Uncle Earl's Hand Healing Soap
 

Latest News from Christophersen Racing

20182017 • 2016 • 2015201420132012 • 2011

December, 2016

Wrapping Up 2016

Our final race of the season was mid-October, and then it's time to put our toys away for the winter. We always try to get around to some schools with the car before we put it away for the winter. This year, Macomb Community College invited us to participate in their High School recruitment day. Several busloads of students showed up for a tour of the school's automotive programs, the thundering sound of the Susie Q hemi engine, and some grilled hot dogs. When we got home that same afternoon, we unloaded the car and rolled it into the shop where it will stay until next spring. Steve also managed to get the motor home and trailer winterized and stored as well, just as the temperatures began to really drop.

October was unusually warm and the Fall colors were amazingly beautiful this year. That gave Steve a chance to finish some major landscaping projects; included cutting, clearing, and planting trees, as well as, replacing some old fencing around the yard.

In early November we took off for Bonaire, our favorite vacation spot. It's in the southern Caribbean and the perfect place for some scuba diving and relaxation. Friends of ours, Mike and Kathleen, came with us this year, making the trip even better. We did a lot of scuba diving, a little sight-seeing, enjoyed the local cuisine, and visited the unique Cadushy Distillery to sample the locally made cactus spirits.

Bonaire1
Bonaire2
Bonaire3

As much as we hated to leave the sun and surf, we headed back home to Michigan. One compensation for the cold weather is spending time with family. This year, Steve's sister and brother-in-law, who live over on the west side of the state, hosted our Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first family gathering for the newest member of the family, our great niece Makenna, born October 1 to Matt and Elise.

Next event on our schedule was our annual trip to Indianapolis to the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. This takes place in early December and is the largest racing trade show in the world. For us, it's two full days with plenty of walking, talking and, of course, some shopping. It's an opportunity to talk for two full days to many parts manufactures face to face, learn about new technology, and meet fellow racers and celebrities in the racing world. One of the benefits of attending the PRI are the variety of seminars offered throughout the weekend. There is always at least one that interests us and for obvious reasons, this year it was Women in Motorsports. It turned out to be a good choice as the all-female panel shared some great advice based on their own personal experiences.

Photo provided by PRIPhoto provided by PRI

Pictured here are former IndyCar driver and 1992 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Lyn St. James, professional driver, fabricator and TV personality Jessi Combs, Roush Yates Engines Quality Manager Jennifer LaFever, and Jeanette DesJardins, owner and founder of Car Chix and Crank It Media.

As we celebrate the holidays, we give thanks all the blessing in our life. It has been a good year and we are grateful for our family, our many friends, our health, and our freedom. We are also grateful for all the people who make it possible for us to keep racing; our sponsors and supporters, the loyal fans that encourage us, and our fellow racers who love this sport as much as we do.

Merry Christmas

October 13-15, 2016

NDRL ET Genie Fall Finals
Beech Bend Raceway Park
Bowling Green, KY

Season Finale

Our 2016 race season has come to an end. Our final NDRL-IAM points race was held at the Good Guys Nostalgia Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway Park. This was our third trip to Bowling Green this season, and although it is a long drive, we really like racing here. Other than some rain to begin with, we had great weather for the race weekend. Our final NDRL-IAM points race was held at the Good Guys Nostalgia Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway Park.
   
Qualifying was on Friday and Saturday and our best pass, a 7.003, earn us the #1 spot out of 15 cars in our Pro 7.0 class. We might have had a single for first round however one of the cars had a blown engine, which meant an even 14 cars would be racing on Sunday. Qualifying was on Friday and Saturday and our best pass, a 7.003, earn us the #1 spot out of 15 cars in our Pro 7.0 class.
   
The ladder had me paired against Hall of Famer Preston Davis in his front engine dragster, the Southern Pride. Although he had struggled some this season he was making some really good runs, and with his many years of racing experience, he was going to be a tough competitor.
The ladder had me paired against Hall of Famer Preston Davis in his front engine dragster, the Southern Pride.
Picture by Steven Fuhrman

Steve had the car dialed in so now I just needed a good start. I was first off the line with a great reaction time and kept the lead all the way. It was a double breakout; unfortunately I was under by .003 more than Preston and he got the win. I hated going out first round, but Preston went on to win the race, his first in many years. It was a fitting end to the NDRL season.

Acknowledgements

A great big Thank You to Norm, our rookie crew member, for jumping on board with us and helping out all season long. You're not a rookie any more, and we are looking forward having you on the team next year. Thanks to our sponsors and the many companies that provide parts and technology that make it possible for us to enjoy this sport. Thank you also to the whole NDRL family we race with. We are proud to be part of such a great group of racers and friends. A special thanks to my cousin Barb and her husband Tom for hanging out with us over the weekend, bringing us some delicious pies & local BBQ, plus taking some awesome pictures. You guys are welcome to be on part of our crew any time. Last but not least, thank you to all the fans. We hope you'll all be back again next year.

