HAVE YOU DRIVEN A FORD LATELY?

I have! At least after this past weekend’s Class Racer Nationals held at Numidia Dragway in Pennsylvania.

It all started when I had spun a bearing in my Super Stock car a weekend ago at the U.S. Nationals. I obviously wanted to race in Indy but was excited about running the Class Racer Nationals due to it being two races paying $5,000 to the winner each day. That’s more money than you could ever earn winning a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional event and in some cases what you’d earn by winning a national event as well.

Of course, at either a national or divisional, you’d walk away with a  check for $1,200 to $1,500 or so along with a trip each day to the mailbox waiting on contingency checks to bring in the balance. At the Class Racer Nationals, you’d walk out with the whole $5,000. In addition, there were a number of sponsors who chipped in products and money for a random number of awards; best losing round packages, etc.

But alas, that spun bearing ended my thoughts of running at such a great race… that is until my daughter became involved. Through her The Design Joint company, she had worked with ClassRacer.com’s Ken Miele on flyers, big checks, and other promotional items for the event. She mentioned how disappointed I was not to be able to race which prompted a call by Ken offering his own Ford Cobra Jet Mustang Stocker for me to wheel.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been pretty loyal to the bowtie group (Chevrolet) for a long time. I once had a Ford truck, but other than that and a couple of Hondas along the way, Chevrolets have pretty much taken up residence in our driveways and garages. But a car is a car and I really don’t get too connected to any one vehicle.

I had never driven one of the Cobra Jets nor have I actually footbraked in a very long time as the Super Stock car uses a trans brake. Both leave off the bottom bulb so what could be so hard?

There was to be a Test & Tune session on Friday so I agreed to run the car there in order to get acclimated to it. After a brief instruction period from Ken, I proceeded to suit up for the first run. Maybe the track was loose, but for whatever reason, it immediately blew the tires off at the hit of the throttle. Run No. 2 and I made it to the second gear change before it again blew the tires off. As one noted racer said to me, “Welcome to an eight-second car on nine-inch wide tires.”

What’s amazing with these cars is how much power they make. I have to admit, rather naively, that I really don’t know what size engine is in that car other than to say it has big blue valve covers with a supercharger on top (some race car guy huh?). Ken backed off some of the ignition timing along with us changing lanes in case it was a lane issue. This time, it made to from Point A to B with an 8.88 time slip.

One of my problems was getting comfortable on the ‘Tree. It seemed very hard to be able to cut a good light leaving at the rpm the car likes. The immediate answer might have been to Deep Stage but that’s not allowed in Stock Eliminator. Cutting back the power even more made it harder to hold the car on the line.

At about that point in the day I was beginning to question my acceptance of such a great offer. In addition, I felt bad that I was taking time away from Ken while he worked with me on the car instead of doing what he was supposed to be doing that weekend, that being to run the race itself. He also enlisted help for me from Anthony Bongiovanni and his crew but generally Ken was getting way too involved, which made me feel bad.

He had spent the better part of the previous month promoting this event and that’s where he should be continuing to work on even though he had also enlisted a great group of people to help produce the race.

In the end, he and I discussed it and while I graciously am thankful for the offer, I didn’t feel as though I could win in the car on such short practice. I know I could make it work with more time behind the wheel, and while it’s a great ride, I’ve made a couple of trips down the quarter-mile in that I don’t need to make more just for the sake of the ride. If I don’t feel I can win, I’m not sure I want to play the game.

That being said though, as it turned out it was a great event with Super Stock and Stock racers coming in from as far away as Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina, along with the usual fare of northeast racers, many of whom would have been at the Reading national event on the same weekend had it not been canceled.

Last week also marked the .90 Shootout with Top Dragster and Top Sportsman at Maple Grove Raceway. From the reports I heard, the Maple Grove event went over exceptionally well, as did the Numidia race. And I’m glad. We’re not sure what the 2021 drag racing season is going to look like but independent events such as these and others around the country prove that drag racing is alive and well and racers will show up where they’re appreciated. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO