APD Member Spotlight Blog (July): Jason MacNeil
We are now in full race mode, and things are getting real busy trying to keep up with everything involved. We are exactly where we want to be in the ADRA points battle, and as of this edition I have covered my entire gas and entry fee’s with the winnings along with adding some hardware to my trophy wall. Our cars are working well and the weather has been good so far, so sit back and let me tell you how the month unfolded.
Not as impressive as Luke’s wall, but it’s growing
For this month’s Maritime Insight, I’ll tell you about a small Island off the coast of Nova Scotia called “Cape Breton”. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit and last year it was voted as one of the top three islands in the world. The Cabot trail is a very popular tourist destination with lots of scenery and the best golf course in Canada. The city of Sydney, my hometown, is a hot spot for cruise ships and is also the location of our drag strip. Alexander Graham Bell (a famous inventor) lived in Cape Breton and the first flight in Canada took place right here in 1909 with the Silver Dart. Many popular musicians get their start here and Celtic music is a big part of the Cape Breton lifestyle. If you’re ever planning a trip east, this is the spot, especially if you like lobster.
View from the Cabot Trail
One thing that our American friends always take notice of is our different coloured bills. Each denomination has a distinct colour and design and is often referred to as “funny money”. I’ll take whatever the track is handing out, and at the season opener in Cape Breton it was a fist full of twenty’s. One of the other prizes they give out for winning the points battle here is a gold pass for the next season. I’m in possession of one of those, so I plan to race at all four of their events this year. The season opener was June 23 weekend and the crowd is usually a little light for the first race. Regardless, they decided to host a box and no-box gamblers race on Saturday and I entered in both classes. I lost in the second round of box due to a tight double breakout, but kept going rounds in the no-box division to take the win. You could say I was holding a bit as my dial-in’s ranged from 9.90 to 11.90 depending on the opponent; the reason I went this route is simply because I needed some more hits on the tree without a delay box and a bit of practice driving. My reaction times are improving in this area, but I still have the odd one that isn’t stellar by any means. Hannah didn’t make it to the track until Saturday evening due to a soccer game, and unfortunately we lost Sunday to the weather. Here is a quick video of the day’s events, thanks to Indy Images for the use of their GoPro. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EomCjgTTcg
As I rolled into CB Dragway on Friday afternoon, I headed down through the pits and pulled the convoy into our usual spot. As I started getting set-up I noticed a bright orange Dakota parked close by. I didn’t think too much of it until Tony came over to see if I needed a hand and asked “How do you like the new wheels?”. His initial plan for the season was to finish a Capri he has been working on, but it wasn’t going to be ready in time for the race. Instead he found this little truck for sale online for $300.00 and couldn’t pass up the deal. Add slicks, a tach and away we go. She ain’t no Prism, but it’s looking real consistent so far and went three rounds in each class on Saturday. The bright orange with black stripes caused no confusion when picking a name and it’ll be a good addition to the team.
Tony and “Tigger” (Indy Images)
The ADRA is always looking for ways to promote drag racing, and one thing that we have been doing for a while is pre-race car shows. Basically, we find a location close to the race track where there is an ADRA points race, and have a small car show there usually on Friday afternoon. These displays are a great way to promote the race, the track, and drag racing in general. For racers it’s a good opportunity to get some advertising for your sponsors, and most times the local newspaper arrives to do a story. These displays have become a social gathering of sorts and there’s lots of banter and bench racing that goes on here before heading to the track. The first display was in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and we had a really good turnout. It also gave me a chance to clean the car and meet up with my buddies from QBC (Quick Bike Central), a group of drag bike racers that I hang out with at the track. These guys are serious racers, but whenever we get together after hours…stuff happens. Talking about stuff happening, I had a real “what the heck was that?” on the way to the ADRA display. As I was driving through town I heard a truck horn blowing and when I looked over there was a pumper truck on the other side of the road, sliding along on its frame! I had to really look to see what was happening, but the sparks coming from behind the cab that was on the ground told the story. I didn’t get to stop and take a pic, but found one in the paper of the aftermath. I wouldn’t want to be the mechanic responsible for this rig.
Things you see on the road!
