We just got home from the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Trade Show in Orlando, FL, one of Steve's favorite things to do in the off season. With over 1,000 motorsports companies under one roof, this makes for a great three day shopping trip, even if it's mostly just window shopping. It's also a chance to meet with the representatives from the companies whose products we use. Over the years, many of these acquaintances have become friends and it's always fun to catch up and say hello in person.
Of course, we're not coming home empty handed. We bought a new little camera from Replay, so we can get some cool in-car video to post on our website. We also have some new brakes on order from The Brakeman which will solve some of the issues we had last summer. Gator Hunting (with a camera)
As long as we were in Florida, we decided to take a little side trip to enjoy the Florida wildlife. We signed up with some friends to take an air boat ride on Kisseme Lake. What a blast. Not only did we get see all sorts of gators, big and small, we also saw a wide variety of birds in their natural habitat, including Bald Eagles.
It was hard to leave the warm weather but it's time to turn our attention to the holidays. Winter in Michigan can be beautiful, especially when the snow falls at Christmas time. Thank you to our friends and fans who came out and supported us this past year. We appreciate your support and hope to see you again next year. Our plans for the 2013 race season are to compete in the NDRL (Nostalgia Drag Racing League) along with several exhibition races and car shows. Look for our 2013 schedule to be posted in early spring.
From our shop to yours, wishing you a safe and happy holiday!
Steve & Sue Christophersen
Susie Q Goes Back to School
The race season is over and before we put the cars away for the winter we had one more stop on our schedule; Oakland Technical Center, NE in Pontiac, MI. We arrived early in the morning, before the first classes assembled, and unload the funny car into the shop. You should have seen the look on the student's faces when they started arriving for class.
It was going to be a full day with a morning and an afternoon group, each included about 80 students from Automotive Service, Collision, Pre-Engineering and Welding & Fabrication classes. To get started, we shared a few video clips, a short presentation about our racing history, followed by highlights of Steve's and my career path in the automotive industry. After a discussion about what it takes to build and operate a race car and the safety equipment we use, it was time to head out to the shop to take a closer look at the funny car. For many students this was the first time they had ever seen a real race car up close and there were plenty of questions. The high point for the class was when I climbed into the car and Steve fired up the motor. The sound of the 528 cubic inch blown alcohol Hemi had them smiling, even with their fingers stuck in their ears. To wrap things up and to give the students something more to think about, Steve reviewed a list of the many various materials and process that go into building a funny car like the Susie Q.
This was a rewarding way to wind down our season. The Susie Q is back in the shop waiting for a winter overhaul. The rear engine dragster put away as well, and won't come out until the tracks open in the spring. Next stop is the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Orlando Florida, at the end of November.
September Fest 2012
The month started with a two day bracket race over Labor Day. We haven't raced the dragster much this summer so it felt good to go rounds, even getting into the quarter finals on one of the races. I can still cut a good light when I have to.
Friday night block party
The following weekend was the Frankenmuth Auto Fest. The event started on Friday night with a huge block party downtown Frankenmuth. Hundreds of classic cars rolled into town, followed by big crowds of car enthusiasts on foot, closing down main street for 2 ½ miles. The evening activities wrapped up a little early when the rains came, just as they fired off the fireworks.
For the next two days Heritage Park was filled with all sorts of classic cars and thousands of people. We had the Susie Q set up in the vendor area. Every once in a while we fired up the Hemi to create some noise, which is always a crowd pleaser. We had a great time and may do it again next year.
A couple of young enthusiasts
checking out the pipes
Getting ready to fire up the Blown Alcohol Hemi
The next few weeks were preoccupied with moving Steve's mom into an assisted living facility just a few miles from our house. She recently celebrated her 95th birthday, and although it's been a difficult summer, she is settled in and doing great.
The Milan Dragway Nostalgia Drags was a great way to wrap up our season. The Susie Q put on a show, along with 4 other Nostalgia Funny Cars and Tim Stevens newly built Nostalgia A/FED driven by his wife Tari.
Off the line for a very fast pass
Tari Steven in her Nostalgia A/FED (Front Engine Dragster)
In the staging lanes with Rex Jordan's great looking '57
The weather was perfect and what a turn out. There was a constant stream of spectators in the pits and the racing was virtually non-stop all day long. Not all our runs went as planned but we made our fastest pass of the season at 7.22 seconds and 186 mph. Thanks to our many friends and fans that came out to see us. What a way to end the season.
