At The Track
As mentioned before, Norwalk Raceway Park is blessed with a great surface and a competent staff who make the most of what is there. Of course, weather and the sun can cause trouble beyond what any mere mortal can control, and through no fault of NRP's staff, the starting line was getting slicker toward the end of the day. However, it's interesting to note that three of our four shootout participants made their best runs the last time out. The only one who didn't was running bias-ply street tires, per Pure Stock Musclecar Drags rules. This was in spite of the fact that the track conditions were eroding, and the air quality was slipping away. The reason for these late runs coming off so well for our quartet of racers was due to competent tuning and having settled into a comfortable and effective launch technique. We hear over and over at just about every one of our shootouts that making runs without the worry of surviving to the next round is key to allow for more tuning. After all, what we're doing with the shootouts is providing a relaxed test-and-tune session for racers to work out their combos.
Though his car was running well, Dan battled with traction all day. With nothing stickier than a set of reproduction Coker Firestone G70x14 tires, he posted his best e.t. and trap speed on Run 5: 12.55 at 109.58 mph. Except for one run where he blew the tires away, all of his passes were within 0.1 second and 1 mph, a very consistent showing. For a factory stock car to run that quickly on skinny tires was nothing short of amazing. His best 60-foot was a 1.88 (1.82 to date), quite remarkable considering the low-tech rubber.
Deloris and Kevin Constant
The Constants had a unique approach to their tuning. They did nothing to the engine at all--it was already dialed in. Tuning at the track was aimed toward getting the car optimized for the conditions at Norwalk that day. By stiffening up the suspension and keeping an eye on tire temperatures, they decided they couldn't improve on their initial pass settings and went back to that configuration. It rewarded them with the best pass of the day: 10.16 at 135.37 mph. Incidentally, the four passes they made were all within 0.06 second and 0.68 mph, which goes to show that when you have your combination sorted out, you're chasing after small improvements. In Deloris and Kevin's case, they found them.
Lorin and Greg Budzinski
With a fresh set of slicks under their '81 Grand Prix, traction wasn't much of a problem for the father-and-son team. After adding 2 degrees of timing and giving the 466-inch Pontiac a cooling-off period, Greg was able to shave off 0.09 second and add nearly 1.5 mph between his best and worst run. Their best run was 11.33 at 119.04 mph. Greg's 60-foots were very consistent, between 1.59 and 1.61 in five runs, and the Grand Prix lifted the front wheels about 6-7 inches every time.
Larry's Firebird was another case where a well scienced-out package was chasing after fairly small improvements. When the gains are that small, one is running at peak efficiency. The really big gains come from the correction of tuning errors. Snyder's game plan was to vary tire pressure and timing and also to alter launch rpm and shift points. After experimenting with launch rpm from 3,000 to 4,800, he came into his best combination, a 3,200 rpm launch, 6,200 rpm shift points, 9.5 psi in the slicks, and 32 degrees total timing above 5,000 rpm. The tuning and driving changes netted him a best of 10.20 at 129.87, a very respectable number that represents a lot of tuning and planning. The difference between the best and worst of his four runs was just 0.04 second and 0.8 mph. Even with tuning changes, Snyder's racecar was anvil-solid in its consistency.
Our four shootout participants this time out showed a great deal of skill and familiarity with their cars and equipment. They were able to optimize already well-tuned combinations to make the most of the available air and track bite. Next month, we'll be taking four more racers from our Norwalk shootout and presenting them to you for your evaluation and entertainment. Thanks to Bill Bader, Jr. from Norwalk Raceway Park, as well as Pete and Andrea Woodruff from Super Duty Promotions for making this shootout such a fun experience and a great kickoff for the Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals.