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December 2015

Season's Greetings

2015 Season Comes to a Close

The last few months seemed to have flown by, and I have a lot to catch up on. Our season ended in September on a down note as our transmission problems continued, preventing us from making a single pass at our last race.

Fortunately, mechanical issues didn't stop us from making several scheduled school visits with the Susie Q. We made appearances at three separate schools, sharing stories about our automotive careers. Steve gives a great presentation on materials and the processes that go into building and maintaining a race car. I discuss safety features/equipment and what it's like to drive a funny car. We wrap it up by firing up the blown alcohol motor and giving it a few loud raps. Most kids have never experienced anything like this so it gets them pretty wound up, which is our goal.

school visits school visits

The next job was to get the car unloaded and into the shop.The next job was to get the car unloaded and into the shop. The body comes off and the work begins. The motor and transmission come out and apart so parts can be inspected and analyzed.

Thank goodness we have Uncle Earls Soap for cleaning up after this job is done! Now it's time to tackle the list of what needs to be fixed or replaced. The car will spend the winter here until it is rebuilt and ready for a new race season.

Time to Enjoy the Off Season

Yes, we are both retired, but retirement doesn't mean sitting around doing nothing. Once the car was parked, we took time to enjoy traveling. In early October, we decided to enjoy the fall colors with a trip in the motor home (without the trailer). We went west across the state and crossed Lake Michigan on the S.S. Badger Carferry. It's an easy four-hour boat ride from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI and affectively avoids driving through Chicago. How great is that! After spending a few days visiting our friends, Jim & Deb Greenheck of CTech Manufacturing in Schofield, WI, we drove the scenic route home; along the lake into Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We took our time, camping in several state parks, and eventually making our way across the Mackinac Bridge on our way home to southeast Michigan.

Lake Michigan Lake Michigan Lake Michigan

In early November we packed our scuba gear and flew to our favorite dive destination, Bonaire, N.A. We love this location because we can shore dive to our hearts content. The waters are warm and easy to dive, and teaming with life. I'm an amateur photographer but with a digital camera and a little practice, I get hundreds of amazing pictures. To view some of my favorites, go to www.divepicsBonaire.com

Bonaire, N.A.Ç

Back to Reality

After two weeks in the warm waters of the Caribbean, we had to come back to reality. The night we arrived home it was 28 degrees and we had to scrape 14 inches of snow off the car. Fortunately, that was the only winter storm we've had so far. We celebrated Thanksgiving with family, taking time to enjoy the grandkids and being thankful they are close enough to visit.

Next stop was the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis, IN. Going to this is a big deal every year; not only do we see many of our racing friends and acquaintances, but we do some serious shopping. Steve always refers to this as our Christmas shopping trip, and for him it is. This year Susie Q is getting a new Bryant crank and MGP rods for the motor, plus new parts for the transmission.

And I bought myself a new Christmas tree.

Thanks to Porta Tree, I'll be practicing for the next NDRL season.

As the year winds down, we reflect on our many blessings. We have our health (thank you Juice Plus, our home, our family, and our friends. We have sponsors and supporters that make it possible for us to keep racing, loyal fans that encourage us, and our NDRL family who love racing as much as we do.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a Safe & Prosperous New Year.

September 2015

31st Annual Frankenmuth AutoFest
Frankenmuth, MI

Frankenmuth Heritage ParkSept 11-13, 2015

Cars, Crowds, & Chicken Dinner

We love being part of this fun-filled weekend and its right here in Michigan. This year some 2,100 classic cars were on display in the park and around town. On Friday night, after enjoying a traditional Frankenmuth chicken dinner, we joined thousands of other car enthusiasts for the Big Block Party on Main Street. Cars lined both sides of the street for over a mile, and it’s curb-to-curb people as far as you can see.  Saturday started cold and rainy until noon, but finally turned into a beautiful day. Once things dried up, we got the Susie Q out from under the awning and fired it up a couple of times. This makes lots of noise and draws a pretty good sized crowd. Saturday night we, along with thousands of others, were treated to some classic oldies music by Phil Dirt and the Dozers at Harvey Kern Pavilion. We don’t do many car shows, but this one is a favorite.

Thanks to organizer and friend, Kevin Collins for booking Big Block Party- big crowd us in for this awesome event. Big Block Party- big crowd
Thanks to organizer and friend, Kevin Collins for booking us in for this awesome event.
Big Block Party- big crowd
   
Steve prepping the spectators for the noise and excitement   Sue answering questions about the race car
Steve prepping the spectators for the noise and excitement   Sue answering questions about the race car

NDRL ET Genei Fall Finals at the Good Guys Nostalgia Nationals
Beach Bend Raceway Park
Bowling Green, KY

September 18-20, 2015

Near Disaster

It's a long tow to Bowling Green, around 10 hours, so we hit the road early. We don't really mind the long drive because Beach Bend is a great track to race at. Unfortunately, some of the roads we travel are really hard on our equipment. We were a few hours from the track when Steve felt the rig just didn't feel quite right. We pulled off the freeway to check it out and discovered a huge problem. The trailer tongue was coming apart, and its a near miracle we didn't loose the whole thing.

trailer tongue was coming apart we were able to get a couple of really good guys with a mobil welder to fix us up
Fortunately we were able to get a couple of really good guys with a mobil welder to fix us up,
right in the parking lot.


And that wasn't all. One of the tires had developed a bulge in the sidewall that was just waiting to explode. Fortunately, we carry a spare tire so Steve was able to change the tire before our trip home.
One of the tires had developed a bulge in the sidewall we carry a spare tire so Steve was able to change the tire before our trip home

Good Day, Bad Day

The repairs put us about two hours behind and we barely made it to gate in time to get into the track for the night. We were looking forward this this event, not only because it was the last NDRL points race of the season, but it also marked the GOODGUYS return to Beech Bend Raceway Park and a vintage drag racing. The NDRL-IAM championships Series points were still open in all four classes and we were ready to do battle for a top five finish. Our first qualifying pass was slow, with a 7.15 @ 187 mph. We missed it altogether on the second attempt, but the third time was a charm. Steve and Roger went to work and gave me a great tune up. I ran a 7.016 @ 190 mph, just 0.013 seconds slower than #1 qualifier, Steve Walczak who ran a 7.003 @ 196 mph. Qualifying #2 can be an advantage for pairing in eliminations, but more importantly, this is worth some extra points.

Steve Walczak's '32 Bantam Photo by Steven E. Fuhrman Final Qualifying order for Pro 7.0 class
Steve Walczak's '32 Bantam Photo by Steven E. Fuhrman
Final Qualifying order for Pro 7.0 class

Eliminations were scheduled for Sunday morning. While prepping the car for warm up, Steve discovered the torque converter bolts had backed out. There was no quick fix and we had to forfeit our spot in the race. This was a huge disappointment for all of us. Steve Walczak went on to win the race, Robbie Freels won the Championship in our Pro 7.0 class, and we packed up headed home.

A big thanks goes to the NDRL board members who work so hard to organize, promote and bring us to these events; and also to our fellow racers who make this feel like a family; tough competitors but always there when someone is in need.

Photos from the Pits

Roger & Steve getting the tune up just right It was a delight to meet these two race fans, they get	the Long Distance Award; all the way from New Zealand
Roger & Steve getting the tune up just right
It was a delight to meet these two race fans, they get the Long Distance Award; all the way from New Zealand

One of the things I love about racing is we get to meet some really special people. This young family, and especially this little girl, stole my heart. Don't they look great in their Susie Q T-shirts?

One of the things I love about racing is we get to meet some really special people. This young family, and especially this little girl, stole my heart. She had the most beautiful smile and she and her brothers were obviously enjoying a family day at the races. Don't they look great in their Susie Q T-shirts?


2015 Nostalgia Drags
Milan Dragway 2015

September 26-27, 2015

Not a Happy Ending

Our race season is officially over. This was our last race and one we look forward to since its close to home and we get to see so many friends. We had such a good start to our season, it's hard to deal with the diappointment when things end on a low. We had planned on turning up the wick with a fast tune-up and seeing just how fast we could go, then racing in the Nostalgia Comp class on a 7.0 index. None of that materialized as the tranmission had internal problems and we were not able to make a single pass.
This was our last race and one we look forward to since its close to home

Hangin out in the Pits

Since we couldn't race, we visited with friends and fans and had time to watch some racing action throughout the day. Since we couldn't race, we visited with friends and fans and had time to watch some racing action throughout the day.
   
