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Susie & Steve 2014December 10, 2014

Merry Christmas

Winter has set in and the cold temperatures are making us wish for spring and the 2015 racing season to begin. We've had some snow. Luckily not like some parts of the country, but we know it's coming. The funny car is tucked away in the shop for the winter, the engine is out and disassembled and inspected, and the list of things to do keeps getting longer. Fortunately, we didn't break anything this year and wear n' tear on the engine parts was minimal. Guess that's a sign that we had good parts and our engine builder [Steve] did a really good job.

PRI 2014This weekend we head to Indianapolis, IN, for the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Trade Show. This is Steve's favorite place to Christmas shop and where we get all the latest updates and decide what shiny new parts we need for our race car. Last year he gave me Diamonds, pistons, that is. Wonder what he will surprise me with this year; new rods, new brake pads, or maybe a new blower belt?

Christmas plans for us are simple; stay home and celebrate with family and friends. My son's family is coming from Pennsylvania for a week. Having my grandsons here, who are 9 & 11, will be wonderful. Steve's sister and her family, who live in Michigan, will also be here. His mom, who is in assisted living near us, celebrated her 97th birthday in August and we are so fortunate to be able to include her in our family gatherings as well.

We tend to get too busy this time of year with Holiday preparations; shopping, decorating, baking, and entertaining. It's easy to forget what Christmas is really all about. This year, I hope you will find time to focus on the blessings of the season, spend quality time with your family, and share the love with those less fortunate.

Merry Christmas Wish

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NDRL - ET Genie Fall FinalsSeptember 26-28, 2014

NDRL - ET Genie Fall Finals
Milan Dragway,
Milan MI

Steve and I have been coming to the Milan Nostalgia Drags for the last five years but this year was a first for the NDRL. It was our 5th and final race of the season, where the NDRL IAM Championship would be decided, as well as the final points standing. Susie Q was 7th in points going into this event and although the championship was out of reach, we were hopeful we could improve.

Night qualifying photo by Robert Eaker
Night qualifying photo by Robert Eaker

The racers started arriving Thursday and by Friday afternoon the NDRL teams were pitted and ready to run. Regular crew members Roger and Rachel Day had joined us for this weekend. The schedule was set for one qualifying run on Friday night and a second one on Saturday, followed by eliminations. The forecast for the weekend was perfect with high 70's during the day and cooling into the 50's at night. It was close to 7:30 on Friday night when we were called to the lanes and the sun was dropping fast. Our class, Pro 7.0, was last and by the time we got ready to fire, the dew had set. When Steve brought the car body down, the windshield had so much condensation on it, I couldn't see a thing. If we were more accustomed to running at night, we would have remembered to bring a towel to cover the windshield. Steve did his best to wipe it off and I could see down track, but my visibility was limited. The track was slippery but I kept my foot in it for a quick pass at 6. 96 @ 187 mph. This put us in the middle of the qualifying order.

Saturday morning brought more beautiful sunny weather and a flood of cars and spectators. Many friends stop by to say hi and were anxious to see us run. For our Honorary Pit Crew and long-time friend, Bob McQuiston, this would be his first time to be there in person and see us go down the track. We hoped to put on a good show. Originally we were told our 2nd qualifying pass would be around noon and eliminations would start early afternoon. At least that was the tentative schedule. With well over 400 cars showing up, a few oil downs, and a serious wreck, our run time got pushed way back. It was 4:00 pm when we finally made our first pass of the day. Fortunately the conditions were good and we ran a 7.06 @ 193 mph. This put us in the #2 spot, behind Steve Walczak's '32 Bantam, who qualified #1 with a 7.04 @ 194 mph.

By 8:00 pm, we still didn't know when we would get called up to race. Meanwhile, the bracket cars were still running. The dew had come down and many of us would rather not run on a slippery track, not only because it's dangerous and but also because it ends up being more of a pedal fest than a real race. The NDRL members took a vote and decided to call it a night. We would run our race on Sunday.

Any other weekend we would have had to worry about weather but this time it was one nice day after another. Things got under way on time Sunday morning and we were ready to make our first pass around 11:00 am. We were paired up against #11 qualifier, a front engine dragster driven by Justin Malott. I was off the line first and it was a close race to the finish. Even though he took the stripe first, I ran closer to the index with a 6.92 to his faster 6.89. Susie Q was going on to round number two.

