I have a lot of hobbies and activities that I enjoy, but unfortunately my busy schedule hasn’t allowed me many opportunities to do these things as of late. Between an extremely busy work schedule and going back to school I have almost no free time. When I do have free time though, I am participating in one of my two favorite hobbies: working out or drag racing.
If you haven’t already stopped reading, you’re probably trying to figure out where I’m going with this…. Because of my extreme passion for both working out and drag racing, I have decided to write what I think (and hope!) will be some informative articles which will show the correlation between working out and drag racing. So now you folks are asking, “how will working out improve my drag racing?” Stay tuned for the answers in my upcoming articles! For those of you who don’t know, I work at Bristol Dragway as the Dragway Events Coordinator. From April till October I work most days of the week and almost every weekend (this is our “season”). A busy schedule of dragway events doesn’t leave me much time for racing or working out, but I make it work! During our “season” I squeeze in workouts when I can (usually 3-5 times a week) and race on the few off weekends we have. From October through March I probably workout anywhere from 6-9 times a week and race as late into the dragway season as possible (and start as early as I can too!).
My goal in writing these articles is to show my fellow drag racers how working out/exercising can improve your performance on the strip (and it certainly never hurts to lead a healthy lifestyle!). I look at exercising as my “secret weapon” when it comes to drag racing. I know you’re still trying to figure out the correlation (don’t worry, we’ll get to that), but I have actually won races due in some degree to my level of fitness. So if I have you hooked with that last statement, I’ll go ahead and give you a brief background of my fitness knowledge and why I feel like I’m an adequate source to talk about this subject (and to add validity!).
- I participated in competitive Track & Field and Cross Country for almost 10 years
- I ran Track & Field and Cross Country at a NCAA Division 1 school
- I received a Coaching minor from JMU and am certified to coach cycling, track & field, cross country, and weightlifting
- I coached high school track & field and cross country for one year
- I coached a college teammate for a period of time who has since went on to qualify for the Olympic Trials
- I am constantly striving to learn and stay current with diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle articles through a multitude of outlets.
I am by no means an expert, however I will attempt to provide useable information through my own experiences, readings, research, etc., that I hope will not only help provide you with an edge on the drag strip, but also provide you with a healthy life!
The past three years I have grown tremendously as a drag racer. I have driven & ridden some very inconsistent vehicles and this has forced me to learn how to “drive the finish line.” While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I went into this off season looking to make my bike more consistent. I had a great year last year, but I very rarely had a consistent bike. So this winter I wanted to do some upgrades to the bike to make it more consistent so that I would have an overall better “arsenal”.
As most anyone who has drag raced a street bike knows, the launch and first 60 feet are the most critical parts of the run. Figuring out how to “finesse” the clutch and optimize your launch is an art in itself. I felt like I did a good job last year, but my 60’s were still somewhat inconsistent. I’m not afraid to admit things, so I’ll admit that I didn’t have a proper understanding of motorcycle clutches and exactly how they worked. As an example, I thought a clutch like the Hays Machine Works convertible clutch was something for pro street bikes and wouldn’t work for an ET bike. Well, after reading Paul Cavanaugh’s article on the Hays Machine Works clutch I was immediately convinced that this performance piece could be an asset to me. With a better understanding of clutches and how they worked, I decided to put that down on the list of upgrades I would undertake over the winter.
My dad had inquired a few times about launching my bike on a 2-step and how to make that work, as he thought that would also help with the consistency. We started doing some research and we found what we thought to be the perfect part to compliment the clutch. So, I also added an MSD SB6 to the list of winter upgrades. The integrated two-step and launch curve (along with a multitude of other amenities) seemed like the perfect complement to the setup we were trying to achieve. In theory we thought we could setup the clutch and MSD to allow me to launch a no bar street bike off a two-step by throwing the clutch. Sounds good in theory, eh?!
