AT THE TRACK
Perception has a major influence on our memories of a certain event. Case in point: the shootout. Put four racers on the same racetrack and you will probably get four different answers regarding the starting line stick. We have illustrated that in the shootouts time and time again. Use four thermometers at different places on the track, and you get four different temperature readings. For example. Mark Cronk followed the weather closely on race day and saw a high of 88 degrees. We took readings of 95 degrees. He saw a high of 28 percent humidity, yet the day felt to all incredibly humid, and it was hazy. Our barometer showed 30.05 hg. Despite it all, our four participants still ran well, and once again two ran their best-ever e.t.s.
"My car loved the track. It hooked well and pulled straight," Mike told HPP. One look at his '66 GTO's wheelstands through the day will attest to his statement. Mike was searching for the best tune for a new combination varying launch rpm, shift points, tire pressure, and pill size. It all came together on the final pass when with 37 degrees timing, 7.5 psi tire pressure, and a 100 pill, the '66 Goat posted a 9.48 at 138.93, marking its best pass up to that time. It was almost 2.5 mph better than his next best pass of the day and 0.14 second better on e.t. Mike said of the event, "I was impressed by how smooth everything went." His recommendation to make it better, "Have the Hooter Girls."
Rob says, "My car has always had traction problems here; it doesn't pull left or right, but it does spin. The track was pretty good. It seemed to lose grip later in the day, but the warm temps, the humidity, and the sun were the culprits." To that end, he took an easy first pass, short shifting at 4,800 rpm and posting an 11.28 e.t. just to get a feel for the new engine. Juggling shock settings, tire pressure, and removing the mufflers netted him the best pass of the day on his fourth run, posting a 10.98 at 121.75 mph. It was also his best 60-foot at 1.62. "I had a great time with friendly people, and enjoyed the freedom to run as much or as little as I wanted," Rob says. Since the shootout, he changed the distributor and switched his worn-out slicks for 29.5x9-inch M/T stiff sidewall meats, and his 60-foot times have dropped to 1.44 seconds. The Ventura is currently running 10.60s at 124.62.
Mark's T/A was a pillar of consistency on race day, "I ran my best 60-foots ever--exactly the same from the second run to the last," he says. If that wasn't enough, he ran his best e.t. ever as well at 9.88 on the second and fourth passes. If he had any doubt that his Bird would fly, given the problems he faced in West Virginia, they were certainly erased by this performance. Regarding the event, Mark says, "There was no pressure, and it was a lot of fun. Everybody was helping each other, and it was a very nice facility."
You may have noticed that Chris' GTP is quite light. This is due to a diet featuring a suspension upgrade to lighter coilovers; removal of both stabilizer bars; the addition of a carbon-fiber hood; dumping the A/C, rear seat, passenger seat, and other interior fluff; and replacing the driver seat with a lightweight race unit. At the track, Chris worked on dialing in the timing and fuel over his five runs, using a ZZP in-car-module for the latter. "I struggled throughout the day with the tune and was battling knock retard and heat," he says. "It was difficult to get the car hooked up, as well. It seemed to get better later, but that was more the result of adjusting to the track with tire-pressure changes." Regardless, the GTP was quick and consistent, varying only 0.07 in e.t. from the best to the worst pass. It was the second run, however, that resulted in best e.t. and mph at 11.53/114.73 even though the 60-foot was 0.03 off his quickest, at 1.65 seconds. But, on the final pass, the drivetrain revolted and the torque converter toasted. Despite the mechanical carnage, "I thought it was a fun day at the track," Chris says. "The camaraderie developed between all the Pontiac people was great."
What did our racers prove this time? With Mike Williams' GTO we learned that his '67 YC-code 400 block (originally a two-barrel engine) never had it so good. A flying toilet, lots of cubes, and alcohol married to a light chassis can go fast and hook very well with careful planning. Rob Barhorst showed us that perseverance pays off. He was testing a new engine at this event because two bearings spun in the old bottom end the Sunday before. He got the new crank and had the rotating assembly balanced and installed in a 20-hour thrash to make it to the shootout 10 hours from home. He still ran 10s in his '74 Ventura! Mark Cronk illustrated first hand that a well-built race car can hook like a "mutha" consistently (four runs in a row with 1.35 60-foots), run 9s, and take home show trophies. Chris Yates showed plenty of traditional Pontiac people that a FWD GTP can put down some serious numbers, and he has the 11-second timeslips to prove it, even if he felt like the GP could have done better.
Special thanks to Jim Zeek, Jaimie Zeek, and the VMP staff for their help in organizing and executing this event.