The Summer of '04

How did it treat you?

ndy, my son and driver of the new “Back-2-Basics” dragster just finished putting the engine back in the Racecraft chassis after freshening the heads and putting in a complete Isky Racing Cams valvetrain. In the midst of the hectic time called summer, I realized it was over! September! That can’t be; it feels like I just started getting my act together on the strip.

That brings me to this month’s Dead-On article. How did the summer treat you, racing-wise, and how did you treat the summer of racing? I have made a lot of changes to my racing and the way I approach racing the last few months. When I look back, the changes really started several years ago when I tried to make it more fun. Now to some racers that means making racing less expensive, to others it means going to more events at different tracks, and to a lot of us it means going faster.

Does “having more fun” mean you won’t try as hard to win? You won’t work the long nights or into the evenings to make sure everything is as prepared as it can be to enhance your chances of winning? You won’t buy the “good parts” to make your racing efforts more reliable? Does it mean you will try to convince your wife and kids and friends to come to the races with you and to plan a barbeque at the event? It could mean all of these or it could mean none of them to you. Since this is my column I will tell you what “having more fun” has meant to my family and me. I hope you can relate to some of the following things I bring up but if you are a “reader” and not a “real racer” you will probably find the rest of this “Dead-On” a little boring because I don’t think you will “get it.”

When I mention making racing more fun I mean in several different ways. Of course it has to be affordable to have any chance at all of sustaining the fun. It has to be fun during the events and the actual race day experience has to put a smile on your face to be fun, right? The people around you should get the feeling that you are having fun and they can share in it by being around you at the races. It has been a pretty difficult transition for me from trying to be an ultra-competitive racer at every event and being upset when I made a driving error or felt the car didn’t perform right when I lost. Sure, I threw small objects around when I screwed up or lost because I misjudged the finish line by a few thousandths or a couple hundredths. I can look back on it now and almost laugh at how stupid that was. Not uncommon, though, as I look around the pits and see the different behavior from racers who lose one day and are winning the next.

Why is it that one race we are “the killer?” Can’t seem to miss the ‘tree and drive the stripe like we know what we are doing. Everything just goes right. Know what I mean? Have you been there, done that? If you have raced very long you have experienced it. I put up with the ups and downs of this and for some reason so did my wife for 20 years. I know I was a slow learner, but now my racing has improved so much by just doing some things a little differently. I hope you can learn a little about the human mind and maybe yourself by what I talk about in the next few paragraphs. If so, I am glad to have helped. If not, you likely either are having fun now or being competitive is not a main concern for you as it has always been for me.

I finally realized drag racing is a little like golf to me. I love golf and used to play 72 to 108 holes of golf per week before I got hooked on racing. The one thing I left on the golf course that I should have brought with me was “don’t bring the last bad shot with you to the next tee.” What that means is, if you can focus on the race at hand, at this moment, whatever happened at the last race or even the last round does not matter. Sure, you can learn from it, sometimes you get good information and sometimes you get bad information.

I have tried to think about ONLY the race at hand. Not the whole event, not who gets the bye next round, not who is in the other lane, just this particular round. I don’t care if it’s a time trial or final round, I tell myself the same things over and over before I pull out of the lanes. Be as CALM as you can be; know who you are running and WHAT TO EXPECT as far as speeds at the stripe and such; PREPARE the car to the best of your ability so you can TRUST it; and the most important thing you can bring to race at this moment is CONFIDENCE.

Cover | Table of Contents | DROstore | Classifieds | Archive | Contact
Copyright 1999-2003, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source