A special thanks to my cousin Barb

Pictures by Barb Tobin

Checking Tire Pressure
Checking Tire Pressure
  Last minute strategizing
Last minute strategizing

Suiting up
Suiting up
Buckling in
Buckling in
A Prayer with RFC Chaplin Lee
A Prayer with RFC Chaplin Lee

Backing it up
Backing it up
  A Perfect Launch
A Perfect Launch

Celebrating a Successful Run Celebrating a Successful Run Celebrating a Successful Run
Celebrating a Successful Run

September 24-25, 2016

2016 Nostalgia Drags
Milan Dragway
Milan, MI

Full Field of Funnies

We always look forward to our home races, not only is it a shorter drive, but we get to see so many friends during the weekend. The weather was perfect; the sun was out, it was a little cool, and for a change, almost no chance of rain. The pits started filling up on Friday and by the time the gates opened on Saturday, we knew there would be a big turnout. The Nostalgia Drags has become a major event with two full days of drag racing featuring Nostalgia Funny Cars and Gassers, a car show and a swap meet.

The schedule was for us to get two hits on Saturday. The two funny cars with the quickest pass out of the six would face off for the trophy in a final match race on Sunday. At our NDRL races, we run on a 7.0 second index. Since this was considered exhibition, running a little quicker wouldn't count against us. Finding the right tune up, however, would be a challenge since the weather was so much better than anything we had run in all summer.

Nostalgia Funny Car Line UpNostalgia Funny Car Line Up

We were called to the lanes for our first pass about 2:00 pm. Temperatures were in the low 70's and the corrected altitude around 1,900 ft, just the right conditions to make some horsepower. I pulled into the right lane and Bill Hallet, in his turquois '56 Detroit Thunder, was in the left. I had a great reaction time and a good 60 ft. time, but the tires lost traction and spun. I had to pedal it and only made a 7.56 second pass. Bill had issues of his own so I reached the finish line first and won the race.

Our second pass was set for around 6:00 pm. Steve had made some adjustments to the car and we were ready to give it another try. It was Monty Stotz in Blue Thunder in the right lane this time, and I was in the left lane. The launch felt good and I knew I was on a good pass until the car started bouncing and nosed over right at the end of the run. The 60 ft. time was a .098 (anything under 1.0 second is really good for us) but I only managed a 7.08 second time. Fortunately that was enough for the win once again.

 
Norm, John, and Steve working out the bugs.
Norm, John, and Steve working out the bugs.

Back in the pits Steve reviewed the on board Computech data and noticed that the engine rpm and blower speed dropped off dramatically around the 1000 ft. This was cause for concern and our small crew, Steve, Norm & John, went to work checking everything they could think of. Worst case scenario would be engine failure. There are a lot of runs on this engine, after all, and it's getting close to the end of our season. However, a check of the valves, oil filter, and few other things indicated something else was going on. Steve's trouble shooting skills kicked into high gear he focused in on the fuel system. Eventually, they discovered that the filter material under the fuel vent came loose and may have been sucked up, preventing the fuel pump from maintaining pressure. Repairs were made and we all hoped the problem was solved, but we wouldn't know for sure until our next pass.

Sweet Success

Susie Q had won both rounds on Saturday and was the second quickest of the six funny cars. This meant we would be in the finals on Sunday. Steve Timoszyk in his beautifully reproduced 1977 Monza, the Detroit Tiger, had the quickest pass at 6.96 seconds. A friendly competition has developed between the two of us so there was more riding on this race than just a trophy; it was personal.

 
Bring Home the Trophy
Bring Home the Trophy

Sunday was another beautiful day with similar, if not better, conditions. The car was warmed up and ready for the big race. If the guys had correctly identified and fixed the problem from our previous run, we had a very good chance of winning this race. Now it was up to me to be quick on the tree and get it straight down the track. I was first off the line and the car really hooked. I won the race with a 6.83 @ 198 mph to Timoszyk's 7.03 @ 190 mph. We earned the trophy and bragging rights for one more year.

Here's a video.


Our next race is Oct 14- 16, the ET Genie Fall Finals; the last NDRL points rac]e and last of the season. It's part of the Good Guys Nostalgia Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green, KY. Maybe we'll see you there.

Susie Q

Pictures from the Pits

Loyal fans 2016
2016
 
Loyal fans 2012
2012
Loyal fans: We first met these four brothers in 2012 at Cobo Hall during Autorama. Somehow they have managed to catch up with us just about every year since and we love seeing how much they have grown.

Beautiful Smiles
 
Beautiful Smiles
Beautiful Smiles   Beautiful Smiles
Beautiful Smiles: Every once in a while, a young visitor reminds me that we don't just race; we touch lives through what we do. This was the case when this brave young girl named Trista and her brother came by our pits. Trista is going through a tough time and I'm sure a trip to the races was a welcome distraction. Seeing their smiles was certainly one of the highlights of my weekend.

September 9-10, 2016

12th Annual Funny Car Nationals
US 131 Motorsports Park
Martin, MI

Fired Up for our 5th NDRL RaceFired Up for our 5th NDRL Race

The Scottrods Hotrod Nationals; our 5th points race of the season took place in conjunction with the Funny Car Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park. It was the first time the NDRL would race here and, being only three hours from home, we were looking forward to it.