Dressed like Rosie the Riveter: Heroine of WWII, these ladies stopped by for a photo op. They are on a mission to "Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant" here in Michigan. How could we resist?
  Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant

Thanks For Your Support

Thank you to all our fans who follow us on Facebook and on www.Christophersenracing.Uncle-earls.com. A great big thank you to our friend and crew guy, Roger Day, for taking all those weekend trips to the track with us and helping us out. Thanks to our top sponsors, Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap, Mjolnir Course Construction, Juice Plus+, Diamond Pistons, and Trend Performance, as well as, Computech, Hoosier, Innovative Safety Products, Kinsler Fuel Injection, Moroso, Q.C. Coatings, Simpson, The Brakeman, and Total Flow.

The plan is to take Susie Q to a few schools this fall , before we put it in the shop for the winter. There will be plenty of time to fix the transmission, refresh the engine, and get ready for next years race season. In the meantime, be safe, be healthy, and always live life to the PLUS+.

Susie Q

August 27-29, 2015

Photo by Steve Weis
 
Photo by Steve Weis

Briggs & Stratton Hot August Nights
Gateway Motorsports Park
Madison, IL

It's all in the name. The weather for this event was hot and muggy, but, for once there was no rain. All the NDRL action took place at night, between rounds of the Pacific Street Car Association and the Street Car Super Nationals featuring some of the fastest street cars in the country. Although we rarely run at night, it was cooler, giving us better air and good track conditions.

Qualifying and A Few Challenges

We arrived early and were able to take a couple of test passes on Thursday, which turned out to be a good decision. We had replaced our blower that failed at our last event and needed to find our tune up. Adding to the challenge was the corrected altitude, which was around 2500 ft., about 1000 ft. better than we have had the last few races. On the first pass down the track I ran, a 6.89@ 195 mph, way too quick for our 7.0 index. We had two qualifiers on Friday, and one on Saturday, with eliminations scheduled for later that night. With a couple more passes going too quick, we finally slowed it down, running a 7.09 @ 189 mph; a little too much, but at least we were qualified 6th out of the 11 cars in our class.

First Elimination Round

It was nearly 7:30 pm when we got the call for first round of eliminations. I was paired with 7th qualifier, fellow NDRL racer Preston Davis driving his front engine dragster, Southern Pride. It was a good side by side race, but I got to the finish line first.I had the better light and won on a hole shot with a 7.17 to his 7.12.

Something Goes Wrong

Second round, I was up against another front engine dragster, this one driven by Billy Smith. He can cut a good light and has been running close to the index so I knew it would be a tough race.

I did the burnout, backed up, and staged the car. We'll never know what kind of race it would have been because when the green light came on and I matted the throttle, the car never moved. What a disappointment. Something was seriously broke; that's all we knew. NDRL racer Robbie "Rocketman" Freels, in his canopied altered, took Billy out in the next round went on to win the race.

Missing the Crew

There is always a lot to do with a race car, and this weekend was no exception. Roger, our regular crew guy, wasn't along and boy did we miss him. I filled in where I could and we did get some help. Mike Collins, friend and crew with Mike Waters, who drives a beautiful Willy's in the Pro 7.50 class, gave us a hand during the warm ups and at the starting line throughout the weekend. Thank you Mike!

Unloading the car Our crew guy for the weekend, Mike Collins
Unloading the car
Our crew guy for the weekend, Mike Collins

A Worn Sprag Ended the Race

We're home now, and it's been a busy, stressful time taking everything apart and finding out what went wrong. Here's what we found. In the transmission, the reverser gear was chewed up and needs replacing, but it was a worn sprag that rolled over that ultimately ended our race.

Even though the engine was running and the transmission was in gear, the input shaft wasn't turning, and the car wasn't going anywhere. In the engine, a rocker shaft had collapsed, causing the #4 exhaust valve to no longer open. It's a good thing I didn't make that last run or who knows what additional damage would have been done.

Worn sprag and reverse gear Collapsed rocker shaft
Worn sprag and reverse gear
Collapsed rocker shaft

Getting Back on Track

The damage could have been worse, but fortunately, we think everything will be fixed. The biggest challenge is finding the right parts and getting them here with enough time to spare to put everything back together. Around Labor Day weekend, just about everyone we get parts from is in Indianapolis for the biggest NHRA race of the year. Our next event, the Frankenmuth Auto Fest is in Michigan, September 11- 13.

Thank goodness Steve is willing and able to get the job done.

