WE WON INDY!
Apr 29, 2009
Author: Bobby Martin
The ParkerTech team won the opening D3 event of the year and clinched a berth in the Jeg's All-Stars event in Chicago. This race took place at Indy, the legendary home of the U.S. Nationals.
Now it's time .. For the rest of the story.
Our team generated some momentum and quite a bit of buzz last year by finishing as a Top Ten team and winning the division. I think we all wanted to hold on to that and made a supreme effort to keep in touch, prepare, and stay sharp in the off-season. Frank and I talked nearly every day. I was very encouraged to hear all the stuff he was doing to make sure the Parkertech Dodge would be in top shape when racing resumed. We even talked about changes to the car based on my particular preferences. The crew worked at the shop and kept their skills sharp and stayed abreast on what was happening with the car. Even with all that, it was still great to come out of hibernation and win the first event of the year.
Because we hadn't run yet in 2009, Frank wanted to make it least one test lap before qualifying. So we arrived early for the test session on Thursday. We planned to make a partial pass. Not because Frank and Dan Parker were leery about the tune-up, but because we were trying a new parachute system, and thought it wise not to actually need it the first time we tried it. Everything went fine. With that little bit of preparation and info, we made a 5.72 attempt for our first qualifying run on Friday. The speed of 253.80 shows the power was there and the new motor was running well. But a little shake slowed the ET. It placed us third behind Mick Snyder and Andy Bohl.
Our first try on Saturday was weird. 5.85 at 249. What happened? Dan, who normally takes his time on the computer, took one look at the graph and said, "That's the worst thing I've ever seen," and got up and left. Frank, not one to mess with something that doesn't work, pulled the motor and put in a new one, including a new ignition system. One of the cool things about Frank's team is that people are loyal. Some of his former crew guys were there along with Toms Cunningham and McVey. Everybody pitched in and the new motor was in in an hour. The final try was vintage Parkertech. A 5.661/255.92. Mick was still first at 5.61. Fred Hagan's car nabbed second. His son was driving this weekend. They went 5.648 on their final try. The 234 speed indicated there was more in it.
First round, #6 qualifier Chris Foster. You can also call him John Foster. Whatever you call him, don't count him out. They qualified #3 and went to the semis at the Houston national event. Will Hanna, their new tuner, seems to be getting a handle on the car. They qualified with a nice 5.72, and there was no reason to think they couldn't go faster. In the staging lanes, I looked at their car, and they have all the same basic stuff we do. John senior jokingly asked if I would let Chris win. The teams usually banter a little before a run saying good luck and other small talk. I said I didn't think Chris would want that. That was a little sign of respect, but I wasn't going to cut them any slack. I know they're a good team. Sure enough, Chris posted a nice 5.79, but Frank and Dan weren't cutting him any slack either. Our car went 5.65 at 253. An .034 light showed that I was ready to race. Not bad for the first competition run of the year.
Terry Munroe was able to upset Fred Hagan Jr. So now instead of facing the #2 qualifier in the semis, we have the #7 qualifier. This is an interesting matchup. Terry's shop is just across town from mine, but we have never raced together because he was IHRA. IHRA decided to drop nitro and alky funnies from their events. How can you have a drag race without Funny Cars? So we are going to see some new teams at our races. Terry's team is no slouch. They have an 18 wheeler and a nice Monte Carlo. They have a cool rat rod tow vehicle. They were next to us in the pits and we all got a kick out of the Coke bottle puke tank, no upholstery, no paint look of this car. They also had Mike Pavia and John Sheridan over there. So it wasn't all just foolin' around. Terry had run a couple mid seventies and mid 250's. This would be the first meeting between us at the track for the Beaver County PA championship. Terry shook and shut off, so I get the mythical Golden Beaver trophy with a solid 5.67 at 254.81.
Meantime, the other semi final was an epic battle between D3 hitters Mick Snyder and Andy Bohl. This is good for us because one of the division championship contenders is going out. Mick wins 5.63 to 5.67. Oh-oh. Mick's .63 is better than our .67. It's even better than our weekend best 5.65. Oh well, we lose lane choice. But this is Indy; you really shouldn't have to worry about the track.
This, dear reader, is where the driver has to earn his keep. You're down by a few hundredths going into the final. Your crew chief decides not to mess with a good tuneup. He's handing you the ball. In this case however, gaining the starting line advantage was by no means the most exciting part of the race. There's something about a Snyder-Martin matchup that regularly produces multiple lead changes. This was no exception. Mick passed me because I was SIDEWAYS. The tires were actually smoking as they lost traction. The windshield went white as all I could see was the wall. But even when the tail swung the other way, I never saw Mick so I stayed in it. Unbeknownst to me, Mick's motor went BOOM, including a flash of flame out the back. One car sideways and the other on fire. Any nitro final would be proud! The Parkertech/Lane Automotive Charger settled down and charged to finish line at 252.61 miles per hour for the win. Our time of 5.85 indicates that I was, shall we say, delayed on the way to my destination. Mick was okay, and said that they really don't have much work to do on the car.
Not only did we win the first Division 3 race of the year, we locked in a berth for the Jeg's All-Stars. Frank and Dan have run the All-Stars before. But it's a milestone for Mike, Larry, Kyle, Kevin, and me.
Our next scheduled event is the B'laster Cavalcade of Stars at Bill Bader's Summit Raceway Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Scroll down a couple items to see more on this. This event is modeled after the legendary Coca-Cola Cavalcade of Stars in the heyday of Funny Car match racing. We're even going to do a parade on the track with the bodies up, just like our heroes did back in the day! You can see a bio on me at Bill's way cool website at http://www.summitmotorsportspark.com/main-news1/cavalcade-stars-bobby-martin/ That's May 15-17. But there may be a surprise appearance before then. Check back to find out more.