The American Drag Racers Affiliated Guild of Competition Acceleration Recreation
American DRAGCAR Race Report
Well, the American DRAGCAR Full Power Challenge Provisional debut event at Speedworld Dragstrip near Phoenix, Arizona is history and after reviewing the limited data gathered, my personal opinion is that it just wasn't given a fair shot as only fifteen racers came out to see what DRAGCAR is all about.
Incredibly, six racers traveled over 150-250 miles each to try out this new venue. However, for a free entry race, it's quite unbelievable that only nine racers from the greater Phoenix area came out to take advantage of this one time offering.
In addition to the lacking number of cars to really put the DRAGCAR indexing formula to the test, it appears that a couple of participants viewed this to be another Pinks type venue and were not giving full honest performances with their vehicles. I also must question the validity of the engine combinations being claimed for a couple of the participants as well, which truly illustrates the need for the teardown and fuel check process to be employed in this type of venue.
Going into this event, I did have an alternate plan reserved in the instance that one or two racers were significantly further under their indexes than I'd expect to see being that there were not going to be any teardowns performed at this race but the truly unexpected absence of vehicles at this event made even that plan inadequate for producing a competitive field.
After qualifying had been completed, eight of the fourteen vehicles participating had run under their formulated indexes but their performances were ranging greatly. One of these was a turbocharged vehicle which was not eligible for competition in the naturally aspirated only field, one was unbelievably twice as far under the index as would be expected while another was still a bit quicker than would normally be accepted without actually verifying the claimed specifications.
Because of this, it was decided with the racers to simply move everybody into the consolation eliminator format where indexes were adjusted according to qualifying times while still paying out the full sixteen car payback schedule for the DragCar Eliminator format. So, though I'm under the impression that some of the participants were displeased with the outcome, the truth is that nobody should have too much of a complaint as this was a test and every participant received no less than a refund of their Speedworld gate fee. Sticking with the plan of splitting the participants in the manner intended would have created an eight car qualified field in which there would not have been any competitive racing, and a six car consolation field where four racers would have left without receiving any moneys.
The consolation format index adjusting process which was used consisted of subtracting 6-9 hundredths of a second from each racer's actual qualifying times before rounding that to the nearest 5 hundredths to establish the racers adjusted index for first round of eliminations. The idea behind this method was to entice racers to qualify as quick as possible to take advantage of the more favorably adjusted index for quicker qualifiers. Using this method, no racers were indexed with more than 7 hundredths advantage over anybody else in the field and everybody should have been indexed no less than 4 hundredths under their actual qualifying times. The intent was to create a fair index which everybody could run while allowing for racers to run all out across the finish line without worry of running under their index.
First round of the adjusted index format provided some close competition.
In the first pairing, Mark Beavin in his Modified Production Duster was up against Rich Roback and his Traditional Stock Mustang who came down from Kingman. Mark was indexed 8 hundredths under his qualifying time while Rich was indexed at 7 under. This was definitely a hard race as Mark took an 8 hundredths advantage on the tree but ran a full tenth off of his index while Rich closed in to run 2 hundredths off of his index and take the finish line by only (.0005) 5 ten thousandths of a second, the closest race of the day.
The second pairing was also a thriller pairing Josh Edwards' Factory Production Nova with Willie Wray in his Modified Production Camaro. Josh had been put on a 10.60 index which was 3 tenths under his qualifying time because neither of his qualifying runs had been all out performances while Willie was put on a 10.50 index, 5 hundredths under what he had run in qualifying. (This was admittedly a mistake on my part as I had not taken a close enough look at Willies qualifying performances to notice that he was probably capable of running a tenth quicker than he was showing.) In any event, the two were within a thousandth of each other off of the tree and both ran right on their adjusted indexes and Willie took the stripe by less than 8 thousandths of a second with his 10.501 to Josh's 10.608.
Another well battled pairing was Daryl Nance with his Super Modified Mustang II versus the Modified Production Mustang of Doug Combs. Daryl was indexed 5 hundredths under his qualifying time at 10.15 while Doug was in at 10.25, 9 hundredths under his qualifying time. Doug took only a 4 thousandths starting line advantage but maybe let the bracket racing habit take over as he lifted and dropped nearly 8 mph to run a 10.360 to let Daryl take the stripe by 18 thousandths of a second with his 10.238.
One very notable pairing consisted of Bob Aitkens in his Gasser Ford pickup on a 14.25 index, 6 hundredths under his qualifying time, versus Nick Micale in his Blown Hot Rod turbocharged Buick indexed 5 hundredths under his qualifying time at 10.20. In another case of a driver lifting to avoid a breakout, Bob took a 3 tenths of a second starting line advantage but slowed to a 14.495 to let Nick's 10.095 catch him and take the finish line by only 3 hundredths of a second. In an unheard of show of sportsmanship, Nick Micale himself reinstated Bob into the competition by declaring himself out due to his 11 hundredths under index performance in that round. By DRAGCAR rules, Nick actually could have continued into the next round of competition with a lowered index for the following round but Nick truly understood and appreciated the premise of American DRAGCAR competitions being all out and though he did not know the change he had made to his vehicle after qualifying would put him that far under, he stated that he felt it was not within the spirit of fair competition to take that round as a win.