Photo by Tom Turrill
Photo by Tom Turrill

Photo by Sandy Gabbert Walthen
Photo by Sandy Gabbert Walthen

A few hours later we were in the lanes, ready to take on the Bad Anglia, driven by Larry Harlan. There was a lot riding on this because whoever won this round got a bye into the finals, and a chance to win the race. Unfortunately it wasn't going to be my day. When I let off the throttle on burnout, the front tires started to shake, violently. All I could to do was ride it out until it stopped, about half way down the track. It took a moment to regain my composure and begin backing up. When I pulled forward to stage, the car wasn't lined up just right. Unfortunately, the littlest distraction can really mess with your concentration and I was late on the tree. Larry left first and stayed ahead of me all the way to the finish line. Even though I ran a perfect 7.00 to his 7.01, he got there first and took the win. Not the way we wanted to end the race season.

Steve and Roger gave me a great car and I felt awful. We gave up points and a chance to take home some money. Although this was disappointing, overall the season had been pretty good. The car ran good all summer, we never hurt any parts, our tuning and driving skills keep getting better, and we finished 6th in points It's fun being part of the NDRL family and we look forward to racing with them again next year.

Susie Q will make a few appearances at schools and car shows before going back in the shop for the winter. We'll attend the NDRL end of year banquet to help celebrate the season champions. It's hard to face the end of racing season because we know it will be nearly 7 months before we do it again.

We have much to be thankful for, especially the companies and friends that help us throughout the race season. To all the companies listed on our webpage; thanks for providing great products and good deals that support our race team. A very special thanks to Roger & Rachel Day, super friends and talented crew, we couldn't do this without you. To our friends and neighbors, Joel and Mandie of Moljnar Course Construction, thanks for all your help. To our friends John and Jodi Wunch, you are welcome to join our crew any time. To Uncle Earl's; thanks for a great website and giving us clean healthy hands.

SOME OF THE BEAUTIFUL NDRL CARS IN OUR PRO 7.0 CLASS.

Thanks to the many talented photographers who capture our race cars in action: Photo credit for the pictures below goes to Mike Grosso, Dave Rocheleau, and Leslie Abel Bradshaw.

Larry Harlan's Bad Anglia
Steve Walczak's '23 Bantam
Larry Harlan's Bad Anglia
Steve Walczak's '23 Bantam
Robbie Freel's Altered
Justin Molott's Dragster
Robbie Freel's Altered
Justin Molott's Dragster
Gordon Horn's '63 Corvette
John Slagle's Dragster
Gordon Horn's '63 Corvette
John Slagle's Dragster
Billy Smith's Dragster
Michael Sexton's Dragster
Billy Smith's Dragster
Michael Sexton's Dragster

MORE PICS FROM THE PITS:

Bob McQuiston, get a few pointers from Steve

Sue in the driver's seat for the warm up.  (Photo by Donna Roy)
Steve and Joel Raymond discussing the run.
Sue in the driver's seat for the warm up.
(Photo by Donna Roy)
Steve and Joel Raymond discussing the run.
A surprise visitor, John Muldowney
Photographer and friend, Mike Grosso
A surprise visitor, John Muldowney
Photographer and friend, Mike Grosso

Next up - we will be showing the car at the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival Saturday October 4, in Caro, MI. Stop by for a piece of pumpkin pie and say hello.

Susie Q

September 6-7, 2014

ONDR Hot Rod Reunion
St. Thomas Raceway Park
Sparta, ON

Susie Q Goes International

A few months ago, we accepted an invitation for a match race at the ONDR (Ontario Nostalgia Drag Racers, Inc.) Hot Rod Reunion in Sparta, Ontario. It would be our first trip to Canada with the funny car and our first time to St. Thomas Raceway.

On the way to the bridge, we stopped in Port Huron to pick up our fill-in crew, John and Jodi Wunch, since our regulars, Roger and Rachel had a wedding to go to.

Steve and John are long-time friends but this was their first time crewing for us. In fact, it was their first time around a funny car, but they're no strangers to drag racing. John and Jodi are veteran bracket racers as they both drove their 1965 4 speed Falcon back in the '80s and 90's.

It was hot and sunny when we pulled into St, Thomas Raceway Park on Friday afternoon They set us up in a nice spot right next to the staging lanes. We were booked in for a 1/8th mile match race against "Diesel Dave" Wagner, in his bright green Mopar funny car, Pure Insanity. The race was scheduled for Saturday but a pounding rain storm delayed it until Sunday. It poured rained all night, soaked the track and everyone in the pits. The track workers tried for hours to dry things up but finally had to throw in the towel. It was after noon and they reported that it was still so wet that there were worms coming up through the cracks. Just for the record, yes, there really were. We couldn't race and it was too wet to leave, so they organized a parade of nostalgia cars and we all made a lap on the track. This followed by some fairly competitive golf cart races and the day was about over.

meet some of the local racers and answer lots of questions from interested fans
meet some of the local racers and answer lots of questions from interested fans
Since we were hanging out all day, we had the opportunity to meet some of the local racers and answer lots of questions from interested fans. There was a steady flow of visitors in our pits and it's always fun to experience the enthusiasm of young race fans.
     
Steve and John put the extra time to good use, discussing operation, maintenance, and other technical stuff.
Steve and John put the extra time to good use, discussing operation, maintenance, and other technical stuff.
Steve and John put the extra time to good use, discussing operation, maintenance, and other technical stuff.
     
ready for the Funny Car match up ready for the Funny Car match up
On Sunday, the sun was shining and the race track was back in action. After running a few rounds of the local bracket cars, they were ready for the Funny Car match up. They had billed us as Mopar vs. Chevy, Canada vs. USA, and so on. Dave and I were ready to fight it out in the lanes and hoped the track would give us some bite.

First round I took the left lane and Dave took the right. If it had been a burnout competition, Dave would have won hands down. The Susie Q got off the line first and crossed the finish line with a 4.40 @ 160 mph to his 4.71 @ 148 mph. The track barely held but I was able to keep it in the groove. It was a good race with the Pure Insanity in pursuit all the way to the end when it put out a cloud of smoke just before the finish. The Mopar had broken a rocker arm so Dave had work to do before next round.

We swapped lanes for the second round.
We swapped lanes for the second round.

We swapped lanes for the second round. We both did our burnouts but when I went to back up, the car stalled. We had to let Dave make a single while we pushed back and refired the motor. I made it down the track but something wasn't just right with the fuel and the pass was way off the mark. Steve will have work to do before our next race but he has a way of figuring these things out. That's why he is the crew chief.

As it stands, it's one each for the Mopar and the Chevy. There wasn't time for a third pass on Sunday so we'll have to wait for another time to settle the score. Thanks to: John and Jodi for helping us out and doing a super job as crew; to Rick Proctor, director of the ONDR for inviting us and managing to pull off a fun event in spite of the rain; and to owner Jay Morse and everyone at the track who treated us so well and worked hard to make it a safe race track to run on. It was a good time and we would definitely do it again.

Mark your calendars for the season finale. We will be at Milan Dragway on Sept 26-27 for the Nostalgia Drags and the NDRL ET Genie Fall Finals. This will be our last points race and our last race of the season. Come on out and see us.

Susie Q

Briggs & Stratton Hot August Nights Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, IL August 16, 2014

Briggs & Stratton Hot August Nights
Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, IL

"We had our Kicks at Route 66" Our weekend started on Friday with a six hour drive to Joliette, IL, near Chicago, for the Briggs & Stratton Hot August Nights and the fourth NDRL points race of the season. We arrived Friday afternoon to set up our pits and enjoyed a casual evening of visiting and relaxing. It was our first time at Route 66 Raceway and, unlike many of our races, this was scheduled as a one day event; qualifying and eliminations all on Saturday. The forecast was for rain all weekend but that didn't keep the racers or the fans away. Other than a few sprinkles and a couple of short delays in the schedule, the fans were treated to a full day of racing entertainment.

 

There are four NDRL classes, PRO Gas, PRO Comp, PRO 7.50, and the quickest class, PRO 7.0, which is the class we run in. Qualifying started early afternoon and we were sitting number one after the first session, with a 7.023 @ 187 mph. We weren't able to improve in the second qualifying session and Mike Sexton, in his front engine dragster ran a 7.003 @ 192 mph, bumping me down to the No.2 spot.

Another funny car showed up to run with us in the Pro 7.0 class, a new team with a hemi powered Dodge Charger driven by Glen Sliwa. First round pairings had us facing off, funny car vs. funny car. Unfortunately for Sliwa, the Charger got out of the groove he had to lift early. Our '57 Chevy went straight down the track, running 7.015, turning on the win light and my best pass of the day so far. It was a great pass but not good enough for lane choice. That just goes to show how tight the competition is in our class. In second round I was set to run Larry Harlan in his (badder than) Bad Anglia. He got off the starting line first and carried the advantage to a round win, ending our day early. Harlan lost in the finals with a 7.11 against NDRL new comer Ken Oreilly's 7.01 in his front engine dragster, putting Oreilly's team in the winners circle.

Despite the second round loss, it was a decent weekend for us. Our tune up was right on, with three of our four runs being 7.02 or better and the weather held out, despite a forecast for rain. The track officials put on a great program for the racers and the fans with nonstop racing all day. The whole event seemed to be well organized, they gave us a good track to run on, and the safety staff at the end of the track was outstanding. Add to this, the fans, who were perhaps the most enthusiastic we had all year. We signed autographs, sold T-shirts, posed for pictures, and left the racers and fans in Joliet with cleaner healthier hands, thanks to Uncle Earls.