Susie Q cake from our friend Roger
Carol and Dan enjoying a day at the races
Susie Q is Back
After a crazy few months, we finally have our ’57 Chevy put back together. We have made a few trips to the track for some test runs and are happy to report the car is ready to race once again. The first time out was a bit nerve racking but the car went down the track just fine. We don’t have the car dialed in just yet, but that will come with a few more runs. Here is a look of one of our test passes at Milan Dragway last weekend. Video taken by Gary Brehmer.
This weekend we were “Back to the Bricks” in downtown Flint, MI. This is a cruise and car show that draws thousands of cars and tens of thousands of people to celebrate Genesee County’s automotive heritage. (Click on the images below for a larger view.)
The Susie Q was on display, along with other drag race cars from the area, including Al Bergler’s “Motown Shaker” and Ridler award winning “More Aggravation.”
We all fired up together as part of the opening ceremony, and again several times during the day, which really drew a crowd.
Doing a car show is not as much fun as racing, but it’s rewarding to be around all these car enthusiasts, both young and old.
New front half for Susie Q on jig at Straight Line Design
It’s been about a month since our fateful trip to Kil-Kare in Ohio. I figured it was time for a report on how things are going. After getting back home and the shock of what happened wore off a little it was time to get busy on plans to get the Susie Q back into shape. Steve got to work on disassembling the mangled chassis parts, unbending tinwork, and assessing just what needed to be done. The chassis went to Tim Steven’s shop where it is getting a new front end and back end. Just to be safe, Steve took the engine apart and for a thorough inspection. Next week the body goes back to Detroit Canvas, where artist Steve Plague will fix up the cuts and scratches and hopefully make it look good as new. Our projection right now is to have the car ready for testing mid July.
Final round at Milan Dragway, May 19, 2012
In the meantime, we have had plenty to keep us busy. The following weekend, in hopes of taking our minds off what happened, we decided to take the dragster to Milan for a bracket race. It’s sort of like “getting back on the horse”, as they say. Well, it was my lucky day and I went all the way to the finals and won the race. The following weekend we didn’t win the race, but did get down to the last 6 cars.
In recent weeks, my Dad, who is 85 and lives in Olympia, WA, was going through some serious health issues. I decided to make a trip out to see him and lend a hand. He lives with my sister and although she was managing, she really appreciated getting some help. As of this post, my Dad is doing much better and we hope will continue to be on the mend.
Celebrating my Nephew’s birthday with my Dad and other family members.
There is never a dull moment around here. My consulting business keeps me busy, plus summer yard work and gardening fill any spare hours of the day. While progress continues on rebuilding Susie Q, we’ll make the most of the summer and continue racing the dragster.
Until next time, enjoy your summer and be safe.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Our 2012 race season began with an event at Kil-Kare Raceway. It was our first booking with the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit this year and the weather was perfect. There were eight funny cars there for the match race and we were ready to put on a good show. We heard there were over 1000 spectators and it sure seemed like it. Go to glnfcc.com for more event coverage.
We spent most of the day visiting, talking about the car, promoting Uncle Earl's Soap and signing hero cards. This is Alyvia, one of the young fans enjoying a fun day at the races. Just look at that smile and you can see she's having a good time.
The day started out just great. I made a nice test pass in the afternoon and got a good feel for the track. Our first of two match races was scheduled for around 5:00 pm and the second around 8:00 pm. On my first pass I staged a little too deep so although I got off the line first, I didn't get the win.
Photos by Kevin Barlow
Big smoky burnouts are part of the show and on my second pass I laid down a good one. I was way down track when I got the car stopped and in reverse to back up. This is when it got exciting, in a bad way. The throttle was stuck part way open, so the engine was running faster than normal. These cars are hard enough to steer when backing up slow so when the car took off I knew I was in trouble. I tried to steer it but it went back and forth across the lane and then I felt it climb the guard rail. It all happened so fast all I could do was shut it off.
We want to say THANK YOU to the safety crew, the ambulance team, the tow truck driver and all the staff at Kil Kare. In fact everyone we dealt with, even before the accident, was fantastic. They did an outstanding job running the whole event as well as handling the situation. We can't say enough about how great everyone was.
