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FHRA Nitro Nationals - Alastaro

Drifting into the Fives - part 2

Three days of travelling and here we are in Finland.  Since the Santa Pod test we have made alterations to various parts of the car which suffered damage in the tyre shake.  Re-engineered the starter system to try to increase its reliability, and very importantly found the reason for losing the run data at Santa Pod.  Now we are looking forward to making some runs in qualifying to let us see how our tune up is working and what we need to do to improve it.

Friday morning, 1st qualifying attempt and in the other lane is Krister Johanson, this is the first time in Europe that two A-fuel cars have run together.   Start the car, roll into the water, hit the throttle and no burnout just like our first attempt at Santa Pod but this is a qualifier and not a test  and if I can take a green light and get to the finish line  we will be qualified, so I back up to the start line and at the green light hit the throttle and all hell breaks loose.  The tyres instantly smoke and no amount of pedalling the throttle makes them hook up again, but we are qualified and in the field for race day (the most important object of the run).

Back in the pits we check everything over and there are no problems, we even have run data which includes the burn out, or should I say non burn out, and analysis of this gives us a clue as to what is going wrong in the burn out, and we assume we smoked the tyres so much due to them being cold on the startline.  We make adjustments for our burn out problem and go for our second qualifier.  This time the burn out is fine but the same result on the run, in fact I tried so hard to get the tyres to hook up  (and failed) that after the run I was accused of abandoning drag racing in favour of “drifting”.  After the run its becoming more apparent that this car is just making too much horsepower for the track  (without the Top Fuel cars clutch management system which we are not allowed there is only so much horsepower we can get rid of in the clutch).

Overnight we make more adjustments to the engine and on our 3rd qualifier it looks just the same but the data from the run shows we are going in the right direction with the settings.  For the  4th qualifier we go a step further and this time for the first time ever we make a full throttle run all the way  to the finish line 5.86, not a great time but a huge step forward in learning what makes this car work.

After the run if was apparent that one of the fuel system settings in the car was not correctly set before the run (driver error!) and we lost some of the fuel system data due to a failed connection on the fuel flow meter, and the incorrect settings have caused some damage to some of the pistons and a cylinder head.  All of which we get changed but at 7.45 the organisers cancel our last qualifying run due to an 8 o’clock noise curfew.  That’s a real disappointment as we are getting closer now to the point at which this A-fuel car will start to work.  There is nothing we can do but prepare for our first run in competition tomorrow by making some further adjustments in light of the experience we have gained so far.

Race day and in the first round of eliminations we are paired with the “Islanders” from Norway.  It’s a pretty even start with us just getting away first and although we are not really quick in the first half of the track the car pulls steadily all the way through the quarter mile and we record a 5.56 and our first win in our first race with this A-fuel car.

Now the race is on to ready the car for the semi-finals although we are closer again with the set up we still have some engine repairs to do, three pistons and a pair of valves need changing and despite the best efforts of the best crew at the track we run out of time by about five minutes when we down tools to the sound of our opponent  Peter Schofer going down the track to win his place in the final.  Obviously that was a major disappointment for us, we needed the run for more data and we needed the win for more championship points!! but we are not done yet the next round at Mantorp Park in Sweden is in  three weeks and the Championship is as open as I can remember for some years due to the increasing competitiveness of teams like the Habermans and the Islanders anybody could win and I am sure we will have to wait until the finals at Santa Pod to see who does.

Personally I can’t wait to get to the next race at Mantorp Park to see what our car does next.


2008 Race Reports

Main Event 2008 - Santa Pod

Summer Nationals 2008 - Santa Pod

FHRA Nitro Nationals - Alastaro