Our next outing will be a trip to Canada on September 6 for the Hot Rod Reunion at St. Thomas Raceway Park, Sparta, Ontario.

Susie Q


Susie Q's Weekend Scrapbook

I met Adam a while ago, when he was crewing for Warren Johnson and he just happened to be at the track with one of the Pro Stock teams. What a treat to have him and his son stop by to say Hello.
We were blown away with the enthusiasm of these young guys. I think they qualify as the biggest supporters of the Susie Q Fan Club
I met Adam a while ago, when he was crewing for Warren Johnson and he just happened to be at the track with one of the Pro Stock teams. What a treat to have him and his son stop by to say Hello.
We were blown away with the enthusiasm of these young guys. I think they qualify as the biggest supporters of the Susie Q Fan Club
Roger's friends Colin and Kelly came to watch us run.
Fireworks over the grandstands punctuate the end of a good day of racing.
Roger's friends Colin and Kelly came to watch us run.
Fireworks over the grandstands punctuate the end of a good day of racing.

July 18-20, 2014

AkzoNobel, Wanda BLUE SUEDE CRUISE
Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio

AkzoNobel, Wanda BLUE SUEDE CRUISE
Photo by Joe Secka
This was our third points race in the 2014 IAM Championship Season and the second year NDRL raced at Summit Motorsports Park. We arrived on Thursday and were able to get a great pit spot along the fence next to the track. Our crew, Roger and Rachel joined us on Friday morning and friends Ross and Ann Smith, with their '41 Willys coupe, pitted next to us.

What a difference a year makes. (see last year's post) The weather on Friday was great with a corrected altitude of 2400 ft. Steve and Roger have been getting closer on the tune up so I ran a 7.051, putting me 4th out of 16 qualifiers. We were scheduled for two more qualifying runs on Saturday, but rain kept us off the track until after noon so only had one more shot at it. We made a good pass but I didn't improve and ended up qualified 6th; that's right, 6th, with a 7.05. The competition in this class is fierce.

Cars were running down the track by 8:30 Sunday morning. The sun was out and the conditions were good. The air was at 2900 ft., setting the stage for a great day of racing. First round I was paired up with a local guy running a '62 BelAir Pro Mod. I got out on him at the start and was ahead all the way down the track. He was just a tad quicker, running a 7.02 to my 7.04, and took the stripe buy just .017 seconds. It was my best pass of the weekend, but just wasn't enough. In the finals it was Mark Vaught, against No. 1 qualifier, Billy Smith, both running front engine dragsters. Vaught red lit, handing Billy his first NDRL event win.

ROUND ONE ELEMINATIONS
ROUND ONE ELEMINATIONS
Photo by Leslie Able Bradshaw

Here is a video of the full first round eliminations of the NDRL race. Our pass is into it about at the 7 min spot.


Susie Q's Weekend Scrapbook

Thanks to the Bader family's wonderful hospitality, we enjoyed a great weekend of racing, an awesome car show, good times with friends, entertainment from the Van Dells, spectacular fireworks, and several pounds of ice cream. We'll be back!!

HONORARY PIT CREW

HONORARY PIT CREW
David, Greg, and Glen, from Uncle Earls, our sponsor
David, Greg, and Glenn, from Uncle Earls, our sponsor
At the starting line
At the starting line
At the starting line

SUSIE Q WITH SOME OF HER FANS

Three young ladies getting a closer look.   Three young ladies getting a closer look.
Three young ladies getting a closer look.

FRIENDS FROM THE SALT

Visiting in the pits with Kenny & Denny and their one-of-a-kind VW bus.

ENTERTAINMENT

Favorite "oldies" by the Van Dells	Amazing Fireworks - SMP style  A beautiful sunset over Summit Motorsports Park.
Favorite "oldies" by the Van Dells
Amazing Fireworks - SMP style


A beautiful sunset over Summit Motorsports Park.

Look for us at our next event on August 16th, the Briggs & Stratton Hot August Nights at RT.66 Dragway in Joliet, Illinois.

That's it for now,
Susie Q

June 12-14, 2014

12th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion12th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion
Beech Bend Raceway
Bowling Green, KY

Susie Q Scores Some Points

The second race in the 2014 NDRL Championship Series was held during the 12th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion. We attended this event last year with the NDRL and it is fast becoming one of Susie Q's favorite tracks. The drive from the freeway to the tack is simply gorgeous, and once you get there, Beech Bend Raceway is a just a great track to run on.

