NHRA South Florida Sport Compact Nationals Jupiter, FL 4-1/2-06 Summary Things got off to a good slow start for FL. Ken and I arrived at the racetrack on Friday for the day before the race for test and tune. While I still had work to do on the car, Ken was gearing his Rx8 up to make a test pass. It was beautiful weather and we couldn’t ask for better in southern Florida. Once unloaded and Ken and car builder Tito had checked the car corner weights, Ken went up to the line to make his first pass. With the tune purposely rich to be on the safe side and following the burnout, the car launched well with a 1.13 60'. At the 1/8th he could feel it was "fat", and as he engaged 5th gear, the motor blew. Once back in the pits, Ken started to remove the transmission and bell housing to find the rear iron had cracked from a massive misfire and water filled the catch pan. While he was busy doing an overnight swap on the engine, I made a test pass that evening and ran a 10.16 @136mph. Something felt strange with the clutch during the run and I tried to bleed the system to see if there was any air in it, and I was only getting 6psi of boost off the line. Even though the car had a new setup, it was nowhere near finished for the goal that I was shooting for by Florida, due to time restraints. The next day was qualifying day, and I had some help from my friend Tim, his girlfriend Kristy, and my girlfriend Stephanie who flew in to meet us. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the car ready for first or second round qualifying, with helping Ken to get a new motor back up and running and trying to solve the problems with my own. As for the third round the car made a decent pass on low boost by running a 10.48 @ 130mph. I qualified fourth next to a local Mr2, Mark Mazurouski, former Titan driver, in his 240sx with a 9.95, and Julie in the ESX Subaru. I still had clutch problems, and spent the whole day trying to find the cause as well as had what seemed to be blow-by problems. That night I found the cause. It turns out that the brake line, inline with the linelock just above the bell housing, was leaking under pressure and dripping into the bell housing observation hole, and onto the clutch. Once hitting the clutch, the brake fluid was slung all over the motor, causing the appearance of blow-by oil. We couldn’t do anything about it that day because we needed a double flange kit to repair the line. The next morning my friend Tim and I went to an Advance Auto Parts nearby as soon as it opened, to pick up the tools and parts we needed before hitting the racetrack. We got to the track as soon as we could and got to work repairing the line. After a short time and nearing the first elimination round, we got everything fixed up and bled. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about the damage the fluid had caused the clutch, but at least the car was running decent enough to compete. While modifying the Haltech to try to create more boost coming off the line, Tim got working on preparing the car to run. For round one I went up against a yellow supra and took it easy, running a 13.11 in the quarter which put me in the semifinals against Mark in his 240sx. For the semifinal, I new Mark’s car was fast and the only shot I had was to hole-shot Mark off the tree. Unfortunately, I launched just a slight hare too early and red-lighted with 4 thousandths of a second! Mark had trouble with a cylinder anyway, but you never know until you get out there. For the final round I was up at the track ready to watch Julie run Mark, when my girlfriend came running up to me and told me that they were calling for me to run immediately. We quickly hopped into the rental car to go find out what was going on, when my car came driving up to me, and past me like a valet service gone wrong, and I chased it down, finding Ken inside, who was pulling it up to the line while they were trying to find me. Apparently Mark had gotten DQ’d during the semifinals, which reinstated me. With the help of the guys, I suited up immediately, and jumped into the car securing myself down, and getting the laptop ready to datalog, as they set tire pressure and checked all other systems to go. I pulled up to the line just in time and lined up against the ESX Subaru. On launch the car sort of bogged and went left out of the grooves, giving Julie a jump ahead. Then I had to correct while trying to keep an eye on the RPM. I finally got the car straight at around the eighth mile, and started chasing her down slowly. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough, as she passed through the traps with a 9.90 and I with a 10.3 @ 137mph. Ah well….second place aint too bad. As for Ken, unfortunately he demolished another motor while trying out the two-step. On the drive home, we came to the conclusion that there is something wrong with noise interference causing detonation issues. Hopefully the problem gets solved before Virginia in three weeks. Event coverage: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer.com Event pictures: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer.com TV coverage: ESPN2 - May 10 @ 2 A.M. (central time)
NHRA Virginia Sport Compact Nationals Richmond, Va. 4-22/23-06 Summary Ken, I and my girlfriend Stephanie all loaded up on Thursday evening to head out on the 19 hour drive to Richmond, arriving at the hotel close to 11pm Friday night, meeting up with fellow teammates Jesus Padilla and Carlos of Kilo Racing. We arrived at the track at 8:30am the next morning, and met up with Demetrious and Russ of Reactive Racing, based out of Richmond. Upon arrival at the track it started pouring down rain, pretty much giving us the idea that there would be no racing for at least Saturday. We worked on things we needed to get done just to be prepared for whatever might come, until at around 11am, the officials held a drivers meeting announcing that there would be no racing for that day, but to be prepared to run early on Sunday. While a lot of the racers took this as a relaxing point, Ken and I worked throughout the rain, huddled inside the trailer, to make sure the cars were ready to run on Sunday. Come Sunday, we arrived at the track as early at 8am ready to race. I was running a new final gear ratio in the car, replaced the clutch with a new one, not covered in brake fluid, and was anxious to try it out with the new setup. We only got one qualifying pass that morning and I qualified second running a 9.90 with ESX in number one spot running a 9.85, and the 240sx in number three easing it on down the track running an 11.6, with no-one else in the class but us three! In the first round of eliminations, I went up against Mark in the 240 and barely won with a 10.38 @ 134mph, to his 10.42 @ 143mph. I had a problem shifting into third gear, and Mark had trouble with traction. Next I would have to face Julie for the final again, but to my surprise, she red-lighted due to an issue with the car on her bye run! That meant I got a free pass into the winners circle! Unfortunately, as much as I wanted first place and the infamous Wally, I didn’t want to win it that way. But it was for reasons I had no control over, so I suited up and decided to run the car to check out third gear, since I would have to do it anyway. I went up and ran a 10.6 for the final, of course, having trouble getting it into third gear again, having to jab it into third 3 times to get it to slide into gear. As for Ken, he qualified with an 8.30 in the single qualifier round, qualifying 5th. For the first elimination round he ran an 8.20 against the T&T Motorsports Celica, which put him up against Paul Efantis. In the semifinals, Ken ran a 7.80 to Paul’s 7.63 putting Paul into the finals. Ken’ s car is finally starting to come to life as it was made to do. Stephanie and I went up to the winners circle to take pictures with the car, which was a new exciting experience for me, and I hope it won’t be the last. Next comes Englishtown, New Jersey….. Event Pictures: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer / 1320Drag.Net Event Coverage: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer TV Coverage: May 7 on ESPN2 at 2pm central time
Nitto NHRA Sport Compact Spring Nationals Englishtown, N.J. 5-6/7-06 Summary Englishtown is known for its record-breaking runs, and is sometimes considered the best track in the world. Ken and I were joined by his brother, Graham, and his cousin, Rodney, both visiting the United States for the first time from South Africa. We left about 7pm on Thursday evening, and after a long, 27-hour, eventful trip learning and teaching about different cultures, we arrived on location. Saturday, we arrived at the track at 9am before the gates opened to get the cars prepped. I got the parachute cable installed on my car, while Ken setup his car for the qualifying runs. For round one, Ken ran a 10.20 because of another broken engine due to interference problems. Ken, Graham, and Rodney all started to pull and replace the motor with a spare one in the trailer. As for me, I ran a 10.6 at 137mph. While on the track, I had a very strange burnout, the car went sideways on launch, and it had a major vibration in second and third. When I got back to the pits, we jacked up the car and ran it in gear to find the vibration. To my surprise, it was the tires that were out of round! They were fine in Virginia just two weeks ago, but now they were warped beyond belief. I called a couple of my friends up in New York, Jay, Josi and Anthony, to see if they had a set of wheels and tires that I could borrow from them. Sure enough, Anthony had a set of stock 16s with tires that I could use from his