The Hays Machine Works clutch installation was a breeze as Tim Hays provides an easy to follow step by step manual. I was a little worried with all of the potential wiring of the SB6, but it also proved to be an easy install. Once you have the clutch installed, you fill out a very detailed form that Tim uses to send you a “base” tune-up. He calls it a “base” tune-up as it should be close to what you’re looking for, but my experience was pretty much a “dead-on” tune-up!
I also rewired my whole nitrous setup (MPS Spyder Kit) so that it would automatically swap maps and also have set perimeters before activating. I had hastily put on the system at the end of last year and I wanted to wire it up to be safer and more efficient. One of our good family friends who has a coating business (FoxFire Coatings) put an amazing coating on my exhaust system. With all the parts installed and the bike back together I headed to Adams Performance to get some custom maps made for the bike.
Now that you know about the winter upgrades we can get to the good part, how everything worked! One of the reason’s I’m a little behind on writing this article is because I hadn’t gotten a good day of racing in yet to really see how everything performed. I got in two quick test sessions in February to try to prepare for the Gatornationals (I ran in the Division 2 Race of Champions). The first test session at Rockingham involved a few small tweaks to the clutch and the first attempts at launching on a two-step. I was hesitant for the first launch (to say the least!), but everything worked perfectly (how often does that happen?)! The combination of the clutch and SB6 provided my best sixty foot ever within just 5 passes on the new setup! I was smiling from ear to ear knowing that my off season upgrades worked and was excited to get the season started! I’m going to skip the Gainesville experience (if you really want to hear about that, you can read it here at dragbike.com) and go straight to this past weekend’s doubleheader bracket race at Maryland International Raceway. My first time run was probably around noon on Saturday and my last pass was around 1:15am on Sunday morning. During that time I made 8 total passes down the track. In two of those passes I lifted early, but I calculated my end ET based off the incremental numbers. In eight passes, spanning 13 hours, I ran six 9.29s and two 9.30s! And if you think that’s consistent, on all eight passes my sixty foot times were 1.48x! How about that for consistency!
Needless to say, I am MORE than pleased with the upgrades made over the winter and I can’t wait to hit the track again (I’ll be at the Cup race this weekend). I also want to elaborate on the coating that I said was amazing earlier. It truly is mind boggling to me how awesome the coating is. If I make a pass down the track and shut off my bike, less than 5 minutes later you can touch the header pipe right where it bolts to the head! One last upgrade that I want to mention, I had a fork seal leaking after my Gainesville trip, so I took my forks to the great folks at Litz Racing to have them lowered and new seals put in. The bike performed great with the forks and it looks mean too! If you have any questions about my setup or products I use, feel free to email me or ask me about them at the track! I hope you enjoyed my somewhat abbreviated (yes, this could have been an even longer article!) recap of my winter upgrades and how they performed.
Thanks to my sponsors for their support; Knight Communications, Hays Machine Works, Amsoil. I also want to thank: Danny Ross of FoxFire Coatings, the MPS crew for their always awesome service and the extra mile they go, Garron Miller at Adams Performance for the great maps/tuning, and Steve Litz of Litz Racing who made sure I had my forks in time to race this past weekend!
With the original MIROCK series opener at Rockingham Dragway getting postponed till April 20-21, it set us up for two back to back week’ends of racing. So that’s why we are a little behind on the first update. But, that being said, Ben Knight Racing is certainly off to a hot start to the 2013 season!
After almost a 6 month layoff, we picked up right where we left off! Ben will be running Pro ET, Street ET, Crazy 8s, and 5.60 in all of the MIROCK races this year, so being busy is an understatement. Saturday was a full day of qualifying and ET eliminations. Ben qualified about the middle of the pack in both classes and was able to knock the rust off his ET skills by going a few rounds and making it to the 1/8ths in Street ET.
