This was our last race with the funny car for the season and we weren’t sure just how it would turn out. The weather forecast was for rain, and we were going as alternates, since they already had a full field of six funny cars from the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit. As it turned out, the weather was perfect. Early in the day several of the cars broke, opening up a spot for us to be part of the show. My first race was against Lance Good’s Sharky’s Machine. Some how the parachute shook loose and fell out on the launch. I went down the track with the chute open and still took the stripe. Turns out that Lance broke a throttle cable, giving me the chance to drive around him for the win. Not the way I want to win races but I guess the fans loved it. Steve said that people in the stands were on their feet, yelling and clapping the whole time.
Susie Q pulling into the lights for the first round against Lance Good’s Sharky’s Machine.
It was late afternoon when we went up for our next round. I was paired up against Jerry Streb in the Dazed & Confused Camaro. Not only did I give him a big advantage on the starting line, he made an extremely fast pass, beating me at both ends of the track.
Susie Q getting ready to make another pass.
There were supposed to be four Nostalgia Funny Cars to run on Sunday but we were the only one left that didn’t break. The forecast was for rain again, and it rain for a bit first thing in the morning. This really hurt the ticket sales at the gate and the crowd was really light. We were in the lanes to make our first pass when someone oiled the entire track. It was at least an hour of clean up before the track was up and running again. It turned out to be my quickest pass of the weekend, a 7.39 at 180 mph. I had to steer it hard to keep it on the track or it might have been even quicker. I was hoping to beat the 7.29 at 183, my fastest pass so far (made during a test session the weekend before) but that will now have to wait for next year.
Thanks to Matt, a young budding photographer who shows up at most of these funny car events, we have this exciting video of our run on Sunday. He installed an in car camera just behind my helmet and was able to capture the run from the driver’s perspective.
Highlights of the weekend:
Our friends Joel, Mandie, and son Zak were our special guests on Saturday. Their company, Mjolnar Course Construction, is one of our sponsors and we were thrilled that they could come out and watch us race.
Honorary pit crew for the day; my son Derek, who was visiting from New Jersey, and our friend Joel. Not sure they knew just what their job was, but it looks like they were having fun.
Steve takes time to explain some things to an interested spectator.
After a fast pass on the track, it gets busy in the pits: selling Uncle Earls soap, SusieQ t-shirts, and signing autographs.
Curious fans want to know what it’s like to drive the funny car.
This turquoise top sportsman ‘57 Chevy was making some fast passes too. What a beautiful car and that crew turned out to be our biggest fans that weekend.
- Susie Q
September 12, 2011
The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. We made a trip out east to visit my Mom in Massachusetts and then my son Derek & family in New Jersey. Derek just transferred out there this summer and we have been really missing the grandkids. We hadn’t planned it but we ended up visiting hurricane Irene as well. It hit New Jersey pretty hard the same weekend we were there, but fortunately it did no real damage to their place.
Stormy weather outside is a good time for story time inside with Grandpa
The weekend after we got back from our trip we were scheduled to race with the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit in Union. We had noticed that the front end on the racecar was out of alignment so Steve set to work on getting it fixed. Thinking it might be the spindles, he ordered up new parts and waited. A typical racer’s nightmare, the parts arrived late and then nothing just fit. After lots of work and time wasted, the front end still wasn’t fixed, so we threw in the towel and cancelled our trip to Union Grove.
The next step was to take the car to Tim Steven, our chassis builder, in Dorr, MI. He cut off the king pin bosses and welded new ones on both sides. He knows his stuff and he got the front end back to where it needed to be. Our next stop was US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI. Friday. We went early for Friday night test-n-tune and managed to get one pass in, just to make sure everything was working right.
Saturday was the big Nostalgia race and they had quite a turn out. There was a full field of cars for the show. Besides the alcohol funny cars, there were nostalgia nitro funny cars, Lagana’s top fuel dragster, a 4-cylinder nitro motorcycle, and a jet funny car.
We only made one pass since we were considered an extra car and not part of the regular show. Evidently the track manager didn’t want an extra car in his show. Too bad, since a lot of spectators wanted to see us run. I made a great burnout, which got cheers from the crowd, but my run was disappointing. The car went toward the wall on the launch, so I lifted. Got back into the throttle but not enough to make a fast pass. The car handled fine once I corrected it, so we think something about the track may have cause the car to move to the left. Looks like I will have to wait for another day to make that really fast pass we are hoping for.