yellow R1. Later that night, Ken and the others finished installing the motor, and we called it a night at around midnight. Sunday morning, I ripped off my rear wheels and tried to install the set loaned from Anthony, but I couldn’t install them because I didn’t have the right lug nuts to fit due to the extended lugs. I had 45 minutes before they ran us for last qualifying round, so I hopped in the truck and hauled tail to the nearest auto parts store 25 minutes away. When I was on the way back from the parts store, there was a traffic jam due to a wreck. Fortunately, I was able to get through it and get back to the trailer with enough time to spare, as I pulled up they were calling us for last qualifier round. I setup the car and left for the lanes. I ran a 9.78 @ 144 mph, but it wasn’t enough to take second place from Mark who ran a 9.71. Ken got the car working, and got to work tearing apart his transmission to solve a fourth gear issue. I was paired up against a local guy with a 10 second eclipse for elimination round one. As for the others, ESX had a bye run, and the 240sx was paired up against another local 10 second eclipse. I ran a 9.90 against the eclipse which put me into the semifinals against Julie in the ESX Subaru. We lined up and she got the tree, just a split second faster. I shot out of the hole at 8500 rpm, and stayed right behind her almost the whole way, until fourth gear, I broke the motor, and the car lagged through the traps. I ran a 9.88 while somehow she pulled off 9.19! Ah well, at least I ran a decent run. For the final Julie and Mark lined up at the tree and ran almost neck and neck. She ran a 9.31 to his 9.36! The competition is getting fast! As for Ken, he ran against one of the Puerto Rican guys, and ran an 8.20, but it wasn’t enough to run him down. On the way home Ken and I are going over everything to figure out the next plan of action that we are going to take. Event Pictures: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer Event Coverage: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer
Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Atco, NJ. 5-20/21-06 Due to multiple reasons, Ken and I feel that it is best we skip Atco, and attend Denver next in 3 weeks.
Mountain Madness NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Denver, Co. 6-10/11-06 Summary Bandemiere is my favorite track of the season, due to the fact that you never know what is going to happen, and it's awe-inspiring lanscape design, being "carved" out of the side of the foothills of the rocky mountains, and fantastic view of west Denver. Of course the altitude really makes it hard to run the car optimally, with the air so thin at 5000ft. This trip is the shortest for me with a 13hr drive. Accompanying me this trip was my girlfriend, Stephanie, and my good friend Lee. Ken was flying in Friday from an out of town business trip. Saturday we had trouble with 2-step, clutch switch, and multiple other issues at the beginning of the day. We sheared the output shaft on launch in qualifying round #2. Luckily the car broke the beams and I qualified in the #8 position. I just so happened to have a used trans in the trailer from VA race, and swapped it out Saturday evening, but I wasn't sure about the quality of it. Sunday morning, I finally got 2-step to sort of work, and went out for the first elimination pass. The Talon double bulbed me instead of courtesy staging, so I didn't get enough time to get boost up on launch, plus I had a huge vibration at top end which resulted in a 10.9e.t. The vibration turned out to be a bent rear wheel, and boost had dropped off 4lbs from Dallas to Denver. Also, my computer shut off on launch, so I could't datalog the run. With no time to get the computer up and running, we turned up the boost and made some other changes to race Ryan in the WOTM Supra. For round 2, I treed Ryan with a .192 light, and got lucky that he had some problems with the turbo, but the bent wheel was shaking my car to pieces, and the trans had some issues on top end. For the final round, we borrowed a set of wheels from a fellow racer, Micheal Bergren, and was confident that the car was ready to run a great run. I got on 2-step on time, and treed the Supra just like the last, but sheared the output shaft on launch again on the other transmission. It sucks because I feel real confident we would have beat him and even the reaction time suffered due to the broken output shaft. Oh well...It seems that the stock tranny just isn't holding up anymore, not even for a short time. However, plans are in the making to try and resolve the problem, but budget and time constraints come into play, since I don't carry a sponsor. I guess I can't complain about second place considering where we stood at Sat afternoon. Congrats to Dee for 1st place in Modified, and Carl for 1st in Quick 16. Also, congrats to Ken for not breaking any motors anymore! The drives home should be more pleasant from now on...haha...just kidding Ken. Event Coverage: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer Event Pictures: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer
Las Vegas NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Las Vegas, Nv. 7-14/15-06 Summary Las Vegas is always a cool event to come out and see for anyone. It’s the one night race of the year, and to tell you the truth, I think it screws all of us racers up a bit. This year it was a really fun event because it was NHRA drag series plus D1 drift challenge, all in one event! Ken and I started out Wednesday evening along with my girlfriend Stephanie, and my brother Ben, who was in town visiting from Los Angeles. We arrived Thursday night and hit the bed right away. The next morning, bright and early, Ken and I left to pick up my friend Lee, who flew in for the weekend to help out. Friday afternoon, we of course had to have some In-and-Out burger for lunch before heading to the track. After lunch we arrived at the track around 12 noon and started setting up to run. Things got off to a rough start when Ken broke a bearing in qualifier run #1, and I snapped the chrome-moly center shaft of my axle off at the starting line. Luckily for Ken his car still shot out of the hole like a rocket running an 8.0 @165mph in 110-degree heat! I on the other hand had no back up axles in the trailer. I went to talk to Carl Martin in the Quick class to see if he had a set. He didn’t have a spare set, but he was going to switch to a second set for eliminations, and he said I was welcome to use them if I felt necessary. Of course I did! We got to work building the axles for the car as soon as he finally ran the second round at 1:30am due to multiple oil spills all night. NHRA decided not to run the 3rd round of qualifying because it was too late. That really upset me because I didn’t get a chance to see how the car was going to run for eliminations. Not only that, but they didn’t even have me on the list for eliminations due to a mix up as a result of the chaos that happened all night! I’m sure other racers were probably just as upset about 3rd round as I was, if not more. Finally, we got the issue settled, and I was good for Saturday. Of course I was running the Subaru for round 1, but at least we were still in. By 3:30am we were done and ready to run with all the systems checked on the car…..time for some sleep. Saturday, we took Lee out on the town for a select few hours since the car was as ready as it was ever going to be. It was cut a little short, but we still got to at least see the strip. We got to the track and I set the boost where I thought it should be, and did a once over on the car just to make sure nothing was undone. The heat was crazy…117 degrees F! Ken got the bearing he needed after paying a shop owner to open up for a few minutes, and he got the transmission back in and ready to run. For eliminations Ken broke 1st gear taking him out of the race, and I was getting ready to face Julie and Team ESX once again. We staged at the light, I hit the 2-step, and POW! The car broke again. This time it was the brand new, cryoed output shaft. It just split in two. We were out while Julie ran a 9.50. We stayed until the end of the race to watch the finals, and Julie had the holeshot on Ryan, but broke halfway down, giving Ryan the win.
Here is quoted Sport RWD coverage from Urban Racer.com: "Though just four cars made the field for Sport RWD, what they lacked in quantity they made up for in variety, with Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, and Mazda all represented. Class regular Ryan Woon led qualifying, finding the single digit tuneup that eluded the others with a 9.400 at 158. Julie Stepan and Mark Mazurowski both laid down tens, one low and one high, while Schechter, typically a force to be reckoned with in the class, took a single aborted shot at the tree just to get into eliminations on Saturday. Woon led off the first round by outrunning Mazurowski start-to-finish, taking a big .053-to.252 holeshot and never looking back, his mid-nine pace more than enough to trailer the low-ten 240SX. On the other side of the ladder, Dan Schechter’s woes continued when his RX-7 broke right off the line, giving Julie Stepan a clear shot into the finals. For her part, Julie laid down a 9.598 at almost 146 mph, proving that she might have a little something for Woon. Unfortunately, the ESX Subaru has just two settings: “Fast” and “Broken,” and the switch got flipped to the wrong position for the finals. Just past the tree, a big ball of fire from the ‘rex announced that Woon would be getting the Wally this time around, his 9.444 at 163.39 more than enough to outpace Stepan’s limping 14."
