The First Annual Nova List Gathering
Part 5
(click on any image to see a larger version)

They finally called our class and we headed for the staging lanes.  This is it!  May the best man (or at least the most consistent man) win!  It was about 9:00 pm by the time we finally started our runs, so we had to account for the cooler weather on our dial-ins.

Let the eliminations begin!!

Round 1
The first run put Shawn against Mike, and me against Craig.  It was a mixed blessing. Two of us were guaranteed to move on into Round 2, but two of us were going to be "on the trailer" after only one round.  Nothing to it but to do it!
Shawn and Mike lined up. Shawn got the leave on Mike due to the slightly slower (3.64 second!) dial-in. Mike got ancy watching Shawn take off and got the Big Red Eye.  He gave 'er hell anyway and ran it out the back door.  He broke out! He ran a best-of-his-day 14.94, so he wasn't all that disappointed.  Shawn won with an 18.74, but since Mike red-lighted, Shawn would have won no matter what, unless he crossed the center line.  Boy was he fired up for Round 2!  The trash-talkin' was starting already.  :-)
Craig and I lined up right after Shawn and Mike.  We staged.  My light dropped and I hit a .546 'tree against Craig's .558. I was laying down a good run, but he was gaining on me fast.  Then I noticed he wasn't gaining anymore...?  Turns out the cooler temps had lowered the pressure in his rear tires so much that the car got real squirrely at about half track.  He had noticed in the staging lanes, but it was too late to do anything about it.  He backed off the throttle and got back on it, but it was too loose.  He coasted through the lights with a 12.89@84 on his 12.45 index. I stayed on it all the way through the traps and nailed a 13.525@101 on a 13.52 index!!!  Even if Craig had caught me (and based on his 7.84@87 eighth-mile, he would have easily), because I nailed my dial-in and beat him at the 'tree, mathematically there was no way he could have beat me.  I felt bad for Craig since he had to back off halfway through the run and it would have been the best run of the day for him.  But hey, I won, I had to get back to the staging lanes!

All these videos are pretty dark, but...
Click here to download an .mpg file of the run between me and Craig  (574 Kb)

Round 2
The five of us (Kayce had left by now) were hanging around in the staging lanes chatting about the brackets when one of us said we should have a competition for which Gathering participant can get the most bracket wins, but by this time it was just me and Shawn.  It was okay with us, though!  50/50 chance of winning, right?
Shawn vs. S10 SS
Shawn was in front of me and got paired up with a '90s Chevy S10 SS that was dialing in a 13.00. Shawn kept his 18.60 on the windshield and they went at it.  The S10 was right on target with a 13.02 and Shawn broke out with an 18.50!  Bad news. Shawn was done for the day.
Me vs. Z28
I was up next, and was last in line.  There was a late '70s Z28 two cars in front of me and a late '60s Mustang behind him.  As we were about to go out to the burnout box it appeared I was going to get a bye run!  Then the Mustang pulled over, said something to the track guy, and the track guy waved me past. I had to run the Z28 and the Mustang got the bye run!  What's up with that?  Lame!  Typical Mustang owner...
The Z28 and I lined up. He dialed in an 11.88, I kept my 13.52. I took off with a .635 'tree, he with a .615, and we were heading for the finish line.  He was catching me fast, but not fast enough. He never quite caught me and I ran a 13.56 and he ran a 12.04!  He tried to catch up but didn't quite do it.  I won again, by .109 second.
My cheering section was split up, Mike and Shawn in the pits, Craig and Angella in the staging lanes.  They sure made it fun to win!  Back to the lanes I went.

Round 3
Me vs. Mustang
That wimp Mustang owner made it to Round 3 (surprise!  I thought he might even lose on a bye run, but not quite) and was running against me this time.  We staged. I totally choked at the line, but he choked even worse than I did! I turned a horrible 1.06 'tree, but he did worse with a 1.16!  We got to the finish line in short order. I ran a 13.56, he tried to catch me and did, but he had to try to stay ahead of me but couldn't modulate his car well enough to stay within that little .03 second window of opportunity and he broke out with a 12.61 on a 12.75 dial-in.
I won again!
Here is Nova vs. Mustang on video (678 Kb)

Round 4
Me vs. S10 SS
By now I'm having the time of my life, but expecting catastrophe at any moment.  Now I had to run against the S10 SS that beat Shawn.  Shawn warned me that this guy was really nailing the competition.  Great, now I'm doubly nervous! We kept our same dial-ins, me at 13.52, he at 13.00.  I got him at the 'tree - .533 to .689, then I ran a 13.56. He caught me, passed me, and broke out, running 12.71. What the heck was under the hood of that S10 anyway? Another victim!  Oops, now I'm sounding cocky.  I really wasn't, I was still in shock, just waiting for the magic to end.
Click here to download the run vs. the S10 SS (1.4 Mb)

