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Mar-Schan Motorsports - Kuhn Racing Seven Races Later and No Concert
I can't believe we've been through the month of June already since the last update and just a few days into July already. We hit the track seven times since then and Jen decided that she didn't want Braylon to miss out on a chance for a Wally so we ditched the spousal family time at a concert and we went to the track. Shocking I know! Seven events is a lot to cover and I know most people have better things to do than read a blog; like run a business, cut the grass or grill some burgers, so I will keep it short.
On Saturday June 4th we went to Numidia by accident. You see, I thought the Summit Junior Dragster Challenge event was scheduled for that day, but the night before, after everything was packed up, Jen looked at the schedule herself and told me it was the following weekend. I looked at the NHRA schedule on line but she looked at the actual track schedule and they were different. We elected to go up there and race anyway in preparation for the following week since we were packed. Braylon got down to the quarter finals and third round, but that's where our day ended up north.
The following Saturday we were back at Numidia again, but this time there was in fact a Wally on the line. Once again Wally went home with someone else. Braylon had a good day, but was stopped in the 4th round quarter finals, just one win short of some cash or hardware. It wouldn't be long though till he had another shot so we packed up and headed south to the house and prepared to head even further south in the morning to a new track for us, Mason Dixon Dragway in Maryland.
We charged off, two and a half hours through the wind on Sunday June 12th to Boonville, Maryland for another chance to bring the mini Wally Parks home with us. This was probably the shortest time we were ever at a track! From the time we unloaded till the time we reloaded was maybe a maximum of 75 minutes. At Mason Dixon they run the kids quick, round robin from the time runs to eliminations. We made our two time runs, got paired up with our first round opponent and were quickly dispatched when our blue slingshot couldn't "run the number" for some obscure reason. It was probably the wind gusts that can mess with a car this light. The highlight of the day was when our neighbor Danny Spotts, in his first year racing, picked up his first Wally and win in the youngest age group and his brother Ben got the runner up position in the middle age bracket. Congratulations to the Spotts family.
Back home at Maple Grove on Saturday the 18th we went a few rounds but once again that 3rd round quarter final pairing did not go our way and we were hung out to dry just before trophy time, but we did grab another 31 points to help us stay in the top 10 with the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail race #7 looming on the horizon the following weekend.
The ups and downs of this sport are what keeps you humble and asking each other "where did that come from?"On Sunday the 26th Braylon had another rude awakening as he turned on the red light in the first round and BAM we were doing our ritual end of the day Lucas Oil change way too early.
I am going to jump into July to just cover the first two races and an all-important Double Points weekend at Maple Grove. On July 2nd and 3rd it was a beautiful weekend to race and be with our track friends and it's always nicer when it ends better than you had hoped. I would like for us to be able to win at least two rounds at each race. That means if there are 20-30 racers, which there typically are, there are less than 10 remaining if and when we lose but that keeps us in the top 10. Don't get me wrong, wins are great but super hard to come by at our home track with so many good older racers teams that push us. I was hoping to grab 60-70 points on the weekend, but we exceeded that and grabbed 94 if my math is correct. Here's how:
On Saturday the 2nd Braylon was having a good day going rounds until a -.014 in the third round on the tree, put the red light on, ending our day in the quarter finals again. I was still proud and happy to see the Craw's Racing powered dragster did not miss a beat as usual. Braylon wasn't too happy, but I told him we didn't scratch or break anything and that's always a good day at the track. Lock the doors; we will be back in the morning.
Sunday the 3rd we did our usual morning routine with tech inspection, Jen and Braylon cleaning the car and the tires, filling the fuel cell with VP M-1, and me checking the weather and computer data. We marched to the 5th and final round and after securing Braylon into the car with the awesome DJ Safety harness, Jen and I were on the starting line full of nervous anticipation. I can only image Braylon's thought process. Would he be able to block out the distractions. Will the possible realities of a defeat be swirling in his brain while trying to block out that he was racing yesterday's event winner. Just a month before he sat in this same position knowing that not too many of the younger racers can pull off the W at Maple Grove. We went "live" on social media with streaming video beginning in the staging lanes hoping to share our first win at the home track with as many as possible. In the end only one person can win. After holding our breath for 8 seconds just hoping to see that win light somehow come on in our lane at the end of the track, Jen and I found ourselves congratulating the Hoffman family as Katlynn Hoffman swept both of the weekend races. The young lady was on a mission with a string of .000 lights in qualifying both days and also in eliminations, it was going to be up to her to lose this one and she got the job done.
I want to thank Boccella's Performance for helping us out with our fuel needs for the race season, since all these runs add up. It's great to have these guys in our corner. Thanks to the Hoffmans and their team for letting Braylon in their Winner's Circle picture. Thanks to Fred Craw for providing us our bullet proof power plant we have run the last three seasons with never an issue and I am sure the Lucas Oil Junior Dragster Oil is a big part keeping it together and our chain for riding smoothly. The diesel tow vehicle now has a crank case full of the Lucas 15w40 diesel oil and stabilizer and Super Coolant in the radiator and is ready for the long tow to Bristol, Tennessee in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for BIG things to come down south!
Mar-Schan Motorsports - Kuhn Racing Points of Interest
May wasn’t a big month for Kuhn Racing but we did accomplish one of our goals for the season and that was to be in the top 10 in points at Maple Grove when the roster went in for the Eastern Conference Finals at Thunder Valley in Bristol, Tennessee.
At the beginning of the month we were in a tie for 7th place and the first race was rained out so that left us with a “Double” on the 14th and 15th. The points were going to be hard to come by because everyone wants to represent Team Maple Grove on Team #1, that being the Top 10 in points. In our first full season of racing we were on Team #2, which did awesome and last season we were down on Team #3 because of splitting the weekends with baseball and racing. This year baseball was put on hold to focus on racing and representing our sponsors.
Another perk to being on Team #1 is that Maple Grove pays the entry fee for these racers to the ECFs. Thank you Maple Grove for supporting the racers that support your track! I want to thank Clark Industrial Supply as well for helping us out with a new trailer brake controller earlier this month. The one that came in my truck just didn’t feel like it was working and when I put the Tekonsha Voyager controller in from Clark I almost went through the windshield as I dialed in the brake pressure. Thanks for keeping us safe guys!
On Saturday, the first day of the double, it was a beautiful day to be at the track. The sun was shining and it was a perfect spring day, but that’s where the good times ended. Our day ended in the first round with a -.008 red light start. That was reminiscent of the last race where we had a -.006 light to end the race day. We did get a couple of points to keep things interesting but we slipped to 10th position by the end of the day. Braylon had control of his own destiny on Sunday if he was going to keep up the pace and a first round exit would not do it.
On Sunday the weather did an about face and it was in the low 50s but felt like the mid-40s. No one could seem to get warm enough with the wind blowing across the track as well. Top that off with some sort of 12 hour deadly virus contracted by yours truly, it was not going to be a good day if we went home early, but it was one of those days where the breaks were in our favor.
In the first round we had a broken bye run, second round we had a competition bye, third round we were on the right side of a double breakout and in the fourth run our opponent turned on the red light in the other lane! You have to love those days and it seemed like in the fifth and final round somehow this would be our day and nothing could stop us from claiming the win and the four foot trophy that has eluded us so far in three years.
The problem was someone forgot to tell CJ Ketterer that he had homework to do and should have gone home or something. You see CJ had won all three previous points races at Maple Grove this season and has probably won 18-20 consecutive rounds but who’s counting. There was NO way he could win a fourth straight event, right? Wrong!
Both drivers had probably their worst lights of the day but that kept it interesting and the double breakout at the other end didn’t hurt either, but once again the win light came on in the other lane and we were snake bit. I told Braylon prior to the run that no matter what happens, today was a win and he could hold his head high.
Although he doesn’t take losing in any round lightly I think he knows that CJ is having a great year and he would just have to settle for the three foot trophy and the points for going five rounds.
At the end of the day we jumped up into a tie for third place in points and hopefully we can keep working and stay in the top 10. That would be a great achievement with all the great young racers and their families that we race against because anyone can win at any time, or at least runner up to CJ!
Next up in June are three Junior Dragster Challenge “Wally races” and two Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail points events at Maple Grove. We plan on making 4 of those 5 events if not all of them. The Crew Chief and the Chef/Safety Gear Checker/Dog Walker/Fist Bumping/Mother might attend a concert that coincides with one of the Wally races. It can’t all be about racing all the time can it? See you at the track…or the concert!
Mar-Schan Motorsports - Kuhn Racing is Back in Action
Mother Nature was finally on our side after washing out the first race on our schedule back in March, but what a difference a week makes. We went from cold, windy and snow flurries to the high 70's and sunny here in eastern Pennsylvania. We made good on our scheduling commitments the next two weeks at Maple Grove and we hit the Test & Tune on April 16th to get our feet wet again and then our Craw's powered dragster hit the Sunoco Race Fuels Money Trail point's race 1 the following day and point's race 2 the following weekend on the 23rd.
Over the winter we once again freshened up our motor and clutch program with help from Craw's Racing in Mt. Laurel, NJ, installed ceramic bearings from Bearing Tech Inc., and freshened up the blue hue of the chassis with help from Van Industries in Birdsboro, Pa. Before we hit the track the crankcase was filled with 12 ounces of Lucas Oil and the fuel cell was filled with VP M1 courtesy of Boccella's Performance and I buckled Braylon up in all his DJ Safety gear so mom didn't have to worry. Now it was up to driver and crew chief to put down some numbers.
Our first pass in testing resulted in a slightly quick 8.85 on an 8.90 index. Crew Chief did some math, added 8lbs and we were rewarded with an 8.905 on the next run. Feeling on top of the world, and that this was like riding a bike, I watched the weather warm up prior to the third pass, which the motor liked, and we again run under the index but that was to be expected.
Sunday morning came around and we headed back up to The Grove for the real deal. No more testing, there were points on the line. The car was on point, the driver was still trying to find his spot on the tree, and in the first round we benefited from a broken bye run. We dialed an 8.92 and Braylon ran it out the back with an 8.915 showing on the scoreboard, right where we wanted to be. The ladder in the second round put us on a collision course with the 2014 Junior Dragster Money Trail Champion and we knew it would be a tough round. Braylon had to do his job on the tree and we needed to dial the car dead on. Unfortunately Braylon didn't have his best light of the weekend and had to run under the index to try and catch the other car and our day was done. The Kuhn Racing dragster still got further than half of the other 23 cars on the property so that is a small victory.
The following Saturday, still sunburned from the previous weekend, we again trekked the 14 miles back to the track for race #2. The morning started off wet and rainy, but by 9am the sun was starting to peak out and the track was dried and prepped by late morning. We had two qualifying attempts and neither time did the car do what I expected. There was a lot of moisture in the air so the car was a lot slower than I anticipated and it got worse as the day progressed instead of better, which I didn't expect either. To say we were firing on all cylinders would be a stretch.
In the first round we lined up with the champion from last season, there are no easy rounds at Maple Grove. Braylon was on his game on the starting line and the race was basically over at that point even though both cars ran several hundredths of a second above their dials. It wasn't pretty but it was a win. There were now 10 cars left in the lanes for round 2 and we were paired up with another older more experienced driver, but our driver left the starting line early by six-thousandths of a second. The driver in the other lane left early too, but Braylon did it first and the red light came on in our lane sending us home with another second round defeat.
We will take the points and the lessons learned and hopefully have our day soon. It's a long season and there will be many highs and lows to get through, but we will share the good and bad with you as we grow and learn. Thanks everyone for your support.
See you at the track!
Spring Has Sprung For Kuhn Racing
It's been a busy couple of months here at the house, shoveling the occasional snow fall and me spending the better part of four weeks working out of town, but it's warming up nicely, the windows are open and I pulled the Junior Dragster out of the trailer for some work today.
In another month or so we will be racing once again with a fresh bullet behind the driver, all nice and fresh from Craw's Racing.
Back in January we were hard at work getting the car ready once again for the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports Racecar and Trade Show outside of Philadelphia, for display in the DJ Safety booth. I stripped the car down to the bare frame and the guys from VAN Industries in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania did a great job of giving us a fresh Candy Blue powder coat. They also put their sterling silver high heat coating on the header pipe. I am trying to get rid of all the zip ties holding the cables and wires to the frame so a call was made to a custom motorcycle shop to provide us with a bunch of polished clutch and brake cable brackets for that clean look.
While the whole car was stripped and the parts polished before I put them back on I made a call to Terry Davidson at Bearing Tech/Precision Bearings in Newberg, Oregon and I am happy to say that they are our newest marketing partner.
Terry saw the value of our program and helped us with a set of ceramic axle bearings that should end any issues with the run of the mill steel versions.
Their bearings are assembled in their shop in the USA, using only high quality parts. They don't use or sell any Chinese bearings or parts, and if they can't guarantee it they won't sell it!
Bearing Tech's custom ceramic bearings applications include motorcycles, snowmobiles, karts, quarter midgets, sprint cars, and legend cars just to name a few. Applications include: wheels, hubs, axles, bird cages, crankshafts, clutches, transmissions and engines both 2 and 4 stroke. Give them a call if you are serious about reliable, friction reducing bearings.
To add some more bling to the car I added neon strip lights under the frame in in the driver's area for that occasional photo opportunity to help make Braylon's ride stand out even more. It was reassembled on the eve of one of the worst snows storms in the area in years but I got it down to the venue. Getting it home four days later would be more of a challenge. With the help and use of the trailer from my good buddy John Martin from Martin Painting I managed to get it home but it wasn't fun. All in all we had a great weekend again visiting with our friends and partners Loren Hill and Ben Conant from DJ Safety and we want to thank them for the opportunity to showcase our supporters on another stage.
As most of you know I won't be racing this season in my car and because of that we will not have the support this year of the great folks at Mickey Thompson for the first time in almost a decade. I want to thank Carl Robinson for giving us a shot many years ago and Tommy Kundrik for keeping my car in the groove with the best tires on the planet all these years!
Thanks to all the companies that helped with my combination over the years that don't cross over to the junior market: ATI, Quick Fuel, NGK, Smith Brothers, Induction Solutions, BMS Racing Engines, M&M Competition Engines, Total Seal, Moroso, Jesel, and Aeromotive. Eventually I hope to be calling on you all soon with a new combination.