Palm Beach NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Jupiter, Fla. Aug. 19-20/21-06 Summary Back off to the great south east coast to battle it out in Moroso once again. Since Las Vegas, the car obviously needed some serious changes. I changed suspension setups in hopes that the breakage issue would resolve by creating a softer launch. Saturday, everyone showed up for the race, unfortunately, the weather didn’t look like it was going to be so kind. For qualifier round one, I qualified 5th place due to the fact that this was the first launch on a new suspension setup, and I lost traction in 2nd and 3rd gear, while coasting down the rest of the way. Julie was having problems of her own, and Mark qualified #1 in his 240SX. The rest of the day, unfortunately was rained out by massive rainstorms. Sunday was a new day however; I realized I had cracked my brand new main shaft on the first pass, even with a light launch! My strategy was simple, try to run a smooth run with off the pedal with no 2-step, to take out the 11 sec eclipse piloted by Thojan, that I was paired up with, and the ladder put me in the final , since two of the cars in the field didn’t show up. Unfortunately, not being used to driving the car that way, I had no time to learn, and the car bogged out of the hole worse than I hoped. Thojan pulled a 10.52 @ 135mph, and my car was catching up, but not in time while I pulled off an 11.0 @ 135mph. The rest of the event got rained out and was considered to be finished at E-Town before the next race. I got to solve this breakage issue! I decided to stay in South FL for a day and enjoy the beach for once. Event Coverage: NHRA Event Pictures: NHRA
NHRA Sport compact Fall Nationals Englishtown, NJ. 9-30/10-1-06 Due to continued drivetrain issues, unfortunately I felt it was best we skipped E-Town to continue with R&D.
NHRA Sport Compact World Finals Pomona, Calif. 10-21/22-06 Summary Good old Pomona Raceway in southern California! World record breaking track coupled with great weather. How can you beat that! Saturday, the Sport Rear class had only 3 competitors: me, Julie and of all people I didn’t expect to see...Eddie Bellows! Julie was on the mark of course with the ESX Subaru, and unfortunately Eddie didn’t make weight (I don’t think NHRA considered having a 6cyl Porsche running in the competition when they made the rulebook). Eddie seemed to be having traction problems anyway. I ran an easy launch to save the drive train since I wasn’t sure how it would hold up with the new brace installed. The car ran a 10.432 @138mph with a 60ft of 1.676. I did not run any more qualifiers due to the fact I had a straight shot into the finals. Sunday, was a new day, and the least amount of work to get the car ready as we ever had to do at any of the races for this year. I turned up the boost, and decided we either run all or nothing. (Of course we went for all.) Our final round came up with first eliminations since there were only 2 of us. I hate it when they do that due to the fact the camera crews aren’t ready, and we kind of have to hassle with taking care of everything at he end of the day instead of right away. Julie and I pre staged, and I went to stage, but she beat me to it and started the countdown. I staged fully, and got on the 2-step, but was only on it for .1 tenth of a second before the tree hit green and Julie took off. I remember thinking to myself “do I go now and bog? Or do I stay on 2-step and let her leave, but get a good launch?”....I made my decision... quickly, she was leaving me at the line, and I had to go! The car of course bogged after being on the 2-step for just 2 tenths of a second, and then came back to life. I stayed on it just in case she had problems or got cocky. She ran a 9.1, and I followed behind with a lagging 11.68. Fortunately, the car ran great once it was out of the hole. The good part about being done early was I got to watch the competition, and help out Ken who had taken out Justin Humphreys with a new personal record of 7.768 @ 169mph! Unfortunately, he got taken out by Jorge’s 1st gen monster in the semi-finals. For me it was time to call it a day with a lucky second place, and work on getting the cars issues fixed for next year. For now, I’m going to enjoy sunny Southern California for the rest of the week now that the season’s over. I will get the car to hold together! Event Coverage: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer Event Pictures: NHRA / Modified Magazine / Urban Racer
Import FaceOff San Antonio, TX 2-6-2005 Summary As a last minute decision, I went to San Antonio on February 13th for the smaller Import Face Off event with just enough money to enter the event and without fine tuning the car since last year. To my surprise the car ran surprisingly well with a 10.26 @135mph right off the trailer! There was a fairly small turnout at the event , but enough to fill the class. I went home with first place, but sadly, no trophy for the racers. That's alright, I'll take the money.
Import FaceOff Norman, OK 4-17-2005 Summary It was definitely an eventful race. The car was launching decently the whole day, but I couldn't stand on the throttle without the car getting out of control like the week before in the second and third passes in Ennis testing. Pass after pass, we tried changing the setup, trying to figure out what the problem was. We finally figured out that the tires were the cause. Unfortunately, we couldn't fix the problem at the track since I didn't have a spare set of tires, but we still were able to take home first place despite not being able to stay on the throttle. New tires have arrived, and testing will begin soon. I WILL MAKE IT INTO THE NINES.
