315 mph in 3.9 seconds, WOW!

dscn0064It all began with a simple e-mail to my stepson and his daughter. Sometimes the power of suggestion is overwhelming. I received a spam message f rom Firebird International Speedway in Chandler, Arizona.  Why not, I asked myself? I sent a simple message to these two very important people with the following:  “Are either of you up to going? ” The event was the  NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Pro Time Trials. I was half kidding, but then again I was hoping for an escape from winter.

It actually happened!

My grand daughter replied,  “are you serious?”

“Why not?” I replied.

The phone rang. She asked me again. “Yes, I’m serious.”

“Okay, I’ll make arrangements.”

Last Saturday we left for Midway airport at noon for a three o’clock flight to Phoenix. Tracy had an agenda. First we were to go to an “In and Out Burger” for the best hamburger and fries we ever had. Then we checked in at Red Roof Inn. Afterward, we shopped at Wal Mart for weather appropriate clothes.

Bright and early on Sunday morning we were at Denny’s eating breakfast. The goal was to get to the track when it opened. We made it. Our car was about the twentieth in the lot. Since she had pre-paid for our tickets, we practically walked through the gate without a pause.

ShoppingThe first order of business was to buy souvenir tee shirts. Tracy spoke to many of the vendors by name. She’s been at so many of these things, they know her well. With the shopping completed, we were free to roam the pits.  We passed a line of semi-tractors, six in a row. All belonged to the John Force team. The trailers were all lined up and crews were busy assembling the cars. I couldn’t believe that they were actually putting them together at the track. She explained that they are practicing for the real thing on race day. After every run, the crew disassembles the car and checks every component for wear and damage. Suspect parts are replaced before the next run. The teams practice their tasks, while the driver practices with the car.

Force Team Semi's

Unloading Fuel Dragster

Unfinished Funny Car ChassisUnassembled DragsterAfter a car is assembled, the crew starts the engine. The car is on a jack stand with wheels above the ground. Some of the crew huddle around the engine with electronic measuring devices. Others are probing the hoses. Still others are looking at the clutch,  transmission, and tires. The fumes from the nitro fuel is obnoxious and burning my eyes, and throat. The noise is deafening even with my ear plugs in. I watched from the side at a safe distance. I wanted a closer look, so I switched to the other side. Right in the middle of my walk, a crew member gunned the engine. I nearly dropped to the ground. The noise scared the hell out of me. I felt the exhaust heat thirty feet behind the car.  At another trailer, I watched as veteran Don Prudhomme, quietly moved away from next to his dragster to stand behind a new Dodge Challenger parked next to it. he was not about to stand in front of an eight thousand horsepower engine as it was started for the first time. After witnessing him back off, I stood a little farther back at test firings.Top Fuel DragsterDid I mention the weather? The sky was blue, the sun was bright, the temperature in the morning was sixty, and it shot up to seventy-nine degrees by afternoon. I wore sun block and long sleeves to keep from getting burned. The locals walked around in tee shirts and shorts. Some walked in flip flops.

By ten thirty the cars began to arrive at the starting line for trials. There was no side by side racing, just one car try outs. Some of the cars shot off the line only to shut down the engine after a second. They coasted across the finish line at eighty five miles per hour. Later in the afternoon, the same car would run the distance and cross the finish line at 315 mph in 3.9 seconds. WOW! 

John Force

Lucas OilAlAnabiBernsteinSnake RacingGEICOHartley RacingKalitta Motor SportsMATCOThe quarter mile stretch was shortened  last year to give the drivers more stopping time.  Even though the total race distance has been shortened from 1320 feet to 1000 feet,  the speeds are the same as before.

By four o’clock, Tracy and I began the trip back to cold country. We arrived home at 12:30 a.m. I was totally exhausted.  The twenty four hour sojourn into the desert washed away my winter doldrums.

I dreamt of biting into a nice big juicy tasty In-and-Out Burger with fries.

The clock rang at seven a.m. It was time to get up to go for my stress test. What fun this weekend was.

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