring their families and friends to enjoy it with them. We had visitors in our pits all day and I signed hundreds of autographs.Since only a few cars got down the track Friday night, those qualifying passes weren’t going to be counted. Everyone was under the same pressure with only one qualifying pass to set the field. Then it was straight into eliminations. This included the NDRL and bracket cars as well.

They started with the bracket cars and with so many it was around 1:30 before the funny cars finally got our call for Q1. Conditions were pretty good with a temperature of 72 degrees and a corrected altitude of 2250 feet. Humidity had dropped to 61%. I chose the right lane this time and Aiden Heatly-Smith in the “Ant Hill Mob” took the left. My tires spun at the launch but I peddled it so I could complete the run. With only one shot at qualifying and I wanted to make this count. I shifted into third gear before a strong cross wind caught the car just past the grandstands. This pushed me over towards the right wall and forcing me to lift just before the finish line. I still managed to get a time of 4.22 seconds and 173 mph. It was not the pass we were hoping for but it was good enough to qualify us in top half of the B field.

Q1: Lining up with Aiden Heatly-Smith in the "Ant Hill Mob" from Ontario, CA
Q1: Lining up with Aiden Heatly-Smith in the “Ant Hill Mob” from Ontario, CA

The way the Funny Car Chaos series works, the eight quickest cars qualify in the A field. The next eight make up the B field. With a total of 14 funny cars this weekend, only six cars were in the B field and we were #2. Not too bad based on the fast cars we were up against.

Only six cars were in the B field and we were #2.
Only six cars were in the B field and we were #2.
"Pure Insanity" driven by Dave Wagner, had tagged the wall during qualifying.
“Pure Insanity” driven by Dave Wagner, had tagged the wall during qualifying.

The ladder for eliminations was set and I had a competition bye in round one. The car I should have raced against, “Pure Insanity” driven by Dave Wagner, had tagged the wall during qualifying and wasn’t able to make the call. I felt bad for him since he had made the trip all the way from Sault Sainte Marie, in Ontario, Canada.

First round came at about 4:00 in the afternoon. Maybe this solo run would give us a chance to finally get a handle on this track and improve our chances in round two. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. I went through my usually routine with the burn out and staged. I was on the trans-brake and on the throttle, ready to launch. After five long seconds of waiting for the amber lights, which never came on, I finally had to let go of the throttle and the trans-brake. The tree never activated; supposedly a malfunction of the tree, or maybe the starter. Needless to say, this really heated up the transmission, and the driver. Hopefully I had stepped down before it did any damage. Our frustration level was high. We were going into round two, the semifinals, and so far this weekend, still hadn’t made one good pass.

Of all the funny cars here, in round two I was facing a very familiar and very tough competitor, Steve Timoszyk in the “Detroit Tiger”. He was the A Field winner in the last Funny Car Chaos race, and just won first round with a career best time of 3.98 seconds at 180 mph.

I was facing a very familiar and very tough competitor, Steve Timoszyk in the "Detroit Tiger"
I was facing a very familiar and very tough competitor, Steve Timoszyk in the “Detroit Tiger”

It was closing in on 7:00 pm and the weather conditions had improved slightly. Steve made the decision to leave the tune up alone and take our chances, hoping I would be able to make a straight pass down the track this time. I needed a great reaction time and some luck to win this one. Unfortunately he got out first with a .02 of a second better light and I never caught up. Timoszyk ran another 3.98 at 180 mph, earning his way into the finals. I ran my best pass all weekend, a 4.16 at 173 mph, but it just wasn’t good enough.

Final Results

Middendorf wins and Singleton is runner up in the A Field

Middendorf wins and Singleton is runner up in the A FieldMiddendorf wins and Singleton is runner up in the A Field

Timocyzk wins the B Field and Minick gets runner up.

Timocyzk wins the B Field and Minick gets runner up.Timocyzk wins the B Field and Minick gets runner up.

Singleton’s “High Risk” Camaro and Middendorf’s “American Outlaw”, number one and two in points respectively, were the final pair in the Funny Car Chaos A field. In an exciting side by side race, Middendorf won it by a nose with a 3.61 at 222.99 mph. In the B field finals, it was supposed to be Timoszyk’s “Detroit Tiger” and Minick’s “Chi-Town Hustler”. Minick had troubles at the starting line and couldn’t fire his engine, giving Timoszyk a single pass into the winners Circle. The Chaos will be making their way back to Texas for the season finals at the end of September. Rumor has it there will be over 30 funny cars showing up for this one. Sorry we won’t be there, but we will definitely plan to do this again next year when the Chaos comes back to Michigan.

Thanks to these great people for putting together the Funny Car Chaos event. Loved it!
Thanks to these great people for putting together the Funny Car Chaos event. Loved it! 

It was a fun weekend even though it wasn’t our best racing. We met a whole new group of racers and made many new friends. The fans at US131 are fantastic. Thanks to Chris and Tera Graves and all the other organizers who put on this Funny Car Chaos. It was a pleasure to race with you guys. Also thanks to Jason and everyone at US131 for another great event for the fans. For complete coverage of this event go to: http://www.dragracingonline.com/funny-car-chaos-at-martin%2c-michigan.html

We are headed into our last two events of the season. Our next stop is the Nostalgia Drags, Sept 21- 22, at Milan Dragway. Hoping for some nice weather and a fast track. Come on out and say Hi.

Susie Q

Inspiring the Next Generation!

