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I got my first chance to participate in one of Rich Christensen's productions last weekend at Cedar Falls Raceway. I hesitate to call it a race but I will agree it was an "event" to be sure. Rich founded the popular TV series PINKS at this local track about four years ago. Has it come a long way? WOW! You could say that, as it is watched by millions of viewers every season. This event will not be on TV but it didn't seem to matter to anyone.
Cedar Falls Raceway is just an ordinary small rural dragstrip. I owned it for twelve years and since then it has been repaved and had more seats added, and the improvements have been welcomed by racers and fans alike. Rich Christensen decided it was a nice enough facility and could draw a lot of cars from surrounding cities as well as spectators. Between him and track owners Scott Gardner and Dan Driscoll they were correct. The place was jammed.
I think there was about 375 entries and if I had to guess (after 15 years of trying to fill bleachers I am pretty good at it) I would say they had about 1500 people Friday and about 2500 on Saturday. Not a huge crowd by some track's standards, but for Cedar Falls Raceway it was pretty much "filled up".
Nobody really knew what to expect but I noticed a totally different attitude among participants. A relaxed atmosphere with the focus on having fun and just running your cars all-out. (I will admit, I MIGHT have heard that a few too many times!) No worrying about reaction times, dial-ins, trying to be consistent, or what the wind and weather was doing. We just had fun and ran time trials Friday. Two sessions qualified you into your group that would be used for time trials to establish the final groups during Saturdays one qualifying run.
When Saturday morning got started, and after the Friday night partying I could hear outside my motorhome, some got going at a pretty slow rate if you know what I mean.... One qualifying run Saturday and again I felt this whole event had a different atmosphere about it. After the run they held a huge drivers' meeting to go over the rules and announce who qualified for the Arm Drop Live final eliminations.
The Arm Drop Live crew decided on three 32-car fields and two seperate Quick Eight fields. They called out numbers and LUCKILY they called out our car number for the Olds Cutlass I drive for Nick Jeffrey. We had ran 9.962. 9.920 and 9.919. We were in Group Three and would run last. The basic procedure is to call up a group of 32 and hot lap them until they have a winner. No time to cool down or go to the pits. They had people stationed on the return road to direct you immediately back to staging as well as keep the return road free from other traffic.