Wayne, getting ready to snap the fiberglass hood back on. The ground-pounding 462 was putt
James Horton's sixth run was aborted after a strange knock was discovered on the starting
No time for glue, Dr. Jones! Since the track crew would have just wasted the sticky stuff
At The Track
Our four contestants faced off with a track that is known to stay sticky, yet was unable to be "officially" prepped due to the wind. The gusts just kept coming on this 65° day, reaching 25 miles per hour and warding off some of the humidity, which was stuck in the low 70s. It was a far from perfect day to be racing, but nothing was going to curb our crew's enthusiasm.
Wayne sent a photo of his '69 doing a huge wheelie, so we knew that his ride possessed some serious power. But two things were working against him on this day: the starting line was inconsistent, and, as he found out, his spool had given out on him. "The track was too slick," he lamented later. "The car stayed consistent, but they weren't the kind of numbers that I was looking for." And although he didn't go 9s, out of his six runs two were 10.50s and two were 10.51s--all from a naturally aspirated, muffled Pontiac. Not bad, eh?
Horton's Tempest had deceptive speed: sure, it would pull the wheels a little when he left around 2 grand, but this thing really pulled on the top end. He has seen almost 123 mph on a 10-second pass, although the track conditions prevented him from eclipsing the 120-mph mark on this day. A slew of 11.1s and 11.0s were recorded, but when he pulled to the line to try and crack 10s, a mysterious knock resounded from the motor. It didn't seem to be too serious, so Horton pulled back to the lanes and removed the valve covers. Nothing was found, and it wasn't until a few days later that the truth was known. "I pulled the motor out and took the pan off, and I found some spun rod bearings. I don't know why that happened now--I just freshened this mill up over the winter!"
From our initial phone invitation on, Joe was totally psyched to be a part of this shootout. He had just bolted up a set of drag radials, and a quick trip to Atco Raceway the week prior got the restored '69 Goat tuned and the tires seasoned. But a tranny/shifter problem made second gear pop out, making his quest for 13s a difficult one indeed. Joe and his friend Ken shared driving duties, but neither was able to crack a big one--until the crew from Taylor Engine Service got involved. "Jim Taylor and Mark [Erney] were great; once they were like 'Do this, do that' my times started to improve. Mark told me to pull off the air cleaner and I immediately saw better times. Then Jim told me to put the ram air pan on with the foam seal and without the air cleaner, and it went 14.02 with Ken driving. Then when I drove it, I finally got my 13!"
Joe was looking for low 12s from his '67 Goat, but he wouldn't be able to beat the 12.4 that represented his all-time best. A starting line that was great one minute and slick the next made for inconsistent runs, even with the 275mm drag radials mounted out back. Joe's best 60-foot was a 1.89, but on the other five runs, it took over two seconds. "Unfortunately, I was inconsistent today. The wind was real tough and I couldn't find the right combo. But I was here to have fun, and that's exactly what I did."
So the mineshaft barometer and light breezes weren't in the cards on this day--the great thing was, no one really cared. We took photos, ate pizza, worked on Pontiacs, smoked cigars, and lied about women. DeMauro had a Collector Edition Trans Am on hand, and there was lots of talk about the future of performance at Pontiac. When everyone had had his fill of racing, the trailers were loaded up and we headed home. The good aspects of this job seem to be limitless, but seeing the smiles on our contestants' faces as parting handshakes were made make these track days, windy or not, that much better.