US131 offered a special program called Blazing Trails

US131 offered a special program called Blazing TrailsUS131 offered a special program called Blazing Trails

Friday Morning, US131 offered a special program called Blazing Trails, a STEAM outreach program, presented by Jet Dragster team Chris and Elaine Larson of Larson Motorsports. The focus of the program is to engage students in career exploration around the high performance vehicle industry – essentially everything it takes to make a dragster go down the track. These future engineers from Innovation Central High School came by our pits after the presentation and we had a good time sharing what we do and answering questions.

Jr. Dragster Champion Aliyah and her sister. Hoping some good luck rubs off on me.
Jr. Dragster Champion Aliyah and her sister. Hoping some good luck rubs off on me.
This young man, Hunter, spent Friday evening as part of our crew, learning what goes on behind the scenes.
This young man, Hunter, spent Friday evening as part of our crew, learning what goes on behind the scenes.

Pictures from the Pits

Opening ceremonies with Vintage Planes fly-over
Opening ceremonies with Vintage Planes fly-over
Attending the pre-race Drivers Meeting
Attending the pre-race Drivers Meeting
Pig roast in the pits tonight.
Pig roast in the pits tonight.
Sitting pretty on our hotrod stool
Sitting pretty on our hotrod stool
Suiting up for the action
Suiting up for the action
Smokin the tires
Smokin the tires

August 9-10, 2019

Northern Nationals

131 Motorsports Park
Martin, MI

Northern Nationals

The big headliners for this event included top fuel dragsters driven by Clay Millican, Larry Dixon, Dom Lagana, and Pat Dakin; 11 nostalgia top fuel front engine dragsters, two nitro funny cars driven by John Lawson and Shawn Bowen, a couple AA/Fuel Altereds: American Outlaw and Drastic Plastic, a jet truck and a couple of jet dragsters. No wonder they drew such a huge crowd.

Friday we arrived at the track early afternoon to an already crowded pit area. It’s an easy three hour drive west to the track and once we figured out where to park, we settled in for the weekend.

It was a beautiful sunny day with just a little cloud cover and some wind. We couldn’t ask for anything better. The gates opened to bracket racers and spectators at 4:00 pm and the racing started at 5:00.

Our first pass wasn’t scheduled until around 7:00 so we had plenty time to get the car out and ready to run. Steve and Norm worked on the tune up and made the necessary changes to the pulley, fuel and timing. Our goal was to go a quicker than we did a few weeks ago without spinning the tires.

We were one of six alcohol (BB/FC) funny cars booked in for this event. Our group included the teams we usually run with; Steve Timoszyk’s Detroit Tiger Charger, Bill Hallett’s Red Barn, and Monty Stotz’s Blue thunder. The other two teams were Rocky Pirrone with his Super Camaro and George Reidunauer’s Excaliber Chevy, both beautiful and very fast.

Pairings were set for our 7:00 o’clock runs and Hallett and I were the first pair up. We fired up, did our usual burn outs and backed up. I staged and was ready with my eye set the top bulb of the tree. As soon as I saw the yellow, I let go of the trans-brake button, feeling like I’d nailed with a good reaction time. Instead, the red light came on, which was a surprise. Turns out the track operator gave us a sportsman tree instead of the pro tree. Funny thing is, this happened to me last time we raced at this track. It was enough out of whack that I double stepped and ruined my 60 foot time. I only ran a 7.73 at 206 mph, which was not even close to the numbers we were looking for. Bill won the round with a nice pass at 6.77 @203.

Hallett and I were the first pair up
Hallett and I were the first pair up.

Saturday racing started early and bracket racers were on the track all day. The nitro and jet cars were set for an evening show starting about 6:00. The pits were full of racers as well as specators and the grand stands were packed. Fans had been stopping by all day and I lost track of how many signitures and cards I gave away. The huge number of people that come out for these events at US131 makes this one of my favorite tracks.

The schedule was for us to make a pass around 7:00 pm and another one around 9:00, after the nitro cars and before the jets. Conditions were good with temperatures 76 degrees and corrected altitude of 2520 feet. For our first pass tonight I would be up against Timosyczk in the Detroit Tiger. He had just won the Funny Car Chaos a few weeks ago so I knew it was going to be a tough race. Unfortunately I let him get off the line first, but I wasn’t far behind and it turned out to be a good race. He finished first with a 6.28 @ 218 mph. I ran a 6.35 @ 218 mph which, for me, was another personal best.

Here’s a video of my quickest and fastest pass so far.

For our first pass tonight I would be up against Timosyczk in the Detroit Tiger.

As the sun went down, the track cooled off, and conditions changed. Corrected altitude was now 1820 feet. We had no data for running fast in these conditions and we wanted to see if we could improve on the last run. Steve changed the pulley and fuel tune up. I was running Monty Stotz in the Blue Thunder for our second run of the evening. The dew starts settling in about this time of night so we kept the blanket over the windshield until the car was fired up and the body down. I was a little loose on the burnout so it was short but hopefully enough. I had my best light of the weekend, .004, and Monty red lit, giving me an automatic win. Too bad, because he made a very nice pass while I spun the tires as soon as I got of the line and I had to pedal. I guess we were a little greedy with the tune up and simply over powered the track.

All in all, it was a really good weekend. The car went fast, we didn’t hurt any parts, and we gained some solid data for next time. The fans were wonderful, the track treated us well and we got to hang out with some amazing race teams.