There was rain in the forecast for the weekend, but like most hard core racers, we took our chances and headed for Bowling Green, KY, anyway. We drove in the rain and arrived in time to pull into the pits on Wednesday night. The pits were filling up and we were lucky to get a spot on the asphalt near some of the other NDRL racers. It poured that night and into the morning so needless to say, racing got a late start.

We were scheduled to make one qualifying run on Thursday, two on Friday and eliminations on Saturday. Things finally dried and we made our qualifying pass late afternoon. Since the car had been running pretty good, Steve and Roger decided to leave the tune up alone and see what we would run. The temperature was up and with all the humidity, the corrected altitude was 2900 ft. The car went straight down the track, putting a 6.916 @ 194.30 mph on the board. This was a great run except we were too fast for our 7.00 class and I was now 15th out of 16 qualifiers.

Friday started out late due to more rain, but turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Because of the delay, we were only getting one more qualifying run instead of two. We made some adjustments to the tune up and hoped it would improve our qualifying position. It was a near perfect run, only too fast once again. This time we ran faster, with a 6.866 @ 190.89 mph. With very little to go on from previous runs, we were struggling to make the right changes. We just needed to slow down a few tenths. It seems contradictory to try to slow a race car down but that was exactly what we had to do since the top qualifiers were all running 7.01's.

Saturday presented excellent weather conditions for eliminations and we knew the track would be good. I ended up 16th out of 16 on the ladder, which meant that I would face off against the number one qualifier, Billy Smith, who had run a 7.012 in his front engine dragster. Steve slowed the blower overdrive down 10% and lowered the shift points in hopes to dial us in. First round went in my favor as Billy red lit, giving me the win. I ended up with a bye-run in the second round because the car I was to run couldn't make it to the line. Third round, I was facing Mike Sexton, # 5 qualifiers in his all blue front engine dragster. I know he could be fast on the light and tried to be ready. The plan was to lift off the throttle early to keep from breaking out but unfortunately, I let him get out ahead of me at the start. He beat me to the finish line with a 7.08. I lifted early and still ran a 6.984, losing at both ends of the track. We weren't the only ones running too fast, but not Sexton. He went on to win the trophy, and we came home with a few more tuning notes for next year.

It was a fun weekend in spite of our struggles. We didn't break anything, made it to the semi-finals, and I ended up 5th in points. All weekend there were fans stopping in our pits to ask questions and get a closer look at the car. We promoted Uncle Earls Soap for our sponsor, sold some T-shirts and signed a lot of autographs. As always, we appreciate the opportunity that people at the NDRL give us to go racing and they always put on a good event.

Next race will be Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH for the NDRL Summer Jam during the Blue Suede Cruise July 18-20.

Susie Q

Susie Q's Weekend Scrapbook

Not much to do on a wet Thursday morning
Bob & Jake giving us a hard time for running under our 7.00 index.
Not much to do on a wet Thursday morning
Bob & Jake giving us a hard time for running under our 7.00 index.
Steve adjusting the valves, as part of regular maintenance
A young fan sizing up the Susie Q
Steve adjusting the valves, as part of regular maintenance
A young fan sizing up the Susie Q
In the staging lanes with Billy Smith's team before 1st round
While packing the parachutes, I take a break to sign some autographs.
In the staging lanes with Billy Smith's team before 1st round
While packing the parachutes, I take a break to sign some autographs.
Just one of many cool sights in the pits at the Hot Rod Reunion.
Mike Sexton, in the far lane, gets around Mike Smith in the Killer Crower for the win.
Just one of many cool sights in the pits at the Hot Rod Reunion.
Mike Sexton, in the far lane, gets around Mike Smith in the Killer Crower for the win.

May 17, 2014

Detroit Dragway Reunion 2014

A Speeding Ticket for the Susie Q Team!

The day started with an early morning rain and a forecast for scattered showers all day.  Fortunately drag race fans are optimistic so when the gates opened Saturday morning, it wasn’t long before the pits were filled with fans and the throaty sound of engines warming up for the battle. 

This is the Detroit Dragway Reunion, celebrating the many race cars and drivers that frequented the famous but now extinct drag strip.  Nostalgia and reliving the early days of drag racing is what it’s all about.  The pits were full with all sorts of hot rods ready to compete.  The Susie Q was there to make a couple of exhibition passes as part of the show, along with several blown alcohol funny cars and some front engine dragsters.  Of the many notable drag racers on hand to greet the fans and sign autographs, Don Garlits was the guest of honor, with his mini museum and one of his Swamp Rat dragsters on display.

Detroit Dragway Reunion
Detroit Dragway Reunion

As we waiting in the staging lanes for our first pass, we had a chance to visit with Randy Lindamood, driver of the Color Me Gone Drag Pak Charger.  He is the son of Roger Lindamood, well known racer from back in the day who drove a number of notable race cars, all with the familiar "Color Me Gone" paint scheme.

