Life From the 1000' Marker
by Stormy Byrd
Well it’s been a while since I last ranted and I have no beefs to bring up so I’ll just let you know what has been going on in the Stormy world lately…..
At the 2014 March Meet I injured my shoulder by dislocating it. I put Dave Gruzen in the car to shake her down; however, Dave can’t drive two cars in the same class, so I enlisted the help of my partner-in-crime Randy Winkle to drive Revelation. Unfortunately, overnight Randy came down sick and couldn’t make the call. Head Mouse, Joel Gruzen, suggested Eric Christianson who drives his Cabo Wabo ‘65 Ford Ranchero and Dick Mosley’s Midnight Madness NE3 Fiat. Talking with Eric, I asked if he had an NHRA long-wheelbase license; he did and I said go get your helmet. After a half-hour indoctrination with him in the seat firing the car and learning my hand signals, he was ready to give it a shot. I left the tune-up alone but splashed 7% in the tank to give her some teeth. I told him she can run as smooth as glass or she can rattler your brain out.
1st qualifier: Eric lays down a nice long burn-out and backs her up. I give him the signal to dry hop the car; you can now see the smile on his face as this is his first time doing it. He carefully stages and at the green he’s gone, running a 7.39 at only 175+ as he lifted early. This was faster and quicker than he had ever been and he did a great job as she ran smooth. Joel Gruzen suggested taking 5% out of the blower to slow her down and we do it. Well it’s first round now and time to make it happen.
Round 1: Eric does his routine with the help of Anna Marco and Ashley Jones as his ‘back up gals,’ putting him back into the groove. Eric carefully stages and at the green, he releases the trans brake and all hell breaks loose as the car goes into violent tire shake. He can’t see anything as he gets close to the centerline and shuts it off in order to not get into the other lane. He coasts though with a 13-second e.t. at 70+ mph. As we get down to pick Eric up he apologizes about the run and I tell him he did the right thing; besides, his opponent redlit! Back in the pits I discuss with Joel what I need to give Eric a car to race with and, suggesting we lean the fuel system by .010, he concurs.
Round two: Eric does his thing with Anna alone putting him back in the grove and he’s ready. At the green he just gets left on but catches his opponent at half-track as he peddles Revelation in a true “wheel race.” At the top end Eric floors in to take the stripe (Just as I would have) and runs a too-quick 7.46 to a winning 7.62. We gave him a car to race and he did a great job and I can’t thank Eric enough for filling in at a moment’s notice.
Looks like I’ll be having surgery on that shoulder here in the future as the dislocation at the MM was the final straw from what was abused riding motorcycles and turning wrenches for the last 39 years. That should let me wheel Revelation a couple more years!
Now on to the Eagle Field Drags in Dos Palos, California put on by racer/promoter Rocky Phillips on May 17. There was a huge crowd and turnout of racers with the feature attraction being a 2 out of 3 match race between myself in the Revelation BF/MR and the world famous Pure Hell AA/FA of Rich Gausco driven by the very capable Ron August.
Rich towed Pure Hell from Florida for this match race. The first race went down around 2 p.m. in old school fashion using a flagman. At the drop of the flag I punched the throttle through the firewall getting a jump on Ron in Pure Hell who was on the loud peddle trying to muscle the 3000 hp Gausco-tuned Hemi on 82%. The starting line was left in a fog bank as both cars annihilate the tires on the 72-year-old Eagle Field runway. Revelation held onto that slight lead long enough to get by Pure Hell at the stripe for win #1. The Eagle Field crowd was on their feet for this smoke-fest from days gone by.
After a cool-down, refuel and maintenance, at 4 p.m. both cars were towed to the line and the crowd was standing in anticipation of what was about to go down. Both cars fired as Pure Hell came alive and laid down another 1/8-mile burnout. I chose to dry hop to the line fearing the small 3.5 gallon tank Revelation has would run low with the nitro mixture I had in her, had I matched Ron’s burn-out. So, I waited patiently, putting heat in the engine for round 2 of this epic battle.
Once back on the line both cars carefully staged with the help of veteran racer/Fremont flag starter, Eves Tall-Chief. We were set, but this time Ron in Pure Hell was on his game and drilled me off the line setting his tires ablaze. I punched the throttle sending Revelation’s tires into orbit in an attempt to catch the now thundering Pure Hell. At half-track Revelation was making up the difference as Ron’s tires were blazing so hard in a futile attempt to gain traction on the ancient runway surface. By three-quarter track I was just pulling by Ron as my smoking tires gained enough traction to take the stripe again by mere inches. The crowd was cheering on their feet as we smoked the track out…..then all hell broke loose…
As I entered the lights and won, Revelation’s engine let go, specifically: #1 rod broke at the top sending the offending end through the oil pan, the camshaft and tossing pieces throughout the engine like a tornado trough an Oklahoma trailer park! Seeing the smoke billowing over the body I hit the mag switch and fuel shut-off, but Rev’s engine continued to run as I pulled off the track into the dirt field. Thinking that this thing’s going to catch on fire, I had my hand on the fire bottle ready to release $500 worth of Halon. Finally, the engine uttered one last grunt as she gave up the ghost. Yeah, these animals will keep running even with a rod hanging out of them! I sat there looking for any sign of fire for a minute and then exited my wounded racer. Thank God for the SFI engine diaper! It was filled with hot oil that could have gotten under those smoking tires, spelling disaster.
Informing Rocky that Revelation could not make the call for round 3, Rich and Ron gave the fans a treat as Ron blazed the infamous Pure Hell AA/FA to what I think was the hands-down smokiest run of the day. Thanks to Rocky Phillips for putting on these events and showing the fans what racing used to be about, a real “Show!” Also, thanks to Ron, Rich, and his daughter Jill for allowing me to live a dream I never imagined. Thanks as well to those who are helping me put Revelation back together as I collect the pieces. Scat Cranks, Arias Pistons, Valley Head Service and my friend and camshaft guru, Jerry Cantrell at Schneider Racing Cams, for giving me the power to get by the legendary Pure Hell AA/FA. I am in all your debt.
In other news, there are talks going on with the promoter of the Famoso Mob’s last New Zealand tour of the possibility of going back for another “Yankee Invasion,” with four NE1-style cars for a four-race series. After we were there in January of 2013, Randy Winkle sold his GreenGo fuel coupe, but is currently working on a new and wilder GreenGo, with a ‘32 Bantam coupe body and blown BBC on a 125” chassis. This thing will be wild! Also slated to go along with Revelation and the new GreenGo are Winkle’s One Bad Hombre fuel coupe and, hopefully, the “House of Mouse” team car Strange Brew of Joel Gruzen and Eily Stafford. We’re working on getting them there as the 4th car and hopefully this will all come together soon. We’ll see, as there’s a lot of logistics evolved.
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