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Banzai in Boise

August 19, 2009

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What a weekend…. Drag racing a Nitro Funny Car at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise was one banzai experience!

Here’s how it went: In the first session of qualifying on Friday night, the car was underpowered, and it got out of the groove; trying to salvage the run, I stayed on the throttle a little too long and gathered up the half-track timing cone, nullifying the qualifying attempt. Of nineteen entries trying to get into a 16-car eliminator, we were among the DNQs.

Saturday afternoon was a different story — and result: We ended #3 qualifier. I  posted a 5.93, 236 mph. That performance put us up against #14 qualifier Nate Bugg when the first round of eliminations were to commence at 7 pm.

Or so it said on the schedule. After some serious oil-downs by the Top Fuelers, Nate and I didn’t pair up until 10:30 at night. The track had cooled and all the traction went away. We backed down from our aggressive tune-up in hopes of just making it to the finish line under power. Before we lit it off, I told Nate: “This is not going to be pretty!” And so it wasn’t:  After sitting in the staging lanes for three and a half hours — enduring various clean ups — I got and earned this win, but it was UGLY. I pedaled it six times and put up a winning 6.89 to Nate Bugg’s 6.90-something — at this point ET and mph doesn’t matter, only who got the win-light. Which bring us to the quarterfinals on Sunday, and a heat against Paul Romine.

I swear, I thought I won. I gated Romine, .072 to .085, but he charged right around me, our soft 1.07 to his 1.02 60 ft. times. But then we made a march at half-track, and I thought I put a wheel on him and held it there. But it wasn’t true, his 6.09 bested our 6.12. He turned 232 mph and I went 234 mph. His total margin of victory: less than two-hundredths of a second. Ffs. — MF.

PS: With Boise in the books, that leaves one last race in the 2009 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Points Series: The California Hot Rod Reunion in October at Bakersfield. .

(photos by Darr Hawthorne and BurningMotorhome.com)

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