May 6, 2013

It has been a while since my last race update, I was hoping to have the results of our first back to back race weekends (Charlotte N.C. and Indy IN) done and out to you last week. Mother nature put a wrench into that plan and Indy was washed out with only qualifying taking place, but I’m ahead of myself as Charlotte did take place.

We landed in the south after a 18hr. road trip about 2 hours before the first qualifying session took place. The car was ready for battle and with a quick warm up we were on the starting line of the most amazing race track I have ever seen. Those who have not been to the Z Max facility should take the trip over when every they are close by. There is nothing like it anywhere on the planet. That being said we did it again, right out of the box Paul in the Meritor/Euclid hot rod ran a 5,628 elapsed time @ 259.61 m.p.h. which after the pollen settled was good enough for the #2 spot. The racing surface was very good and with two more sessions to go felt confident that we could shoot for #1. With a more aggressive setup we went out for the second lap and as has been our luck so far slowed to a 5.769 @ 259 with more tire shake.  Some of the other racers got quicker and we now were #5. Round three saw us get back on track with a 5.695 @ 247 ( slower mph because of shake) and hold on to the #8 spot.

This set us up for a first round of eliminations match with Todd Veney, everyone in our pit could feel the pressure, the need to avenge the loss in Gainesville two weeks earlier. Keith Evans (Meritor) was our guest in the pits along with his brother and a few industry guest and we really did not want to let them down. Paul and Todd had a brief but pleasant exchange before getting strapped into their machines, both teams were focused on this one. We had lane choice and as I had said earlier the pollen was in the air and on the track. Lane three appeared to be a little loose and that is where we put Todd. No starting line theatrics and both drivers staged on time. When the green came on Todd was away first but almost instantly spun the tires and Paul ran by him for the win 5.700 @ 259.01. Another great mph but at the cost of the clutch, broken discs something we had not done before. Fortunately we had all night it get it repaired and ready for the second round Sunday morning where we had to face the#1 qualifier.

Some times when you are the quickest it is not really in your favour, you can get greedy and want more. We were hoping that Chris Foster was thinking that way. When the green lights came on much to our surprise Chris was first off the mark with a .036 reaction time to Paul’s .076 but shook the tire very hard and shut off giving the win to Paul and the Meritor/Euclid hot rod. We ran a solid 5.604 @ 262.08 and were very pumped going into the semi-finals.  It looked like the changes we made Saturday night were the right ones and with #1 out of the way anything could happen. Our next opponent was Don Pomponio ( won every race he was in this year) and Paul knew he had to be sharp if we were to come out on top. Well he had lane choice and we ended up in the pollen covered lane #4, shook the car so hard that when Paul’s vision cleared he was out of the racing groove heading for the centerline. He corrected but hit 3 timing cones and our weekend was over. Both drivers had great reaction times, Don at .028 and Paul at .027 and if it is any consolation Don went on the win the event. Back in the motorhome for another 18hr trip, work and rebuilding the car in three days to be ready for Indy.

After the at home teardown we found the clutch/ tire shake had taken a toll on the car and Paul. The main bearing had delaminated and scored the crank and Paul was off to physio to get his body back in line.  Somewhat tired but focused we arrived in Indy where we again met cool temperatures and great racing conditions. Out of the box we laid down a solid pass, 5.658 @ 259.81 and captured the #3 qualifying spot. Again we had tire shake but the Meritor/Euclid entry was quick and fast and we were in the quick half of the field. The second qualifier saw the car move around at halftrack, run strong but did not look right. We kept our #3 spot. When we got back to the pits the car was smoking and the smell of oil and melted aluminum was everywhere. At the very same time a contingent of Meritor folks from the Plainfield  IN reman facility stopped by to see the car and check us out. It was a very intense tear down that proved to be our undoing. The rear main bearing had spun and damaged the block, clutch and put us unable to continue.   We and our crew of fans very  disappointed with this turn of events, we headed to the stands to watch the final round of qualifying only to see our number stand and the #3 spot ours. Mother nature came to our rescue the skies opened up and the event was washed up. This meant that if we could get the block fixed during the week at home we could make it back to back to back racing weekends. This was not to be as the damage was too great for the locals to repair.  With the block off to California the return to Indy was off. Again the Meritor/Euclid team proved to be lucky and Indy was again washed out.

Our next race in Norwalk Ohio will also have the eliminations from Indy combined into the qualifying sessions so we are back in it in two weeks’ time.  Look forward to see any of you who can make this event May 17 to 19th.