Some Brighter Moments:

RFC Chaplin Lee Taylor We gave Terri a chance to see what things look like from behind the wheel of a funny car.

We are blessed to have RFC Chaplin Lee Taylor as part of the NDRL family, bringing us spiritual support in the lanes and in the pits. Terri & Stan Roche, the RFC West Central Regional Directors, were also able to attend this race and stopped in our pits for a visit. We gave Terri a chance to see what things look like from behind the wheel of a funny car. I think she liked it.

Photo by Steve Weis
Meeting young fans and seeing their excitement is always a fun part of the weekend.

August 15, 2015

Night Under Fire
Summit Motorsports Park
Norwalk, Ohio

Photo Credits to Tom Turrill and Danielle Taylor

Susie Q A Fan Favorite at Night Under Fire

The 38th Annual Kelly Services Night Under Fire, billed as the largest one day drag race in history, more than lived up to its name. As a top-ten driver in the Nostalgia Drag Racing League's fastest category, Pro 7.0, I was able to participate in this action packed event. It was an experience like no other, being part of the show that also featured six professional NHRA fuel funny car drivers including John Force, Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon, Dale Creasy, Jr. and Jack Wyatt. Bob Motz and Chris Darnell and their jet engine-powered trucks, jet engine-powered dragsters, jet engine-powered Funny Cars were also part of the show. As if all this wasn't enough, the evening concluded with an explosive $100,000 fireworks show.

An Anniversary Celebration

Thursday we drove to Norwalk and set up in our designated pit area. It was our 21st wedding anniversary and those who know us would agree it was fitting we celebrated it at the race track. Friday was move in for the professional teams and over 400 racers who were coming to enjoy the show and then race on Sunday.

Imagine waking up to the sound of a jet engine firing just outside your window. It wasn't quite that close, but that's how things got started on Saturday morning. We were scheduled for two qualifying passes, one at 11 am and one at 2 pm. Of the 10 NDRL teams, only 8 would qualify so it was critical we made a good pass.

Averting Disaster

We like to get the car warmed up a couple of hours before our first pass just to be sure everything is good to go, so we fired it up about 9 am. Part-way through the warm up, the engine shut off. At first it seemed like the motor seized, but after some checking, Steve determined it was the blower. Fortunately, Keith Engling's Skinny Kid Race Cars 442 Oldsmobile X16 entry was pitted across from us. Keith, Brian and Aaron, friends of ours from Milan Dragway, had seen this before and pitched in to help get us up and running just in time for first qualifying. The bolt holding one of the blower rotors had backed out and although there was severe damage, the blower would hopefully get us through this race.

    After this dirty job it was time to get out the Uncle Earls Soap and show these guys what a good job it does.
   

Qualifying

After first pass, we qualified but it probably wasn't going to keep us in. It seemed the blower was down on boost but evidently that wasn't the case. Second pass was just about perfect with a 7.016, putting us in #2 spot just behind #1 qualifier Steve Walzack who went 7.010 in his silver & green 32 Bantam.

 
    Steve Walzacks 32 Bantam
   

Meeting Fans

Back in the pits there was no time to sit around. We were scheduled along with all the other featured drivers to sign autographs between 3:30 and 4:30. The line of fans was non-stop. I must have signed hundreds of hats, t-shirts, and handout cards.

 
   

Opening Ceremonies

Following the autograph session, I had just enough time to get back to the pits, cool down, and suit up for the opening ceremonies which included a parade down the track, a fly over by some vintage planes, the national anthem, and right into round one.

 

First Round

We were third pair-up, and I had Robbie Freels; a tough competitor who can be deadly on the tree. It was my lucky night because I beat him off the line with a very good reaction time and made it to the finish line first with a 7.07 to his 7.09. I was going to the semifinals.

Susie Q Round One Winner

Second Round Hold-up

We only had one hour to get the car cooled down, fueled, and back to the staging lanes for second round. While waiting in the lanes, one of the jet trucks, the Shock Wave triple engine jet truck, driven by Chris Darnell, fired up for some between-round entertainment. Not only was there fire, but the jets were so powerful that they blew the asphalt right off the track behind the burnout box. Needless to say, things were on hold while the track officials cleaned up the mess and figure out if the race could continue (check out the video here).

Before
After

The Show Must Go On

  NDRL points leader, Billy Smith
   

It wasn't long before they announced that the show would go on. We had planned to run the right lane, but Steve made the call to switch to the left lane instead. He wasn't sure the funny car could navigate around "Chris 'Crater," as it was so aptly named, to get to the water box. My opponent for second round was #7 qualifier Billy Smith. He cut the better light and had the speed to stay ahead of me all the way to the finish line. That ended it for us and Billy went on to win the race later that night.

Even though we didn't win the race, being part of this event was an awesome experience. Thanks to the Bader Family and everyone who worked so hard at Summit Motorsports Park to put on such an amazing show. I'm so glad we were part of it.

Next stop for us will be the 4th NDRL points race, Hot August Nights at Gateway Motorsports Park (Link), in Madison, IL on August 27-29.

Additional Highlights

Steve Davidian, CEO of Uncle Earls stopped in to see us.
Over the past few years we have come to know and admire this amazing guy, Wayne Rausch, a NTPA Hall of Famer, U.S Air Force pilot, dairy farmer, and professor, among other things.

Race fans stop by for an autograph
Steve giving this young racer some pointers

14th Annual AkzoNobel/Wanda  Blue Suede Cruise  Summit Motorsports Park Norwalk, OhioJuly 17-19, 2015

14th Annual AkzoNobel/Wanda
Blue Suede Cruise
Summit Motorsports Park
Norwalk, Ohio

This was the 3rd Nostalgia Drag Racing League (NDRL) points race of the season and once again the weekend forecast was for rain and hot temperatures. This was the highest racer turnout so far for the NDRL with 109 racers ready to compete. They scheduled us making two qualifying runs on Friday, two on Saturday, and eliminations on Sunday. We arrived Thursday to get set up and sure enough, it rained hard that night and into the morning. This delayed Friday's action until the afternoon, leaving us only one qualifying run. It wasn't a great pass but we qualified in the top half of the field. Weather permitting, we would improve on Saturday.

The threat for rain continued and conditions were brutal; temperatures over 95, water grains higher than we've ever seen, and corrected altitude was 4000 ft. This gives the tuners a serious challenge. Getting suited up and belted into the car is also true test for a driver. Our best pass on Saturday was a 7.08 @ 192 mph, putting us 6th out of 22 cars in our Ross Racing Engines Pro 7.0 class.

Bad weather loomed on race day so track officials decided to start things two hours early. They also reversed our usual run order so the Pro 7.0 class would be up first. We were paired with the no.13 qualifier, a front engine dragster driven by veteran driver Preston Davis. Not by choice, we were the very first pair. We rushed to get things underway and my focus wasn't what it should have been. As a result, I runnered-up in first round and was done for the day. Davis went out 2nd round. Following 3rd round, the rains came and ended it for everyone. Without a round win, I dropped down to 7th in the points, tied with fellow NDRL competitor Ronnie Robinson.

Although we haven't had much success racing at this event, we always enjoy the weekend. The facility is one of the best, Saturday night's entertainment featured oldies music by Phil Dirt and the Dozers followed by awesome fireworks. And did I mention the $1 pound of ice cream?

My cousin Barb and her husband Tom, from North Carolina, came and hung out with us all day Saturday. I guess we look enough alike that people kept mistaking her for me. I don't think she minded. Tom helped me pack the parachute and Barb took tons of pictures, some of which are shared below.

Warming up in the pits Warming up in the pits
Warming up in the pits

Suiting up in the staging lanes Suiting up in the staging lanes
Suiting up in the staging lanes

Starting the car for the race Starting the car for the race
Starting the car for the race

Backing up after the burn out Backing up after the burn out
Backing up after the burn out

A successful pass A successful pass
A successful pass

Packing the parachute Packing the parachute Packing the parachute
Packing the parachute

Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap goes with us to every event. We appreciate their sponsorship and we do our best to let our fans and fellow racers know what a great product it is. It's the perfect hand cleaner to carry along to the races. Stop by at our next event and get your free sample.

Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap
Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap

Uncle Earls Hand Healing Soap These two guys, Brak and Devin, were pitted across from us with their Haggerty Insurance front engine dragster. If you haven't heard about Haggerty Insurance Motorsports coverage check it out. We just had to share this because the coverage is excellent with reasonable rates. We learned about this during the race in Bowling Green last year and since then,Susie Q has been insured everywhere except for when it's racing down the track, even in the staging lanes.

we love our fans, especially the young ones we love our fans, especially the young ones

We love racing and we love our fans, especially the young ones. I met these girls last year at this same event and they came by to wish us luck.

Coming up next is the Night Under Fire at Norwalk, OH August 14-15, 2015. For more information click here.

See you at the races,
Susie Q

Holley National Hot Rod ReunionJune 18-20, 2015

13th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion
Beach Bend Dragway
Bowling Green, KY

The Hot Rod Reunion is the biggest race on our schedule and one we always enjoy. It draws nostalgia racers and car enthusiast from all over the country and the variety and quality of cars is amazing. We headed out Tuesday morning, two days before the actual race, since it takes us a full day to get there and, with so many racers at this event, finding a good place to pit is a challenge. We had an uneventful trip and were lucky to get a great spot next to a couple of our fellow NDRL racers. We were glad we arrived early because, in spite of the forecast, over 400 racers and 1200 show cars showed up and the pits were packed with spectators all weekend.

We were scheduled for one round of qualifying on Thursday, however, rain delays kept our Pro 7.0 class from making any runs. It was starting to look like St. Louis all over again. The rain came down hard over night and on into Friday morning. We finally unloaded the car once the rain stopped but we still had the car cover out several times because of sprinkles. Temperatures were in the 90's and with near 100% humidity; Steve and Roger had their work cut out for them on the tune up. Once racing finally got underway, we managed to get two rounds of qualifying in before the day was over. My best pass was a 7.05 @ 192 mph. This qualified us 6th out of 23 cars in our class.

Everything got soaked when the rains came , including us.
   
Stormy skies and it just kept coming.

With more rain in the forecast for Saturday, it began to look questionable if we would get to run eliminations. Racing was supposed to start at 8 am, but it kept sprinkling on and off all morning. Finally, around noon, the skies cleared and the sun came out. The late start means changes to the run schedule, sometimes putting extra pressure on the teams who need a little more time to get their cars out of the trailer and ready to go. This certainly applied to us. Steve likes to have the Susie Q warmed up and final adjustments made about an hour before they call us to the lanes, and that's just about what we had.

First round I was paired with a '23 T Roadster driven by Phil Martino. The Roadster was not one of the NDRL regulars and, as I found out later, their first time out with the car. The Roadster left too early turning on the red light, while the Susie Q launched perfect and went straight down the track and into round two.

Round 1 of Eliminations against Phil Martino – photo by Leslie Able Bradshaw

As luck would have it I was paired up against the only other gal in our Pro 7.0 class, Tera Wendland Graves from Texas, driving a front engine dragster. It just wasn't my day. I had a bad light, then the car stumbled on the launch giving her the advantage right from the start. I chased her all the way but she stayed ahead of me and took the win.

Round 2 Eliminations against Tera Wendland Graves – photo by Martin Libhart

Over all, this was a pretty good weekend, once the rain finally cleared out. We qualified in the top half of the field, picked up some extra points with a round win, and ending up tied for 6th place in the points. Besides, no matter how the racing turns out, when I get to hang out with young race fans like these, it's always a great weekend.

It will be a few weeks before we race again and in the meantime we're heading to Ohio to take in the NHRA Nationals and enjoy the 4th of July fireworks at Summit Motorsports Park.

Stay tuned for news from our next event, the NDRL Summer Jam at the Wanda/AkzoNobel "Blue Suede Cruise", July 17 – 19 at the Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, OH.

That's it for now. Thanks for all your support.
Susie Q

June 13, 2015

Susie Q gets a Win
  Photo by Tom Turill

Detroit Dragway Reunion
Milan Dragway,
Milan MI

Susie Q gets a Win

Leading up to the weekend, the forecast had gone from bad, to good, to questionable. Friday night it poured but by morning things were looking much better. It was still overcast but that wasn't going to stop the racers or fans. The cars and trailers were lined up at the gate and the pits were soon rumbling with activity. I had a feeling it was going to be a good day! We were one of seven funny cars booked in for show, along many other local favorites from back in the days of the Detroit Dragway. Hundreds of nostalgia hot rods were there; some to race and some just for show.

Chicago style shoot out for the finals
Photo by Matt Bremmer  

We were scheduled to run at 1:00 and 3:00 with a Chicago style shoot out for the finals at 6:00. Chicago style is where the two cars with the quickest runs of the day race each other for the win. We were the third pair to run in first round, lined up against Monty Stotz in his beautiful blue Camaro. The first two pairs had trouble getting down the track so I wasn't sure what to expect. Fortunately our red '57Chevy hooked up. I was in the left lane and it started to move around at the top end but I kept my foot in it and ran a 7.007 at 191 mph, the quickest of the round. Obviously Steve and Roger had the right tune up in it.

Second round I was in the right lane pair up against Gordy Veal in the Motor City Charger. We left together but I got around him, even with a not-so-fast pass of 7.15 seconds at 191 mph. This still was the quickest pass of the round so I was going to the finals.

Photo by Derek Dean
Photo by Tom Turrill

We got the word that it would be our red '57 Chevy against Monty's blue Camaro for the finals and I had lane choice. I took the right lane, did my burnout, and staged. The blue Camaro left first, before the tree came down, giving the win to Susie Q. It was another great pass, running 7.004 at 190 mph, earning us a trip to the Winners Circle and the trophy.

Tom "Mongoose" McEwen
  Tom "Mongoose" McEwen

A number of local racing legends were on hand to sign autographs, including a couple of special celebrities, Don 'the Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen. These guys are famous for their match racing back in the early days of drag racing. Back in '88 Tom McEwen put together a '57 Chevy funny car, the inspiration for our very own Susie Q. In fact our funny car body was one of a very few made from the same mold. One of the highlights of our day was having McEwen come by our pits to see the car and visit with us. He even signed the car.

What an amazing day. So many friends came out to cheer us on and fortunately we didn't disappoint them. Roger's and Rachel's family were able to come and our son and daughter-in-law and our grandkids, all the way from PA, were there. Plus so many of our racer friends and the fans stopped by our pits, it was overwhelming.

 

Thank you to Milan Dragway for putting on a great program, to Steve Timoszyk for doing a great job of organizing the funny car show, to our #1 crew guy, Roger Day, to Rob Herman for enlisting the help of the greatest crew chief of all, and to our many supporters.

Our next race is the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion with the NDRL at Beach Bend Dragway, Bowling Green, KY. Let's hope our luck holds.

Susie Q

May 2015

Quick Fuel Technology Battle of the Arch
a.k.a. First Annual NDRL Camping Trip

Gateway Motorsports Park
Madison, IL

Life has been busy and I have put off writing this blog long enough. I'll start back in April which was a month filled with sadness. Steve's mom, age 97, has been close by in an assisted living facility for the past few years and doing quite well. She fell ill, ended up in the hospital but her condition worsened. We brought her home on Hospice and in just a week, she passed. She was an amazing woman with a fascinating life, including her close ties to her Danish heritage, serving in the military as a nurse during WWII, being a wife and mother of three while working as a nurse in hospitals in the Detroit area. She lived a long and peaceful life and she will be missed. Rest in Peace, Elna Christophersen

Although there weren't many April showers, May did bring spring flowers and warmer weather. Getting the race car ready had been put on hold so the week before our first race was hectic. It was barely warm enough, but we were able to get the car out and fire it for the first time. It is always a good feeling to hear the motor come to life and confirm that winter overhaul was successful. Next was finding a warm day to go test at our local track to see how far off the tune up was. Luckily the Sunday before we were due to leave for our first race it was warm and sunny. We had some issues with the launch on the first try, but the next two passes went great. We ran a 7.13 @ 192 mph. This gave us some good data to work with although we would have to do some tuning to dial into the 7.0 we needed for our race.

We headed out for Madison, IL, near St. Louis, early on Thursday, May 7th. Our team consists of Steve & I, and our friend, Roger Day, who has agreed to crew for us once again this year, for which we are very grateful. There was rain in the forecast but knowing how unpredictable it can be, we had to go anyway. The drive is a little over 10 hours and we arrived early enough to get a good spot in the pits, set up camp and cook a hardy steak dinner. The rains came over night and continued into Friday morning. Finally it cleared and they started running some cars in the afternoon. We were scheduled for two qualifying passes on Friday and at this point we were hoping to at least get one in. We warmed the car up in the pits and were ready to go when they called our class. Everything went well with the burnout and the launch, but something happened moments after the car left the line and the car slowed and got into tire shake. Later, after reviewing the run data, we think figured out what happened later, but that pass was a loss. I was at the bottom of the qualifying order and we would have to hope for another chance to improve.

It was later that evening when they called us for our second pass. We were in line, one of five cars left to run for the night, when everything came to stop. One of our NDRL team members was injured and the ambulance was called into action. With only one ambulance on site, they can't continue racing until that ambulance is available again. It seemed like a long time, sitting in the car all suited up and waiting. When they finally were ready to get underway again, the rains came. We had to hurry back to the trailer, put everything away and hope Saturday would give us a chance to make a better qualifying run.

Well, on Saturday it rained even harder. Sometimes the sky would clear and give us hope, but then it would pour once again. There were lots of sad-faced racers, sitting under awnings waiting for a break in the weather. Somewhere around 5:00 o'clock the track officials gave up hope and cancelled the race. It was probably about this time that someone referred to the weekend as a camping trip rather than a race. Those that didn't have far to drive packed up and left. The rest of us had an early dinner, and got ready to leave early the next morning. So this is how the first NDRL race of the season was dubbed the "NDRL Campout"

With our first NDRL race a washout, we are still looking for a chance to see what the Susie Q can do. We've made some changes that should improve performance on the starting line, and we are still waiting to test this out.

We have two events coming up in June; the Detroit Dragway Reunion at Milan on June 13, and the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion the following weekend, June 18-20, in Bowling Green Kentucky. Keeping our fingers crossed for some drier weather.

That's it for now. Check back later for more updates from Susie Q

St. Louis on a dreary rainy day.St. Louis on a dreary rainy day.

So what to racers do when the track is too wet to race? Work on their cars, stand around and wait, and work on their cars some more.

   
 

2015 PRE-SEASON UPDATE

Feb 27, 2015

As winter drags on here in Michigan, we are busy bringing the race car back out of hibernation. Last fall, the Susie Q was parked in the shop, the body removed and stored in the trailer. The engine and transmission came out and have been completely disassembled, inspected, cleaned and put back together. The Lencodrive has a new pump and bushings. The 528 Hemi engine has all new bearings with Microblue coating, and the heads & valves had a complete tune up from Total Flow. A new flex plate from Quick Time was bolted on and the complete drivetrain is now back in the car. There is still plenty of work to do before the car is race ready.

No rush as it will probably be a month or more before we have weather warm enough to fire it. It's been going down to zero, or below, at night and the highest temperatures lately are only in the 20's. This has been an extremely cold winter and we can only hope for some warm days in April to get a few test passes in before our first race. This will be our 3rd year competing in the Nostalgia Drag Racing League PRO 7.0 class and our season opener is in St. Louis at Gateway Motorsports Park the first weekend in May. Click here to see our full schedule for 2015.

SPONSOR NEWS

Uncle Earl's Hand Healing SoapWe are excited to announce that Uncle Earl's Hand Healing Soap will continue their sponsorship of the Susie Q Funny Car for the 2015 season. They have been with us from the beginning and we really appreciate their support. We love their products and enjoy letting our fellow racers know about it. We've been using Uncle Earl's soap for over five years now, at home, in the shop, and at the track. Find us at the race track and you will find Uncle Earl's.

Uncle Earl's Hand Healing Soap is made from premium all-natural ingredients not found in ordinary soap. It removes even the toughest dirt while moisturizing and healing damaged skin. It comes in bar, liquid and foam. Check it out at www.uncle-earls.com.

Mjolnir Course Construction Inc has also been with us from the beginning and is continuing their sponsorship for the 2015 season. We appreciate their support and really like helping small businesses like Mjolnir gain exposure in local markets.

Mjolnir Course Construction IncMjolnir Course Construction Inc is a family owned and operated business that specializes in designing and building off road courses for various vehicle companies to showcase their capabilities. They are based in Michigan, but travel all over the country building custom demonstration courses to suit. Locally they build custom dirt bike tracks, waterfalls, ponds, and much more. For more information got to www.trackandterrainbuilders.com.

Juice PLUS+This year we've added a new company, Juice Plus+ to the list of products we use and support. Steve and I have been eating Juice Plus for several years now with amazing results. We want to share this information with our friends and fans, so stop by our pits and ask us about it.

Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruits, vegetables and grains. Juice Plus+ helps bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat every day. Not a multivitamin, medicine, treatment or cure for any disease, Juice Plus+ is made from quality ingredients carefully monitored from farm to capsule to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at its best. Take a look at www.juiceplus.com.

 
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