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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 is:

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 Divisional level.

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.


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