We knew the conditions were good when it was finally our turn to make a pass.  The air was cool and the track had some heat in it.  I pulled through the water and did my burnout, trying to lay some fresh rubber across the starting line.  It was a bye run, so no one was in the lane next to me.  I staged, launched and shot down the track, keeping the car right down the middle without a problem.  When I pulled the chute, it really set me back in the seat so I knew I was really moving.  Off the track and out of the car, I have to wait for Steve and Roger to arrive in the golf cart.  Traveling at about 10 mph, they finally arrive and both are all smiles.  Steve is pretty excited when he hands me the time slip and gives me a great big hug.  We finally did it.  The car went over 200 mph; 6.73 sec @ 201.73 mph to be exact.

201 MPH Pass.  Photo by Tom Turill
Roger’s granddaughters enjoying a day at the races
201 MPH Pass.  Photo by Tom Turill
Roger’s granddaughters enjoying a day at the races

I made a second pass, which would have been even faster if I hadn’t lifted early.  The car was getting a little too loose at the far end of the track so I lifted at about the 1000 foot.  I still ran a 6.76 through the lights.  It’s great to see what the car can do when we are running exhibition, however, when we head to our next NDRL race we will have to slow it down some.  In competition we want to run as close to 7.0 seconds as possible without breaking out.  Anything faster and we lose the round.

Overall it was a great day.  We had lots of friends come out to see us, met lots of fans, and broke some records.  Mother Nature gave us some exceptional weather, the Milan crew gave us a good track to race on, Steve and Roger gave me a good tune up, and I did some good driving.  Who could ask for anything more?

Next stop is the NDRL June Meet at the NHRA HOT ROD REUNION, at Grand Bend Raceway in Kentucky, June 12-14th.  It’s time to go some rounds so stay tuned.

Susie Q

May 2014

  Hardy Daffodil
 
Hardy Daffodil

The 2014 Race Season Is Underway!

The weather seemed like it would never give in to spring this year. Remember Spring? When the air is noticeable warmer, the trees and grass turn from ugly brown to bright yellow green and bright clusters of pink, yellow, & purple flowers start poking out of the ground? Spring for us also brings with it the excitement and anticipation of getting the race car ready and seeing the 2014 race season get underway.

Well, it has finally arrived. April seemed to crawl by with only a few noteworthy activities. Steve and I volunteer to help put on the Michigan SkillsUSA State Competition for Automotive Service Technology students, which we have been doing for nearly 30 years. I made a trip to New Jersey over Easter to visit my grandkids while Steve made steady progress on getting the engine back together for the race car.

After a major failure last September, which windowed the block, just about everything had to be replaced or refreshed. The Bowens' welded up the block and the crank was repaired by Greg at Rody Machine. We have new pistons from Diamond, TP1 pins from Trend, new rods from Mike Giannone at MGP, new titanium valves and the heads tuned up by Total Flow. Steve is getting pretty good a putting this power plant together and we finally had a nice enough day to pull it outside and fire it. Amazingly, well I shouldn't say amazingly because Steve really does know what he's doing; it fired on the first try and ran just the way it's supposed to.

JP1 Block – all welded up
Shiny new rods ready to install
All back together
JP1 Block – all welded up
Shiny new rods ready to install
All back together

May 1st was just barely warm and dry enough to take Susie Q to Milan for some testing. First time up, it made a good launch but something got under the right tire and the car made a hard right. It took some fancy, or should I say lucky, driving to save it with only inches between the headers and the concrete. On the second try, the car made a great launch and went straight down the track for a fast 1/8 mile pass. It was too cold to risk top speed at the far end so I lifted early. We at least knew we had the tune up close enough for our first race.

Cinco de Mayo happens to be my birthday and this year I celebrated my 60th. I know some ladies don't like to tell their age but I don't mind. Why should I when I am enjoying life; I have a wonderful husband, great friends, and good health. God has been good to me and I plan to keep participating in life to fullest as long as He allows me to.

