AT THE TRACK
With temps in the upper 90s and humidity at 86 percent or better, you'd think we were in a sauna instead of at a drag race. But, hey, we were just happy the hurricane was gone. The big wind named Dennis blew through town just days before we arrived. Density altitude rose from 3,550 to 3,950 through the day, so we have provided correction factors to convert the e.t.'s and mph to sea level. If you don't believe correction factors are valid, then just pay attention to all the actual e.t. and mph figures provided in the Strip Run Tuning logs. See, you have a choice! Using 3,800 feet as our density altitude, the correction factor for the e.t. is 0.9536 and for mph is 1.0493. HPP figured the correction for the best pass only (based on e.t.). Simply multiply the e.t. or mph by its respective factor to get corrected figures for any other runs that you desire. Though Atlanta Dragway personnel expended lots of energy to prep the track, the racers in this installment experienced traction problems to varying degrees. Of course, the weather wasn't helping anything.
According to Erik, "Track conditions were initially poor due to the weather. Atlanta Dragway's staff did a great job of dealing with the track and got it to come around after lunch time." The Strip Tuning Log for the '64 bears this out. Earlier runs were fraught with wheelspin, and Erik worked for the better part of the day to dial in launch rpm ranging from 2,100 to 3,200 and shift points from 6,000 to 6,700. It all came together on the final pass when the best 60 foot of 1.40 was rewarded with a 10.28 at 129.58 (9.80 at 135.96 corrected). Proof of the improved starting line is that launch rpm was 3,200--the highest tried all day--and there was no wheelspin. Erik said, "Overall the event was great fun. I met a lot of nice people and it was well run."
Patrick did his best to dial in his combination. He took density altitude readings prior to each pass, noted the coolant temp and throttle-body temp prior to each pass, and was trying to dial in the launch to the track conditions by varying rear tire pressure. Though he had a 100hp nitrous shot on tap, his best pass of the day would be his second, where the T/A hooked well, and a 75 shot pushed it to an 11.97 at 112.21 (11.41 at 117.73 corrected) on a 1.60 60-foot. Though Patrick was hoping to have custom programming done prior to the event, he couldn't due to Hurricane Dennis. "Torque management was causing the car to fall on its face on the 2-3 shift, which cost me about a tenth," he says. "My T/A hooked only one time; the track wasn't there. There was just too much rain prior to the event, and it was hot." Despite it all, Patrick said, "I had an awesome time. I just wish the car would have performed better." Since the shootout, with no changes, the T/A has run 12.49 at 108.1 in the quarter on motor and 7.41 at 90.8 in the eighth on nitrous. Its best 60-foot is 1.53 with the 75 shot, and 1.61 on motor, according to the owner."
Mike described the track conditions as "hot and slippery but better than average, given the weather. My first pass was very loose, so I had to drop tire pressure and launch rpm." After letting out of the throttle and coasting through the lights at 12.99 at 70 mph on the first pass, the second was much better. The low 60-foot of Mike's day at 1.49 was realized, and the Sunbird went 13.39 at 129.60. His next run was almost a carbon copy of the second one with a 1.50 60-foot and the same 10.39 e.t. (9.90 corrected), this time at a slightly higher 130.35 mph (136.77 corrected). Regarding the shootout, Mike said, "Awesome idea--it was great to get all these people together to race, but he would have liked to see us "get the photos done while the cars were racing in the morning." As a side note, you may have noticed that Mike's engine is running stock resized cast rods with ARP bolts. The car has been raced regularly for seven years, with Mike shifting at 5,800 rpm without a failure. He attributes its engine longevity to his remote dual-filter oiling system that reduces engine oil temp by 15 degrees before the filtered crude returns to the engine.
Jim said he had some trouble in the right lane with the GTO pulling right. He described the overall track conditions as "poor--got better--went away about 3 p.m." He basically dialed in tire pressure and launch rpm for the better part of the day to get the GTO to hook. The result was the best e.t at 12.34 (11.78 corrected) on his third run coupled with the best 60-foot of 1.83. The highest mph was actually on the second run at 113, but spinning on launch resulted in a lower 60-foot and an e.t., which was a tenth off his best. Regarding the shootout Jim said," I was pleased to get plenty of chances to get in runs." The only thing he didn't like was that it was so hot, but he did think we could improve the shootout next time by bringing Hooters girls. Jim found a coil problem the day after the race and wonders if that was affecting his performance at the shootout more than the weather. Since the coil was replaced, Jim's GTO has run 11.94 at 117 at another track.
So what did we learn from this shootout? Each Pontiac had a different form of induction, and all worked very well. The '64 A-bodies can combine show car detailing and true wheel-pulling race car performance. With some squeeze and careful attention to weather and track conditions, a Fourth-Gen Bird can embarrass many a competitor with relatively few modifications. You can build a tube-frame car on the cheap, drop a mild engine combo in it (despite the 2x4s and tunnel ram), and run 10s with the big boys. There are still Pontiac treasures to be found out there, like buying a rusty $3,800 '66 GTO to later learn it is a factory Ram Air car. Then you can build it into a great street/strip machine and still have a rolling retirement plan. Of course, there was all the other cool shootout stuff like the camaraderie, the lunch provided by YearOne, smoky burnouts, getting air under the front wheels, and so on. Come back next issue and you will see even more.
Special thanks to YearOne, Pat Staton, Keith Maney, DAPA, Randy Allen, George Reeves, Martin Templet, POCI, and Atlanta Dragway for their efforts in ensuring the success of this shootout series.