We’re taking a few weeks off to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and get ready for our next event. We’ll be heading back to US131 on Sept 6-7 for the Funny Car Nationals. The Nostalgia Drag Racing League will be there, but instead of running our usual Pro 7.0 class, we’ve decided to try our luck racing in the Funny Car Chaos. This is a “run whatcha’ brung outlaw drag racing funny car series”. This is race six in a seven race series spanning from Texas to Michigan. Wish us luck and come on out and see us win.

Susie Q

Pictures from the Pits

Alcohol Funny Cars to the Lanes

Alcohol Funny Cars to the LanesAlcohol Funny Cars to the Lanes

Steve Timoszyk and son Donovan enjoying the moment.
Steve Timoszyk and son Donovan enjoying the moment.
Hanging out with my favorite Top fuel team, Mike Klober and Clay Millican. They are the best.
Hanging out with my favorite Top fuel team, Mike Klober and Clay Millican. They are the best.
Bazz Young came by to say hello and hang out a bit.
Bazz Young came by to say hello and hang out a bit.

Some random pictures I took over the weekend

   

July 2


7, 2019

Kickin' It Old SchoolKickin’ It Old School

Milan Dragway
Milan, MI

A Good Day for a Race

Saturday at Milan was sunny and warm. The gates opened early and show cars, race cars and spectators filled the pits. This is a fun one-day event and since its exhibition, we get to experiment a little with our “go fast” tune up. We had runs scheduled for around 2:00 and 4:00 giving us the morning to get the car ready and just hang out with friends and fans.

Featured Nostalgia Funny Cars

We were racing with some of our usual group; the Blue Thunder Camaro, driven by Monty Stotz, the Shyster Corvette, driven by Nick Tilly, and a newly built, beautifully painted, green Camaro, driven by Rex Jordan. Our friend Bill Hallett in his ’56 Thunderbird was supposed to be the fourth car, but he was injured earlier in the week when a bead lock wheel let go in his face. He was there to crew on Nick’s car, but with stiches in his upper lip and a sore and swollen right wrist, there was no way he could drive. It just worked out that Rex could fill in since he had just completed his licensing passes on Friday night.

Thanks to Tom Turrill for taking these great photos.

Thanks to Tom Turrill for taking these great photos.Thanks to Tom Turrill for taking these great photos.Thanks to Tom Turrill for taking these great photos.Thanks to Tom Turrill for taking these great photos.

Turning up the Wick

We were in the lanes for opening ceremonies around 1:30.
We were in the lanes for opening ceremonies around 1:30.

It was warm but conditions were good. The temperature was 87 degrees and corrected altitude was 3000 ft. Steve and Norm adjusted the tune up accordingly. I had the right lane and Rex was in the left for first pass. I was off the line first and crossed the finish line with our quickest and fastest run so far; 6.54 @212 mph. It spun the tires a little at the launch so we knew we could do better. Rex made a nice straight pass but not too fast, as he was still getting a feel for the car.

Please, no jokes about being in the Geriatric Lane, even though I am the senior member of this group. That just happens to be the sponsor name.
Please, no jokes about being in the Geriatric Lane, even though I am the senior member of this group. That just happens to be the sponsor name.

Monty in his Blue Thunder had out run the Shyster, so as the two fastest of the four funny cars, we were paired up for second round. I’m not as consistent with reaction time as I would like to be, but I keep working on it. This time I cut a .013 light for a very quick start. Before the run, Norm noticed some bald spot on the track so they lined me up a little to right, trying to find the best traction. That was a good call because the car launched OK, but the rest of the way down the track the car was a real handful. I still was able to improve and ran a quick 6.52 @ 210 mph. Monty had a nice run but may have lifted early. He ran a 7.33 @ 175 mph.

Winners Once Again

Thank you Waldo Pepper for the picture
Thank you Waldo Pepper for the picture.
Thanks to our friends Gary and Jill who spent the day with us, giving us a hand and taking video. So glad they could be part of our team.
Thanks to our friends Gary and Jill who spent the day with us, giving us a hand and taking video. So glad they could be part of our team. 

We made it to the finish line first, with the quickest pass and best reaction time of the weekend. This earned us a trophy and a trip to the winner’s circle. It felt good to have everything go right for a change. We have a long list of people to thank, starting with our friend Norm, who takes time from his personal schedule to come to the track and crew for us all summer long. We couldn’t do it without him. We also want to thank our sponsors Trend Pushrods, Diamond Pistons, Uncle Earls Hand Soap, Parker’s Hilltop Brewery, and all the other companies (see list on the left) who supply us with things the help us go fast

Next on the schedule will be Northern Nationals, August 9-10 at US131 in Martin, MI. This is shaping up to be a big event with eight alcohol funny cars, nitro dragsters and funny cars, jet cars, and more. We are planning to put the pedal to the metal and making this weekend to remember.

Hope to see you soon,

Susie Q


July 12-14, 2019

NDRL Summer Jam at the Lingenfelter Performance Blue Suede Cruise

Summit Motorsports Park
Norwalk, OH

Repairs Between Races

Picking up from our last post, we had rocker arm and pushrod damage from our previous race and the car was in the shop for repairs. We had less than two weeks to get it fixed and running again and it was going to take the first week to get parts. The exhaust rocker arms we use aren’t off the shelf items, so we were fortunate that Reid Machine stepped up and had some made and shipped right away. Once we had parts, it took a day or so to get everything back together. I assist, but Steve does the hard work and he’s the one who gets it done. We were finally able to push it outside and fire it up. It ran OK at first but then we noticed the oil pressure had dropped to only 80 psi, not the 120 psi it should be at. We shut it off and when Steve tried to turn the motor over by hand, it was really tight. This could me something major and we were now just days until our next race.

