Cordova: Mission Accomplished!|
July 22, 2001
Cordova, IL -- After weeks of relentless preparation, we have finally accomplished what we set out to do… We have won a sanctioned, national level event. Our win came at the NSCA’s "Rumble on the River" at Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, Illinois. It didn’t come easy though… We had to race the best in the business on every pass. Four hard fought rounds against four of the toughest nitrous Super Modified race teams from the U.S. and Canada. But before that battle at the track could be won, we had a couple weeks worth of battles to face at the shop…
We were ( OK… Tim was…) swamped with several last second modifications to assure that all of our previously mentioned component changes were (reasonably) race ready. The car was finished a few hours after our self-imposed departure time on Thursday evening. OK, so now we’re running late and Prock’s plane was already in the air… As a result, crew member Todd R. Betts had to be dispatched from his home to intercept Pelech Bros. Racing crew chief Jeff Prock at Detroit Metro Airport. Todd grabbed Jeff, entertained him for a few hours, and then met us at our predetermined drop point. Thank you, Todd… Unfortunately, that would be the last time we would see Todd for the weekend. He just started a new job and wasn’t able to take time off to go racing.
6 ½ hours later, we arrived at the gates of Cordova Dragway Park. While most of us caught a snooze as we waited for the gates to open, Michael commenced with a thorough detailing of the exterior of the trailer. He’s way too hyper… A short time later, we moved in, set-up camp, and prepped the car. From the forecasts, it looked like the weather was pretty well going to suck all weekend. By 9 AM Friday morning, it was already 85 degrees and we were miserable. The unbearably hot weather would be a struggle all weekend. Normally we fight to keep the nitrous bottles heated to operating pressure. This weekend, we’d fight to keep the bottles cool enough and the pressure low enough to be able to use them.
Before qualifying began, we checked the corrected altitude and Prock then formulated his tune-up. The air was very poor with a corrected density altitude of 5000+ feet above sea level. That was by far the worst reading I have ever seen. And on top of it, the track surface temps were already beginning to soar. Surprisingly, the track appeared to be in pretty good shape considering the heat and sun pounding down on it.
Our first round qualifying pass was a some what easy "get it down the track" check out pass. The time slip showed a 8.12/175 mph. The track seemed to be in better shape then we had estimated.
For the second qualifying shot, we stepped it up a bit. With what we learned on the first pass, Prock made some aggressive tuning moves. At the same time, some minor shock tweaks were made. The result was a nice 7.94/177.5 mph pass. Good enough for the provisional #2 qualifying slot.
For the third round of qualifying, the driver blew it… The car (OK, fine… The Driver) ended up posting an 8.11/176.7 mph time. I ended up letting a good opportunity slip away and let another competitor slip past us on the qualifying ladder. When the final qualifying sheets were posted, we found ourselves in the #3 position.
The car was then prepped for Sunday’s eliminations and we then retired to the hotel for the night. At the hotel, we reviewed the data logs and time slips, gathered from qualifying, over pizza. Things were looking pretty good for Sunday… As long as the "meat in the seat" could do his job.
Round one would have us paired with one of Canada’s strongest Super Mod teams; the Catalano Bros. The Catalano squad seemed to struggle a little in qualifying and even though they only qualified with a 8.54, we knew they could run much faster. We would not take them lightly… And we we’re lucky that we didn’t! Over night, they made a 3 ½ tenths improvement!!! They would post a 8.21 against our 7.89/178.26. We won, but they were certainly gunning for us! One minor mistake and the outcome could’ve been much different.
The second round of eliminations would have us racing one of the cagey veterans of the sport. Bob Hood qualified his unbelievably nice Nova in the #4 spot. It would be the #3 qualifier (us) against the #4 qualifier (Hood). Bob had qualified with a 7.98 and had just run a 8-flat in the first round. We had just run our 7.89, but Bob has been running very well as of late and could easily match that number. Another thought was, we knew that Bob always takes racing the Pelech Bros. group very seriously and he would throw everything he had at us. With that, Prock turned up the heat a bit. Our suspension set-up definitely had a grip on the track, as witnessed by the large/long wheel stands that we had been doing and the quality of the racing surface appeared to be holding stable. Jeff asked if the wheel stands were making me uncomfortable in the driver seat. I said no… So we just left the suspension settings alone.
I digress… So where were we… Oh yeah… Racing Hood in the second round…
Bob put up another 8-flat pass and we posted a new team best elapsed time of 7.85 with 178.10 mph for the win.
