Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
Drag Week Day One: Rookie Mistakes Abound!
We put Columbus in our rearview and Norwalk in our sights
Day One is officially history as I write this blog from the comfort our hotel room – the parking lot on the other hand is filled with a lot of Drag Week participants thrashing or drinking beer—it is hard to tell from up here. But the good news is that Mike Jovanis and I survived Day One without any major incidents and the really good news is that we are running second in Super Street Small-Block Power Adder. Though, our rookie adventure in Drag Week was hardly incident free from the dragstrip to the backcountry roads that Hot Rod Magazine made us navigate.
The day began with an early morning jaunt to the track as anticipation to get going was running at a high rate. There were some tasks to handle before the 8:30am driver’s meeting because once that meeting was over, the teams (347 total) were given just 45 minutes to lock up the big trucks and trailers and stick them in the impound yard. Rather than rush after the meeting we decided to get it done early by doubling checking the tools, spare parts, and odds and ends that were stuffed into our utility trailer.
Mistake one happened prior to the driver’s meeting, after seeing the staging filling up we quickly decided to park our 1,400hp Mustang in the lanes. Between the two of us, who have literally decades of experience between us, we broke the golden rule of waiting for a lane call. A muscle car traffic jam ensued when officials asked we move the vehicles but luckily Jovanis quickly maneuvered into the proper staging lane for a hurry up and wait moment.
Jovanis put his game face on as the track went live and we were eager to determine if our boost controller manipulations the prior evening would work out. If you read Day Zero, he adjusted the dome pressure on top of the wastegates through the Haltech Elite 2500 stand-alone EFI system. It was to fix an over-boost situation we noticed on the test runs. Another change was a reduction of launch boost, which we decided was a conservative way to get down the track cleanly. The goal is to be One and Done—make one pass and hit the road.
On track, it was the right judgment called as I had a smile from ear-to-ear as soon as Jovanis let off the transbrake button. The Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial tires dug into the surface and the car took off straight down the track. The scoreboard lit up—8.325 at 168.43 mph. A quick download of the data off the Haltech ECU showed that high-gear boost pressure was 27 psi. Remember, during our test hits on Sunday our previously fixed wastegates threw a curveball at Jovanis because the greater C02 pressure on top of the wastegates spiked the boost. So we went conservative to establish a baseline to determine what kind of C02 pressure was needed to generate an established boost number. We have our reference point and this pass backed that up. There is definitely more on the table in terms of boost.
The greedy side of us would love to have taken another shot at the track with more boost in high gear, but strategy is strategy—get on the road because we had a 234 mile cruise ahead of us. We turned in our timeslip, swapped the chute for the trailer hitch, aired up our tires, and hit the road for Norwalk, Ohio. If you check any GPS it would tell you that Summit Motorsports Park is just 90 miles from National Trails Raceway. Hot Rod Magazine, however, is not a GPS company but rather a purveyor of fun events so they sent us on a zigzag ride through backcountry Ohio. Total drive time was just over seven hours!
Our traveling partners on the road were Alex Corella and Willie Lujan, who we know from NMRA True Street. Their red coupe runs in Street Race Small-Block Power Adder and are running fifth right now thanks to a stellar 8.657 at 161.73 mph run. With two Mustangs loaded up we made mistake one, while looking for a gas station on the way out we missed the sign for the road we had to take. It would be the first of a few miscues but we chalked it up to Drag Week inexperience with a slice of bad directions. Yes, there were several mistakes on the route sheet, but we took it in stride even if a road closure did take us 40 miles out of the way.
Some observations from the road, aside from our human-error on map reading, the car performed admirably on the drive. And let me tell you, Hot Rod officials aren’t playing when it comes to the cruise. There was a little bit of everything from twists, turns, highways, and local towns that we navigated through. The engine’s water temperature was rock solid with one spike to 201 degrees but it stayed steady between 188 and 193 degrees. On down hill runs we would see that number drop to 173 degrees. Jovanis relies on a Racepak digital dashboard, which is wired into his Haltech Elite 2500 ECU. It gives you four different screens to toggle through and each screen provides seven sensor readings. It is all custom configured through the Haltech Elite 2500 and worked flawlessly.
As for the gas situation, we didn’t calculate it but we promise to do so for Day Two; the car swaps over to pump gas very easily. Simply toss in 93-octane gasoline, turn a knob on the center console for the pump gas tune, and voilà it is a pump gas monster! A rough estimate of our guess of total miles (270 with the missed turn) divided by the amount of gas we bought did give a rather interesting number. We are too shy and humble to admit it, but once we confirm it—whoa. I think you’ll be impressed considering the car ran low 8s and produces around 1,400hp when singing at full boost.
Other noteworthy comments on spending seven hours on the cruise to Norwalk, the car has a drone but that is because the exhaust dumps right behind the passenger seat. The Kirkey seats aren’t too uncomfortable, but these have aftermarket TMI covers that Jovanis got through National Parts Depot (NPD). And we need cup-holders; I have always noticed the Unlimited cars featured in Hot Rod always point out the cup-holders. Now I know why there is always an emphasis on that. Outside of a radio with two speakers instead of six and the obvious lack of air condition, the car is really not as bad or harsh as one would expect it to be. But I would hardly call it rough or uncomfortable, this thing does go low 8s.
Day Two is upon us and we hope to carry the same strategy of One and Done when we are on track and with a little bit of good luck, we can hit the road with Corella and Lujan at a reasonable time.