What a Difference
a Month Makes
its all about me.)
Jeff Burk Photo
you have followed my career as an
Internet troublemaker, you dont need to
be reminded that, one, I have a front engine
dragster chassis with no motor. Two, my choice
of motors (the 426) was not allowed to run on
nitro by a certain organization. And three,
I have whined about it almost constantly since
the day the parade was rained out on Nitro Avenue.
Well, all that whining got me somewhere. In
a roundabout way, it got me into the drivers
seat of a nostalgia fuel Funny Car.
My fellow Internet troublemaker, Jeff Gaynor,
and I started corresponding on things (okay,
we were ganging up on people on the various
Internet bulletin boards) and we hit it off.
Jeff has a nostalgia fuel Funny Car that has
had, for whatever reasons, three different drivers.
He has every intention of driving it himself
one day, but a couple of months ago he was looking
for another driver for his car.
During our talks back and forth he asked if
I knew Mike Demarest, his tuning consultant.
Well, having done work for Mike at Hansen Chassis,
I became even more excited to actually drive
a car tuned by Mike. Mike, along with his brother
and partner, Bill Schultz, were responsible
for a lot of nitro cars getting into the win
column during the glory days of So Cal drag
racing. Jeff also has his neighbor Randy Hoggard
helping out as a crew member. So thats
the entire team, Jeff, Mike and Randy.
This is where the title of the column comes
into play. Within one months time, we
as a team made sure that I could actually fit
in the car, found a Funny Car helmet, got the
car race-ready again after it had been sitting
for five months, built assorted parts, added
new chute levers so that I would actually be
able to throw the chutes, made four runs in
six hours to crossover from a long wheel base
advanced ET license, serviced the car, went
to a match race and made two full runs, serviced
the car again and built weight bars to make
weight for the VRA rules, went to Vegas, qualified
number three and then ended up going to the
final and losing to a holeshot. Whew! To say
the last 30 days have been a blur would be an
understatement! Add this to the usual 40-hour-a-week
job, family, cleaning the cat litter box and
all the other exciting things I do. It was hectic!
All that initial preparation was exciting,
but the fun really started when the car was
ready and we were at Los Angeles County Raceway,
also known as The Bernieplex, for
my license runs. After a morning spent harassing
poor Robert Reehl on his cell phone so that
we could meet him at his shop for some last
minute accoutrements, everyone went to the track
and we were ready to go. In attendance were
Bob Godfrey, painter extraordinaire and fellow
nostalgia Funny Car pilot, George Doty and Angry
Steve and the gang from Hot Rods and Harleys.
Mike Demarest, Randy, Pammy, and Thing One and
Thing Two (my 4 and 5-year-old sons) were also
there. Everyone was there except Dale Pulde,
who Gaynor had forgotten to tell where we were
going to do the runs. Dale and his dad assumed
we were going to Bakersfield and drove all the
way up to Famoso! So, after Dale got the correct
information and headed back down our way, we
warmed-up the car, towed up and got ready for
my first squirt.
It had been a couple of years since I had made
a lap in a real racecar. The last car I had
driven was an alcohol dragster that my partners
and I (Bryan Bruhn and Famous Amos Satterlee)
ran in the Top Eliminator West series, a 6.30
index class. (Ego stroke alert! We won the series
in 2001). What was interesting was that, while
I was nervous, I was finding that I wasnt
getting as nervous as I would get in the alcohol
car. I felt surprisingly comfortable in the
Funny car. The vibe with all of the guys involved
was calming, not stressful. Mike Demarest made
a comment later that my eyes didnt get
big as hes seen some peoples get
when the engine is started.