NHRA Mile High Nationals Bandemiere, CO 6-11/12-2005 Summary We worked extremely hard the last 2 weeks to make it to NHRA Mile High Nationals in Bandimere, CO - June 11-12. With a few changes to the car, it dynoed in at 530whp. Not bad for the middle of summer. I went out to Colorado with a couple of friends to race, and we did very well considering the circumstances. The car pulled a 10.6 out of the trailer, and we made a few adjustments for qualification pass #2. When it was my turn, I launched decent, but broke both axles off inside the differential. We worked all night to pry the right axle spline out of the differential, but were unsuccessful. The next morning we were finally able to pry the CV out, but the splines were sheared off inside from both sides. With only a half hour until eliminations began, we decided to pull the diff hoping it would rain just long enough to work on the car. We yanked the diff out, dismantled it to remove the axle shards, rebuilt the diff and rebuilt both axles using a set of extra stock axles Karl just happened to have. It rained JUST long enough for us to finish, and we made it out with 3 minutes to spare. 1st round went by, then we made a few minor adjustments, 2nd round, charge pipe popped off, and fuse unmounted causing the car to hardly run. We fixed the problem with only seconds to spare for 3rd round. Fourth round we pulled as much power as we could, dialed in the car, and hoped to holeshot. I caught a .020 light, shot way ahead of the Easy Street Subaru pulling a 10.31, but it wasn't quite enough to overcome the top end power of the Subaru. I can't ask for better. We took second, but only because we had a less powerful car. As far as we were concerned, we arrived Sunday thinking we wouldn't race at all and we walked away with second place and great pride. Now that's drag racing! Check out the videos here. Also, I got some pretty good shots of the car. Check them out here. Our Event Pictures- Click here Other event coverage: NHRA, Modified Magazine, Urban Racer.com
NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Las Vegas, NV 9-9/10-2005 Summary Ken and I decided to go out to Vegas together, my friend Tim came with us, and my brother , Ben, decided to meet us there to help out.. Vegas was wide open and up to 45mph crosswinds during the day, but luckily calmed down at night. We spent all day Saturday prepping for the race, as well as all day Sunday. There were a lot of pro teams that showed up, but not for the sportsman classes. I only had a 5 car field when it was time for eliminations, but Ken's class was full, and Ken had some major surging problems from the turbo. Friday went ok, and I qualified second with a 10.22, but I my slave cylinder broke, and we had to fix it before I didn't qualify at all. Also I had a major vibration in the car at higher speeds. Sunday I spent all day trying to find the source of the problem (which turned out to be the differential) and noticed a hole in my cv boot, and the joint was stiff. After a little deliberation we decided to rebuild the axle and see if the problem resolved itself. Luckily I had a bye run, because I tested the new axle cup with a mild launch, and it snapped like a twig. Tim and I then brought the car back to the trailer pulled the axles, removed the broken shaft inside the differential, and rebuilt the axle again using the old shaft (it might have been binding, but at least it wasn't snapping), while Ben helped Ken get prepped for his next pass. We got the axle back together, but the spring had slipped out of the axle seal during the install, and we didn't have time to fix it, luckily I had another bye run and I just cruised on down to the traps. We had to pull the axle again and pull the axle seal without damaging it, replace the spring and install the axle and seal all before the final round, and we did. I ran against Julie in the Subaru again, and she slightly tree'd me. Right after I launched, the car shut down completely for a split second, causing the car to weight transfer forward and fall out of it's powerband, but then I was able to get back into the gas. Unfortunately Julie was too far ahead by this point, and I just stood on it hoping for here to screw up somewhere (not likely). I went to go see what happened from the datalog, but even the datalog shut off and I wasn't able to see what happened during the "hiccup". Well... At least I was able to walk away with second place, and Julie's family was there and happy to see her win. Ken is still having surging problems and hopefully we will be able to find the problem soon. We got some good pictures- click here, and video will be coming soon. Our Event Pictures- Click here More event coverage: NHRA, Modified Magazine, Urban Racer.com