The car went back in the shop, the oil was drained, the pan removed and Steve started the tedious job of checking all the rod and main bearings once again. There wasn’t time to pull the engine so he had to lie on the floor under the car; no easy task. Fortunately all the bearings looked good. Steve decided to inspect the oil pump. I was there when he took it apart we found a small piece of metal embedded in the gears. Hard to believe a tiny little metal shaving could bring this 1000 + HP hemi to its knees. At least we could fix it and hopefully make our next race. It was late on Wednesday when we finally fired it up again. What a relief when we started it and there was plenty of oil pressure once again. We loaded the car in the trailer and finished packing up the motor home so we could leave for Ohio in the morning.

Cruising into Summit Motorsports Park

This is an event we wouldn’t want to miss. It’s as much about classic cars as it is about nostalgia drag racing. On one side of the track are hundreds of beautiful cars all shined and polished for show, a huge swap meet, various venders, campers and more. On the other side of the track are the race teams with their big rigs and fast cars. For the race cars, qualifying starts on Friday & Saturday, with eliminations on Sunday. Each morning, and between rounds, the classic cars periodically take over the track to make “fun runs”; a trip down the track for a time slip and bragging rights. It’s nonstop action with music from the ’50s & ’60’s bebopping from the loud speakers all the while. To add to the fun there is a smoky burnout contest, exhibition runs by a ’57 Chevy jet engine-powered truck, a live track side concert featuring Motown music and the Bill Bader’s signature fireworks. I might also mention the one pound of ice cream for $1.

Thursday was travel and move-in day. Since we were heading south this time, Norm drove over to our place in the morning and rode down with us. There’s no shortage of good parking spots, but since we couldn’t get there early, Steve and & Sally Walczak, one of the Pro 7.0 teams we race with, saved us a spot next to them. Once parked, we could just hang out. It’s the calm before the storm; a time to relax a little, mingle with our fellow NDRL racers, and enjoy some grilled hamburgers and a cold beer.

Qualifying

Steve and Norm contemplating our next tune up.
Steve and Norm contemplating our next tune up.

Friday the weather was just about perfect. For once the whole weekend looked great, which was a treat since it’s been so unpredictable this summer. Other than really high temperatures on Saturday, it was going to be good race conditions. The track opened up for “fun runs”, in the morning and qualifying runs were scheduled to start at noon. We had two qualifying passes scheduled, and the NDRL Pro 7.0 cars would run about 3:00 and 7:00 pm. We hadn’t run in these conditions yet this year, and since we had just made repairs, Steve was guessing on the tune up. The temperature was 77 degrees and corrected altitude 2800 feet. I made a nice clean pass in the left lane, posting a 7.13 @ 191 mph on our first pass. It was a good run but we needed something a little quicker for a better qualifying position.

Steve and Norm made a few changes for our next run that came at about 7:00. Conditions were the same and this time I tried the right lane. The tires spun some on the launch, getting me a little out of the groove, and I had to fight the car all the way down. Instead of improving, my time was slower. I was making more power but lost a little on the elapsed time. This time I ran a 7.15 @ 200 mph. We were counting on two qualifying runs on Saturday to improve.

Saturday was a hot one and we weren’t scheduled to run until mid-afternoon. The car tends to make less power in conditions like this, creating a bigger challenge for the tuner. The guys made the calculated adjustments and we took our place in line. I did the usual burnout, backed up and staged. That’s when things went terribly wrong. I’m still not sure what happened exactly, but the car in the other lane left too early. I was on the trans brake and the throttle, waiting for a green light, but it never came on. After waiting for what was way too long, I finally lifted and let go of the trans brake. The car moved just a little and the red light came. It turned out, the other guy left before the tree was activated and they manually reset the tree somehow, while I was sitting in the beams. Supposedly it was about to go green just when I lifted, but there was no way for me to know. They weren’t letting us take the run over and we had to go back to the pits without a run. We were pretty upset but nothing we could do at that point.

We had a couple hours before our last qualifying run. All the other classes of nostalgia cars made their last qualifying runs plus the hour or so of “fun runs”, then it was finally our turn again. By now it was close to 7:30 but the weather hadn’t cooled down much. Temperatures were still 88 degrees and corrected altitude was at 3500 feet. Instead of picking it up, we ran slower; 7.16 @ 195 mph. Based on the 60 foot time, I must have spun the tires pretty good. Two of the 20 cars broke so I ended up 17th out of 18 that would race.

Last qualifying run.
Last qualifying run.

Sunday Eliminations

It was warm but still a beautiful day for a race. The temperature was around 80 and corrected altitude was 2700 feet. They like to start the race off with the fast cars so that meant our Pro 7.0 cars were in the lanes first. Opening ceremonies began at noon with a prayer by the RFC Chaplin and the National Anthem, followed but the first pair of cars firing up. It’s all pretty exciting and first round is always a little nerve wracking. I was running against #2 qualifier Gordon Horn in his ’63 red Corvette and we were the third pair out. He had qualified with a very impressive 7.013 so this was going to be a tough race. Well, Steve gave me a good tune up and I did my job on the tree. I had a .035 reaction time to his .051 and I managed to stay ahead all the way down. We both went too fast but I got the win. It was a double break out with my 6.937 @ 202 mph to his 6.935 @ 203 mph. We were going on to round two.