Final Round - Trophy Street
Me vs. '97 Formula WS6
There were only two cars left.  "Winner comes back," the track guy said.
It was me vs. a really nice guy in a '97 Firebird Formula WS6 with a full custom exhaust and a 13.46 dial-in;  he had nitrous, but wasn't using it that night.  13.46 vs. 13.52.  Should be a good race. We lined up as usual, I brought up the rpms until it sounded good, and waited for my light to drop and punched it.  The same as every other run of the night, I got a tiny bit of tirespin then it absolutely hooked up and I was gone. I had a .623 R/T and a 1.962 60' time.  I didn't see the Firebird next to me all the way down the track, probably because of his .766 R/T and slow 2.12 60' time (smoked his tires, it turns out) so rather than risk breaking out, I let off a little at the end.  He came charging past me, but not until after we were across the line.  I knew I hadn't red-lighted but I couldn't see the win light, so I'm racking my brain to figure any way I could have lost the race.  I got to the shack on the return road and sure enough, I got that white slip of paper (loser gets yellow).  I ran a 13.60@95.74 (coasting) and he ran a 13.49@105.42! He was closer to his index, but he was snoozing at the 'tree which gave me the victory.
I WON MY CLASS!! I couldn't believe it.
Click here for the Trophy Street Finals .mpg (1.1 Mb)

Back to the Staging Lanes
I drove back to my cheering section/pit crew (thanks again guys, you made it so much fun!) in the staging lanes and parked it. I figured I'd be getting my trophy and we could pack up and go, since by this time it was 10:45 pm and there was hardly anyone left at the track. We're waiting, chatting, waiting, getting bored...  Meanwhile a Super Pro '68 Camaro with contingency stickers all over it had pulled up next to me in the staging lanes.  I figured he'd won his class and was waiting for his trophy, too, so I ask the track guy, "What's next?" He says, "You two run."  HOLY CRAP!! I figure my good luck has run way too long and I was really hoping to end it all on a good note, but now I had to run again!  I was really ready to call it a night.  This was street car vs. race car.  I know street cars tend to be more consistent, but this guy was experienced!  I had only raced on one other occasion, and that was an 1/8-mile track seven years prior!
The reason we were sitting there doing nothing was to let that Camaro cool down for the final run.  Here are the cars, waiting to run:
Yes, it was dark!  Racing under the lights was pretty cool, actually.  Apparently only yellow cars are allowed...

Final Round - Top Eliminator
Me vs. '68 Camaro Super Pro
Eventually (about 15 minutes later) me and the Camaro driver hopped back into our cars, buckled up, donned the helmets. and went to the burnout box.
I did my standard 4-5 second burnout at the edge of the water and came out spinning, gettin' a little sideways.  :-) I staged first to settle my nerves a little, just as I had done all day long.  Why mess with success, right?  His dial-in was 11.40, mine was still 13.52, so I knew I'd be leaving two seconds ahead of him.  The lights went down and I punched it. Same launch as always, no red light, .526 R/T(!), I was on my way with a 1.926 second 60-footer.  I'm all alone down the track until the very end, when the Camaro just barely gets ahead of me and stays there.  I knew the only way I could have won was for him to have broken out, since I knew he didn't redlight and he was ahead of me at the finish line.  I pull up to the shack to get my timeslip and sure enough, I got the white copy.


I couldn't believe it. Neither could anyone else, although Craig claims he knew the magic was with me and I couldn't lose.  If only I had had that kind of confidence! I broke out with a 13.49@100.67, but he broke out even more, with an 11.36@116.30.  I 'tree'd him, too (barely), .526 to.545. 

I drove back to the staging lanes to the cheers of Shawn, Mike, Angella, and Craig (and myself). I was great.  I won two trophies, but they were out of the class trophy! They asked if I wanted to come back and get it later that week or if they should mail it out to me.  I told them I was from Minnesota so they took down my address (and did mail it to me, thankfully).  The trophy I did get was for being Top Eliminator Champion.  Gee, that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?  Here's that trophy:
Man, I was flying high for the rest of the weekend!

We finally got packed up.  Here's Craig trying to get his stuff together, so to speak.  Or is that my timing light? I don't know, we were tired and were ready to go.
I switched back to my street tires (thanks again for the use of the Drag Radials, Craig!!!), we loaded up, and took off, leaving the premises about 12:30am.  It's a 45-minute drive back to the motel, during which we saw two deer on separate occasions, literally standing five feet off the shoulder of the highway.  Scary! Fortunately we made it back without incident and went to bed.

Thus ended one of the best days of my life!
Move on to Sunday on the Next Page

Gathering Links...
The Trip to St. Louis:   Page 1   Page 2   Page 3
Friday Night in St. Louis:   Page 1
Saturday:   Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5
Sunday:   Page 1   Page 2   Page 3
The Trip Home from St. Louis:   Page 1   Page 2

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