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Testing, Testing, Is this thing on?

I made a decision last points race @ Dragway 42 to change some things drastically to help my car hook when track conditions are sub par. 42 re paved earlier this year & though the track is wicked smooth there seems to be an issue that is not working in my favor. I have never had an issue this bad & I tried all the small things with high hopes.

Last night I went to Summit Motorsports Park for their $7 fun night. I went to this a few weeks ago to see if an earlier problem was cured. This is an awesome night for anyone who would like to try their hand @ some racing. Even just for the experience of driving down a track where just a week before the NHRA professionals were going over 300mph. Just bring the old family sedan or SUV or even your Prius, pay $7 @ the gate & make runs all night long. There are 5 trophy classes to choose from including High School to get the younger (future) crowd involved.

This trip to SMP was going to be rather interesting. Any time you try radical changes things get exciting. They may work great or horribly wrong. Exciting! What I was trying to accomplish was to slow the car down for the first 60′ or so of the track. Sounds easy? Slowing a car down is just as hard as making them faster. For consistency reasons you cant just ease into it. You have to leave full bore. To stay within class rules I had 2 options. One was to Retard the timing to make the launch slower. Advancing timing makes a car go faster to a certain point & retarding will do the opposite. My ignition box has a feature where when activated will pull a predetermined amount of timing. I went to the max 9.9 degrees. I’m thinking it should leave like a mutt. 1st hit it goes a 1.44 6o’. that’s pretty much where it left off. A little disappointed but sometimes the electronic retards don’t seem to activate.  It was time for option 2. This was more of a mechanical approach. I normally shift the car @ 6500 rpm for optimum speed & consistency. This time I would try to make the car shift just after the staging beams so it would not affect my reaction times. I checked to see how many rpm it would take to shift just off the line, not too soon & not too late. The converter flashed to about 5200 rpm so I pit a 5800 rpm shift chip. That was way too high. Another 1.44 60′. It shifted after the 60′. Not where my problem was. My next & final pass I dropped the shift rpm down to 5200. Right where the converter locks up. Perfect! it shifted just after the stage beams. .007 reaction. The 60′ slowed to 1.76. It was good off the line, shifted perfect & it turned into the mutt I was looking for.



This weekend brings Kids Night @ SMP. This is a huge event to bring all the kids to. It keeps the whole family involved. There are games, give aways, & even race car fun rides for the kids. If you want to introduce the family to racing this would be the night to do it. After a long night @ SMP I will be back @ Dragway 42 to test out my new secret weapon. LOL. As always you are more than welcome to come & see us.

Smokey And The Bandit?…Well Almost

This past week brought me and my AMC Spirit back home to the somewhat great state of Pennsylvania!

Its nice to have all the equipment back home once in a while to catch up on the stuff that gets neglected through the racing season. One of the major obstacles is only having Fridays to work on the car trailer and truck. So this past week I focused on a lot of TLC and considering the fast arriving trip to Bristol, Tennessee, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Most of my time was focused on the truck and trailer making sure everything was legit. I hammered away on little odds and ends until Friday when I notice my new-to-me Ford Excursion had no parking lights! Just great! I do the quick run down the list of fuses and do a little Internet research to find out there is a common problem with the headlight switches going bad. No problem. Saturday morning I’ll roll over to the parts store to pick one up. Okay, wrong. They are fresh out and won’t have it until Sunday morning. So knowing full well that I plan on being at the track until dark I make my trip anyway to Pittsburgh Raceway Park and figure I’ll deal with the issue when I have to. Continue reading Smokey And The Bandit?…Well Almost

A Break From The Breaks

It may have taken a month or so but things finally started to click and fall into place. I’d have to say this is the first weekend out of the year that something hasn’t broke or fallen apart (or gotten run over) and that can turn into great results on the track when you have nothing else to worry about and a clear mind on racing.