We arrived Thursday night and camped outside the gate with at least a dozen other teams. Friday morning they opened the gates around 9 AM and we made our way to the designated pit area. We would be parking in the grass, which is no problem as long as it's flat and doesn't get too wet. The prime pit space was reserved for the featured cars, which included six Nitro Funny Cars, a 300+ mph Nitro Harley Motorcycle, and Bob Motz in his flame throwing Jet Kenworth Truck, among others.

Washed Out

The pits filled up with local racers and the stands began filling up with spectators. The rain was all around us and sprinkles kept delaying the action on the track. We were to get two qualifying passes on Friday with our first scheduled around noon. Just as we were preparing to go up to the line, the rain came down. The track workers get a lot of credit because they never gave up and eventually got us back to racing. We finally made a pass around 8:30 PM. It was a little slow at 7.08 seconds, but with all the changes in the weather and the track, it was better to play it safe.

First and Final Qualifying SheetFirst and Final Qualifying Sheet

We were hoping to fine tune it next pass, but that opportunity never came. We weren't the only ones struggling with the weather and the new track because I still ended up qualified 4th. One more qualifying pass was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but more rain washed out any chance of that. It was announced that we would be going straight into eliminations based on our one run.

Raincoats, Car Covers, and Awnings were Necessary Equipment this Weekend   Raincoats, Car Covers, and Awnings were Necessary Equipment this Weekend
Raincoats, Car Covers, and Awnings were Necessary Equipment this Weekend

Blown Away

 
First Round winner, The Bruser, Driven by Jeff Sanborn
First Round winner, The Bruser, Driven by Jeff Sanborn

First round finally came at 6:30 Saturday night. I was set to run Jeff Sanborn in his Blue Winged Fiat and knew he would a tough contender. I was strapped in and ready to go, when one of the cars ahead of us oiled the track. What was supposed to be a 10 minute delay stretched out into an extensive track clean up and by the time we were ready to run, I'd been sitting in the car for at least 25 minutes. I could feel the wind gusting from time to time and wondered what affect it might have, since it was straight across the track.

It was finally our time to fire up and we both did our burn out and got set to stage. We both left together, Jeff with a .008 and me with a .010 reaction time, but the wind pushed me over and I had to lift before the 1/8th mile. It was my race to win and I could have done it if not for the wind. Here's a video:

 
Norm, Tim Steve, and Mike
Norm, Tim Steve, and Mike
 

Crew vs. Mother Nature

We didn't get the results we had hoped for but it was no fault of the crew or driver. Mother Nature just had to have her way. At least I had a fast, safe car to drive, thanks to a hard working crew. A special thank you goes out to our friend Mike Kristin for showing up at the perfect time on Friday and sticking around all weekend, even in the rain. We had another special visitor, Time Stevens, of Straight Line Design (SLD) drop by to say hello. He not only built and raced our chassis before we bought it, but did all the custom tin and tree work on the Susie Q. It's too bad we weren't able to show him just how good the car can run.

Next stop is the Nostalgia Drags at Milan, MI on September 24-25. This is going to be a great event with a huge car show, swap meet, lots of local nostalgia cars, gassers and, of course, the funny cars. We'll be putting in our cool weather tune so come on out and enjoy some good old fashion racing.

Susie Q 

August 26-27, 2016

The Freedom Racing Engines Hot August Nights
Gateway Motorsports Park
Madison, IL

 
Susie Q featured in Dragzine MagazineSusie Q featured in Dragzine Magazine
 
Under the Lights Photo by Dennis Cumby
Under the Lights, Photo by Dennis Cumby
 
First Round Opponent
First Round Opponent

Sizzling Hot

Hot August nights and that is just what it was; sizzling hot and dripping wet. We lucked out because the rain that was in the forecast was all around us, but stayed away from the track. The lightening put on quite a show and at one point they even advised the spectators to clear the stands for safety.

With conditions like this, it seemed that we might have trouble going fast, but that wasn't the case. First qualifying session on Friday night we ran 6.93 seconds @ 194 mph, way under the 7.00 index. We weren't the only ones as just about half the cars in our class ran too quick. For our second qualifying pass, Steve tweaked the tune up and I slowed it down to a 7.02 @ 190 mph. That should have put us near the top of the field but that was wishful thinking. After two qualifying passes I was only sitting in sixth position.

We had a third qualifier on Saturday afternoon and hoped to make a little better pass. It was a good run but no improvement. This time I ran a 7.03 @190 mph.

Round One

I had Billy Smith in his Front Engine Dragster for first round. We both had qualified with about the same number so it should have been a close race. Too bad I was late on the light, giving him a head start. On top of that I went too quick, with a 6.994, just .006 of a second too quick. I hate letting my team down like that. I have to remind myself that we are taking everything home in one piece and will give it our best at the next race.

Cool Stuff

Suiting up for a "Cool" ride.
Suiting up for a "Cool" ride.
 

Racing in heat like this is not for the meek. Thank goodness we found something that actually makes suiting up more tolerable. There are a lot of cooling vests on the market but most of them are pretty expensive and not designed for our style of racing. We stumbled across a company called AllTuff USA, a small entrepreneurial company in Ft. Wayne, IN. They make a very simple vest with phase change technology that is self-charging and requires no attachments. It can be worn under the fire suit and affectively cools without exposing the body to freezing temperatures. These vests have many applications but they just happen to be perfect for keeping this race car driver from overheating.

Here are a couple of the wild Pro Mods sharing the track with us this weekend. There were so many amazing race cars, including Nostalgia Pro Stock, Drag Radials, and more. Check out a whole photo gallery of the 2016 Street Car Super Nationals on line at Dragzine.

wild Pro Mods   wild Pro Mods

Next stop will be the Scott Rod Hot Rod Nationals at the Funny Car Nationals, US 131 Motorsports Park, Martin, MI on September 9-10, 2016. Come on out and see us.

Susie Q 

August 12-13, 2016

The Danchuk Tri-Five NationalsThe Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals
Beech Bend Motorsports Park
Bowling Green, KY

Everywhere you look, there's a Chevy

What an experience to be part of the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals, presented by Woody's Hot Rodz,. According to the organizers, never has there been so many '55, '56' & '57 Chevys in one place. In just the second year of this event, they had over 2,200 registered cars of every shape, color and condition imaginable. People had come from all 50 states to show, race, or simply enjoy their ride. And there was plenty of racing with hundreds of stockers, modified, and gassers burning up the track. In addition there were the exhibition cars, Susie Q and others.

A Near Disaster

Our day always starts early since we have a ten-hour drive to get to Bowling Green. We were supposed to arrive by 4:00 pm to be part of the Thursday night festivities in town. We had pulled off the freeway and had just turned the corner for the last leg of our journey when we heard a terrible grinding noise. I ran to back window of the motor home just in time to see our trailer drop to the ground. The hitch completely broke off from under the motor home and the trailer, hitch and all, was completely detached and kept rolling along behind us. There was nothing Steve could do but drive ahead slowly so the trailer didn't run into the back of us. At first it looked like it would roll out into traffic, but then the crown in the road caused it to coast back to the shoulder, stopping just inches from the ditch.

Once we accessed the situation, I called our event contact to let them know we needed help. They provided a phone number for a tow truck who responded very quickly. Fortunately, the trailer portion of the hitch was undamaged and the tow truck was able to simple pick it up and haul it to the track. What a strange feeling following along "behind" our trailer as we slowly drove the rest of the way. All I can say is that we definitely had angels watching over us. If this had happened while we were still on the freeway we could have lost everything. Other than causing a small traffic jam, nothing was hurt except the motor home hitch and the wiring harness for the trailer brakes.

The broken hitch
The broken hitch
Getting the Trailer off the ground
Getting the Trailer off the ground
Repaired HD hitch installed
Repaired HD hitch installed

Once we were at the track and parked, the next challenge was to figure out how we would get home. Steve started making phone calls and found a place very close to the track that did welding and fabricating. First thing Friday morning Steve and Norm headed to the shop with the motor home, while I stayed with the trailer and race car. The guys at the shop cut off what was left of our original equipment 15,000 lb hitch and said to come back later in the afternoon. My crew was back in the pits in time to warm up the funny car and get ready for our first run. After we made our two scheduled passes, Steve and Norm hopped in the motor home and headed back to the shop. It wasn't long before they returned with a fully repaired heavy duty hitch installed. Thanks to everyone from Woody's who gave us a hand and the especially the guys at Johnson Welding. They really did a great job and on short notice, too.

Show Time

I really enjoy exhibition racing but there are good and bad aspects to it. The good part is you are there to put on a show and as long as you make a good pass, everyone is happy; the faster the better of course. One of the challenges is often the track conditions. At an event like this, the track prep may be a little lacking, in which case the tires spin and you go slipping and sliding all the way down the track.

on my first passThat's pretty much what I encountered on my first pass. It was 91 degrees, 60% humidity, with the corrected altitude at 3600 ft., possibly the worst air we'd encountered all summer. It's not only hard to make horse power in these conditions, but it's brutal on the driver, in a fire suit and sitting in the car. The car was all over the track and a strong cross wind made it even worse. I was just too close to the wall and it wasn't coming back so I had to lift early. Fortunately, the track was better on my second attempt and even with the car moved around toward the end, my quarter mile time was 6.99 seconds at 194 mph.

Saturday we were scheduled to make three runs. Rain delayed racing for a while in the morning but once it moved out, we had good weather the rest of the day and slightly better temperatures. Another exhibition car had arrived, a '55 Chevy Top Sportsman called Excalibur, driven by Lester Johnson. The promoters decided that a side by side would make a better show and we agreed. We hadn't seen him run but knew he was capable of a much quicker low six second pass so it would be a fun race. First pass he got out ahead of me but shut off early. I finished first with a 6.95 at 195 mph, impressive for the conditions we had. Second pass I got out first but expected to see him pass me but it never happened. Evidently he had another failure and I had the fast time again. He was able to make repairs and meet me in the lanes for a third round. This time we made it a race. I ran another 6.95 at 195 but he took the finish line with a 6.71 at 201 mph.

In the Staging lanes with Excalibur
In the Staging lanes with Excalibur
 
video
Here's a video of one of our races.

The grandstands were packed and the promoters were happy. We met a lot of great people this weekend and other than our hitch failure, we had a blast. We've been invited back next year for the 2017 Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals, the anniversary of the '57 Chevy. By all means we'll be there.

Pictures from the Pits

Picking up the parachute after a run

Picking up the parachute after a run Picking up the parachute after a run Picking up the parachute after a run Picking up the parachute after a run

Hey Katie, how would you like to drive a funny car some day? I think she said yes.

Hey Katie, how would you like to drive a funny car some day? I think she said yes. Hey Katie, how would you like to drive a funny car some day? I think she said yes. Hey Katie, how would you like to drive a funny car some day? I think she said yes.

This young gear head gets a lesson on engine timing
This young gear head gets a lesson on engine timing
 
Creating fans, that's what it's all about.
Creating fans, that's what it's all about.

Just love our young fans.
Just love our young fans.
 
It doesn't get any better than this.
It doesn't get any better than this.

Susie Q

July 2016

  After fighting tire shake we finally managed a 7.07 second pass, putting us #10 in qualifying
 
After fighting tire shake we finally managed a 7.07 second pass, putting us #10 in qualifying

Blue Suede Cruise
Summit Motorsports Park
Norwalk, OH

Friends and Fair Weather Greet us at Norwalk.

What a weekend. Aside from our racing, everything else couldn't have been better. Summit Motorsports Park is a great track for many reasons, including the outstanding friendly staff and their signature "pound of ice cream for a dollar". In years past, the weather has been hot and stormy, but this year Mother Nature was kind to us. Since this track is not so far from home, family and friends are more likely to show up, and they did.

We struggled in qualifying, experiencing tire shake on several passes. This prevented us from qualifying as well as we wanted to, so we ended up 10th, in the middle of the pack.

  Norm, John, and Steve.- what a team! Good thing these guys are having fun, because they sure aren't getting paid.
 
Norm, John, and Steve.- what a team! Good thing these guys are having fun, because they sure aren't getting paid.

Sunday morning the temperature was in low 80's and corrected altitude was 2900 ft. These were good conditions and the crew did the best they could to dial us in. I had Don Nave in his front engine dragster, Sleigh Ride, for first round. Don raced in Comp Eliminator in past years and proved to be a fierce competitor. He recently stepped up to the Pro 7.0 class and I knew it would be a tough race. I was determined to get a good start and I did with .011 reaction time. I left first and never saw him. Being that my best time all weekend had only been a 7.07, I wasn't going to lift. Well, I crossed the finish line first but lost the race; I broke out with a 6.994 to his 7.07.

It was a good effort by the team and although we went out first round, we felt good about the performance. We'll keep digging and one of these days we get this '57 Chevy into the final round.

Susie Q

A quiet moment in the pits
A quiet moment in the pits
 
Steve getting his hands dirty- a true "Uncle Earl" moment.
Steve getting his hands dirty- a true "Uncle Earl" moment.
     
Front engine dragster, Sleigh Ride, driven by Don Nave
Front engine dragster, Sleigh Ride, driven by Don Nave
 
My two grandsons and their friend, enjoying the races and having a great time.
My two grandsons and their friend, enjoying the races and having a great time.
     
Chutes Out
Chutes Out
 
Chief Jody, grilling up a pile of food for us all
Chief Jody, grilling up a pile of food for us all
     
These three sweet girls are some of my favorite fans. They come see us every time we are at Norwalk and I look forward to their smiling faces.
These three sweet girls are some of my favorite fans. They come see us every time we are at Norwalk and I look forward to their smiling faces.
 
Live concert by Phil Dirt and the Dozers. One of the highlights of being a guest of the Baders at Summit Motorsports Park.
Live concert by Phil Dirt and the Dozers. One of the highlights of being a guest of the Baders at Summit Motorsports Park.
     
The boys enjoying the "Oldies" music
The boys enjoying the "Oldies" music
 
Big thanks to friends Jody and John Wunch for being part of our crew over the weekend. You guys can come with us any time.
Big thanks to friends Jody and John Wunch for being part of our crew over the weekend. You guys can come with us any time.
   
We were treated to a spectacular fireworks display. Another great Norwalk experience and a perfect finish to a day of racing.
We were treated to a spectacular fireworks display. Another great Norwalk experience and a perfect finish to a day of racing.
 

It's been a busy couple of weeks. With two back–to-back races, then just two days at home before flying to Seattle, WA, for a family reunion over the 4th of July, I'm a bit behind on my race reports.

NHRA Hot Rod Reunion Beech Bend Motorsports Park Bowling Green, KYJune 16-18, 2016

NHRA Hot Rod Reunion
Beech Bend Motorsports Park
Bowling Green, KY

Just a few days after our exciting weekend at Milan, we headed to Bowling Green, KY for the Holley NHRA Hot Rod Reunion. This is big show with lots of beautiful hot rods including gassers, nostalgia pro stocks, nitro funny cars and dragsters. One of the highlights of the weekend is the spectacular cackle fest of over 40 cars lined up on track just as the sun goes down. Race teams and spectators come from all over the country for this event. In addition, it's one of our NDRL points races, so we hope to make a good showing.

The storm clouds just suddenly materialize, sometimes with very little warning.
The storm clouds just suddenly materialize, sometimes with very little warning.
 
Our new awning passed the wind test and provided much needed shade from the hot sun.
Our new awning passed the wind test and provided much needed shade from the hot sun.

No matter what the forecast is, the weather is always a surprise at this track. We arrived in the rain and although it had cleared by the time we got parked, we hadn't seen the last of it. It was hot and sunny most of the time, except when the dark clouds suddenly appeared, sending us scrambling to put the car away.

Waiting in line for Tech InspectionWaiting in line for Tech Inspection

The only thing scheduled on Wednesday was Technical Inspection, and with so many cars, the lines were out onto the track and circled back down the return road. This inspection is mandatory and it's when NHRA officials go over each race car and check all safety equipment to verify everything is up to date and by the rules. Not everyone passes, but once this is done, you're good to race for the weekend.

Qualifier Success

Thursday the temperatures soared into the high 90's, creating very challenging conditions. There were 21 cars registered in our Pro 7.0 class, most all are strong competitors. Our one run of the day wasn't pretty as I had to pedal it all the way down the track and ended up near the bottom of the qualifying sheet.

Friday's temperatures were better and stayed in the 80's most of the day with the corrected altitude around 3100 ft. Steve and Norm came up with the tune up and they nailed it. I ran a near perfect 7.001 @ 189 mph. This moved us up to number one qualifier with very little chance for someone to take it away. On our second pass of the day I ran a 7.01 @ 190 mph, confirming that we had the right tune up for race day.

Susie Q - #1 Qualifier with a 7.001
Susie Q - #1 Qualifier with a 7.001
 
Pro 7.0 Final Qualifying Order
Pro 7.0 Final Qualifying Order

Eliminations

One of the perks of qualifying number one when there is an odd number of cars is that you get a "Bye Run". This means you aren't paired with anyone and you get to make that run "by" yourself, giving you an automatic win and moving you into the next round. I had Billy Smith for second round, one of the front engine dragsters in our class and a very tough competitor. I actually beat him on the tree with one of my better reaction times but he caught up with me at the finish line. It was so close that the margin of victory of just .0007, about one inch. At least we made it a close race.

2016 Family Reunion Olympia, WA2016 Family Reunion
Olympia, WA

We were home for exactly two days, barely enough time to do laundry, water the plants, and pack up for our trip out west. Both my parents are alive and well and celebrating their 90th Birthdays this year. Our family is spread out across the country so to commemorate this wonderful event, four generations gathered at my sister's home in Olympia, WA, over the 4th of July. It was the most wonderful time. What a special blessing and celebration of our family

The next stop is the Blue Suede Cruise at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
See you soon.

Susie Q

June 11, 2016

7th Annual Detroit Dragway Reunion
Milan Dragway
Milan, MI

Susie Q Collects the TrophySusie Q Collects the Trophy

We've attended all the Detroit Dragway Reunions and enjoyed every one. In fact the first time we brought the Susie Q to the track was at this event in 2011. It's one of our favorites, partly because we're racing with our friends who also run Nostalgia Funny Cars, but also because it's our home track and so many of our friends come out to see us. We won the Funny Car shoot out last year and I wasn't sure we could do it again, but we did. I could get used to collecting trophies

Live on Channel 7

Our weekend started early Friday morning with a trip to the Channel 7 TV station in Southfield, MI. Steve Timoszyk, who helps organize and promote the Reunion, arranged for a group of us to be featured in on the morning news. It was short but would be seen by a lot of people and really help get the word out about the race. Check it out: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiDnINBre2o)

Highlights of the Funny Car Shootout

Over 300 cars came out on Saturday, some to race, some to show. There were all types of race cars representing different eras, some reproductions but some that actually raced at the old Detroit Dragway back in the day. We were one of six Nostalgia Funny Cars booked in to put on a show. Runs were scheduled for 1pm and 3pm, with the two quickest cars making a third pass for the "Chicago Style Shoot Out" final.

It turned out to be a sunny day in spite of the earlier forecast for rain. It was extremely humid and 94 degrees, making the corrected altitude between 3,4000 and 3,800 ft. The engine has a tough time making horsepower under these conditions which presents a challenge for the crew chief. Steve did an outstanding job, though and we made three great passes in the car.

First pass we were paired with Monty Stotz in his beautiful blue 69 Camaro. We took off together, but the Susie Q ran faster, with a 7.00 at 193 mph to his 7.37 at181 mph. That was also the quickest pass for that round.

Second round we lined up against Nick Tilly in his Shyster Corvette. Nick got a jump on me at the light and beat me to the finish line for the win. I shook the tires right after the launch and had to shift early slowing to a 7.10 at 191 mph; still the quicker pass. This guaranteed us a spot in the finals. The second quickest of the six funny cars was Mark Horvath in his Gold Coast Charger with a 7.11 earlier in the day. The weather hadn't changed much by 6 pm so we didn't make any changes to the tune up. I got away first with a .040 advantage at the launch and out ran his 7.13 with a 6.99. It was an exciting race and so fun to get the win.

Steve Timoszyk's Detroit Tiger
Steve Timoszyk's Detroit Tiger
 
Mark Horvath's Gold Coast Charger
Mark Horvath's Gold Coast Charger

Bill Hallett's Red Barn
Bill Hallett's Red Barn
Monty Stotz's Blue Thunder
Monty Stotz's Blue Thunder
Nick Tilley's Shyster Corvette
Nick Tilley's Shyster Corvette

Weekend Extras

We don't have a lot of time between rounds but I did manage to get out in the pits some. Here are two of the special guests that I had the opportunity to meet.

Roland Leong " The Hawaiin"
Roland Leong " The Hawaiin"

Roland started racing in 1963 and competed in both Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars and was one of the true pioneers of this sport. It was an honor to actually meet him.

 

Linda Vaughn "Miss Hurst Gold Shifter"
Linda Vaughn "Miss Hurst Gold Shifter"

Linda Vaughan is America's first lady of auto racing and has been an ambassador and promoter since the early '60s and still looks fabulous. I'm a big fan of hers and seeing her is always a treat.

We're already on our way to our next event, the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend in Bowling Green, KY. Sure hope our good luck continues.

Susie Q

May 6-7, 2016

Quick Fuel Battle at the Arch
Gateway Motorsports Park
Madison, IL

Season Opener

 
Susie Q Smokin the Tires!
  Susie Q Smokin the Tires!
 

Our first race of the 2016 season is in the books. April was cold and wet leaving us little opportunity to for testing but we did manage to get out to our local track, Milan Dragway, for a day. After the complete rebuild of the engine and transmission, it would take a few passes to get everything dialed in, so we knew we had our work cut out for us as we headed to St. Louis

A year ago this race was rained out but the weather was looking pretty good for this weekend. We arrived on Thursday evening, along with quite a few others, and set up camp. Many more racers pulled in Friday morning, with a total of 82 NDRL teams ready to do battle in four classes; Pro Gas, Pro Comp, PRO 7.5, and the class we run in, PRO 7.0. In addition to the NDRL, the show included some Nostalgia Super Stockers, Gassers, Super Shifters, Bracket racers and even a Nitro Funny Car.

Good Help is Hard to Find

Meet Norm, the newest member of our team.   Meet Norm, the newest member of our team.

Meet Norm, the newest member of our team. He's going to be helping us out at several of our races this summer. It's not easy to find someone who's willing to take off on a road trip for 3-4 days and work for food, so we are more than grateful for his help. Fortunately, there are people like him who love the challenge that drag racing presents. This isn't Norm's first time around a race car, however. He's had a few fast cars and boats of his own over the years; even ran his own dragster a while back, just not a funny car. He's finding out that there's a lot to do when we take Susie Q to the track, which is why we always need an extra crew guy. Norm learned a lot this weekend and Steve kept him busy, but I think he liked it.

Fast Makes Us Last.

We had two qualifying passes scheduled on Friday night, a third on Saturday morning, with Eliminations set for 1:00 pm Saturday. The weather was great with temperatures in the low 80's and corrected altitude staying around 2200 ft. Since we hadn't really had time to test, we just went with the tune up we had. First qualifying pass we ran a 6.95 at 194 mph; just a little too fast for the 7.0 index. Steve made some changes to slow it down but I think the weather changed just enough to negate them. Second pass I ran a 6.90 at 195 mph, putting us at the bottom of the qualifying order. Saturday morning was warm and sunny but the humidity was starting to climb. Another tweak to the tune up would hopefully slow us down just a little. Maybe it's the new crankshaft making a difference, but whatever it was, we just kept going too fast. Third qualifying pass I went 6.92 at 192 mph, leaving us qualified 13th out of 14 cars.

Shot down by the Rocketman

The good weather was holding but there were supposed to be storms coming in later on. The track officials were keeping things moving and Eliminations started right on time. Steve was confident that we finally had the right tune up and I just needed to do my job to drive the car. I was lined up against a familiar and formidable opponent, Robbie "Rocketman" Freels, who just happens to also be last year's PRO 7.0 Champion. We did our burnouts, backed up and staged. Robbie is quick on the tree which is one of the reasons he is hard to beat, and today was no exception. Even though I ran a near perfect 7.004, Robbie crossed the finish line just ahead of me and got the win light.

Our race day was over early which turned out not to be all bad. A severe rain storm blew in, literally, and shut things down for a few hours. The winds were strong enough to do damage to whatever didn't get put away in time and the track got soaked. Fortunately we had everything put away just in the nick of time. Thanks to some very hard working Gateway track staff, the NDRL was able to complete the race and crown the winners. Congratulations to Michael Sexton and his team for winning the first race of the season.

Fan Friendly

Meeting with the fans, especially the young ones, is always a fun part of the weekend. Meeting with the fans, especially the young ones, is always a fun part of the weekend. Meeting with the fans, especially the young ones, is always a fun part of the weekend.
Meeting with the fans, especially the young ones, is always a fun part of the weekend.

Next event for us will be the Detroit Dragway Reunion, June 11, right here at our home track, Milan Dragway. This is always a fun time and we look forward to having lots of our friends come out and see us.

Until next time,
Susie Q

March, 2016

Anticipation Blooms in the Spring

Somewhere in the country the sun is warming up the asphalt and racers are warming up their engines. A few NDRL members are already testing, even competing, and three 2016 NHRA National events are in the books. Unfortunately, here in Michigan, we are still in the cold grip of winter with freezing temperatures and snow on the ground. The upside of this is that we have more time to ready our race equipment for the coming season, which we are certain will eventually arrive.

There's lots going on at the Christophersen race shop these days. We had a few too many parts failures last year so there are some new parts going into the race car starting with the Lencodrive. Two different sprags rolled in the transmission, putting us in the trailer early at two separate events, so Steve decided it was time for a thorough overhaul. With help from a friend, Divisional Alcohol Funny Car Champion Todd Robertson, and new parts from Mick Snyder, Steve did a complete rebuild and the transmission is ready to go back in the car.

The engine also went through a complete tear down and all parts carefully inspected. Nothing was badly worn, but after two seasons it was time to replace the rods. OK, as long as we're getting new MGP rods, why not just order up a new Bryant crank? Oh, and this requires a new RCD cam drive gear and hub.

New Bryant Crank ready to install
New Bryant Crank ready to install

Some of Steve's handy work; couldn't buy just the right part so he made this.

Belt dry sump pump hub
Belt dry sump pump hub


   
The Diamond pistons and Trend wrist pins should be good for at least another year but the engine is going back together with all new Micro Blue coated bearing. The heads had the usual valve and seat touch up from Total Flow. New PSI springs are installed and the heads are back together. It won't be long now before the car is all put back together and ready to fire.

Finishing head assembly
Finishing head assembly


gear contact pattern checked   filled with new fluid

The rear end has been apart and the gear contact pattern checked. Everything looked good so it's filled with new fluid and back together again.

Not Just Idling Along

Along with the race car projects, we seem to have plenty of other things keeping us busy. Steve has been fixing up the shop and repairing equipment. He also constructed a nice deep pull-out drawer for our pots and pans in the motor home, among other things.

 

One of my passions is gardening

 

One of my passions is gardening, which normally I don't do much of in the winter. However, last summer I purchased this very cool areoponic Tower Garden from Juice Plus and grew fresh produce all summer long. I decided to start my seedlings in January this year and set up the tower garden with some indoor grow lights in our sunroom. In just 8 weeks we were having lettuce, chard, and kale picked fresh for our salads. The cucumbers and tomato plants are flurishing so with this much of a head start it won't be as long a wait to harvest.

In February we also celebrated Steve's 67th birthday and made a trip out west. I have a lot of family in Olympia, WA including my 89 year old Dad. It was a short visit but we spend some quality time with everyone.

In March we visit Florida to see a number of friends who winter there, including Steve's sister and brother-in-law. It feels good to be in the warmer climate this time of year when winter in Michigan seems like it will never end.

We'll be posting again in April with a progress report on Susie Q. The car will hopefully be back together and ready for testing soon. We're hoping for a warm April so we can get at least one good test session before heading into our first NDRL race on May 6-7 at Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, IL

FUNNY CAR FUN FACTS

2016 marks 50 years of Funny Car competion, so to honor this history, look for some "fun facts" about Funny Cars with each post this season.

Where did the "Funny" Come from?

In the early to mid-1960s racers started modifying the their factory cars by moving the rear, and sometimes the front, wheels forward, shifting the center of gravity to achieve better traction. Initially these were categorized as Altered-Wheelbase Experimental. The race cars no longer looked "stock", resulting in someone referring to them as "funny" looking, and the name stuck.

By 1966 the full body "flip-tops", or "floppers" as these Funny Cars were sometimes called, had become part of the regular drag race scene. The first official NHRA Funny Car eliminations were held at the 1966 World Finals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ramchargers Altered wheelbase A/FX
Ramchargers Altered wheelbase A/FX
This is an example of an altered wheelbase race car that, although highly modified, still had a factory style body. The "Ramchargers" were a group of Chrysler engineers that has a passion for racing and played a major part in the early development of the funny car.
Seaton's Shaker Funny Car
Seaton's Shaker Funny Car
This is an example of an early flip-top Funny Cars. Pete Seaton, with his wild Chevrolet Corvair, was one of the first racers to compete in one of these full bodied funny car.

See you soon - at the races,
Susie Q

 
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