HOT NEW PIX OF PARKERTECH/LANE AUTOMOTIVE/CAP CHARGER, BURNOUT ACTION FOOTAGE, AND THE STORY OF THE BEST DRAG RACE OF MY CAREER!
Apr 23, 2008
Author: Bobby Martin
It may be the best drag race in the history of Top Alcohol Funny Car.
Bottom line: TWO lead changes and a Margin of Victory of LESS than 2
Thousandths of a second!
The story starts in Minneapolis MN, the home of Dunwoody College of
Technology. Their Automotive Technology Open House was held Wednesday and
Thursday, April 16th and 17th with the CAP CHARGER and me as featured
attractions. I had a great time talking with students, parents, and
instructors about drag racing and automotive careers and how the two are
intertwined. I made four formal presentations and basically made
appearances for two solid days on behalf of Parkertech Racing Services, CAP,
VPRacing Fuels, and Permatex. Two students, Wade and Matt, were my "crew"
for this visit and they were tremendous. Dunwoody's Steve Reinarts
coordinated the appearance, and he put together a whale of an event.
Steve, Wade, and I also visited Dodge of Burnesville with the CAP CHARGER
and Dunwoody's own Dodge Viper Coupe in tow. Like most Dodge dealers the
folks at Burnesville are Mopar fanatics. One of their pride and joys is a
Viper from the first year of production, 1992. It has 28 miles on it.
That's how it came from the factory. It sits on a turntable in the
showroom. Offers of half a mil have already been turned down.
The Indy points meet had been wisely rescheduled by NHRA Div 3 to April
18-20. This presented a challenge. Activities at Dunwoody were not
complete until 7pm April 17th. You don't have to be a geography geek to
know that the two metropolises of Minneapolis and Indianapolis are not in
the same neighborhood. My only saving grace was that qualifying on Friday
the 18th was not until 4pm. With the mighty CAP CHARGER in tow, I drove my
Ram 3500 starting around 4 am and made it in time to warm up the Parkertech
Dodge before 2pm. Thanks to the states of Minnesota and Illinois for
keeping their roads and diesel prices somewhat under control. Thanks also
to the Minnesota DOT officer who inspected my rig upon my arrival into the
Northstar state. Although he did find some minor issues (they always will)
he did not issue any fines. Just a reminder to fellow truckers to make sure
your rig and credentials are in top shape before trucking.
Frank and Dan Parker and the crew of Larry Radke, Kevin Wilhelms, and Kyle
Pelfrey had everything set up and ready to go when I arrived. I was at the
track for about 20 minutes before hopping in the seat to warm up the
Parkers' big Hemi. It sounded sweet and we were ready to rock. First
qualifying run was a 5.77 at 243 that put us third. The speed was down
because I lifted at about a thousand feet after getting a little cozy with
the center line. Frank and Dan had a little more power available than the
243 mph speed would indicate. For the second (and final, due to weather)
qualifying attempt we had a hot hot rod. But not a hot track. I was in
attack mode and stayed in it a little longer than I might have otherwise. I
got squirrelly and crossed the centerline in true Funny Car fashion. We
ended up fifth. None of us were really satisfied with our qualifying
performance. But Frank and I both felt we knew what we had to do.
For Sunday, Mike Meeks had arrived to complete the crew. Frank was awake
most of the night thinking about the tuneup, and I finally got a reasonable
night's sleep. The number 4 qualifier was Mick Snyder. I went over and
talked to his father, Larry. I got on his case, asking him what he was
doing qualified fourth; we weren't supposed to see him until the final.
Mick and Larry, as you may know, have won the Division 3 championship 3
times. Their operation is absolutely first class, including their crew,
which now features Torco teammates Brian Pfeiffer and the legendary Fred
Yeager (a former Garlits crewman). Their new car is, well, pretty. Larry
and Mick made no bones about it last year that they loved the CAP CHARGER.
They even considered a Charger, and they love orange. So their new ride,
"Mustang Sally," kind of looks like a team car. I don't know why they
didn't get a Charger, but it may have cost them, as you will see shortly.
The first round of eliminations, like qualifying, was delayed by rain. But
once things got underway, the weather wasn't bad. Mick and I were the third
pair of Funny Cars, and since the dragsters go first on race day, we had
plenty of cars ahead of us to put some fresh rubber down. We didn't have
lane choice, and Frank and I were concerned about the right lane. Sure
enough, that's where Snyders put us. As eliminations got started, though,
we saw some guys run and figured the lane would be okay for what was going
to be a somewhat conservative run on our part. The burnout was nice and
smooth, and the Parkertech Hemi combination was really humming. By the way,
that includes a BAE Hemi block and Total Flow Heads, just like the CAP
CHARGER. Frank uses Aeroquip hoses, NGK plugs and some other Parkertech tricks.
In fact, on the black box behind the tank it says, "Over Engineered!" Frank
is in front of the car, Austin Coil style, and dad Dan Parker is behind the
car directing us back into the burnout tracks.
If Mick has an Achilles' heal for this race, it's that he's forsaken his
converter-driven transmission in favor of the more popular clutch set up.
As I said, Snyders are good, but I don't care who you are, a change that big
is going to take some getting used to. But he staged real nice, in fact he
was in first, which he's used to doing. He used to have to light both bulbs
and set the trans brake, while the other guy brought the R's up and staged.
If you were racing him, it was good to know that. He would light both
bulbs fast, and if you weren't ready, it could throw you off. I saw it
happen to a couple guys. Anyway, Mick's a clutch guy now, so we just raced.
The Parkertech/Lane Automotive/CAP Charger moved away quite nicely, and I
was making sure she stayed in the middle, which she did. The shift points
came up with only a hint of shake. I don't see Mick, but I'm looking at the
finish line. Boom! I'm past it and THERE'S THE WIN LIGHT! YEAH!!!
Dragracecentral.com did a beautiful job of describing this race. Here it
Snyder has a total of nine division race wins in Top Alcohol Funny car, with
two of them coming here and at Bowling Green last year. Martin's only
division event win came at Cleves, Ohio in 2004.
Martin got this win on a holeshot. Martin led the race at 60 feet but Snyder
got by him for the lead. Snyder held the lead to 1,000 feet but then Martin
got back by him to take the win. Martin gave up lane choice to Bohl in round
two. Bobby Martin's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(0.003),
330 ft(-0.001), 660ft(-0.004), 1,000ft(-0.003). MOV: 0.0018 seconds
(approximately 8 inches).
For the next round against Andy Bohl, who was running mid sixties all
weekend, we turned up the wick again and it shook.
I was presented as the underdog, which I was. But I think I'm about even
with Mick in head-to-head races. We got him in Cleves OH, and in Atlanta.
He got us in Bristol in a Div 2 final, and I'm sure some others. As they
say on TV, "That was a drag race!" How about leaving first and coming from
behind in the same race? That was truly a team effort. The car has to be
set up just right to leave the line without losing traction, and still
putting out enough power to go 250 plus. Also the aero design of our
Charger came into play as well. When the margin is two thousandths of a
second, every detail counts. Frank and Dan did some tuning with spoilers as
well as the motor and clutch. Mick came over like the classy guy he is to
say, "Good job." We'll be seeing more if him this year, especially at the
We have some pictures from the run for you. And as an added bonus click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TBLCecfNgs to see the burnout. Be safe on
the highway, and race at the track.
Ron Whitaker, who took the pictures, said he would have gotten a movie of
the run, and the crew jumping up and down, but HE was jumping up and down.
(The crowd went wild!) Very big, emotional moment, and the start of what I
hope will be plenty more to come from this team. We love you, and if you've
read this far, well, Thanks.