Columbus, OH -- It’s time for one last hoo-rah as yet another NMCA “Fastest Street Car” season comes to a close at Columbus, Ohio’s National Trail Raceway. For all practical purposes the season is already over and the points chase has been pretty much decided. Sure, we could go after Di Somma for a shot at second place, but what would that prove. Second place is… Second best. It’s really simple, there’s the Champ and then there’s everyone else. With that in mind and since we don’t want to be “everyone else”, we’re headed into Columbus’ National Trail Raceway on a virtual kamikaze mission. We have a little unfinished business to take care of here. Last year, we nearly took the Super Modified class ET record home for the Winter, but at the last possible moment, we had our pockets picked. We want the record and we’ll either take it… Or put on one heck-of-a show trying. Prock had his orders.
“Hello… Tampa? Get Prock on the line. Good morning, Mr. Prock… Shall we nuke Columbus?”
The 420-incher that’s resting quietly under the hood is tired and battle scarred from a long and abusive season. But that’s OK… We’re gonna put it out of it’s misery if it’s too tired. Two hot runs is all we’d need from it…
Prock took a deep breath of the crisp Fall air and proclaimed, “It’s gonna be a fast weekend… Add the current records to the endangered species list.” He then started loading the war-heads into the Pelech Bros. Racing short range bomber. The air raid siren sounded as the first round of qualifying was called.
We opened the bomb bay doors and dropped a 7.68 at 180.91 on the opposition for our first qualifying pass of the day. Right out of the trailer, our very first qualifying run was a direct hit. We were right where we needed to be, just a few hundredths of a second off the ET record and a few hundredths off an MPH off that record. We were the #1 qualifiers by a commanding margin.
The show was set back several time through out the day and, due to that, we were informed that qualifying would be cut short by one round. Our next round, the second round, would be our last round. By the time the call went out for the final qualifying session, it was pretty well dark and quite a bit cooler. The horsepower from the cold air would be welcomed, but the dew that was beginning to settle on to the racing surface would not.
The racing surface still seemed to be decent so we were un-phased by the threat of dew.
This was it. We’ll go for it now. Prock put on his lead lined gloves and pulled out the tune up disc marked with the internationally recognized yellow and black nuclear materials decal. He loaded the contents of the disc onto the lap top and then down loaded them to the car’s ECU.
It was very dark as we sat in the staging lanes. General Prock gave me my final orders. He informed that the fuse on the car bomb I was wheeling was exactly 1,319 feet long, one foot short of the full ¼ mile. “The finish line is your target… If you’re having trouble seeing in the dark, just aim for the orange timing cone at the end of the track.”
I pressed the trans-brake button and smashed the throttle to the floor. The engine got a snoot full of that cold, crisp air and immediately zipped up against the torque convertor.
The starting lights flashed and, for what may be the last time this year, I snapped off the button. The RPMs screamed as the car fired forward. As soon as the front tires came back into contact with terra concrete, the car started making a slight move toward the centerline. This felt like a heck of a run and I wasn’t going to let it slip away just yet. I put the steering wheel into a head lock and tried dragging the car back to the center of the lane. It didn’t wanna go. So I became more insistent. About then, the car started sashaying around and coming out from underneath me. Things weren’t well. I was about to mow down one of the orange cones, but unfortunately it wasn’t the right one. It was only the 990’ cone. Since the situation was deteriorating rapidly and I was about to cross the centerline and crash into Jim Monson, the mission was aborted. Luckily for Jim, he wasn’t my assigned target. I regained control of the situation and coasted across the finish line to a 7.71 at only 170-some-odd MPH. We quickly examined the incremental time on the ET slip to see how we were progressing before I lifted. We were right on course until I bailed… It looked like we were on a 7.63 run or so. It most likely would’ve been good enough to better the existing 7.64 record mark…
I was only 329’ from the end of the wick when I lifted. And now our commanding lead in qualifying had been cut to only .01 of a second with the #2 qualifier’s 7.69. We were still #1, but not by much.
The car was returned to the pits where the usual maintenance was performed. Shortly after, we secured the Pelech Bros. Racing compound for the evening and headed out for dinner.
The next morning we returned to the track and immediately prepped the car to take another shot at our objective. With only 15 of the 16 qualifying slots filled, we’d get a bye-run in the first round of eliminations. We could now solely focus on our objective and slowly & methodically work through our race procedure without having to contend with the potential distractions from the other lane.
Prock un-coiled another 1,319’ of fuse and plugged it into the car’s ECU. We then waited on our next opportunity.
In the mean time, Rob Barnes - the NMCA’s Tech Director, stopped by to give us a little good news. Our car was selected for the NMCA’s prestigious “Best Engineered Sportsman Car” award. A small ceremony and photo opp ensued in our pit as Mr. Barnes presented Tim Pelech with a fantastic engraved Lucite award to recognize his hard work as well as his engineering and fabrication abilities.
The first call of eliminations came across the public address system. Tire pressure was checked, the charger was pulled off the battery, and a hot nitrous bottle was loaded into the car. Now was the time.
We headed into the staging area and then on to the track a short time later. Everything was looking great. The sun was out to warm the track, but the air was still cool and crisp. Perfect!
I rolled into the water and directly towards Crew Chief Prock. Once he was pleased with what he saw, he signaled me to warm the tires. I rattled through the gears to get up on the tire and then rolled out of the water. Since our bye-run would have us racing un-opposed in the first round, we took our time to assure that everything was perfect before making the run. After all, we were probably only going to get one chance at this.
Prock directed me to the center of the racing groove as I approached the starting line. The data logger was set, the nitrous was purged one last time, and I took a deep breath. I rolled into the pre-stage beams and then into the stage beams. The trans brake button was depressed and throttle was firmly pressed to floor.
The starting lights fired, and I pulled the trigger. The car launched well, but it wasn’t as well as last night. I shifted gears as the car somewhat rapidly progressed the length of the track. It seemed to be on a good run, but it didn’t feel like a record setter. As I approached the 990’ cone, the sound of the engine slightly changed. I quickly looked over the gauges. Bad news; the needle on the vacuum gauge was bouncing wildly as it slowly descended towards it’s final resting place.
Just after the 990’ cone, I heard a low boom out of the mufflers as I stepped off the throttle and the engine sputtered out it’s last breathes. Yep, it was over. I dumped the parachute and coasted silently into the shut down area and through the last turn off. I had no idea that we had just made a 7.623 second pass, a new record for the Super Modified class!
While in the shut down area, I pulled the spark plugs and confirmed what I already knew. It was hurt. We quickly towed the car back to our pits to further assess the situation. Yep, still dead. Looks like we’re done for the year…
For now, we had accomplished what we set out to do. But there were still three rounds of eliminations left which meant three more opportunities for one of our opponents to take the National Elapsed Time Record away from us. We grabbed ourselves a little something to eat and headed off to the stands to see how it would all unfold. Fortunately, no one would better our mark this weekend and we’d now head off into the Winter holding the class record and finishing 3rd in the National Point Standings for second straight year.
That’s it for now… Our next installment will come shortly and will include all of the important and formal “Thank You-s” to the people you helped us get through another trying season… But I would like to say one “Thank You” right now…
Thank You to ALL of our readers and especially those who send the words of encouragement that keeping me writing… Even if it does take a long time to get the updates done…
Ted & Tim Pelech
Pelech Bros. Racing