A Little Light at Atlanta
November 01, 2000

Commerce, GA -- The completion of the Atlanta event also brings the completion of our 2000 competition season. It only figures that we would start to get a handle on our car at the last race of the year.

The weather for the weekend seemed somewhat questionable. We were greeted with rain and cool temperatures. The rain eventually went away, but the cold air and overcast skies hung around. The cold air wouldn’t mean much to our nitrous fed power plant but it would mean plenty to the super and turbo charged engines. We would definitely have our work cut out for us this weekend. Making matters worse, the track was vicious! It had plenty of bite, so the hope for competition to miss the suspension set up and blow the tires off was just not going to happen. The track would take just about anything you would throw at it. If anything, it was going to be (and was) a wheelie-fest.

For the first round of qualifying, Jeff Prock did his preliminary tune-up calculations and uploaded them to the ECU. We then reviewed our front & rear shock setting notes. The election was to utilize settings that were similar to those that were used earlier in the year at our Norwalk test session. The four-link setting was left alone, even though the thought was that it might be a little "aggressive" for the conditions. With consideration for that, we tightened the front-end limiters.

While in the staging lanes, Jeff told me that this would only be a check out pass. He instructed me to run the car to the top of first gear, shift, and abort. I did as instructed. Outside of the car drifting slightly toward the centerline, it was a relatively uneventful run. The information gathered, showed that we were headed in the right direction.

Qualifying Round Two: The MSD Lightning Round.

Prock reviewed the data and concocted the recipe for the next run. We made more shock adjustments and loosened up the front limiters a little bit. The result was very good. Straight as a string… Hard charge… 1.235 for the 60’ time. The result: 7.900 with 177.18 MPH for the provisional #5 qualifier slot. Unfortunately, we weren’t one of the four fastest passes of the round. No MSD Ignition bonus money for us…

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Individual video clips of the Burn Out, the Run, and the In-Car Camera
from Round #2 Qualifying at Atlanta Dragway

We decided to kick it up a notch (but without the "BAM!") for the third round. We made our selections off the menu and proceeded with those changes. The car felt like it was, by far, on it’s best pass ever. For some reason the car slowed to a 7.942 elapsed time with another 177.18 MPH. Why did it slow? It wasn’t hurt… The data charts were normal… Maybe we had stepped across the suspension threshold… Was it simply that the left lane was .04 slower then the right lane? But that would go against my homework that indicated the left lane should have been significantly better then the right. No matter, the numbers don’t lie. The right lane will hold more power and that’s where we’ll be for first round… assuming we went fast enough to have lane choice…

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Individual video clips of the Round #3 Qualifying Burn Out, Back Window
In-Car Burn Out, and Back Window In-Car Run.

After the dust settled, we qualified 8th with our 7.900 pass. 8th out of 16. That just shows you what the level of competition is in Super Street and what the conditions were like in Atlanta. Luckily, we would have lane choice in the first round, but just barely…

Sunday morning was even cooler then Saturday, but at least the sun was out. The temperature was only in the high 50’s. Keeping the nitrous bottles warm would be a task. Shortly after our arrival to the track, we were greeted by inspectors from the tech department. Agents Trovato and Benner Jr. showed us their badges so we knew they were legit. Agent Trovato informed us that we were going to be the subject of a "random" cubic inch check. Random… Right!

Anyhow… The boys from tech said we were 428 cubic inches against our claimed 425. Close enough for now, but next time we do one of our in-pit-piston-replacements, they’d be over for a bore & stroke check. No problem, boys… We were let off with a warning and told that we wouldn’t be taken down town… this time.

Our first round competitor has been fighting the new car blues for the last two events. With that, we decided to take a chance and beef up the tune-up in preparation for 2nd round. We selected the right lane and waited for our turn.

We were given the nod and pulled forward to the water. I did the normal burn out and staged the car. This is where the fun begins. I snapped off the trans-brake button and the car hoisted the front wheels and fired forward. Sounds great, right? Wrong! The farther down the track we went, the higher the front end went. I was going to ride it out until it started shaking the tires. The car eventually loaded the wheelie bars so much, that it started to unload the tires. That’s when I shifted. Our car recorded a nice 1.257 sixty-foot time… on the back tires. It ended up doing about an 80’ or 90’ wheel stand. We guessed that if the front wheels had been on the ground, it probably would have turned a 1.18 or 1.19 sixty foot. Maybe even less, who knows… Fortunately our competitor had difficulties of his own and we still managed to win the round.

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Individual video clips of the Round #1 Eliminations Burn Out, Run, and In-car Camera.

The next question would be whether or not the engine was hurt from short shifting it. Normally the car is shifted at 9,000 RPM. Due to the big wheelie, it was shifted at only 7,900 RPM. Usually when that’s done, the engine begins to labor and melt stuff. OK… Why didn’t I step off? Because it didn’t labor… The RPM swept nicely through the "melt zone" and I decided to stay with it, hoping to still pull out the win. To answer the earlier question of whether it was hurt… No. All of our post-run checks came back with good results.

Now for the irresponsible speculation… Based on the 60’ time, the aggressive rpm graphs, and even with all the trouble… still going 178 MPH; How fast would it have went? Prock said with AUTHORIT-UH, 7.80 or 7.81. Heck with him, his cup is half empty! My cup is half full… I say 7.78 or 7.79. No matter… On to second round…

As anticipated, we would be racing one of the strong running turbo cars in the second round. The assumption was that we we’re going to be sent to the left lane, and we were. Our next competitor had been running in the upper 7.70’s for the entire weekend. Our semi-aborted 1st round pass was, by Prock’s guess, probably going to be 7.80 or 7.81. Keeping that in mind, we decided not to add anymore power. Instead, we worked on further fine-tuning the suspension. I also decided to make a minor change in my starting line procedure, looking for a slight advantage. My thought was that I could gain more by reaction time then we could gain by making a running start by shallow staging. I warned the crew not to freak if I accidentally deep staged. I was just going to roll deeper into the beams and we’d see what happened.

My plan paid off with a .445 reaction time. The suspension adjustments didn’t pay off in the short times, but did pay off at the top end. But who knows… that left lane was weird. The car ran a new team best of 7.882 at a whopping 180.02 MPH for the win. Pretty good for the left lane... I proceeded to the scales to weigh in. Unfortunately, we were disqualified after we came up a few pounds light. Our 2nd round competitor was reinstated and we were sent back to our pit to pack up. Thanks for playing… buh-bye!

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Individual video clips of Eliminations Round #2. The Burn Out, Run, and
In-car footage from our last pass of our 2000 season.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad way to end the season. We were pretty happy to improve on our previous performances and to finally have a little consistency in our program. It just figures that it would come at the final race of the year. The season’s point chase showed us finishing in 8th place. Now, it’s just a matter of showing up at the awards banquet and collecting our check.

Our next update will most likely come after the Awards Banquet/PRI Show. We will be doing one of those seasons-in-review-type write-ups. You’ll be able to relive all of heart-warming and gut-wrenching moments that made our season. Depending on my sometimes wildly swinging mood, I might even vent and tell it like it is… We’ll see…

Thanks again to Mike Flosky for all of the excellent camera work that you see here.

Be sure to get yourself a copy of the December issue of HotRod magazine. We have survived the EMAP USA Publishing editting room. Turn to to page 64/65. There you'll find a short personal write up about the Pelech Bros. Racing driver, Ted Pelech. You'll also find out how we faired in St. Louis. For a more in-depth analysis of our trip to St. Louis, check our "News Archive".

Ted & Tim Pelech
Pelech Bros. Racing

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