Last weeks No Box Bonanza race was a great opportunity to get a lot of runs down the track at SMP. That helped out a lot this weekend. That and along with not having to thrash on something to get it fixed made it an enjoyable day at the track. The short recap of the night is I ended up getting down to 6 cars were I miss judge the finish line driving behind .004 but it was a good race overall so there’s nothing to be mad about there.

Sunday we are back at it at Dragway42, Still feeling good from last night’s performance I carried that with me all the way to the final round were I fell just short of the win for the day. It was no easy task either, with the pleasant 90 degree days we’ve been having the track was doing everything but hooking so with a lot of luck a little driving strategy I was able to make it to the final round.

With two good showings back to back I substantially helped myself in the point’s standings at both SMP and Dragway42. Witch was greatly needed because in another week and a half I will be making a trip down to Bristol Dragway in Bristol Tennessee and will miss a point’s race at SMP. I intentionally left my weekend recap a little short winded just so I could give a little pre-cap to this race.

The World Footbrake Challenge is the “if you are going to go to one big race a year it better be this one” type of deal. It’s a great race that’s held once a year by none other than Steve Stites and Jared Pennington, two great guys who have turned this race into something great for us budget type bracket racers who like to get out and travel a little bit to chase some bigger money. When I say bigger money I mean three days of racing to the tune of ten thousand dollars a day to the winner. Out of the past three years I’ve been there I have been lucky enough to make it down to ten cars two of those years, which always feels good amongst that type of competition. Another great feature about the race is they offer live timing, the day of the race you can go to and watch all the action from the comfort of your home! You can’t beat that.

With that being said I hope to continue this little streak I’ve put together. I will be at Pittsburgh Raceway Park this weekend due to not having any point’s races at SMP or D42. I always have had good luck at PRP and really enjoy going there so let’s hope this weekend doesn’t let me down!

Weekly Update June 30th & July 1st. Things are Looking Up!

Weekly update, my pleasure. Things seemed to start aligning this past weekend. More for Matt than myself but I did take some big strides in my own way.

 I know I keep pounding you on the beautiful weather but it’s hard not to say anything with as bad as it has been the past few years. Just think, if it rains 2 weekends in a row that means no racing for a month! How many women out there would want to put up with a grumpy husband for a month? Sunshine makes life so much easier!

We arrived Saturday @ Summit Motorsports Park to greet the heat of the day. It’s is always a welcome sight pulling in & seeing all of your friends wave to you on the way in. It makes you feel like you have done something right in your life & it shuts off any adversities you may have had all week . Kind of like the memory erasing burnout.

 Matts car seems to have founds it’s happy spot in the world & when that happens you can just relax & let things happen. Matt did extremely well making it down to 6 cars gaining valuable points in the year long chase. This keeps him well in the hunt to finish towards the top.

I still had some electrical Camaros? (If a guy with a Camaro can say he has an electrical Gremlin than why can’t I reciprocate?) Even with a new alternator & good battery I still had cranking issues. To make it any further in the day I would have to find this once & for all! I started @ the battery & worked my way forward. It didn’t take me long to realize the car needs an update! I found a loose connection @ the starter solenoid that may have been the root of all evil up to this point. I went into eliminations with a good attitude but could not make it past 2nd round. A poor finish line decision ended my night early.


Sunday was our day @ Dragway 42 for the half way point of the season. My how time flies! It was an interesting day to say the least. Both Matt & I have our cars set up pretty close to one another. The bigger difference being mine has a 401 & Matts a 360. That difference seemed to be huge on Sunday. My car had pretty bad traction issues. That made the car extremely hard to predict & a little scary down track. Matts car on the other hand handled the challenging conditions rather well. That smaller motor seemed to be a good advantage on that day. Matt scored the Runner Up spot & gaining a good amount of points along the way. I lost 2nd round AGAIN! Notice a bad pattern here? I’ll be getting out of that habit here pretty soon.