With a history of great Sunday showings, we were excited for the final day of the season opener. The day quickly turned into a blur. After a first round exit in Crazy 8s, Ben proceeded to advance deep into eliminations in Pro ET, Street ET, and 5.60. If things weren’t hectic enough, Ben was also helping his friend and fellow Ohio racer Doug Gall in the Pro Street class. Losing a close race in the 1/4s in Pro ET gave Ben enough breathing room to focus on advancing all the way to the finals in both Street ET & 5.60. It was his first time entering the 5.60 index class and advancing to the finals was no easy task. Having to go through the likes of Jeremy Teasley, Rickey Gadson, and Marion Ford just to advance to the finals against Andy Baumbauch. Facing the reigning 5.60 Index champion, Ben knew it would take a great run and pushed just a tad too much, going -.002 red in the finals.
With no time to rest on that red-light, Ben came back around to put together another solid run to take the no-split Street ET finals.
Also, we would like to say congratulations to Doug Gall on his first Pro Street win and to our friend Jerry Turner for his Top Sportsman win. It certainly was a great start to the season for BKR and friends.
After a short work week and only a few days to catch up on sleep, it was time to hit the road again for the second race of the MIROCK series, this time at Maryland International Raceway. The weekend was once again quite busy as Ben managed 4 classes while also helping Doug Gall with his Pro Street bike. Saturday provided much the same as the week before as Ben qualified middle of the pack and went a few rounds in the ET eliminations. However, Ben’s brother Stephen was racing in Street ET this weekend and with very little seat time he managed to advance all the way to the semi’s falling to the eventual winner Shayne Proctor.
Sunday came and Ben worked to continue his streak of Finals. After second round exits in both index classes and a loss in Pro ET, Street ET was the only chance left to make it to a final round appearance. After an hour rain delay, Ben proceeded to march through the field where he faced red hot Bob Carlson. Ben put up a nice consistent package as he had all day, but it was no match for Carlson’s .015 bulb. Congrats to our fellow Brock’s Performance racer Bob Carlson on his win.
It was a long two week start to the season, but we survived and managed to kick off 2013 with a bang. Thanks to the MIROCK Series for great events as always and to all our family and friends for the continued support. Also, thanks to our sponsors:
Make plans to attend the NHDRO season opener at historic Indianapolis Raceway May 17-19th and we’ll see you there!
Our day started off early enough, as our flight left at 5:30am, which meant we needed to be at the airport before 5am. I raced to pick up my co-worker and then headed to the airport in a rush (I was late getting up and had not even packed yet!). Luckily, we made it to the airport with no problems and quickly made our way to the plane (tri-cities airport is very small and doesn’t take long to get through). When we arrived in warm and sunny Orlando, two of our co-workers were waiting on us with a car. The only problem that we had was that once we got to the parking garage they couldn’t remember where they had parked. 30 minutes later they finally discovered where they had parked the car (alcohol was not involved in this situation).
We made our way to the show and quickly got to work trying to cover some of the displays on hand. Thursday was passing quickly as I spent more time talking then I did walking. After running into my dad and his buddies (30 minutes), I immediately ran into Jason Miller (of MIR and MIROCK notoriety) which resulted in another 30 minute conversation. Soon thereafter I finally got to explore some of the show, that is until I ran into Stephen Jessie who was working the Haltech booth. I met Stephen last year at the Thunder Valley Dragbike Shootout, which by the way is scheduled for August 10-12th, 2012 (mark it down on your calendars)! This meeting resulted in another lengthy conversation as we had much to talk about (Stephen and crew have just recently finished a BMW S1000RR Turbocharged Real Street bike that will debut next year). As you can already tell, I didn’t manage to cover much of the show on Thursday, but I did enjoy some great conversations with great people! It was starting to get late in the afternoon and my fine Bristol Dragway co-workers reminded me that we hadn’t ate lunch yet. So we decided to call it a day at the PRI show and head to our favorite restaurant where the waitress’s are always smiling and clad in orange shorts and white tank tops (hint, hint).
