DID WE LAND ON THE MOON?

No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I do believe we landed on the moon but I’m not sure about aliens at Area 51. But one thing which troubles me is our timing systems.

One month ago, there were two re-runs at the U.S. Nationals due in part to a timing system malfunction; if you can call it that. Two weeks ago at the Fall Fling, there was an issue in one lane with regards to a staging beam “shining through” certain dragster wheels triggering a red-light. How many times have been to a track where there is an elapsed time difference between lanes?

Case in point. The Norwalk national event which I was lucky enough to win. The first four rounds of eliminations in the right lane, I run a 9.33-something in each round. For the semifinals and knowing I have the bye run I choose to change lanes in the case I lose the coin flip. At best, I’m on a 9.37, losing .04 in 60’. Not saying my car is perfect, but with the type combination, the car rarely ever spins the tires. Of course, also concerned there might be something wrong with the car, I decide to stay in that lane for the final and dial accordingly. Would have been on another 9.37 and I’m lucky to get the win.

Still thinking there might be something wrong with the car, but with the Wally in hand, we proceed to the next national event at Maple Grove. Nothing wrong with the car and we go to the final running consistent ETs in the same lane all weekend long.

Now, I’m certainly not blaming any of this on less than superior timing system equipment. Just bringing up some facts.

Thirty years ago, we moved into a new home in New Jersey. Sitting in the kitchen, the incandescent bulbs above the table would go dim and bright. A call to the electric company had them install a data logger on our electric meter which took a voltage reading every ten minutes for two weeks. Upon their return, it showed the incoming voltage to the house dropped below 100-volts (110 being preferred) at certain points during that period. As it turned out, since a certain transformer had been installed on the pole on the street, five additional services had been hooked up to it. A change in that transformer cured the problem. No more bright and dim lights. There may have been a better explanation but that is what we were told.

Assuming (and we all know what the word assume means – to make an ass out of you and me) there are certain filters placed on the timing systems to alleviate that issue… are there really?

Here’s my theory. Someone flushes the toilet in the tower, the well pump kicks in and your run just got flushed too. Many time national event winner and former world champ Sheldon Gecker’s theory is the popcorn machine was turned on and “popped” your run.

Of course, we don’t know if any of this is true but a number of years ago, we had a friend – still a friend who no longer races - whose third-gen Camaro only at Atco Raceway in New Jersey would run two different mphs depending on what lane he ran. And by two different, I mean a ten mph difference despite the ET being the same! This even after the place was ground smooth and was as flat as a billiard table, so you couldn’t surmise the car was hitting a bump in the lights.

How many times have you gone to track where your normally consistent car is an inconsistent pig? Yet speaking with other racers, they’re having the same problem as you. Is it the race track surface or…? When speaking with racers who are having inconsistent issues, my comment has always been to not exactly worry about it unless it’s happening each time you go out. It might seem awful easy to simply throw out a time slip, but you can’t say it doesn’t still cross your mind.

A timing system is not much different than your home computer. How many times has your computer slowed down after uploading and downloading numerous other programs and files? We’ve added Stage-Loc (if that’s the correct terminology), TruSTART, crosstalk, interval times, whatever. And I’m sure each time, the computer system has been updated, but… Were we better off with flag starts? However, it is what we have to work and deal with today.

And I repeat, I’m certainly not blaming anything on anyone… just saying.

I’m really not a conspiracy theorist, just bringing up some things which float around in my feeble mind. Is this going to make me stop racing? No! And you shouldn;t either.

And yes, I still do believe we landed on the Moon. If someone has a better explanation, I'd love to hear it.