As great as first round started off, second round was absolutely lacking competitively.
Cole Briggs from Tacna, Arizona in his big Gasser Dodge van indexed at 11.60 faced Willie Wray for second round but accepted the incorrectly entered 11.00 index showing on the boards by staging and taking the tree. Then to add salt to the wound, Cole's engine seemed to suffer mechanical difficulties as well as it could be heard misfiring severely at about the 300' point.
In the next two pairings, both Daryl Nance and Bob Aitkens either intentionally or accidentally deep staged their vehicles thereby ending their day in competition as this is not permitted in American DRAGCAR competitions. I had included the deep staging prohibition in a noted section of the American DRAGCAR booklets being handed out to racers which were printed exclusively to explain how the day's program would be run. Even so, I took the question of allowing for reruns to the track but was told that it is the racer's responsibility to look at the index/dial board and to be aware of the staging policies.
So here it is, Semifinals where three of the four competitors were quite unknown at Speedworld.
In the first pairing, Willie Wray faced the Hot Rod '51 Studebaker Starlight Coupe of Daniel Muylaert who came all the way from the New Mexico border to be a part of DRAGCAR 's debut. Daniel was indexed 4 hundredths under his first round under index performance at 12.65, but Willie Wray took a full tenth of a second starting line advantage for the easy win with a 10.510 and kept above his adjusted index to keep from being re-indexed for the final round.
The other half of the round had Rich Roback paired with Paul Santantonio of Scottsdale in his Traditional Stock Chevelle indexed 5 hundredths under his qualifying time at 11.85. Again, a full tenth of a second starting line advantage, and the Ford was well out in front of the Chevy going across the finish line as Rich ran 11.078 for the win.
So the Final round had Rich Roback from Kingman in his Mustang up against Glendale's Willie Wray in his Camaro. Rich was still on his 11.05 index while Willie remained on his 10.50. Rich took a 2 hundredths advantage on the tree but ran off the pace with an 11.132 while Willie finally showed a little more of what he had been holding back throughout the day by running 10.488 to take the finish line first for the win.
I want to thank everybody who did come out for this event and I hope that it only gets better from here. I would however like to see more racers running truly honest competitions but my own hopes are twofold, that DRAGCAR can create a program by which less than honest performances will actually hurt ones chances at making it to the finals, and that racers will eventually begin to see how much fun this format can be without trying to trick the system.
In summation, the DragCar/DragStar format indexing formula will not be changed, as it still needs to be tested with a greater number of vehicles before it can be determined where any flaws might lie and what might be done to properly tune the formula. Personally, I still believe the formula to be pretty much in tune as the (NHRA F/SA) Traditional Stock Camaro of Buddy Jensen performed at 56 hundredths of a second under the DRAGCAR formulated index. This is very much in line with many other well performing vehicles which have been run through this formula. To simply believe that one car truly was performing at 1.2 seconds under the index while every other class car, bracket car, and Pro car tested up to this point has shown no more than half that amount under index, and to scrap this formula based on that one performance, certainly would seem to be a bit premature, especially without performing an inspection to verify the accuracy of the combination being claimed.
With regards to the consolation format formerly being referred to as Junior Eliminator, it will be renamed to EconoDrag Eliminator due to the unanimous opinion of racers that it is not a favorable name of a class to be associated with, and the method of subtracting 6-9 hundredths of a second from the racers qualifying times for first round index adjustments will be omitted as it did not do what it was intended to in keeping racers running all out during qualifying for the more favorable index adjustment. It only allowed for the racer who was holding back to still be able to carry too much advantage through the rounds as long as nobody else could force him under his adjusted index by way of running right on their own index while cutting a better reaction time against him. So the method for consolation eliminator first round index adjustments will now be simply to round all competitors qualifying times to the nearest 5 hundredths to establish their adjusted indexes. With this method, racers will be indexed anywhere from 2 hundredths slower to 2 hundredths quicker than what they qualified at with nobody having more than 5 hundredths advantage on anybody else in the field. This will most likely have many racers running under their adjusted indexes during first round and being re-indexed for second and even third rounds but as long as these racers were giving all out qualifying performances, the run-unders will be minimal and the re-indexing will remain fair to them, but for those who were holding back during qualifying, the run-unders will be a bit greater which will result in more drastic re-indexing for subsequent rounds.
Happy Holidays everybody! Hope to see more American DRAGCAR events and more racers attending them next year! I truly believe the competition will be excellent when this venue becomes accepted and field sizes increase considerably.
NO More BREAKOUTS!
Real Drag Racing is Back with American DRAGCAR!