ADRA Display at the Charlottetown Mall, PEI
ADRA Race#2 (The Double)
After the ADRA display, we headed to Raceway Park just outside of town. It’s a privately owned facility and draws huge crowds during their two ADRA races. On Saturday, they held a box/no-box gamblers race as well as a Quick 32 event with a $50 entry and a $50 side bet. I wasn’t sure if I could stay cool enough to run three classes, so I decided to enter Box and the Quick 32. There is a stock car track at the end of the strip and they were having a race in the evening; this means that for the day we would be running 1/8th mile. I also decided to put the throttle stop away, just to take that out of the equation and give me a better chance at some more “funny money”. After a couple of time trials, I had the car dialed and my reaction times were looking good. I was able to make it into the Quick 32 class and slipped through round #1 with a terrible .045 but dead on 7. Round #2 was a good race, and I killed just a bit for the win. Round #3 I was paired with fellow Cape Bretoner, Benny Niesten (the second Nova in the CB video). He was .006 to my .021, and took .004 of stripe earning him the win and he eventually went on to win the race. In the Box class, I took an easy first round win by hitting a .009 to his .092 and glided through. Round #2 I was paired with my uncle and a bit better of a light let me kill enough to be safe. Next up was a fast street driven Chevelle, he had a better light but I was able to sneak in and take it. Round #4 was another .009 giving me enough room to back in and earn a bye to the final where I would meet my old buddy John (come and get me) Rankin. He was .000 to my .030, and at the stripe it was .002 in my favour running dead on 2. A good day overall, and the car picked up the slack a couple of times when I wasn’t there. This meant another payday and some celebrating to do. Tony won the ADRA raffle that included a four pound lobster, some steaks, and potatoes which took care of dinner, and made for a great evening at the track.
The four pound raffle prize.
Sunday rolls around and we are back to ¼ mile racing. Everyone has had a chance to absorb the results of the first ADRA race, and eyes are on the top few in each class to see how they do in the early rounds. One time trial, then qualifying and I am paired with a dragster for the first round. A better light and some killing at the other end sends me off to round #2. Now I am paired with John Rankin, again, and we had a weird run. I pre-stage, he pre-stages and I start bumping in. While I am bumping in I see his stage light come on, now mine comes on and his goes out. He puts it in again and then the light goes out, now I’m thinking what the heck is going on here. One big lunge and he is staged but by now I’m trying to push my transbrake button through the tunnel and when the top amber came on I froze. I knew it was really bad but at the top end he is about four car lengths ahead. I get way out of it and go pick up the winning ticket. Back in the pits he comes over to apologize and let me in on what happened. Every time he pressed the button, his car would roll backward in reverse, so after three attempts, he just decided to footbrake it (with a .014 result I should add). Doing this didn’t set his throttle stop timers and he didn’t realize until it was too late. Oh well, let’s try to get that one off my mind and on to round #3 with Glenn MacLean a veteran racer with a deadly car. I knew I hit the tree hard and was able to whomp a bit at the top to be safe, my .004 to his .024 gave me some room. Round 4 puts me with a Vega running close to my speed, he got a touch on the tree, but fell off a bit and I took it. Next up is Doug Decker and I was .012 to his .089 giving me lots to play with and a trip to the finals. Once again I’m lined up with Benny Niesten and I knew I hit it good, it was getting tight at the stripe, but I was kind of playing the “dialer” for this round and figured I was safe. The numbers came in at .010 to his .048 and a double breakout giving me my first ADRA win for the season and sits me at the top of the pile in points. This was also my first “double weekend” with the car, and something that I always thought would be cool. Hannah arrived in time for Sunday’s race and made it to the semi’s before losing out. This earned her a few extra points and she still sits in the number one spot as well. My cousin Chris Pozzebon won the Bike/Sled class and this was his first ADRA win ever, needless to say he was happy about the deal.
Raceway Park ADRA Race#2 Win
Pozzebon gets his first ADRA Class Winner decal
Pro Tree Race #1
The Atlantic Pro Tree Series held their inaugural event on July 7th weekend at Greenfield Dragway. It’s been two years since I even hit a pro tree, but I was really looking forward to the event. It would usually be held on Saturday, but due to heavy rain that morning they decided to delay it until Sunday. At around three o’clock they made that call and then announced that they will be having an all-run gamblers race, so please come to the lanes with a dial on. Wow, pick a number and let’s go! I made a couple of passes on Friday night, so I knew about where I was. Round #1 was a better light and lots of room for the win. Round #2 was my freebie of the day, when the dragster in the other lane lost his scoop and didn’t make the run. Round #3 was against a bike and my first successful spot drop. I had been playing with one on Friday and when he noticed it and thought he was taking the stripe, he dumped it and let me drive by. This puts me into round #4 against my old buddy Mario VanWiechen. Mario is a hardcore racer that has been around for a long time and is not afraid to share what is on his mind. We have had some good runs over the years, but I think I might be ahead by a bit (I’m sure he will correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, he is also a TIBR subscriber and knows about different strategies and techniques used at the top end. I am holding a couple and know that I hit the tree good, we get to the top and he is a good piece behind so I kill (what I thought was) plenty. Turns out I was .016 to his .052 and had him covered; I dropped pretty hard and was down about 7mph but took too much stripe. Just when you think you’re safe, yellow ticket and a breakout. This “hogging of the stripe” as Mario dubbed it, would become the theme of my weekend.
Now onto Sunday; I had a pretty good handle on the throttle stop so far this season, and I was fairly confident heading into the race. There were 30 cars entered and the winner of each class (8.90, 9.90, 10.90) run off for a King of the Hill deal at the end of the day. I ended up qualifying number one with a 10.906 and wore the “circled one” on my windshield for the day. My first hit on the pro tree was an awful .076, but then they came around really good and ranged from -.003 to .019 over the next six runs. I then pulled out my worst of the day .036 to his .003 in the final and ended up in the runner-up spot of the Hot Rod class. Overall it was a good event and it was nice to hit the pro tree again. They are running it as a points series, so I still have a good chance at getting to the top. Also on Sunday, Greenfield had their regular points meet and I entered in the SuperPro class. In round #1 I was running a really fast Nova and he drove by me and broke out. On to round #2 and my most embarrassing pass of the season; I knew I hit the tree OK and started looking back early. We are a second apart in dial-ins but should be about the same mph since I am on the stop and I am knowingly holding about .02 or .03. I am still looking back and at half track and I know there is no way he will even come close, so I make the decision to hold it until the 990’ mark to do a good run completion. I hit the 990’ and take another look, ease off the gas and roll through the traps 62’ ahead of my competition. I bet you can guess what happened from here... I’m handed the losing ticket for a breakout! Looking at the numbers, I was .032 to his .280 and I really thought I was safe, but the car seemed to pick-up throughout the whole run and I just didn’t kill enough. I’m sure I won’t live this one down for a while and I can hear my buddy George from here “Put your foot down son, you’re headed into a tailspin...Stripe Hog!” but I learned my lesson and will try to avoid it in the future. Hannah on the other hand picked up the slack for us on the weekend and won the Jr. Gamblers race. She is becoming even more comfortable in the car and is getting some good consistent lights. We discuss every run that she makes and she is starting to strategize what to do in different situations at the other end. Right now, for most of her runs she is getting good lights and letting off while she passes them. On Sunday she had a tough first round with close lights and a .002 loss at the stripe. Overall it was a good weekend in Greenfield and a great warm up for the next Pro Tree race in Cape Breton. The newspaper was also on hand and did a nice write up on drag racing in general, with a video and pictures. http://thechronicleherald.ca/wheelsnews/116030-watch-video-power-and-precision-drag-racing-at-greenfield
First Pro Tree race of 2012 (Chris O’Neill Photo)
Hannah wins the Jr. Gamblers in Greenfield
Cape Breton Dragway
The track previously mentioned is the other of our “temporary” facilities and is set-up on the emergency runway at the airport in Sydney. The tower, tech shed, timing system, barriers, bleachers and everything else is put in place and then removed for each event. They have been doing this for over ten years now and really have it down to a system. Most of the work is done by volunteers, and without them there wouldn’t be any events here. The really cool thing about racing here is that it is still a live airport, and planes are taking off and landing all weekend on the main runway. I’ve had a lot of success at this track, and it’s always nice to get home for a visit.
View from the tower (Indy Images)
One thing for sure in this sport we call drag racing, is that it teaches our youth valuable life lessons and skills. I look at the line up of jr.dragsters in the staging lanes and see kids doing math and trying to figure out strategy, back in the pits they’re working on their cars, and after the races they show some great sportsmanship. Is there any better place for our kids to be than at the track with us and their drag racing friends? You would be hard pressed to find one. This year Hannah started driving my car into the trailer for me; I never thought a lot of it until one of her school friends stood by in amazement that a young girl was capable of such a task. I didn’t tell her that the reason we do this is that I can’t squeeze out of the car anymore when it’s in the trailer! Anyway, I think it is good for them to be around real life mechanical things and not strictly focused on our virtual world. Hopefully it will help guide them in the right direction when it’s time.
Jr. Dragsters in the staging lanes
That’s it for this month; there were no surprises from the Ghost Rider, but lots to write about regardless. Next month will feature results from ADRA races 3&4, as well as some pro tree results and maybe the Greenfield Bracket Bash. Hopefully everything will be as positive as this round and we can hold on to our points lead. Bryson is still really fascinated with being at the track and on Monday mornings he usually asks “Are we going racing today?”
Bryson hanging out in the staging lanes
Thanks go out to Marand Engineering for helping out with some aluminum welding this month and Indy Images for some pics and video. Also once again a big thanks to APD, Nitro Plate, J&J Engine Diapers, K&N Filters, Wiseco Performance, Milodon, Huntsville Engine & Performance, Dedenbear, the JEGS U.S. Open Bracket Championships, and of course TIBR for providing this cool program. If you or your business has a need for flame resistant work wear, please visit www.geliget.com
to check out all the latest in FR and arc flash rated clothing.
Thanks again for reading and “Don’t Hog the Stripe!”