Gordon Horn in the right lane for round #1
Gordon Horn in the right lane for round #1
Getting ready to run Dana Click in round #2
Getting ready to run Dana Click in round #2

It had been a while since we won first round so we were pretty excited. Once we were back in the pits we all got busy, cooling things off, reading the data, packing the parachutes, and waiting. It took a while to finish round one for all the different classes and then there were more “fun runs”. Had we known it would be over three hours before they called us again we wouldn’t have been in a rush. Going into second round, weather conditions hadn’t changed much so we weren’t making any big changes to the tune up. I had to run Dana Glick in his ’68 Camaro. He was first off the line and wont the race. He crossed the finish line first with a 7.01. It was one of our best runs all weekend, 7.04 @ 203 mph, not good enough to win.

We wished we could have gone more rounds, but overall it was a good weekend. We’re going home knowing the car is in one piece and running good. We have several car shows coming up and in two weeks, July 27th, we’ll be at Milan Dragway again for the Kicking It Old School Nostalgia Race. We hope to make some very fast passes and put on a good show.

Until next time,

Susie Q

Pictures from the Pits

These sweet kids are my favorite fan club here in Norwalk. Since 2014 they have been visiting us in the pits and cheering for us. I look forward to their bright smiles and seeing how much they’ve grown.

My favorite fan club here in Norwalk
My favorite fan club here in Norwalk in 2019.
2018
2018
2017
2017
2016
2016
2015
2015
2014
2014 

A couple of nice shots by Joe Secka 

A couple of nice shots by Joe Secka A couple of nice shots by Joe Secka 

One of Steve's former auto shop students
One of Steve’s former auto shop students stopped by to reminisce. It had been years since those school days and he had some great stories to share.

These two girls were enjoying a weekend at the track with their family and loving the race car experience. Their dad had a beautiful ’57 Chevy of his own and was part of the “fun run” crowd.

These two girls were enjoying a weekendThese two girls were enjoying a weekend

A peaceful sunset in the pits
A peaceful sunset in the pits. (Photo credit NDRL Dough Owens)
Spectacular fireworks
Spectacular firework. One of the highlights of the event.

June 22, 2019

Night of ThunderNight of Thunder

131 Motorsports Park
Martin, MI

A Change in Plans

Steve and I had planned to take the motorhome down to Norwalk, OH, for the weekend to attend the NHRA Nationals. A week before the race we received a call letting us know that due to all the rain they’d had, it was too muddy to park the RV’s and motorhomes. Our Funny Car group was booked into US131 for the Night of Thunder. One of the cars couldn’t make it so we offered to fill in. The weather forecast kept changing so we weren’t sure if it would be a rain out, but at least it was only three hours from home.

As it turned out, it was warm and sunny all day; about as perfect weather as we could have asked for. We had arrived on Friday afternoon to get parked, and so did a lot of others. Maybe because it was one of the first really nice weekends, but the cars and trailers poured in. I never got a car count but it must have been huge. They started running bracket cars and Jr Dragsters mid-morning and kept it going well past 2:00 am in the morning.

McElwee's Nitro Funny Car
McElwee’s Nitro Funny Car

Funny Cars and More

We were on the schedule for two evening runs, along with a variety of other exhibition race cars. The lineup for alcohol funny cars included Steve Timoszyk’s Detroit Tiger Charger, Nick Tilly in the Shyster Corvette, Bill Anderson in the Road Show Camaro, and yours truly, in the Susie Q ’57 Chevy. The Nitro cars included Buzzy’s Nitro Bomber driven by Mark Mcelwee, two more nitro funny cars driven by John Lawson and Shawn Bowen, a couple of AA/FA, American Outlaw and Drastic Plastic, Bowen’s Nitro FED also driven by Shawn. Then there were a couple of jet cars and even a rather interesting wheel stander, all ready to put on one heck of a show for the fans.

Wheel Stander- One of a Kind!
Wheel Stander- One of a Kind!
Bowen's Nitro Front Engine Dragster
Bowen’s Nitro Front Engine Dragster
Bowen's fiery start in Lawson's Nitro Funny Car
Bowen’s fiery start in Lawson’s Nitro Funny Car

More Broken Parts

We went to the line for our first pass at around 7:00 pm. The temperatures were still warm, around 80 degrees, just like they’d been all day. First pair out was Detroit Tiger vs. Shyster. Both made really nice runs, and even though Detroit Tiger left before the green, it was a very quick 6.39 second pass. The track operators forgot to the change from a Sportsman to a Pro tree, which resulted the red light start.

On the line for Round One
On the line for Round One

Next pair up it was the Road Show vs. Susie Q. We did our burn outs and backed up, and rolled into stage. When I put my foot to the floor, nothing happened. It was a Pro tree this time, so when the light turned green, Bill made a real nice pass but I wasn’t going anywhere. When I put my foot down on the throttle the rpm never moved and I idled all the way to the end of the track.

Staging for Round Two
Staging for Round Two

The throttle cable had broken. Fortunately Steve likes to carry spare parts in the trailer and we had a replacement cable. It took some time, but he was able to make the repairs and we were ready for in time for second round.

Throttle cable repairs
Throttle cable repairs

We made our second pass around 9:30. It was still light and the weather was great. It was 68 degrees and corrected altitude was 1900 ft. This time I was running Timoszyk in the Detroit Tiger and we were first pair out. After a couple of smoky burnouts, it was time to stage. I was second off the line, but we both red lite because they forgot to give us the Pro tree, AGAIN. Steve spun the tires and immediately lifted, while I went down the track and clocked a 6.80 @ 199 mph. We always check things at the end of the run and the boost gauge was reading extremely high and there was definitely a misfire heard going down the track. This was an OK run, but not as fast as we should have gone based on the weather.