On May 8, we headed out for Madison, IL, just east of St. Louis, to our first race, The NDRL Quick Fuel Technology Battle at the Arches, at Gateway Motorsports Park. The DRO Funny Cars and the Victory Nostalgia Super Stockers, along with the local bracket racers helped fill up the pits. It was the first time out for a lot of us so everyone was anxious to heat up the tires. There was rain in the forecast, but we managed get two days of racing in before the skies finally open up and poured on us. We had two qualifying runs on Friday hoping to get the car dialed in. First pass was straight down the track but only ran a 7.19. (See VIDEO) With this new motor, nothing seems quite the same so Steve and Roger were doing their best to adjust the tune-up. Next pass the car launch really nice but being there wasn't much of a groove, the car wanted to drive to the wall and I had to lift early. Still we got some numbers that could help us dial in a little better. We were qualified 6th, and had one more qualifying run on Saturday, hoping to improve. A few changes and we were ready to give it another shot. It was a great launch off the starting line and although the car moved around some, I could handle it and ran it all the way out. Little did I know it was our fastest pass in the car so far, at 6.89 and 194 MPH. Ok, it's exciting to go fast, but when trying to qualify for a 7.00 class, this just isn't helpful.

Photo by Steve E. Fuhrman
Photo by Gary Gifford
Photo by Steve E. Fuhrman
Photo by Gary Gifford

Somehow, we maintained our position as 6th qualifier and were pair up against William Foehring in a nitro front engine dragster, Lethal Injection for first round. A few hours later, we were on the starting line. Still not sure what happened, but I was dead late on the launch and the dragster got way out ahead of me. I did my best to run him down and succeeded in crossing the finish line first. Unfortunately, I ran a 6.997, and as I said before, that isn't good in a 7.00 class. So I lost the race by breaking out by a few thousandths and our race day was over.

Between Rounds
Steve talking with some fans
Sue getting help with the chutes
Roger filling the fuel tank
Steve talking with some fans
Sue getting help with the chutes
Roger filling the fuel tank

After getting some sleep, we headed back to Michigan to regroup and get ready for our next event, the Detroit Dragway Reunion at our home track, Milan Dragway, on May 17th. Hoping for good weather and looking forward to seeing lots of friends and fans this weekend. See you there.

Susie Q

March 2014

Gatornationals, Gainesville, FL

Gatornationals, Gainesville, FL

Gatornationals, Gainesville, FLGatornationals, Gainesville, FL

Just had to get away from this winter weather for a while so we headed down to Florida for the Gatornationals.  It was a great weekend of watching fast cars and hanging out with some of our favorite teams.

 

Good friend and Comp racer Jim Greenheck
Good friend and Comp racer Jim Greenheck  www.racecabinet.com
Tim Wilkerson, Fuel  Funny Car driver and all around great guy
Tim Wilkerson, Fuel  Funny Car driver and all around great guy www.timwilkerson.com

Hard core race fans Tom & Nadine
Hard core race fans Tom & Nadine
Amalie Oil or Mobile 1; which would you choose
Amalie Oil or Mobile 1; which would you choose

On the way home we stopped by a few race shops in North Carolina, picked up some parts and got reacquainted with some old friends.  Doug Herbert is a Top Fuel driver and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  A few years ago, after his sons were killed in a tragic car accident, he started this really cool program called “Put on the B.RA.K.E.S(create hot link to http://www.putonthebrakes.com/)

B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) is a teen pro-driving school and free to the kids.  It’s a non-profit 501(C)(3), whose mission is to prevent injuries and save lives by training and educating teenage drivers and their parents about the importance of safe and responsible driving.

My goal is to help bring this program to Michigan sometime in the next 12 months.  It’s going to take some serious sponsorship to make this happen, so if anyone wants to get involved, please let us know.  Thanks.

Doug had me sit in his Top Fuel Dragster
Doug had me sit in his Top Fuel Dragster for pictures.  This is nothing like my funny car and it’s pretty obvious this built just for him.  I can barely see over the side of the car. 

Visiting Quail Hallow Middle School, Charlotte, NC

On our way back from our Florida trip, we made a stop in Charlotte, NC.  My cousin is the Band Director at this middle school and asked if we would speak to her students..  Steve and I shared pictures and video of our race cars, gave an overview of drag racing and safety, and answered a multitude of questions.  There were over 100 students in the classroom and they kept us busy for about two hours.  We really enjoy sharing our story and inspiring young students to open their minds to great possibilities.


Crew chief Steve gives the class a brief lesson in Drag Racing 101

Susie Q discusses safety and demonstrates her driving gear with the help of an enthusiastic student volunteer. 

Susie Q

February 2014

Phil must be right; winter is a long way from over.

Here it is, the end of February in Michigan, and we’ve had a couple feet of snow on the ground and it hasn’t been above freezing, for almost two months. To escape the cold, we headed out to California to attend the 2014 Grand National Roadster Show at the end of January.  This car show is held at the Pomona Fairplex in California and there are over 1000 customs, rods, motorcycles and muscle cars on display.  The featured exhibit, and the reason we were there, was a special exhibit called “Bonneville A Century of Speed”.  This exhibit had some of the coolest, fastest, oddest, and neatest vehicles in the 100 year history of competition on the Bonneville Salt Flats, including the 757 Camaro that both Steve and I drove back in the 90’s (See “About Us “for more on this ).  The care was sold to Jack Rogers in 2006 and he has continued to race it, setting more records every year since. 