We anxiously await the start of 2016 with a lot of racing scheduled and a greater focus on the points at our home track Maple Grove. Braylon is still looking for that first Wally and maybe this will be the year, but our first challenge will be changing engine combinations a month or two into the season as he turns 13 and is eligible for the 7.90 class.
We look forward to taking that jump with the help of Craw's Racing, Boccella's Performance, Martin Painting, Bearing Tech, Clark Industrial Supply, DJ Safety, and Lucas Oil. What else could we need behind us with that team and of course mother and wife Jennifer to help with the between round maintenance and grill duties!
See you at the track and go blue!
Time For A Change
Just over a month ago I was headed to the PRI show in Indianapolis for the first time in many years without much of a direction or a plan for myself. I knew that Braylon's junior dragster program would still remain strong in 2016, but after 11 seasons with a very similar engine combination I had put the engine out of the Chevy II up for sale. I wasn't planning on any over the top marketing or making any promises or predictions about the future of the 8.50 Index machine. There are always plenty of friends and supporters of our program on hand at their respective booths and it's always nice to speak to them face to face and thank them for their support. It was one of the biggest shows and foot traffic was record breaking for the weekend and the motorsports business is looking strong for the future. That's good news for all of us.
At the show Braylon had his picture on the side of the DJ Safety booth and also his custom T-shirt design on the informational flyer from Classic Ink USA being handed out at their spot. I am glad he is getting to see that his work is paying off maybe he will realize that he has some special friends and the doors open to him if he keeps it up.
As it turns out my engine did sell in the last week and now it's time to plan for the future. I am doing some research on which way I want to go for motivation. It will need to be adaptable for my needs and possibly Braylon's in the future. I might go with the tried and true big block Chevrolet or possibly with an LS platform and we will most likely use nitrous oxide as a power adder just to keep it interesting. There are a couple of updates that I would also like to do with the car, that being a new strut front end and maybe some new floors, but time will tell. The research has already begun.
Prior to leaving for PRI we had already received a letter of renewed support from the great folks at Lucas Oil for the upcoming season even with the looming possibility that it would be a one car team. The good thing is that I will be able to focus more time with Braylon and watching him grow as a driver and sportsman. It should be an interesting season for sure as mid-year he will be able to step up to the faster 7.90 class.
We have a fresh motor back from Craw's Racing already, and Van Industries has helped us look our best with a fresh layer of Candy Blue powder coating. All the parts are polished and ready to put back together in advance of the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports Racecar and Trade Show just outside of Philadelphia in a couple of weeks. The dragster will once again be in the DJ Safety booth on display as a showcase for their great safety gear for all ages, racing classes and sanctioning bodies. Some of the fastest racers on the planet rely on DJ gear to keep them safe so we know it's the best out there.
The big car will be back out and it will be better than ever but it won't be in 2016 so be patient. I think I have called many of you already, but thanks again to everyone that provided their time, knowledge and finances into that old program. It's been a learning experience in more ways than one and hopefully we can keep the doors open for future possibilities as we work on the next generation, which is what needs to be done to keep the sport growing. As always the updates will keep on coming so stay tuned because spring is right around the corner.
See you at the track!
No Rest for the Weary
Not too long ago we left Beaver Springs with an age group runner-up finish at the Beaver Blast, and it was the end of a busy but bitter sweet weekend for the Kuhn Racing Junior Dragster and driver Braylon. Baseball was finishing up and basketball would be starting soon as the leaves started to fall in the northeast but there was still one race left on the schedule, the annual Turkey Day Race at Cecil County Dragway. This is the race that two years ago Braylon got his first trophy with a runner up finish in the overall age group category and last year he won the whole event for the first win of his career. He started this season with a win at Cecil County and bookending the season with another win here would be perfect, not to mention another free turkey for the freezer to add to our collection of preserved poultry.
It was a beautiful day with the air temperatures starting out in the high 30's and rising to the low 50's. Just what our car seems to like. Cool dry air is just what the doctor prescribes for consistent ETs coming out of the business end of our Craw's Racing engine. For the first time run we were a little bit too fast to legally run in our age group. After adding some weight in the tank behind our Mickey Thompson slicks we hoped for an ET we could work with in eliminations in our second time shot. At The County they keep things moving in the junior program and the track was prepped to perfection for the up and coming racers of tomorrow.
Braylon had a great .009 reaction time on the second time run and then another in eliminations surrounded by a .045 and .047. Those weren't stellar but they were good enough to get some round wins. The car was repeating to the thousandth of a second all the way out to the 330' mark and then it was up to the driver to do what he had to do to get the win and even at the finish line, 660' later, we were still running dead on when it had to. At the end of the day, a whopping 90 minutes and 5 passes later, Braylon had won the 8-12 year old age group and lost in what was the semi-final for the overall title to our good friend Gabrielle Walleigh who had a great .002 light against us and was .000 in the finals to take the win. Great job Gabby!
Bray had a tougher time digesting the loss than he would the turkey from the 2013 event that is still on display next to the ice cream sandwiches in the former nitrous bottle chiller in the garage. He did walk away with some hardware for the younger age group win which helped lessen the sting of the loss.
This was a long season and we would like to thank our 2015 Junior Dragster Sponsors, Boccella's Performance, Lucas Oil, Craw's Racing, NGK, and DJ Safety. We also want to thank the guys that we know are there for us when needed like Martin Painting, J&B Motorsports, Clark Industrial Supply, VAN Industries and Mickey Thompson Tires. All these companies help us with both cars. Without your great products and support we couldn't have raced all season without any issues or breakage.
Braylon raced in 30 different events compiling the following record:
In 2016 we hope to make the numbers at the top of the record decrease and the ones at the bottom increase but as we move up in age we also move up in the skill level as well and we hope to be ready for the challenge.
- 1st round loss- 11
- 2nd round loss- 7
- 3rd round loss- 4
- 4th round loss- 2
- Semi-final loss- 2
- Runner Up- 2
- Win- 2
As for the 8.50 index Chevy II sitting in the shop we might be making some changes to it and next season is undecided. After 11 races with 3 first round losses, 3 second round losses, 3 semi-final losses, 1 DNQ and 1 loss by breakage, the motor is currently up for sale. If it doesn't sell we will be back at it with an increased index program at Maple Grove and the always top shelf racing at the Cecil County Street Car Shootout. If it does sell then we will most likely concentrate on Braylon's racing as he has already made a verbal commitment to forego spring baseball to make a run at the Top 10 in points at Maple Grove for 2016.
Right now the focus is on the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis that is fast approaching and to thank our marketing partners and possibly help increase their market share with the junior program next season. I hope to see all of you there.
Added to the list above that help both Braylon and I, I also want to thank the companies that helped support the big car in 2015 including ATI, Total Seal, BMS Racing Engines, Jesel and Alternate Construction Concepts. There is NO way we could be chasing the thrill of victory and be humbled by the agony of defeat without your help and belief in our programs. Thank you again and we will see you at the track!
All the best,
Marc and Braylon
Leave It To Beaver To Upset A Kuhn Racing
Beavers and 'coons have a few common traits. Both are nocturnal for the most part, provide fur for traders, and both can be nuisance animals depending on where you live or for the damage that they can cause. But for two days in October the Kuhn and Beaver Bob of racing lore were none of the above.