When we got to the pits and looked at the recorded data for the run, it showed that cylinder #6 was wasn’t firing and several other cylinders dropped off during the run. Something bad had happened. When Steve took the rocker cover off, he found both the intake and exhaust rocker arms for #6 cylinder were damaged. At this point we wouldn’t know how bad the damage was until we got home and started taking things apart.

Helping Hands

Big thanks to a few people who gave us a hand this weekend. We were without our normal crew since Norm couldn’t make it. His friend Dan was there to fill in, plus fellow racer Monty Stotz offered to be on the pole, and Bill Hallett helped with back up duties. We’ve said it before and it’s often repeated; the racing community is one big family. Thank you guys!!

Update as of June 30

As soon as we got home, the car came out of the trailer and into the shop. We drained the oil and started taking things apart. There were plenty of fine metal shavings in the oil but it appeared the filter had captured most of it. The #6 pushrods and rockers were damaged, and the lifter bore was a little messed up. Two of the lash caps were missing, but we found them later; one when we pulled off the intake and the other had made its way to the pan. After careful inspection it appears there is no damage to the cam, the cylinders or the bearings. After a thorough flushing of oil tank, the pump and all the lines, it is time to start putting things back together. We won’t know until we take our next pass down the track if everything is really OK, but we sure hope so.

Pictures from the Pits

Future Jr. Dragster pilot Ashley, climbed into the driver’s seat of our funny car while her siblings and cousins joined her for a photo op. 

There was huge turnout of both cars and spectators. We had families stopping by all day. Future Jr. Dragster pilot Ashley, climbed into the driver’s seat of our funny car while her siblings and cousins joined her for a photo op.

We had families stopping by all day.This is Carley. She gave me a such a big hug and said her family drove 10 hours from Canada just to come to this event. She said she loves our car and her teddy bear is named Susie Q. This made my day.

This is Carley. She gave me a such a big hug and said her family drove 10 hours from Canada just to come to this event. She said she loves our car and her teddy bear is named Susie Q. This made my day.
This is Carley. She gave me a such a big hug and said her family drove 10 hours from Canada just to come to this event. She said she loves our car and her teddy bear is named Susie Q. This made my day.

Next up is the Blue Suede Cruise, July 12-14, at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. We’ll be racing with the NDRL in the Pro 7.0 class so we are really hoping we get the car fixed and out for a test session before we go. We’ve also added several car shows in July, so check out our schedule.

Susie Q


May 25-26, 2019

Great Lakes DragawayGreat Lakes Dragaway

Union Grove, WI

A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

The forecast was questionable, but we had a commitment to show up, so we made the 7 hour drive to Union Grove. Steve had attended races here many (and I mean many!) years ago, but this was our first trip with the funny car. Great Lakes Dragaway is an old track with lots of history, which was very evident driving into the place. There were various old buildings scattered around and countless old relics randomly parked about the property. It was pretty empty when we pulled in on Friday afternoon, but by Saturday the pits were full of every sort of race car imaginable. The Chicago Wise Guys were there along with Nostalgia Pro Stocks and Super Stocks, Nitro Front Engine Dragsters, a couple of Jet Dragsters, our group of Funny Cars, Gassers, and plenty of bracket cars. If the weather cooperated, this was going to be an interesting weekend.

It had rained hard before we got there and when we arrived, there was standing water everywhere. We weren’t scheduled to run until Saturday but by Friday night they had the track dry enough to run their program. We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning on Saturday, but at about 10:00 am it rained. There were puddles everywhere. I give the track workers a lot of credit. They went to work drying the track using some of the least efficient equipment we’ve ever seen but, with only a few hours delay, racing did get underway.

Funny Car Line Up

We were invited to this race by fellow alcohol funny car racer, Bill Anderson, who runs the Roadshow Camaro. Monty Stotz was also there with his beautiful Blue Thunder Camaro. Our schedule was to make two passes on Friday night and two passes on Saturday night. With only three alcohol funny cars in the show, it was decided that the Telstar nostalgia nitro funny car driven by legend Doc Halladay would run with us.

Bill Anderson's Roadshow
Bill Anderson’s Roadshow
Monty Stotz Blue Thunder
Monty Stotz Blue Thunder
Doc Halladay's Telstar
Doc Halladay’s Telstar

Finally a Sunny Saturday

We were scheduled to run around 6:00 and 8:00 pm both days. This is an older track, but a new experience for us so we decided it would be a good idea to make a test pass. I wanted to get a feel for the track, especially the shutdown, so we took a ride down in the golf cart. The first turn off looked like it would take two parachutes and some good brakes; the alternative would be a riding over some very rough pavement to second turnout at the far end.

We pulled up to staging at about 4:00. This was the first warm weather run for us this year. The temperature was 80 degrees and corrected altitude was 2900 ft. The water box is at the bottom of an incline, so it was a bit awkward doing a burnout “uphill” for the first time. I had no trouble staging and the track was much better than expected. It was a great pass at least up until the 1000 ft. marker, where there was a significant bump and I lifted. Even so I ran a 6.76 @ 186 mph. I felt ready for the evening show.

It was 7:30 when we finally made the first exhibition pass. It was still 78 degrees and the track conditions were still good. Bill Anderson was paired with Doc Holladay and I would line up against Monty Stotz. We had almost identical reaction times making it a good race. When I hit the bump at the 1000 foot the tires came off the ground and I lifted. It was a close race and I took the strip with a 6.96 to his 7.07. I pulled both chutes and made the first turn out.

When I climbed out, a track worker informed me that the car was leaking oil. Sure enough, when I looked, it was dripping from underneath the car. When my crew got there and raised the body, oil was everywhere. The belly pan contained most of the oil but there definitely was a problem. We towed back to the pits with the sinking feeling that it was blown the motor up and our weekend, maybe our race season, was over.

Once back in our pits, it was time to inspect the damage. The oil had sprayed everywhere but there were no bits and pieces of motor to be found. As the cleanup progressed it began to look more hopeful. The guys were on a mission to find the source of all the oil and Norm finally found it. It was a fitting on the back of the oil pump. After a check of the run data and a review of the in-car camera, we confirmed the engine never actually lost oil pressure. All was not lost. Although the oil made a huge mess and the fitting had to be fixed, we would run again, just not tonight.

Warming up the tires.
Warming up the tires
Side by side with Monty
Side by side with Monty
Cleaning up an oily mess
Cleaning up an oily mess

Second Chance Sunday

It was a little cooler and shaping up to be a nice day for racing although there seemed to be a lighter crowd today. The schedule ran very late the night before and once the sun went down the dew on the track made it very challenging. To avoid this, Bill managed to get our exhibition runs set up for a little earlier. We would make our runs around 6:00 and 8:00 and I would be lining up against Doc Halladay in the nitro car tonight.

We did our burnouts together and backed up to stage. I cut a terrible light giving him a big head start but I almost ran him down. The car was drifting towards the center line and I was steering hard to keep it out of the cones. If I hadn’t lifted when the tires came off the ground at the 1000 foot, I just might have. I ran a quicker 6.62 but only 181 mph while Doc crossed the finish line ahead of me with a 6.71 @ 221 mph. I’m usually pretty good on the tree but maybe running against a nitro car was a little intimidating. I would have to do better on the next pass.

Our last run of the night came at around 8:30. The temperature had dropped to 58 degrees and corrected altitude was at 1050 ft. We were hoping give the nitro funny car a good race but it didn’t work that way. I lost traction right off the line, pedaled it all the way down and only ran a 7.90. Doc, on the other hand, laid down a very quick 6.40 @ 237 mph. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t going let me get around him. It was a great experience to race with a legend like Doc Holladay and even though my performance wasn’t the best, it was the definitely the highlight of our weekend.

Extra Crew for the Weekend

Longtime friend Keith Malek lives in the area and came out to the track on Saturday. Keith’s son Steven and wife Christine, their son Aiden and her dad Jerry all came along. The whole family races, and Keith and Steven are currently in the process of building a Plymouth Superbird top sportsman car that they hope to have running soon. They gave us some tips about this track while in return they soaked in what they could from Steve’s experience building and tuning our car. Aiden might have been a little reluctant when given the chance to sit in the car, but once he got in he started asking questions. He’s been very successful driving his own Jr. dragster and I can see why. By the time we were done, if he could just reach the pedals, he might be about ready to drive this thing.

The Malek Crew
The Malek Crew
Steven and Keith Malek going to school
Steven and Keith Malek going to school
Aiden in the driver's seat
Aiden in the driver’s seat

Our next race was the Detroit Dragway Reunion at Milan Dragway, on June first. Unfortunately, it was rained out so there’s not much to report.

Next stop for Susie Q will be Parker’s Hilltop Brewery coming up on Father’s Day, June 15th. Stop by for lunch and say hi.

Susie Q


May, 2019 – Season Opener

St. Louis Nostalgia RendezvousSt. Louis Nostalgia Rendezvous

Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, IL
NDRL Race #1- Chuck-A-Burger “Battle at the Arch”

A Cold Wet Spring

Things are off to a slow start again this year. We had the car all put together in late April then had to wait for a warm (at least over 50) dry day to push it out of the shop and fire it up. After everything has been apart over the winter, it’s a good idea to be sure it runs and there are not leaks before we take it to the track for the first time. The next step is loading it in the trailer and waiting for a day that’s warm and dry enough to take it to Milan for a few test passes. That finally happened my birthday, May 5th, just one week before our first scheduled race. We were only able to make two partial passes, but it was enough to know we had a good race car.

The drive to St. Louis is a long one and it was tempting to stay home based on the forecast; scattered showers and cold temperatures. Still, after six long months, we were anxious to get to the track and start racing again. Finding a 7.0 second tune-up is challenging enough, but with the changes made over the winter we were going to need every one of our qualifying passes. Knowing that most of the other teams had barely run or were making their first passes of the season made it somewhat of a level playing field.

We arrived Thursday night, set up camp, and enjoyed grilled hamburgers for dinner. As the teams rolled in and got parked, it felt a little like old home week. Even though it was cold enough for thick jackets, it was a warm welcome as we greeting each other and caught up on what went in the off season. On Friday, the sun peaked out a few times, but mostly the weather stayed cool and cloudy all day. Racing didn’t start until late in the day which gave Steve and Norm time to go over notes and make some final adjustments to the car.

Qualifying – Not the Best

Our first qualifying run came at about 7:30 pm. For once putting on my heavy fire suit was something I looked forward to; it was keeping me warm. It was only 58 degrees out and the corrected altitude was 557 ft. Alcohol just doesn’t like to light in this cold weather, so when it came time, it was hard to get the motor running even though we had warmed it up earlier. So I took my time doing the burnout and backing up to build a little more heat. When I launched, the tires spun, then just a little down track the car made a hard move toward the right. I pedaled a little and brought it back, but it moved to the right again. Fortunately I was able to keep the car off the wall, but I had to abort the run, which didn’t help us much with qualifying.