By now the air temperature was 100+ degrees, the humidity was around 70%, the racing surface temperature was 140 degrees, and the corrected density altitude was well over 6000 feet above sea level! Very tough conditions! From this point out, it was going to be anyone’s ball game… We were just hoping it would be ours… The deck was stacked against us though… The #1 qualifier Mike Yedgarian and #2 qualifier/series points leader Jim Huber were still in it. We would be racing Yedgarian in the semi-finals and Huber would have a bye for his semi-final run. Huber was definitely going to the final and it was up to us and Yedgarian to figure out which of us would be joining Huber in the final.
The excessively high temperatures just would not allow our cooling system to cool the engine fast enough between rounds. We were forced to partially drain the radiator and add some cooler water to get the temperature down. Meanwhile, Prock was formulating his next tune-up… Yedgarian had run a 7.87 in qualifying and had been running well all through eliminations. We had run our 7.85, but we didn’t think the track would hold another one of those from our combination. The racing surface appeared to be deteriorating. It would be a toss up… Prock left the tune up alone and instructed me to get the jump on him at the start and we’d just try to hold our own.
I did as instructed, gathering a slight starting line advantage. Fortunately, it wouldn’t needed. We ran another 7.89 against his 7.97 for the semi-final round win.
We’re headed for our first NSCA final round against a man who was no stranger to final rounds. Jim Huber would be our final challenge. Another rapid cool down would ensue. Prock worked on his scheme for our final round race. More jet? Less fuel? More timing? We did a little research to find out what Huber did on his bye-run. As it turns out, he had a little trouble getting off the line and slowed. Due to this, lane choice would be ours… Jeff and I turned to have a look at what was going on in Huber’s pit and what did we see? Huber looking over to see what was going on in our pit! Jeff yelled out, "What are you up to over there, Jimmy?!" I just raised a fist and yelled out for Huber to mind his own business. Jim just replied, "Who? Me?" and pretended like he was looking at the clouds. It was all in good fun!
Anyhow… After all considerations, Prock elected to just slightly massage the timing curve and leave it at that. We didn’t want to do anything too rash and end up over-powering the track. A minor wheelie bar adjustment was made that Phil Roberts had suggested. Prock said, "Same plan: Get everything you can on the starting line just in case Huber pulls out one of those magic tune-ups." The call then went out for the final round…
Jeff Prock makes some tweaks to the tune-up.
We proceeded to the staging lanes. Upon our arrival, Jeff surveyed the quality of each lane. As a result, he chose the left lane. We pulled forward and did a slightly lighter burn-out since the racing surface was SO hot. Phil Roberts from Rieger Motorsports perfectly line me up in the racing groove as he had in each of the previous rounds.
We pulled forward to stage as did Huber. The starting lights fired and we were racing! Once again, I gathered another slight starting line advantage. The car did it’s typical wheelie and when it car came down Huber was no where to be seen. I pulled into high gear and had a look over to my right… Still no Jim… We slipped across the finish line ahead of Huber, 7.90 to 7.95.
All that would have to be done now was weigh in at the scales and proceed to post-race tech inspection. No problems at the scales and no problems in tech. The win was officially ours!!!
The Pelech Bros. Racing crew, minus Todd R. Betts...
From L to R: Michael Flosky, Tim Pelech, Ted Pelech,
Jeff Prock, special guests Phil Roberts and Bob Rieger.
A small post race celebration ensued in our pit as we prepared to disassemble the Pelech Bros. Racing compound. The cell phones were immediately lit up with the news of our win. I gathered our check & trophy and we departed shortly after.
It’s just kind of nice to know that, for one day in July, we were the best in the business. The car was very fast for the conditions, the hardest working crew in drag racing kept it fast, I was driving well and best of all… We did it all on 10 ½" tires when most of our competitors were on much larger tires! 10.5 for life!
We definitely didn’t do it alone though. Tim and I again have to thank EVERYONE who’s had a hand in getting our car running and keeping it running. It’s people like Tony & Mike Flosky, Todd Betts, Al Bergler Race Car Bodies, Jeff Prock of Applied Nitrous Technology, John Hutchinson of Hutchinson Transmission Service, Fast Times Motorworks, Venolia, MSD Ignition, Chassis Engineering, Autometer, Flowmaster, Harwood, QC Coatings, Bear Race Graphics, and Total Flow Products - that got us on the track and keep us on the track. Thank you, again…
Next stop… August 11 & 12… The Grand Bend Motorplex in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada. We are anxious to see if we can back up our Cordova win with a win at Grand Bend. We’ve raced and won there before, so hopefully we haven’t forgotten how to do it. We’ll have to see… Until then, thanks for stopping in and we’ll catch up with you after Grand Bend…
Ted & Tim Pelech
Pelech Bros. Racing