BUT, the day didn’t end there,no, it was just getting started! On the agenda for the night was a dinner meeting with some fellow track operators and then some Orlando exploring! The business meeting went well and a lot of great ideas and thoughts were expressed and passed back in forth. The rest of the evening could be summed up by the following thoughts (in no particular order); great friends, cold refreshments, taxi bicycle ride (for 4!), weird/interesting hotel establishment, dueling pianos, techno music, friendly wagers, one awesome pro mod driver and his crew, sleep, Gatorade.
Since we didn’t get to explore the show like we thought we would on Thursday, we set out on Friday determined to cover the whole show. This was going to be a daunting task, especially considering that my one co-worker was flying out that afternoon. The next four hours went by “fast and furious”, as we hustled to cover every inch of the show floor! For those who have been to the PRI Show before you know how big of a show it is and how many displays/booths are setup, and for those who haven’t been, I’m sure if you check out any of the photo galleries online, you can get a good feel for it. I’ve grown up as a “Ford” person and started drag racing my families super pro Ford drag cars, so some of the highlights of the show were of course Ford drag cars; Leah Pruett’s Pro Mod (displaying the fine and innovative craftsmanship of R2B2), Brad Brands 10.5 mustang, Dan Millen’s Extreme 10.5 World Championship mustang, Mike Moran’s new pro mod mustang. As you can tell, these cars had my attention and for anyone who was at the show, the booth that Brands mustang was at was directly across from the Lucas Oil booth, which had some very attractive models, but what was I doing? Drooling over a drag car 15 feet away.
Some other cool setups that I saw were the GoPro booth (which had some sick videos playing), the Ford Racing booth (I told you I liked Fords), the Traxxis booth had an awesome display area where they were stunting the cars, and many, many more! Once we had covered the show, we headed back to the hotel so my co-worker could get his bags and head home. On our trip to the hotel we decided to take one of the courtesy shuttles that the show had running. Well, let me just tell you that was a great idea! These shuttles happened to have coolers full of cold refreshments for weary show goers to enjoy for FREE!!! After we went to the airport to drop off my co-worker who was flying out that evening we once again headed to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel I persuaded my buddies from Haltech to join me as I ventured to Casselberry for MPS’s 3rd annual PRI party! First off, I have to extend a huge thanks to Dan, Beth and the whole MPS crew for putting on one heck of a party. The food was out of this world and included such things as; seafood/Cajun boil, various casseroles, dips, cookies, brownie bites (very dangerous!), candy, and so much more that I forgot about! The food was complimented by ice cold refreshments which resided in custom MPS PRI Party coozies (Dan goes all out!)! It was a great party that was well attended by some of the biggest names in the “industry”. I got to meet some new folks along with hanging out with some old friends! My buddy Joe Hahn was there and is always a blast to talk with! I also got to talk with “Spiderman” and once again had a lengthy chat with Jason Miller. The Haltech guys finally convinced me that we should get going as it was getting late, so we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. Until someone sent us a very convincing text to join them at an establishment called “alligator alley”. It was a good day, followed up by a great evening! Oh yea, and I highly encourage anyone who’s ever around Kissimmee to check out “alligator alley”. If you see me at a race, ask me about it and I’ll give you the full recap!
Wow! What a wild and wonderful season I had. I believe I last left off by letting everyone know where I stood heading into the final races of the three series I raced in this year (MIROCK, NHDRO, Cup). I’ll start off with the final NHDRO race in Muncie, IN.
Since I missed the first race of the season, I was pretty much out of points contention, but was hoping to finish strong and maybe even snag another race win. I started the weekend off right by qualifying #1 in Street Fighter, while still trying to figure out the Crazy 8’s bike. I also qualified for the Street ET Tournament of Champions after finishing 3rd in two of the races this past year. I’ll spare you the details of the weekend as I just wasn’t hitting on much and had a so-so showing (who wants to write about losing?). However, I do need to take a second to congratulate the 2012 NHDRO Super Comp and Street ET Champions…. Congrats Bradley & Ron!