Even though we didn’t do much racing, there was a really great crowd and the traffic in the pits kept us busy all day. We spent the day talking with race fans and I must have signed a couple hundred autographs. It was a lot of fun.
Our next event is September 24-25, a two-day Nostalgia race at Milan Dragway. We are looking forward to seeing lots of friends at this race, which might be our last for this season. Until next time…
- Susie Q
Aug 21, 2011
Cruisin with SusieQ
Each year around this time, over a million car enthusiast flock to southeast Michigan to take part in the Woodward Dream Cruise; a week long reenactment of the early days of cruising the strip in their favorite hot rod. This year, we were given the opportunity to park our ’57 Chevy Funny Car in the park/car show in Royal Oak, along the main drag. What a fun time we had.
We were set up all day Friday and most of Saturday. More on that later. Right from the start, there was a constant flow of people stopping by and there must have been thousands of pictures taken.
We visited with many old friends and made new ones. One of the nicest all black ’57 Chevy BelAir, owned by the nicest people, parked right next to us. I am so sorry I didn’t think to take a picture of it. As it turned out, they are practically neighbors of ours in Clarkston so hopefully we will see it again. Steve was answering questions about the car all day while I handed out hero cards and introduced a lot of people to our favorite hand healing soap from Uncle-Earls.
This little guy was attending his first car show with his dad and grandpa and he already knows how to pick a good ride.
The reaction from the kids was one of the highlights of the weekend. Maybe it was the bright red color, or the impressive look of the car body up in the air, or just that fact that massive hemi engine was right at eye level for these youngsters. Whatever it was, we had fun giving these kids an up close experience to a real racecar. I signed hundreds of hero cards during the weekend, many for young girls who were thrilled to meet a “lady” driver.
We fired the engine twice over the weekend, just to make some noise. Boy did that draw a crowd.
Our friend, Les Haight, squirts the fuel while Steve cranks the engine over.
The noise was a real crowd pleaser; even if people had to cover their ears.
The weekend ended earlier than expected when a major rainstorm headed our way Saturday afternoon. Word went through the park that heavy rain and 60 mph winds were coming so we hurried to get everything put away in the trailer. Just as it hit, we piled into the front of the trailer with some friends and sat it out. When the rain stopped we emerged to find tree branches down about 50 yards away and piles of bent metal skeletons that used to be tents scattered around the park. Most of the cars had cleared out in time and somehow we had escaped any damage. It was another dramatic ending to an exciting weekend.
We have a trip out east to visit family, then off to Union Grove, WI for our next race over Labor Day weekend.
- Susie Q
August 6, 2011
4th Annual Funny Car Nationals
Marion County International Raceway, LaRue, Ohio
What a weekend. It was hot and muggy with sprinkles on and off all day Saturday. Temps were in the 90s and corrected altitude was over 4000 ft. In spite of the weather, it turned out to be a great race. Well, right up until the monsoon hit just after midnight, ending the race before the finals got down the track.
Susie Q joins 30 other Nostalgia Funny Cars in the staging lanes.
Staging under the lights for the second race.
What a great group of racers and fans. It was a real treat to be part of this event and we were blown away by the complements we got on our '57 Chevy. We had two great runs on Saturday, winning both races.
My first 7 second pass in the Funny Car. (Time slip shows incorrect date. Actual date was 8/6/2011)
This lucky young fan gets a driving lesson he won't forget.
The Susie Q Crew: Sue and Steve Christophersen, Tim Stevens with his son Wyatt, and our sponsor, Steve Davidian, owner of Uncle Earls as "honorary pit crew."
Steve D talking to the fans.
"Nothing can compare to the feeling you get when you take on something really challenging and achieve it."
August 1, 2011
Too much Rain.
We headed to Milan Dragway on Friday for two days of testing, only to find the track somewhat flooded. It had rained over night and there were puddles, or should I say ponds, throughout the pits. Friends of our were there as well so we spent the day doing maintenance on the car and relaxing, waiting for the track to dry. By Saturday morning everyone was ready to go racing. It was GM Performance day so there were some great cars. This beautiful ‘57 came rolling through the pits and stopped to admire our car. The boat they had in tow would have come in handy the day before.
Too much power.
Learning to drive Susie Q continues to be a challenge. The crew chief has come to the conclusion that there really can be too much power, although he never thought he would say that. The car has a ton of low-end power and getting off the line has been a challenge. We made five attempts and two were pretty good passes. So it’s progress and I’m getting some practice at shifting through the gears and getting the chute out. My best time so far is 8.26 seconds. A long way to go but we are gaining on it.
Thursday we will be on our way to Marion County Dragway, La Rue Ohio, for the Funny Car Nationals. This is one of the biggest Nostalgia Funny Car events in the Midwest and we are excited to be part of it. So for now, wish me luck, and we will be back with and update and a recap of our next outing.
- Susie Q
July 17, 2011
Here we are with Tom & Jan Stepp in front of their very cool '59 Cadillac Sedan.
The Hot Dog Happening
It was 94 degrees and we had a choice to go racing or go to a picnic. Believe it or not, we chose the picnic. Our friends, Tom and Jan Stepp, have an annual event called the Hot Dog Happening and we usually miss it because of our race schedule. This year they were also celebrating Tom's recent retirement so we really wanted to be there.
One of the things that makes the "Happening" so much fun, beside all the great people who are there, is all the cool cars and motorcycles they bring. By the time all the guests have arrived, the driveway, yard and every nook and cranny around the yard is filled with some kind of hot rod.
Being that this was more or less a car show, we decided to bring out the Funny Car. It seemed to be a good addition to the show, especially when we fired it up.
Tom giving it the fuel while Steve cranks it over. Sue with her Fun Meter set to Max.
This was a great party. The hot dogs were delicious, the beer was cold, and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our friends. Let's do it again next year.
- Susie Q
June 13, 2011
This past week we got the body back from Detroit Canvas with the finished logo. Boy does it look great. We still have so many things to get it ready to go to the track that it was another late night on Friday before the car was in the trailer and ready to go. This time we got a full nights sleep and headed for the track on Saturday morning, ready for our second test session with Susie Q. Our friends Keith and Bill Hallett have been great support, and they keep reminding us that this all takes time. They are so right.
We made five passes between Saturday and Sunday, with some improvements each time, but I still haven't made it to the 1/8th mile under power. I did some good smokey burnouts, and starting to feel more accustom to finding the various controls while strapped into the car. Steve is getting a handle on dialing in the fuel, ignition timing, and fuel consumption.
This is so different than our dragster program, from suiting up in a the 20 SFI fire suit and helmet, to all the additional things I have to do to just get off the starting line. Little by little, we will get it figured out. We will make a few more minor modifications and head back out in a couple of weeks for some more testing. In the mean time, we plan to race the dragster in the Sunday points bracket race next week.
- Susie Q
May 24, 2011
What a weekend. In spite of working late all week long, it still took us until 4:30 am Saturday morning to get the car put together and loaded into the trailer. We took a shower and headed for the Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan. If so many of our friends hadn’t planned to come out for the race, we might not have gone. As it turned out, it was the best thing we could have done.
Tim Stevens from Straight Line Design was there with his son Wyatt. Tim built our chassis and did all the tree and tinwork on our car. Thanks goodness they were there. Tim and Steve worked all day to get the car ready to run. By late afternoon, they had the engine running and a number of other new car bugs worked out. We were ready to take it for it’s maiden voyage, then it rained. We were planning to stay over anyway so it would just wait until Sunday.
Although the car never left the pits, it sure got a lot of attention. It was great to have friends stopping by to visit and offer a helping hand. There was a steady stream of spectators stopping to look and take pictures. Our grandkids, DJ and Isaiah became fast friends with Tim’s son Wyatt and they seemed to be having a great time.
Sunday morning, we were ready to try again. Tim was back to give us a hand. We got the car warmed up and towed it to the line. The first pass went OK for a shake down. New car, new driver, the goal today was to do a burnout and a low speed pass down the track. Just making sure I could stage, shift, steer, and stop. These were the essential things for now. We made one more run, before calling it a day.
There are still so many things to do before we can really race the car. Right now our plans are to do some more testing in a couple of weeks. Thanks for everyone who has provided advise, support, and encouragement.
Until next time,
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds of your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain
May 20, 2011
We are scrambling to get our funny car done today so we can leave for Milan, Michigan tonight. Don't know if it will be ready to race but hope so.