Braylon Kuhn and Beaver Bob of Beaver Springs Dragway got along harmoniously at times and the only time the Kuhn was a nuisance was when he was dispatching drivers in the opposite lane in competition, or when he took off on the golf cart and left us standing at the Ice Cream Social, but that's another story.
On October 10th and 11th Beaver Springs hosted the annual Beaver Blast for drivers under the age of 18 and their Junior Dragsters. A few older drivers got to participate in some other on track activities as well to keep them thawed out up on the mountain. This isn't just another ho hum junior race, but it's an event at a track that does things that no other do. Take for example two days of ATV bracket racing, the Teen Challenge Race where younger unlicensed drivers can bracket race their parent's vehicles with them riding along, the Pit Vehicle Race, the Hot Dog Race, and finally the Mom's in Juniors Race. All this crammed into two days along with the Little Beaver Race, All Ages Race, Beaver Bonanza Race and the Age Group Race, and most of it got done at a decent time on Sunday.
We left on Friday night and after a 4-hour drive in rush hour traffic and a rogue Tsunami that inundated the hamlet of Birdsboro as we drove through we finally made it where we were greeted at the gate by the Best Looking Crew of the event, the Kissinger family who escorted us to our not so reserved parking spot for the weekend. It was perfectly level with fresh cut grass and a trash can nearby. What more could you ask for? We unpacked, set up our pit and sleeping quarters, engaged in some light conversation and beverages and slipped into sleeping bags for the night and dreamt of the victories that would be had over the next 48 hours.
Saturday morning the air was crisp but warmed quickly and after a brief drivers meeting we got called to the lanes of this nostalgic venue for our first time run down the asphalt laid out between the strips of golf course quality greenery on either side. First up was the Beaver Bonanza, which was going to pay $1,500 of cold hard cash to the winner of the all ages event. With approximately 90 cars in attendance it would take 7 rounds of competition before the winner was declared. Unfortunately Kuhn only caused a slight disturbance for 2 rounds before being sent back to his den in the 3rd.
We don't currently have an ATV to race, and I don't see one in the near future being stored here at the house either, sorry Bray, and he isn't old enough to drive in TCR competition, so we had to wait till the Pit Vehicle Race later in the evening. After re-enabling the previously bypassed governor in the ol' Club Car, and a driving test on the return roads Braylon donned the helmet once again as Jen road shotgun. After winning 2 rounds of barn burning action being warmed and protected in DJ Safety's finest apparel, the two didn't make the cut into the "finals" by possessing any of the top eight reaction times from the previous round. Once again we had an upset Kuhn on the premises, but everyone was too cold to care and it was time to catch a breath for Sunday.
Sunday was going to be a big day. We started off by getting a time run prior to eliminations in the Age Group Race of which Braylon was running in the 10-12 year old division. After the second round of this race the All Ages Race was going to take place, but before that the Moms in Juniors spectacle was slated to begin, and Jen, who has never driven anything quicker than a battery powered mobility assisting grocery shopping cart on a dare back in '93, was not so eager to jump in. We convinced her that it would be a great learning experience, and she could keep all the winnings. Most of Braylon's gear fit her like a glove except for the helmet but mine “smelled like sweat” so on his went. We tried to prep her for all of the potential issues but when it came to the finesse of the burnout Braylon and I were a little worried. She didn't do too bad for a rookie and launched the car with a reaction time that had me wondering if she could pass for Bray the rest of the day. Slightly nervous and lifting early before the finish line we were rewarded with a time slip that would almost allow her in the passing lane of the turnpike at rush hour. In the first round of eliminations she was mesmerized by all the lights on the tree and her reaction time suffered but she did run it out the back at over 70mph in a losing effort but we were both proud of her for being a team player and not wrecking the car.
Braylon jumped back in his car and won the first two round of the 10-12 year old bracket and then won the first round of the All Ages race in between the other runs, but lost in the second round of that one. The big focus was on the winning the Age Group Race and then getting the chance to race for an Ironman against all the other age group winners. He won 3rd round and then the 4th and we were headed to the finals with Craw's power behind us. The sun was setting quickly and we were called back to the lanes in short order as well. We were on a roll and we wanted to get this done, but as the sun set unbeknownst to me, due to the rush to the lanes, the temperature dropped 10 degrees and the humidity rose 10% between the semi finals and the finals. Although the two cars left the line within .001 of each other, this missed observation on my part led to a poor dial in and not being able to run the number. The Beaver beat Kuhn and he wasn't happy. We left another win on the table, but we put another paragraph in the lessons learned book for next time.
All in all it was a fun time. Thankfully we had plenty of VP M-1 from Boccella's Performance because the car went down the track 15 times in two days: 2 with Jen at the wheel, 3 in qualifying and 10 in elimination rounds. It was certainly busy and entertaining and there were a lot of laughs and some tears, but that's racing. When you win it's good and when you lose it's still better than playing basketball, but hey that's just my opinion.
The season is coming to an end but I think we can get Braylon back on track a couple of times yet and I am pretty sure I am done for the year in the Nova. Thanks again to everyone that has helped us on a weekly basis with the Junior, we couldn't do it without you: Boccellas, Craw's Racing, DJ Safety, Lucas Oil, Mickey Thompson, and NGK
See you at the track!
You Can't Win If You Don't Try
Yesterday was the first day of fall, but there is still plenty of racing left. Since the last update in mid-August we have both been to several events, but unfortunately neither of us has stood in the Winner's Circle, Braylon came the closest though on August 22nd. You can't blame us for not trying though.
We went to Maple Grove for a Junior Dragster Sunoco Race Fuels Shootout and the kid was on fire. The lanes were packed and it took five rounds to decide a winner. Less than a hand full of drivers younger than 13 have taken home a win at Maple Grove in the last five years. Could this be the day to add the name Braylon to the list? We were paired up with our good buddy and neighbor and reason why we are racing, Benjamin Spotts.
Ben has been on a tear lately and was the 2014 NHRA Eastern Conference Finals Runner Up in Bristol last year in the 12-year old class. These two usually get pretty pumped to race each other, even on a test and tune night but Ben was the most pumped when the tree dropped and cruised to victory. Braylon took home his biggest trophy to date, but he honestly didn't even want to go get it. The kid wants to win and there will be more chances to come. We got home and played car swap again and loaded up the big car for the following day.
On Sunday the 23rd I took the recently polished and touched up, thanks to John Martin, Nova back to Maple Grove to roll the Mickey Thompson Tires not into the staging beams but into the car show at the Glory Days Nostalgia event. Not only was there great racing from cars built pre-1980 but the car show in which the top 25 cars as chosen by the judges would be paraded in front of the crowd at the upcoming NHRA Keystone Nationals at the same venue.
What a privilege that would be and a great chance for exposure for our great marketing partners. As soon as I was pulling into the track and saw the hardware driving through the gate in front of me I knew I should have stayed in bed. The paddock was filled with some great examples of nostalgia and I took the chance to enjoy the day and mingle with the owners of these beautiful automobiles. There is no parade for us but we had to take a shot.
On August 29th we raced at The Rumble at the Grove, which featured the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod group plus Index racers, at of course, Maple Grove. I was sent packing in the first round, but fortunately we had Braylon's car there and we had high hopes for him since he had been doing well at his home track recently. He went one round further than me against the always-tough MG Junior Dragster racers and after the second round we were packing it up and headed home.
The following weekend from September 3rd to the 6th I took the almost half century old Chevy II out to Cecil County to a little race called the Yellow Bullet Nationals. Just like every year, this event packs in the fans and the cars. Fortunately the Friday night qualifying session put us in the number 10 spot out of 60+ cars trying to make the 32 car field, but with two qualifiers left we were sure to slip back fast if we didn't tune it up.
The weather didn't cooperate with us and the high humidity coupled with the heat meant we were going to be underpowered. The former #10 position time of 8.522 slipped all the way back to #27 before Saturday's qualifying for the big show was over, but we were happy to make the show. The bump spot was an unbelievable 8.530! 32 cars were separated by just three hundredths of a second! NHRA Pro Stock, eat your heart out!
On Sunday morning we were the first class to race in the Pro session and suddenly the weather was back in our favor and we knew it would be quick, but I didn't think that it would be an 8.47 breakout kind of quick but it was. Shaking my head after taking too much stripe and fogging up my shield talking to myself wouldn't change the outcome.
The $7,500 paid to the winner was not coming home to Douglassville. Braylon already had that money counted and wisely, in his thinking, invested in a new Junior Dragster. He was not a happy camper! We didn't scratch that paint, blow the motor, or have anything stolen from our pit so I consider that a win on many levels.
The following weekend we were once again back at Cecil County fighting the weather, this time with Braylon's car at the Mid Atlantic Junior Dragster Shootout. What was supposed to be two days of racing with as many as 4 or 5 races for him to enter was cut down to only two events. On Saturday we lost in the first round in the Age Group Race to an equally sleepy driver in the other lane, but fortunately for her she left before the car behind her was pushing her out of the way unlike Braylon. Shortly after that the rains rolled in and rain it did! We had a great day, albeit long, with our junior racing families and had some great food and conversation.
Sunday morning the sun was up and it was time to line the car up for a chance at another Wally. The car was deadly on both days but the driver was struggling a little bit to find his spot on the starting line. I can relate to that so I could feel his frustration as most racers can at one time or another. The Craw's powered dragster got put on the trailer in the second round and we made the quickest exit from a race possible to make it home to one of his weekend fall baseball games later that afternoon. There is always something to-do.
On September 19th the Chevy II was full of fuel and nitrous from Boccella's Performance and it was off to Maple Grove again for the last 8.50 Index race there for the season. We qualified in the number 3 spot out of only 6 entries, but in the second round on another hot humid day we faced our opponent from the Yellow Bullet race looking for redemption. Since it was almost fall I was hoping for better performance with cooler weather but for some reason Mother Nature didn't see me close the pool up and send a cold front to our rescue. The only way to win was to take a shot at the tree and get an early lead. I took a big swing and left way before the green, but I had seen it work on TV so why not now? At least we were close to home and patio therapy was less than 30minutes away so I made tracks to get home, unload Big Blue and load up Little Blue for the following day.
On a blustery Sunday, September 20th we took Braylon's car to Atco Dragway for the Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge and ANOTHER chance to win a statue of a little man. The car was running good and despite the wind pushing it around we had some consistency. In the 8-12 age groups I think there were about 13 cars and the first round bye run was had by a younger racer who threw a .008 light on the board in the final qualifying session.
Braylon got past the first round and it was on to the second where we faced a younger, less experienced driver with a lower powered motor that is more susceptible to the wind and weather. Not looking past the round at all, but maybe taking a little peak, I felt confident in our car and driver. Unknown to me was that in the lane next to us was the same young reaction time wizard who had the bye run earlier. He promptly slapped a.009 light on Braylon and ended up late on the tree, but then again most would be late compared to the little man that got the win light.
There are still some races to go and we have been tearing through some Lucas Oil, but seat time is as important as batting practice right now and we hope to get as much as we can before the snow flies.
The next race will be in early October for Braylon and I hope to be able to write about some more final round appearances next time. I want to thank all the photographers who have contributed to the web sites and tagged me in photos on Facebook that I could use for this and all of my write-ups.
See you at the track!
No Additional at the Divisional
Trophies that is! Braylon is pretty good at math so one might think that something called a "Divisional" might be a welcomed event for him. Last year at the NHRA Division 1 Junior Dragster Challenge he added some hardware to his collection and some pesos in his wallet, but this year it seemed like our problems multiplied. Let's back up a week or so first.
One week after getting back from Bristol my Boccella's Performance, BMS Racing Engine, and ATI Transmission mated 66 Nova was in action at the monthly Cecil County Streetcar Shootout on August 1st. In qualifying we uncharacteristically spun the tires on the launch. It could have been the 120-degree track temperatures or the new Mickey Thompson drag radials that I didn't somehow prep properly, but my vote is that I didn't tune for the track conditions. On the second qualifier we ran an 8.578, which was good enough for 22nd spot on the 32-car ladder.
In the first round we left the tree quicker than I could eat a Hot Pocket after a weeklong fast and got an easy win light. In the second round we faced Mike Good, I wish my last name was that cool, and fortunately my reaction times have been getting quicker, and I kept it close on the tree. Mike had a .013 advantage on the starting line and his 8.540 beat my 8.533. The margin of victory was .0065 at the stripe in his favor AGAIN, but it was a fun race to watch from my seat and it was time to pack up, get home before the neighbors fall asleep and switch cars in the trailer to the Mini Me Mobile for the following day at Maple Grove.
We made some changes to our Craws powered, DJ Safety protected junior dragster immediately after the Eastern Conference Finals, and we were trying to add to the point column under Braylon's name on the 2nd at his home track. Unfortunately we had a first round exit at the hands of a driver in her last season of racing, but worse than that Braylon's reaction times weren't there. Hey I know that feeling! Not thinking anything of it at the time, we did the weekly maintenance and headed to Numidia Dragway for the NHRA Divisional on the 7th & 8th.
At Numidia we entered the Gambler's Race on the first day and the actual NHRA Divisional and the High Rollers race on the second day. Braylon was still having trouble hitting the tree and with the help of some friends like Keith Paylor, Jason Brinckman, Dave Coleman and Al Kubicke I got schooled numerous times on the intricacies of the Shockwave Overdrive Clutch as we tried to "bring the car to him." Finally after the 4th adjustment his lights seemed to be coming around a bit. After losing first round in the Gamblers Race, the second round in the NHRA event, a third round loss in the High Rollers race was promising. I am hoping after this weekend of much needed rest for all of us and both cars he is fresh and on his game at the next points race at Maple Grove on the 22nd.
Congratulations to Maple Grove teammate Kelsey Brinckman on winning the NHRA Division 1 10-11 year old age group. After this little break we have a total of 7 events in the next 5 weekends including 4 with the junior and 3 with mine. In that stretch Braylon will enter as many as 7 or 8 different races within his events. So far he has pulled 21 tech cards and I have pulled 9. Mar-Schan Motorsports and Kuhn Racing is out at the track trying to get it done week in and week out for our sponsors and marketing partners and I hope it's making a difference.
Now I just need to get Lucas Oil to come up with a lubricant for a 47-year old spine!
See you at the track. I will be the guy hunched over eating a Hot Pocket!
2015 Racing Index and Jr. Dragster Updates
Where Did Time Go?
For those that aren't on social media, namely Facebook, you might think that we disappeared after PRI back in December. It has been a while since I have put anything new on the website or any sort of emailed correspondence in the way of a formal update. I apologize for the lack of wintertime website updates as well. Rest assured we have been busy getting the cars ready for the 2015 season and updating our Facebook pages, www.facebook.com/MarSchanMotorsports and www.facebook.com/braylonkuhnracing to keep our friends and followers informed on our status. I also starting doing freelance writing for an online publication called Engine Labs, which can be found at www.enginelabs.com. That has taken a bunch of my writing time and to date I have written six articles for the site since late last year. This gives me a chance to keep an eye out for emerging trends in the performance industry and gain some technical knowledge as well outside my little arena of racing.
We ran a "Marketing Partner Monday" from January through early April on our pages to help promote our great partners, some old and some new who help keep us on track. We featured Clark Industrial Supply, Jesel Valvetrain, NGK Spark Plugs, Boccellas Performance, BMS Racing Engines, Quick Fuel Technology, Lucas Oil, Total Seal, Mickey Thompson Tires, and DJ Safety. We welcomed back GRP Connecting Rods and thanked Craws Racing for coming on board to help with Braylon's engine program and highlighted the work Kens Kustom Chassis and Van Industries did for us also on Braylon's car. All this reached thousands of news feeds around the country and has continued to keep these company names on people's minds.
We were honored to have the Kuhn Racing Junior Dragster on display for three days at the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports Expo in the DJ Safety booth. The car was well received by the predominately circle track community on hand and Braylon was on hand all three days handing out Hero Cards and answering questions. It was great to see him interact with strangers about one of his hobbies. We also won a T-shirt package from Classic Ink USA that will provide us with 36 shirts with a picture of his car on the front that we can use as promotional items this season.
My 66 Chevy II has undergone a couple of updates as well over the winter to make us more competitive in the tough 8.50 Index class. ATI Performance Products was the first stop for a freshen up of our bulletproof High Impact Powerglide transmission and the installation of one of their newest products the lightweight Wicked Quick valvebody to help us on the starting line with our reaction times. The transmission is useless if the motor isn't up to the task and with the help of Josh and Vince from BMS Racing Engines we put new bearings, Total Seal rings, a fresh cylinder hone and new GRP connecting rods inside the block to restore it's power to competitive levels.
Since it is late April we have already had both cars out in competition. We took both cars to Cecil County Dragway on April 11th and 12th for some racing and testing. Braylon competed in the Mid-Atlantic Junior Dragster Challenge by entering the Age Group Race, the All Ages Race, the Pro Dial Class on Saturday and the Cecil County points race on Sunday. He lost first round in one event, the second round in two others, but he came home with the win in the Pro Dial Class, by covering the 1/8th mile with killer consistency and times of 8.94, 8.94, 8.95 and 8.94. In one of the earlier races he had a .003 reaction time and ran dead on his dial with an 8.900. The car was running great and he picked up where he left off last year at Cecil County, with a win! Congrats Bray!
The same weekend I made a few test runs in my car in anticipation of the NHRA PC Richard.com National Open Series at Atco Dragway in New Jersey. Testing went well and I rolled into Atco on Thursday morning April 16th to park the trailer for the weekend. Friday morning was spent waiting for the rain to end and the track to be prepped for two killer days of racing on a national event level. After two time runs Friday and two time shots Saturday our Mar-Schan Motorsports Nova was at the top of the 8.50 Index qualifying sheet with an 8.504. If the weekend ended there I could have been happy, but coming home with a Wally would have been much better. Unfortunately I was stopped in the second round even though the scoreboard showed and ET of 8.507, I was a little late on the tree compared to my opponent, and my dreams of holding a Wally ended again.
I decided to stay for the Atco Dragway 8.50 Index points race on Sunday. The weather was much better than it was on Saturday and we only qualified in the number 8 position out of 12 cars with an 8.59 after short shifting to bring the front end back down so I could see the end of the track instead of clouds. I advanced to the semi finals and lost on a breakout run just five thousandths of a second too quick with an 8.495. My opponent was there for the taking and I missed the opportunity to capitalize on his slower tune up. All in all the car is running great and I am working with a new method of tuning the car for the various weather conditions we see over the course of the spring, summer and fall. I have developed some consistency on the starting line and hope to improve on that over the season as well.
The next race for the Chevy II is May 2nd at the Cecil County Streetcar Shootout and the next race for Braylon is May 9th at the first Junior Dragster points race of the year at Maple Grove. Thanks to everyone that makes it possible for us to go fast and be safe.
2014 Ends On A High Note
If anyone sees a monkey running around it's ours!
Our 8.50 Index season ended with a rain out of the last race at Cecil County on November 1st, but a week before we took Braylon's Junior Dragster to Atco Raceway in New Jersey for their rescheduled Summit Junior Dragster Challenge event. This was our first time there with his car so we would have normally been out in left field at a new track but our trusty Kestrel 4250 weather station told me that the air conditions were comparable to the event a couple weeks earlier at South Mountain. We rolled off the trailer and ran right where we left off, but as usual in the fall, we were battling a wind that changed directions more than a GPS in a Manhattan.
Braylon had a close call in the first round and escaped with a win by a mere six thousandths of a second margin of victory while fighting an 8 mile per hour headwind. He and his opponent both left the starting line separated by only one thousandth of a second and were neck and neck down the track and he was fortunate enough to get the win light. The second round would be the end of the day and the end of Wally Hunt 2014. The wind that was in his face earlier decided to give the car a big push down the track. We weren't ready for the change and our day ended on a break out run, but we did have a little lesson on driving the stripe and overtaking a car that is going 20 mile per hour slower than ours. Losing is always a loss, but it's also always a lesson.
A couple weeks later on November 9th we loaded up and headed back to Cecil County for the Turkey Day Race. This was the race we debuted Braylon's car at last season and it resulted in a runner up finish and the first trophy of his Junior Drag Racing Career, and his first frozen turkey! I love free food! Now if we could figure out how to cook it.
Anyway, we had 8 hard-core cars and drivers in the 8-12 year old age group on the premises and of course enough wind to power the Santa Maria, Nina AND the Pinta back to Spain with Captain Morgan at the helm. In the first round Braylon took the win and avoided a breakout run by two thousandths of a second. In the second round he had a bye run when the opponent had issues on the starting line. The third and final round we ended up getting the monkey off our backs when he was on the right side of a double breakout against the much slower 11.90 car that put us on the trailer a couple weeks earlier at Atco.
We discussed the lessons learned weeks prior against this young driver and how to drive the end of the track. I am guessing it paid off because we left with his first win of his career in his first full season of racing. It wasn't a conclusive victory by any means, we just screwed up less than our three opponents, but a win is a win and he was stoked.
The season record wasn't bad at all in my mind as it included a quarter finals finish at the Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, a runner up in the Huddleston/Boss race in Bristol, a runner up at the Division 1 event in Numidia, a runner up at the Mid-Atlantic Junior Dragster Wally race at Cecil County and we finally put one together at the Turkey Day Race at Cecil for our first win!