Ok, I have to get something off my chest. I have perfected a technique that allows me to be ultra consistent and deadly good on the starting line… in the day light! However, I am coming clean and admitting that I am horrible at night racing. I’m not talking about going from .030 lights to .060; I’m talking being super late sometimes or lighting ‘big red’ other times. Ok, now that I have that off my chest we can continue on.
Knowing that I struggle at night, I decided to hit the last MIROCK race at MIR to work on my night racing before the final two races of the year. So I loaded up and made the long haul to Maryland after work on Friday night. This is another short paragraph, as I was unable to yield the results that I normally seek. However, I did try a lot of new things in hopes of becoming more of a night time racer they just didn’t work.
I now had a month to sit around and contemplate how I was going to “fix” my problems of racing at night (as I decided not to race until the finals). So how do you go about remedying a racing problem when you’re not racing? Simple… You take your mind off of it and go do something else (Hockey game, night out with friends, etc.). No, seriously, I advise anyone who is in a slump to go do something far away from racing and then come back. This time around, the advice is on the house!
On to the MIROCK World Finals, I rolled into The Rock at around 3am Saturday morning. When the gates finally opened at 8:45am I rushed inside to unload and put a chain on my bike. Yes, I did drive 9 hours to race with one of my bikes not even having a chain on it! Thanks to Jerry, Dustin, and Ron for the quick install! I won a few rounds and lost a few rounds on Saturday before it got dark. I was in the Street ET Tournament of Champions and it was only going to take three rounds for the win! Remember how I said I struggle at night… Yep, I turned on ‘Big Red’ with an amazing -.084! I would have bet $1,000 that I was -.00x when I went red, but I was WAY red. This completely dumbfounded me and I definitely wasn’t the happiest person at the moment. So what happened…? I still have no idea, but I’ll chalk it up to pure adrenaline and call it a learning moment.
I was determined to leave Rockingham with some confidence so I was excited to get Sunday started (Side note, I have an amazing Sunday record and a horrible Saturday one). Long story short, I raced well, got lucky, and FINALLY figured out how to race at night. I managed to runner up in Street ET and beat some tough racers in the process.
After a short work week and trying to catch back up on sleep, I was packed up and hitting the road again on Thursday to Georgia for the Manufacturer’s Cup World Finals. I was legitimately in the running in three different classes for championships, and if that wasn’t pressure enough, I had Brandi of Dragbike.com tagging along on the trip talking about how I could win three championships for 12 straight hours. The weather was beautiful all weekend and a slew of racers showed up to compete at the last big race of the year. I qualified OK in both Street Fighter & Crazy 8’s, but failed to make up any real ground in qualifying. Saturday I found a groove and started turning on win lights in Street ET and even got to race BayBay Yarborough (points leader) in the 4th round Saturday evening. BayBay gifted me a red light and I knew I had a chance to make up some valuable points. A round later and curfew had hit for the night so we were down to 9 and going to finish in the morning.
Sunday morning came and I was still mathematically in contention for three titles. First thing first, I had to finish the Saturday Street ET race. I went a few more rounds and found myself in the final. I lost a really close race .00x at the stripe, but had gained enough points to be sitting in 1st (for now). The next 8-10 hours were a complete blur… But I can say that at around 9pm on Sunday night I was still racing in Crazy 8’s, Street Fighter, and Street ET. For two hours I almost never took my helmet off and at one point had to bring both bikes to the staging lanes. Curfew was approaching fast and we were wide open trying to finish the race. At 5 bikes left in Crazy 8s I lost to my good friend Ron Arnold (he did owe me one), which ended my championship hopes in that class. Unfortunately curfew hit shortly after and I was still in Street ET (7 bikes left) and Street Fighter (3 bikes left).** What an amazing weekend of racing I had! Seriously, it was one of those weekends you dream about. If I did my math correctly I had a round record of 20-2 in eliminations (and I was still in two classes)! I ended up winning the Street ET Championship and finishing 2nd in both Street Fighter & Crazy 8s.
**I want to say congrats to Wes Brown for winning the Street Fighter Championship after battling some issues early in the weekend. It was a battle till the end and Wes rode like a champion matching my every move.
