"Forty-seven under! Whaddaya
mean it takes .47 under to get in?"
By Jeff Burk
Photography by Dave Kommel/Auto Imagery
So, where were we? Oh yeah, now I remember. . . After the Adkins brothers shook the car down with some eighth-mile passes, we were ready to go to Houston and play with the big boys of NHRA Comp Eliminator. Sheesh, nobody told us in the briefing how big these guys were.
Both Kenny and I figured that qualifying at Houston wasn't going to be a picnic but, like all racers, we had hope. Then the Gods of drag racing really gave Kenny, myself and our crew chief Houston Kneece a kidney punch. Kenny staged the car for the first time, put her on the chip and hit the transbrake. The "Bad Bird" ran down the track to a smooth 8.166! On our 8.53 B/EA index that put us at .364-under, which placed us number 30 out of 32 qualifiers.
Well, we didn't feel too bad since a .25-under made the show at Houston last year. We even harbored hopes that we would stay qualified. Then they had a second round of qualifying under great weather conditions and we got a man-sized serving of reality. The car went left at the green but Kenny stayed in it and we picked-up two-hundredths! That was the good news; the bad news was that we dropped from number 30 qualifier to number 36! And the bump went to a .429 under. But being first timers we figured a tweak here and adjustment there and we'd get the "Bad Bird" in the program, after all we had one more shot.
Silly boys! We weighed the car Friday morning and discovered it was about 40 lbs heavy. Several of our Pro Mod friends including Gotham Racing's Adkins Bros who helped get the car ready offered advice: "Get a new set of shorter tires for the rear, get rid of those heavy old wheels and mount the new tires on a new set of trick lightweight rear wheels and take the rpms up on the leave," they said.
We weighed our options. The new wheels and tires would set us back about $2500 and car owner Mike Ashley wasn't going for that deal. None of those guys with the answers had any money either, so for the first round we took the only option available to us. Houston took the wheelie bars off the car (which took about 35 lbs off), moved a bar to the back, we crossed our fingers and went to the lanes.
Kenny did a nice burnout, staged the car, brought the rpms up to 9400 and thumbed the transbrake. This time the tires came about three feet off of the ground and instead of breaking left like the previous pass, the car went right. Kenny corrected and drove her on through. We went another 8.148 and the bump went to a freakin' .477-under and we weren't even close. Our Patterson engine and Scott McClay trans/TCI converter worked perfectly.
As I write this, we're on the way to the mountain at Bristol. We've got our trick new Demon Carburetor ready to go, we've taken some weight out of the car and on the advice of Jerry Bickel who originally built the 'Bird, we've put the wheelie bar back on and we're going to the starting line.
Next week, the Bristol report.
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