Thanks also to our fellow GLNFCC racers, especially Bill and Keith Hallett, the Horvath family, Mike Klontz, and Rocky Ausec, just to name a few. Even the spectators were there to give us support and help load the Susie Q back into the trailer.
The chassis needs a lot of fixing and is going back to Tim Stevens for repairs. We know he can get the job done. The body was only slightly damaged, nothing that a little fiberglass and paint can't fix. We'll be back later this summer. Again, thanks to everyone there for helping us out that night. It made a very bad situation a lot easier to deal with.
May 8, 2012
Susie Q visits Tech School
Port Huron, MI.
At 6:00 am we were out the door and heading to St. Clair TEC, a high school technical school near Port Huron, MI. An hour and a half later, we unloading our racecar and were ready to meet some of the student in Mr. Hunter’s auto technology class. Students from other technology classes joined us, so between morning and afternoon classes, we had over 200 students.
We always look forward to the opportunity to talk with students about automotive careers and stress the importance of education. Bringing our ’57 Chevy Nostalgia Funny Car to school really gets students’ attention and hopefully creates some enthusiasm about their future careers. Another message we like to emphasize is the importance our safety equipment and relating it to vehicle safety.
Following our presentation the student made a big circle around the car and we fired it up. It’s fun to see so many excited kids with fingers in their ears and smiles on their faces. Hopefully this will be something they remember for a long time.
April 16, 2012
Mjolnir Course Construction Renews Sponsorship for 2012
When our friends at Mjolnir offered to sponsor our ’57 Chevy Nostalgia Funny Car, the Susie Q, we were thrilled. We built the car last winter and started racing it in 2011. Mjolnir Course Construction Inc was on board with us right from the start and we are excited to have them sponsoring us again for the 2012 season.
Anything we can do to support small business in and around the Michigan area is a good thing and sponsorship is a great way to help local companies gain exposure in local markets. Although we aren’t racing big national events, when we make an appearance at the track, spectators notice. Like Mjolnir, we want to promote businesses that support us, both personally and professionally.
Mjolnir Course Construction Inc, is a family owned and operated business that designs and builds tracks/ courses that showcase a vehicle's capabilities. They are based in Michigan, but travel all over the country building custom tracks to suit. Locally they build custom dirt bike tracks, waterfalls, dig ponds, and much more. For more information got to www.trackandterrainbuilders.com
February 24 – 26, 2012
Just a few weeks ago this is what the car looked like. It took a lot of elbow grease, several pints of race glaze, and of course, plenty of Uncle Earl’s soap to get the car ready for Autorama, but it was worth it. The good thing about doing all this work now is that we will be sure to have the car ready to race when the race season opens. In spite of some very long days, seeing so many friends and fellow racers was a blast.
Our ’57 Chevy received lots of attention from the crowd, as well as the photographers, both amateur and professional. The kids especially seem to like this car and we snapped this picture of four young brothers that wanted a closer look.
We are counting down the weeks until the weather warms up enough to get to the track, probably mid-April. The Spitzer dragster still needs some work but it won’t take much to have it ready to go. The practice tree will get a workout over the next few weeks as well. We plan to run the dragster on weekends when we aren’t racing the funny car. That is going to keep us busy over the summer. It will also keep my driving skills sharp. We will add events to our schedule as soon as they are confirmed so check back soon. That’s all for now. See you at the races.
Happy New Year race fans. Hope your holidays were as fun as ours. We had family here to celebrate Christmas, making it a very special time. Having the grandkids here to watch their excitement on Christmas morning makes it even better.
This is the time we get busy planning for spring. Our race season is several months away but there is so much to do and we made a commitment to display the funny car at the Detroit Autorama this year. That is coming up at the end of February so now the pressure is on. The engine and transmission will get a rebuild with fresh parts and some slight improvements. Nothing broke last summer but we always want to start the year out with a race car that is ready to go. Since we spent so much time racing the funny car last year, the dragster didn’t’ have as many passes on it. Still it needs the usual off season attention and we will be working on it as well.
April is when the season starts in Michigan and like most of our fellow racers, we are already counting down the days until we can go racing again. Check back later for and updates on our progress and be sure to check for our race schedule. We don’t have it yet, but as soon as we do, we will be posting it right here.
So as we embark on another great year, here is a little something to think about.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” – Ralph Waldo Emerson