This week I will make some drastic changes to help on the starting line when we have adverse conditions & have traction issues. Matt i’m sure isn’t going to open his trailer door till he has to race again. Don’t mess with perfection. The rest of the week has me possibly going to Thompson Raceway Park for their Independence Eve race & this Saturday I will either go to Quaker City Motorsports Park & make the trek to Pittspurgh Raceway Park & meet up with Matt. Matt took his rig with him to participate in Pittsburghs Saturday Program. There is no points for us @ Dragway 42 or Summit Motorsports Park this weekend. Summit has the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals to be held Thursday through Sunday.

A Weekend Summed Up In .01 Seconds

Another week goes by and we are back at the track. This weekend’s event is the fifteenth running of the No BoxBonanza at Summit Motorsports Park. It was a great weekend for the race whitch in previous years has been contested in early October and for the past few years has brought nothing but cold wind rain and snow, ever thing you don’t need for a bracket race!

First thing Friday morning we are off to the track. We get there get parked and unload our stuff. This is a great event to come to.  It brings in a lot of people from around the area that typically don’t race at SMP. So for us it’s a chance to get away from racing the same people we do every week at a points race,  not to mention there is no other place around you can race a three day race that is $2,000, $5,000, and $5,000 to win for a $99 entry fee. Continue reading A Weekend Summed Up In .01 Seconds

Back On Track

Last weeks update was left in a state of question weather or not anything was majorly wrong with my motor. With some huge help from Steve this past week while I was back home in PA he was able to get my motor the rest of the way torn out of my car and over to the garage for a further assessment of the damages. The good news was it wasn’t that bad. It looks like the bearing took all the damage and nothing else got hurt in the process. So all in all it was an easy fix and it’s easy for me to say that because well, I didn’t have to do much. But I sure am thankful that Steve took the time to get my stuff back together for me or else I would of been dead in the water for a little while. Friday night when I got into town all i had to do was finish up a couple loose ends that he didn’t have time to finish and i was good to go.

I didnt have any real racing plans for the weekend due to the fact that I wasn’t sure if i’d have a car for the weekend. So getting everything back together Saturday AM it quickly turned into were am I going today! Well since most all local tracks had nothing that really suited my taste I made the call to drive an hour and a half down south to Pacemakers Dragway in Mt. Vernon Ohio. I figured no sense of sitting at home on a perfect day. The day went along pretty good i missed my first time run but they do two there as well as a dial for dollars. A dial for dollars is almost like an elimination round were you pay an extra $10 put a dial in on your car and run it out who ever being the closest to there dial in wins a percentage of the cash that was collected. So with only having one time trail I pick my number I think I’m good with and run down through and post a 6.791 on my 6.78 dial, close but no cash. I make my way through a few rounds of eliminations losing third round  when the car spun off the line and I had no way of making up that lost ET so I was pretty much just along for the ride at that point. The track was good for the majority of the day but with them having a few stick shift specific classes running it does a number on the starting line over time peeling up the rubber from the track surface witch make it hard to hook even with the best set up car. It was still good to get out for the day and enjoy going to a different track for once.

Sunday took us to Dragway 42 again for our fourth points race of this year. I showed up a little early wanting to make a couple little adjustment for the day to insure that the reason the car spun the night before was due to the track and not the car itself. Our rear suspension set up is kind of basic in how it works so there is not a lot of room for adjustment. But this past winter Steve got me a set of pretty trick Calvert Racing rear adjustable shocks that I had not messed with yet so I figured now is a time better then ever. I made an adjustment to them and went of and made two time trail passes with awesome results. My reaction time varied .004 and the car varied .003 in those two passes. I was happy with the results and ready to get on with the show. I carried that momentum down to 8 cars missing the tree a touch and that was all it took to give my opponent what he needed to edge me out for the win. I was satisfied for the day it felt good to have my car back in its usual shape rather then the worries of the week before.

Next week will take us back up to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk Ohio on Saturday were I hope to continue on going some rounds!

I hope this isn’t one of those Black Clouds????