On my end with the Nova we finished with two number one qualifiers, a pair of runner up finishes, and one semi final finish for the year. We have plans to improve in a few areas on the car over the winter as always and keep aiming for the winner's circle.
It's been a fun, rewarding and busy season for both of us and we couldn't have done it without our friends and marketing partners including Lucas Oil, Mickey Thompson Tires, Boccella's Performance, Martin Painting, DJ Safety, GDR Mark, NGK, Clark Industrial Supply, BMS Racing Engines, Quick Fuel, ATI, Jesel, Total Seal and Moroso. We are already planning for next season with new crew shirt designs and our annual pilgrimage to the PRI show in Indianapolis in a few weeks. My motor is out of the car earlier than ever and Braylon's will follow shortly.
Thanks everyone for your help and support and I hope we did a good job for everyone in 2014 and if you see a lost monkey, it's ours. We need it back!
Inside The Mind Of A Drag Racer: What Was I Thinking?
Have you ever asked yourself that? I know I have, at least couple of times, in my 561 months of existence on this Bonzai Blue Metallic sphere called earth. It was way back in my 560th month of existence that I spent eight and a half seconds inside my blue money-pit averaging somewhere between 0 and 161 miles per hour asking myself the same thing. "What was I thinking? What just happened? Did I do that? Was it mechanical?" Lots of things went through my mind in less time than it takes for me to get spaghetti sauce on a white dress shirt at an Italian buffet, but that's another story.
Everyone knows and recognizes the guys who get the glory when it comes to racecars, those who build the killer engines, the folks laying the killer paint jobs, and the chassis builders and tuners who make pass after pass look effortless. These are the quarterbacks of the team, the starting goaltenders, like Norm from Cheers, everybody knows their names, but there is another potential key or member to a successful race team. These guys deal with the mental element of getting down the track and to the winner's circle. These unsung heroes have written books and literature to help "understand the role that motivation, confidence, and self-control can play in racing." It looks easy sometimes for guys like Dan Fletcher, Frank Manzo or John Force, who have enough Wallys to fill the Smithsonian, but they are mentally tough as well. If you aren't mentally prepared for competition, then no matter how much money you have spent on the best equipment and resources you won't achieve the desired results. If you don't have confidence in yourself, your equipment, over think or are over confident and under think, then 'here's your sign'.
This whole update started in my head on another one of my solitary, long rides home from the track in the dark that didn't end the way I thought it would. It was a five-week layoff from driving our Chevy II down the track between the Yellow Bullet Nationals at the beginning of September and the Cecil County Street Car Shootout on October 4th where I qualified in the number 2 spot in the 17-car field.
I had it scripted and I could see that this was going to be our day, not that I thought I could win, (that might be a sign) but I was going to give it a try. (Another sign?) I had ran my first round opponent earlier in the day in qualifying so I knew the performance his car was capable of. He had the horsepower to get there first, but he was young and new to the class so we had a good shot at the win light. (Overconfidence?) After watching car after car launch with their front wheels in the air like Cecil County forgot to pay their gravity bill last month, I was kind of worried for the safety of my back bumper and oil pan. We made the suspension changes needed so it wouldn't happen to us, but I couldn't help but wonder about my decisions. (See a pattern?) Long story short, we staged, the lights flashed a bright amber in the crisp autumn night, the car launched and then hesitated just after the slightest rearward incline of my cloth clad aluminum racing seat. What just happened? Did I do that? Was it mechanical?
Eight and a half seconds later the next amber light I saw was the WIN light at the end of the track in his lane. It wasn't till I got back to the pit and pulled the computer data that it was confirmed that I lifted off the throttle for a fraction of a second or the equivalent of an eternity that put a win out of reach. Good thing almost everyone loses more than they win so I am in good company but it still isn't as fun as winning or so I am told.
This past weekend I entered the P.C. Richard & Son Pennsylvania Dutch Classic presented by Penske Truck Leasing at Maple Grove Raceway. This is the first year that the NHRA and Division 1 has ran the 8.50 Index class at the PC Richards Summer Series, including the race at Atco Raceway earlier in the year we participated in.
After dealing with rain for the first two days of the event, and not making any passes, we were on the track early Sunday morning for our first qualifier and first round of eliminations all in rapid succession.
We were the number one qualifier and lost in the semi finals to the eventual class winner, but we assured ourselves a great pit spot with plenty of visibility for the three days by arriving two days early to park the trailer. If you aren't going to win you have to have a professional appearance on and off the track and that might be our saving grace.
Trust me, we want to get to the winner's circle and hoist some hardware to get the monkey off our back, and after another race it will be into the planning mode for the winter. Some items needing addressed are an engine freshen-up for the first time since before the Iphone 4 debuted, transmission and suspension upgrades, and a chance to add the psychological member to my team in the form of reading from the works of Bruce Deveau and The Racer's Mind.
Braylon has been busy at a couple races and grabbed another runner up at a Summit Junior Dragster Challenge event since the last update. He will probably run two or three more in his junior dragster before the end of the season. We are real proud of him and he doesn't let me forget who has taken home the most money, trophies and has the most round wins in the house in 2014. I hope to get an update here soon as he winds down his season, but as it stands right now I own the most blog updates in 2014 in this house! See you at the track.
Feeling Blue After Yellow Bullet Nationals
The 2014 outlaw street car equivalent of the Stanley Cup is over, that being the Yellow Bullet Nationals. It started with good promise for us being on our "home track" and running an 8.518 in the heat in testing on Friday.
But since test sessions do not count and the weather Friday night left me with more questions than Alex Trebek, actually he gives answers but you get the idea, and some other mistakes we ended up on the outside looking in on race-day. Hats off to the 32 guys that got the job done of the 75+ on the property! The bump spot was an 8.535 on an 8.50 index and our 8.541, after three rounds of qualifying, was only good for the number 35 spot. It wasn't like we brought a knife to a gunfight, but this was a field that would impress an NHRA Pro Stock fan.
I take full responsibility for over thinking a couple of things that cost us and for that I apologize to our supporters for not being in the lanes on race-day. The event unfortunately ended up getting rained out after the first round of eliminations and next year will be bigger and better than ever, and we will be back.
I made a quick exit on Sunday because Braylon was going rounds for the second consecutive day in his Junior Dragster an hour or so away at Maple Grove and I wanted to be there to support him. He lost in the second round on Saturday and in the third round on Sunday against some stiff competition as always at Maple Grove, but our friends the Brinkman family had his car dialed in after a phone call to me early on Saturday for some advice. The next stop for the Mar-Schan Motorsports Junior Dragster will be to Cecil County Dragway for two days of racing and 3 or 4 races within those two days including the chance for a Wally.
Thanks to all the companies and individuals we relied on to keep us rolling at these events: Boccella's Performance, Mickey Thompson Tires, ATI Racing, NGK, Lucas Oil, DJ Safety, and to the photographers that make us look good and my web site guru that keeps the world informed via the interweb, GDR Mark.
August 2014 Update, Driving The Junior Dragster With Senior Expectations
One thing my Step-Son Braylon doesn't like to do is lose. That is a good thing and a bad thing. Unlike team sports like basketball or hockey there are only two people to blame here for failure on the track, him and I. Well I am sure you can blame his mom or the banker and an Indian chief, oh wait, can I say that?