In 2012 I qualified for the Street ET Tournament of Champions in both MIROCK & NHDRO, I finished 6th in NHDRO Street Fighter points (missing the first race), I finished 2nd in both Crazy 8s & Street Fighter in Cup points, and I won the Cup Street ET Championship. I went to multiple finals (winning 75%), won hundreds of rounds, and had an amazing year. All this while I moved to a different state and changed jobs!
I have to thank my Dad, Mom, and Brother for all their help and support. I also want to thank my new race friends that welcomed me and helped me after I moved; Bradley, Doug, & Ron. And of course all my racing buddies from TN; Jerry, Dollar, Jonathan, Darren, Dustin & Tamara.
Last but certainly not least, big thanks to my sponsors and supporters!
Hays Machine Works
The FBR Shop
Ok, so first off, I’d like to apologize to the very few people who actually read my articles/recaps. This summer has been absolutely crazy busy and I have definitely slacked on staying on top of things. However, I have enjoyed an extremely successful season so far and I’m excited to finish it out strong.
After a great start to the season at the Manufacturer’s Cup event in April, I actually struggled for almost two months. My “struggles” really didn’t have to do with a poorly performing bike or mediocre rider; I just simply kept getting beat. In April & May I mainly raced in our local bracket series at Bristol Dragway and I just couldn’t turn on the win lights. My friends that I race with simply felt the need to throw up ridiculous packages every time they lined up beside me (great job guys!), so although the bike was running great and the rider was doing “ok” I was getting beat.
In mid June my buddy Jerry and I decided to make the trip to Indy for the NHDRO race… and I had a hunch that I could get back on track at this race. My intuition turned out to be right (or I just got lucky) and I made it down to 3 in Street ET one day and had a decent showing in Street Fighter.
Side Note: Although most of you already know, In June I decided to take a position with Brock’s Performance in Dayton, OH so that is part of the reason for the crazy summer!
So after finding my mojo in Indy I went into what would be my last race of the year (most likely) in the DER Bracket Series (since I was relocating to Ohio). I couldn’t have picked a better way to leave Bristol as I proceeded to sweep the two races that weekend in the motorcycle class and also had a fair showing in my buddies 65 Mustang. To top it all off, my racing friends threw a cookout for me on Saturday, complete with a cake thrown in my face after winning Saturday night. I know we all love to race, but I think it’s the friendships and close bonds you make that really make the racing worthwhile. So I’d like to say thinks to my Bristol friends for the great sendoff!
What did I do the weekend before I moved to Ohio? Well, I certainly didn’t do the common sense thing of packing, so after my last day of work at Bristol Dragway on Saturday I drove to Rockingham Dragway to run in the MIROCK series on Sunday. In what was the hottest conditions I’ve ever raced in (and hopefully won’t be stupid enough to put myself through it again) I continued my hot streak and made it down to 5 bikes in Street ET (lost a close race) and 4 bikes in Pro ET before my bike had a mechanical issue. I want to thank my buddy Jerry for hauling my bike back in forth to the Rock for me as I arrived late Saturday and then went to the beach on Sunday.
After moving to Dayton, OH with nothing but my clothes and motorcycles I enjoyed my first week at work and happened to notice that NHDRO was racing in Muncie, IN that weekend. So, surprise to everyone (not really) I loaded up and headed to Muncie on Saturday morning. They say, “When you’re hot, you’re hot” and you should ride that streak… Well, I was taking full advantage of the saying and after a decent Saturday of qualifying and some rounds in Street ET I rested up for an eventful Sunday. Long story short, I had an amazing Sunday as I was able to make my way to the finals of both Street Fighter and Crazy 8’s in addition to making it down to 5 in Street ET. Also having an amazing weekend would be my new friend Doug Gall as I was racing him in both finals (he was also in the Pro Street final). We decided not to be greedy and after running dead-on in Crazy 8’s and giving that win to Doug, he gifted me with a red-light in Street Fighter so I could get a “big check”. Have to say thanks to Ron Arnold for the help and good times at Muncie!