Broken tooth on Planetary gear

I guess when it rains it pours or when things break they really break? I am really hoping some of this nuicance breakage stops really soon & doesn’t lead to a monsoon!. As you may have read in Matts last blog he had a cam bearing spin in the block on him & we had to pull the motor out, tear it half way down, replace the cam bearings, fit the cam to the block & re install the motor for the weekend. This week is my turn. In the weekend update Josh mentioned about my Shifnoid automatic shift solenoid failing. That $100 fix was just the beginning.

There was also an issue of a mystery noise. I have owned & raced the Gremlin since 1989. I can usually tell when something is “off”. So i proceeded to pull the car out of the trailer to the spot Matts Spirit kept warm for me last week & got the car up off the ground. The car seemed to want to move in park & Had a weird feel in reverse. It just wasn’t smooth. So, here we go again. I pulled the transmission & took it over to Hanshues garage to see what was wrong. Things usually look good in a situation like this till you get out the magnifying glass & take a closer look. We found 2 things. First was a broken tooth on a planetary gear set. The second issue appeared as we pulled the panetary set out of the housing. There is a roller bearing that supports the planetary in the case that decided it was time for all the little needle bearings to escape. No biggie right? Well, it kinda is. Only because no one anywhere seemed to have the bearing. I finally went to the manufacturer of the transmission housing & JW Performance was more than helpful & I have 3 bearings on the way! But I have to wait till Friday for them to get here. Insert sad face here…
Escaped Needle Bearings
I guess with all bad things come some good. In the rear of the powerglide case is where all the Magic happens. It is the reverse piston area where not only does it make you back up but it is what releases when we are on the starting line. If by chance there is something wrong in this area it will effect reaction times. Hmm. I seem to be having issues there. I beter look close! Just as suspected. Aftermarket transmission cases are a little softer than a stock case & tend to wear in the back of the case. The steels between the clutches rub on the housing & groove it. That makes it catch upon release & slows reactions. Sure enough there’s the grooves. Somewhat of an easy fix. The installation of some case savers & that problem should be solved. Lets hope.

Grooves in transmission case
Tonight will be final clean of all the parts to be ready for re assembly. Friday will be the mad dash when the bearings arrive. Slap it back together & get it all back up in the car. Saturday morning we will button it all up & if everything works correctly we will load up & try for the big win @ Summit Motorsports park.

Almost Famous…

Several years ago I did some product development work with Wiseco Piston & K-1 technologies designing some pistons & connecting rods for AMC engines. From time to time Vic Ellinger (Technical Sales @ Wiseco Piston) calls me & informs me I will be getting a call from someone about AMC piston options. Vic called & said i’d be getting a call & it’s a big one! Little did I know but the gentleman who called me was John Bouchard from Horsepower TV. An automotive show that airs weekly on Spike TV. I thought, “SWEET!”

It was an instant connection talking to John. We discussed tons of options for him to build his AMC 390 that he had in his possession. Wiseco was donating the pistons so through the 3 of us we designed & had built a set of TV show pistons in just a few weeks. The day the pistons were completed I got a disappointing call from John. The motor was not a 390 but a 343. John thought the project was done. No engine & a wasted set of pistons. I called John with a better idea. Why not build a 360? There are rods & pistons on the shelf @ Wiseco & a block is way easier to find than any 390. I emailed him with a complete break down of the build & all the parts he had would work in the 360 so no loss. He took the idea to the show producers & they bit!

Thanks to Vic Ellinger @ Wiseco Piston, John Bouchard, & Stevand Racing, This weekend on Horsepower TV there will be the first ever (In my lifetime) TV build on an AMC 360. It airs this Saturday June 9th & re airs on Sunday June 10th. Check your local listings for air times on Spike TV.

Through our past projects with Wiseco Piston we were offered an opportunity to build an AMC 360 for a series in Car Craft Magazine called the “Junk Yard Dog” series. I will post updates on the project as we go. Visit often!