Car on display at the Century of Speed Exhibit
Car and posters on display at the Century of Speed Exhibit
Poster on display at the Century of Speed Exhibit Poster on display at the Century of Speed Exhibit

Making Movies

As part of our adventure, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a young lady named Kaylin Stewart.  Actually, I met her and her dad in August at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but this meeting was planned.  Kaylin is an amazing 15 year old who is combining her passion for land speed racing with her passion about film making.  She is producing a film about women who have raced their way into the 200 MPH club at Bonneville and she wanted to interview me.  It happened right in the middle of the car show but having the 757 Camaro as a backdrop worked out great.  Kaylin has been visiting Bonneville with her dad, Tom Stewart, also a 200 MPH club member, her whole life.  She is getting her driver’s license this year and plans to take a shot at driving the Salt this coming August.  Follow Kaylin’s progress on driving and film making on Facebook at Land Speed Women.

 

Signing the waiver for the interview
Signing the waiver for the interview
Lights, camera, action,   or interview. in this case..
Lights, camera, action, or interview in this case..
     
Sharing some driving tips with Kaylin
Sharing some driving tips with Kaylin
 
Kaylin, the driver of the Jesel truck, next summer?
Kaylin, the driver of the Jesel truck, next summer?

California Wine Country

We weren’t ready to come home just yet so we rented a car and drove up Hwy 101 toward San Francisco. I have family up that way and it was a scenic drive along the coast.  California is experiencing a three year drought right now and it definitely shows.  Everything is way too brown for this time of year. 

My sister lives in Clayton and she took us up Mt. Diablo and wouldn’t you know, the one day we’re there, it clouded up and started raining.  Later in the week we met my brother and his wife and the treated us to a very enjoyable afternoon of wine tasting.  We spent a few days at my brother’s place near the ocean in Bodega Bay before heading back home.  Fortunately we didn’t have too big of a snow drift to dig out from when we landed in Detroit, but is sure was cold.

Vineyards waiting for rain
Vineyards waiting for rain
Can you tell who the designated drivers were?
Can you tell who the designated drivers were?

Back to Reality

The trip was a welcome break but it’s time to focus on getting the motor put back together for the coming race season.  Most of the new parts have arrived and Steve is ready to fit the new rods to the crank and start build.  Barring any unforeseen hiccups, we should be ready to put it back in the car and fire it up well before the weather breaks.  If the snow doesn’t melt soon, Steve may have to figure out how to mount skis on Susie Q so we can go testing.  More updates to come on the motor rebuild, so stay tuned. 

Susie Q

January 2014

New Year’s Greetings

With over 18 inches of snow on the ground and sub- zero temperatures, it’s hard to believe we’ll be racing anytime soon.  Still, it’s something to look forward to and with a motor to rebuild, we have plenty to keep us busy over the next few months. over 18 inches of snow on the ground
     
In December we made our annual trek to the PRI trade show. It was in Indy this year, a shorter drive but a lot colder than Florida this time of year.  For those who aren’t familiar, The PRI is one of the biggest gatherings of performance racing businesses in one place and where we do a lot of our Christmas shopping..  We had a long list of people to see; some to shop and some just to say Hi.  Guess what was under our Christmas tree?   Guess what was under our Christmas tree?
     
The Holidays were spent with family and friends.  First we celebrated Christmas at home with the Christophersen side of the family.  Then we made a quick trip out east to visit our grandkids. We took the family to the Big Apple Circus in New York City and welcomed in the New Year together.   celebrated Christmas
     
Back at home, there are always things to do.  Steve will be spending time in the shop putting the blown hemi engine back together.  The Susie Q will be getting some body repairs and a little sprucing up so she’s ready to go come April.  In the meantime, you may see us at the Grand National Roadster Show, in Pomona, CA, at the end of January. As a tribute to 100 years of Land Speed Racing, there will be some Bonneville cars featured, including the 757 Camaro that Steve and I both drove into the 200 MPH Club.  Be sure to check back sometime in February for pictures and highlights of our upcoming trip.   757 Camaro that Steve and I both drove into the 200 MPH Club

We are planning to race with the NDRL once again and are looking forward to give the other Nostalgia cars in the 7.0 second class a run for the money.  Our preliminary schedule is posted including a few car shows as well.  We are looking forward to a full season of racing in 2014 and we hope you’ll come out and see us at the race track next summer. 

That’s it for now. 
Susie Q

 
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