The next couple weeks I checked out the tracks around the Ohio area making new friends while doing some racing and testing. I even won at Thursday Night Lightz at Edgewater Dragway which is a really cool weekly event (arm drop, scoreboards off, street style).
This past weekend we made the trip to Indy for the NHDRO/Manufacturer’s Cup event. Since I would be earning points for both series I was hoping to do well. Since this is already a long article, I’ll get straight to the details. I lost second round in Crazy 8’s by breaking out by 5 thousandths after taking too much stripe. I lost third round in Street Fighter after I completely fell asleep on the starting line and missed the tree. I had a great showing in a huge field of Street ET racers before falling victim to “big red” at 3 bikes. But all in all it was a great weekend. Thanks to everyone who helped me out this weekend!
As the season winds down I am looking forward to moving up a few more spots in the NHDRO points as I am doing pretty well even after missing a race. I should also be sitting well in the Manufacturer Cup points and I’m already qualified for the Street ET race of Champions in the MIROCK series. For the three people still reading this, til next time!
Thanks to my sponsors:
and to my supporters:
and all my friends & family!
This past weekend dad and I traveled down to Gainesville, FL for the NHRA Gatornationals. The Division 2 Race of Champions was being held during this prestigious event so I was eligible to compete. The Race of Champions is usually contested at each Division’s bracket finals, but for the past few years Division 2 has contested theirs at the gators. The Race of Champions is a race comprised solely of each tracks bracket series champions, so it’s a pretty cool race. We arrived at the track on Friday afternoon just in time to catch the second round of professional qualifying. After qualifying we got parked where we needed to be pitted and headed to the hotel for some much needed rest (as it would turn out to be a long weekend).
We arrived at the track early on Saturday morning to get teched in and hopefully get a time run. We found out shortly after getting teched in that our time runs would be pushed back till the evening, so we headed to the stands to catch some action. Later in the evening we got the bike prepped and ready for the time trials. I took my first pass down the right lane and with my adrenaline and excitement I went -.020 red and short shifted the 1-2 for a 6.05 pass. I came back and lowered to launch rpm to then go into the left lane and go .020 green and a 6.01 pass. I felt pretty comfortable after the time runs and the bike was running great! Well, Sunday came and we were finally called to the lanes. With probably 20,000+ spectators on hand it was definitely an exciting/nervous moment, but I felt like I handled it well and I was ready to roll. Unfortunately about 4 pairs prior to us going down the track, Mother Nature decided to start sprinkling. The sprinkles continued off and on all evening until the officials finally had to make the call to postpone the race till Monday.
Monday went by fast as we were being called to the lanes before we knew it. I felt like I was setup for .015 on the tree and decided to dial a 6.02. When I let go of the clutch I honestly felt like I was a tad bit late (I figured I was .030), but when I punched it into 2nd gear I caught the scoreboard from the corner of my eye and saw my opponents win light on. I couldn’t believe I had lit ol’ red, but the time slip showed -.015. To drive all the way to Florida and spend 4 days at the track and then to go red first round is not the way you want to end the trip, but I actually wasn’t upset. I felt like I did a great job holding my composure and sticking to my routine, but I might have made a strategic error. After analyzing the situation, I believe the right lane might have been a little “tight” compared to the left lane which resulted in my red. I thought I was setup correctly, but I based it off my left lane time trial. I did learn a lot from the experience and I’m glad to have had the chance to race in the prestigious Gatornationals. Although I didn’t win, I had a great weekend with my biggest supporter and that’s really all that matters. I like to tell people, “you can’t win them all…and if I did, it would just become boring!” Maybe Fast Jack and I can get together and petition the NHRA over our redlights!…hahaha (Beckman says he did not redlight)
Finally a big thanks to my sponsors: Knight Communications Inc., Hays Machine Works, and Amsoil. Also thanks to Adams Performance and Garron for the help the week before!