Starting the Burnout Q1. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Starting the Burnout Q1. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp

Our second qualifying run was around 11:00 pm. Air temperatures had dropped to 52 degrees and humidity was at 70%. The track temperature was only 72 and corrected altitude had dropped to 147 ft. The dew was settling on everything. We had the blanket over the windshield to keep it clear as long as possible. Even though I used anti-fog, the visor started fogging up as soon as I lowered it. The car got off the line OK and I made it all the way down the track this time. The track was slick and the car was moving around all the way down. I only went 7.28 at 186 mph. That was only good for #11 in the qualifying order, not as good as we had hoped. Looks like competition is going to be fierce in our Pro 7.0 class once again this year, based on what some of the other cars ran. Several of these guys were able to run 7.0’s right out of the box.

Results after 2nd Qualifying
Results after 2nd Qualifying

Rained Out

Our third qualifying run was scheduled for Saturday morning and then we were to go right into eliminations. Instead, we woke up to a morning of rain, which stretched into all day. There would be no racing today and eventually it was announced that they would run the race on Sunday. We had commitments at home and it’s a 9 hour drive, so we couldn’t stay. As it turned out, the weather never dried out enough on Sunday and the race was cancelled all together. Not a great way to start the season.

A rainy view from the motor home window.
A rainy view from the motor home window.

Extra Crew

We had added help on our crew for Friday night qualifying; a longtime friend, Steve Lemnah. He was on my team at GM many years ago and recently moved to St. Louis, working for Hunter Engineering. He’s been following our racing and has wanted to attend one of our events for some time. His move and the timing of our race happened to work just right. We put him to work, of course, since just hanging out isn’t nearly as fun as being part of the action. We put him in charge of the camera on the starting line, which was very helpful. Unfortunately Saturday was a rain out so we didn’t get to eliminations but at least he was able to see the car go down the track a couple times.

A "motley crew" - Norm, Steve, & Steve
A “motley crew” – Norm, Steve, & Steve

Next up are a couple of nostalgia events we’re really looking forward to. Over Memorial Day weekend we are headed to Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, WI, May 25 & 26. It’s our first time to this track and we are looking forward to making some fast passes and meeting lots of new race fans. Then on June 1st it’s the annual Detroit Dragway Reunion here in Michigan at Milan Dragway. There will be lots of local celebrities and some great racing. Come on out and see us.

Susie Q


April, 2019

The Pre-season Update

It’s been a cold snowy winter, but it’s finally starting to feel like spring. The robins are back in the yard, the crocus are blooming, and now we’re just waiting for the race season to begin. It’s about time for an update on what’s been happening in the Christophersen race shop during the off season.

Just waiting for the race season to begin.
Just waiting for the race season to begin.

The funny car was completely disassembled over the winter months, and little by little, it’s going back together. We’ll be using the same engine and transmission we ran last year, and the same blower. However, everything has been taken apart, inspected, serviced with new parts as needed, and rebuilt; fresh for coming season. Here are the details.

  • The only major change we’re making for this year is the rear end. We’ve been using the same 4:29 ring and pinion that came with the chassis, back in 2010. Although it has served us well, it was time for a change. We now have a brand new 4:11 from the Ring and Pinion Shop. Liberty Gears did the cryogenic heat treat and magic surface finish. It’s already installed, along with a new set of TBM brakes pads and resurfaced rotors.
  • The Lencodrive transmission only needed a few new bearings and some adjustments. There’s been some issues with the valve body, so we’ve hopefully made some improvements there.
  • Steve took the Supercharger back to SSI, where they ran it on the dyno to get air flow data and made some changes to improve overall efficiency. That should give us just a little more horse power to work with. If you haven’t seen a blower dyno, here’s a pretty cool video.
  • The TFX block just needed to have the cylinders lightly honed, then washed and wiped clean and it’s ready for assembly.
  • We took the crankshaft to Performance Crankshaft. They Magnafluxed it, polished it up and it’s good to go.
  • We’re using a new set of main and rod bearings with Microblue coating even though last year’s set looks perfect. Great spares if ever needed.
  • The connecting rods were sent back to MGP for inspection. They checked out fine and will go back into the engine for another season.
  • The Trend push rods and adjusters were like new so they are being reused.
  • We’re installing a brand new set of Diamond pistons with Trend TP1 wrist pins.
  • The heads went to Steve Sanchez at Total Flow for a refresh. They just needed a little touch up and they are ready to go back into service.
  • The PSI springs we ran last season all tested good as new, so they will also get used again.
  • The fuel pump went back to Kinsler and received a clean bill of health so it should be good for another season.
  • The only change we are making to the ignition system is a new set of Moroso Ignition wires and spark plug boots. These were added for a better fit in the spark plug tubes.
  • A few more channels were added to our Computech data acquisition because, well, as Steve like to say, we can never have too much data.

It will be a few more weeks before the weather will break here in Michigan. We have a lot to do still but hopefully we will get everything together in the next two weeks. Once the car fires up, we’ll put the body back on and get the car out of the shop and in the trailer, ready for some test passes at Milan. The trailer will need to have brakes and wheel bearings serviced before we go anywhere so we’ll need a few warm dry days in early April to get that done.

We have a full schedule planned for 2019. Check it out here . We also plan to do a few car shows, but don’t have dates just yet. We’ll update the schedule as things develop.

We sure appreciate all our friends and fans that follow our racing adventures and look forward to seeing you at the race track this summer. Please stop by and say “Hi”.

Susie Q