Anyway, most opponents can be beaten at any given time save for the few perfect run packages that happen to be out there, which do happen, but for the sake of simplicity it's just us. The way to improve on the track is off track practice on Braylon's reaction times and me studying the nuances of the single cylinder methanol gulping chunk of aluminum used for motivation of our KCS chassis / Chris McGee powered slingshot, and of course seat time.
Seat time might be the most important, because that is where you put all the rest of your efforts and ideas to the test. Since October 2013, when John Martin laid the brilliant, Nova matching, Bonsai Blue Metallic paint on the car and we first took it out to test, we have put almost 70 passes on the car.
In the last three weeks and two NHRA events contained therein, we have made 40 of those passes.
From an 8-day stay, three-race week in Bristol, Tennessee to a 3-day, three-race event at Numidia Dragway in the town of the same name in the coal regions of upstate Pennsylvania, we have honed our respective job duties together, with some decent results on a National and Divisional level.
Prior to heading to Bristol for the NHRA Junior Dragster Eastern Conference Finals at the picturesque Thunder Valley Dragway, only a day after arriving home from a month long work assignment 700 miles from home; I had "Hero Cards" made for Braylon to show our thanks to our marketing partners and help promote them and our team.
I thought it was a professional touch for an amateur team. Tim Charlet of Lumin8 Lifestyle Brands and my Webmaster GDR Mark deserve the credit for that project.
We left on July 19th and by the 20th we were racing on a track I had only previously seen on television Thunder Valley Raceway in Bristol Tennessee.
Picture a mist filled valley in the morning that burns off thanks to rising of the summer sun, where the sound of even these little engines echoes off the lush green and rocky walls on either side of the 3800' strip of asphalt and concrete laid in the middle.
By Monday night the 21st, Braylon was holding his first trophy of the year.
After weaving through 6 rounds of competition he was the runner up at the Huddleston Performance Junior Dragster Nationals in the 10-11 year old age group.
Not a bad showing for our first race on a big stage with tons of quality cars and the best of the best from the country. It still was heartbreaking for him to come so close and not seal the deal and his demeanor reflected that until he got his trophy and his first check! That always works for me too.
Tuesday was a day off for us and we worked on the car and got through tech for the upcoming NHRA national event that would begin on Friday for us. We also took a little drive and met some people that I had talked with prior to our arrival in Bristol on the phone to create relationships for next year and possible marketing partnership for the race. I want to thank Boomershine Pizza for stepping up with some great food and beverages for our family this year. Families helping families is what racing is all about, especially at our level. Best pizza and Italian food right down the road from the entry gate, hands down!
Wednesday July 23rd was the next event scheduled as a precursor to the Big Show and that was the Huddleston Performance Fun Race for ages 10-12. We got through three rounds of competition only to be stopped in the fourth on a break out pass somehow. To win that round would have put him in line for some more hardware and cash.
We took some good information away from the day and were looking forward to the following day with two time runs scheduled to begin the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday. Friday brought another round of time runs and then into first round of eliminations Friday night.
EVERYONE wants to get through the first round and be standing in the lanes on Saturday with a chance for the big trophy in the likeness of Wally Parks just like they give the pros on TV.
Fortunately for us we were still eligible for competition on Saturday, with help from Boccella's Performance, DJ Safety, NGK Spark Plugs, Clarke Industrial, Martin Painting, Lucas Oil and of course Boomershine Pizza. Unfortunately Braylon had another lesson on how to lose as gracefully as an 11-year-old can. I want to thank Puffs with Aloe for an associate sponsorship that they probably didn't even know they had with us.
At the end of the weekend he walked away with a couple trophies, a participation medal, new front wheels and a car cover paid for with winnings, plus enough left over to put some in the bank, and great memories. As of July 26th the pilot of the Mar-Schan Motorsports LLC Junior Dragster has won more than yours truly this year.
I want to congratulate Jarrod Kissinger for winning the 12-year old class and our neighbor Ben Spotts for the runner up as well as K.K. Kershner for going to the semi finals in the 10year old category. Team Maple Grove won the Team Spirit contest out of all the teams in attendance and Maple Grove Team #2 just missed the Wally trophies given to the 10-person team from a track with the most points obtained by drivers still in competition at the end of the various rounds, by only 1 point. That was a nail biter as well but an exciting addition to the event.
OK now on to me, you know the guy with "expensive hobby". We towed to Cecil County Dragway the following week for the Street Car Shootout on August 2nd. I ended up qualifying in the 10th position in the 16-car field after some starting line issues in round 1 of qualifying and driving through a wheel stand in round 2 of qualifying. That put us up against last years champion Mike Good, who we would have faced in the finals of the April race had the weather not cut the night short. I knew to beat Mike I had to be good on the tree and for me, I was! The starting line advantage still went to Mike with his .019 light to my .024 and that was all it took. The race was decided by .0028 at the end of the quarter mile or a margin of about 7" at 159 miles per hour. It was a good drag race and we made him earn it and then I had to learn to lose as gracefully as a 46-year old could. No Puffs necessary at this event but another round of anger management class could be in order.
Fast forward a whopping 5 days and it was off again to the aforementioned Numidia Dragway, another strip of sticky asphalt with its own set of atmospheric challenges up in the higher elevations. This place has a great management staff and was chosen to host The NHRA Division 1 Junior Dragster Nationals, and another chance for Braylon to hoist a Wally. The weekend started off on Friday with a Gamblers Race and a chance to get a feel for the track and the air. We were stopped in the third round of the event but this was just testing for the Divisional set for the following day, at least that's what we told ourselves.
Saturday was a beautiful day for racing. Once again the blue car marched, well not like a band or an army, but more like Abbott and Costello in Buck Privates, yeah, I'm old and watched that on Sunday afternoons, through four rounds of eliminations into the finals and the fifth round.
Anyway, it was Ground Hog Day again for Braylon when the win light came on in the lane of our friend James Paylor, selecting him as the winner of some lovely parting gifts including the coveted Wally. Congrats to James, Keith and Christina on the 10-11 year old class win and future stardom. It's a good thing we love this sport and want to win one soon.
We elected to stay Saturday night as well, and what's a night at the track without a fire and food? Thanks to the Branca family as well as the Prices and Rothenbergers and whoever else helped with the spread and especially Lisa Branca for her home made cannoli's!
Sunday was the High Rollers race, but they let us in anyway. That was supposed to be funny! Bray was racing in the 8-12 year old category and was stopped in the semi finals, but was given a portable practice tree for his efforts so he can work on his reaction times anywhere. Bob DiMino is a gracious track owner, announcer and host and I know our group appreciated his tell it like it is approach and sense of humor.
I tried to keep this short and current because there is the Summit Racing Junior Dragster Challenge as well as the biggest, baddest, street car race in the Mid Atlantic area, The Yellow Bullet Nationals at Cecil County Dragway over Labor Day weekend for the big car coming up soon and that will no doubt deserve some coverage on here as well.
Special mention goes to Brenda Williamson, Lesley May, Sharon Taylor, and Jamie Wettsain for helping us make the trip to Bristol a reality. We appreciate your support and being a part of our team.
June 2014 Wrap Up, Family, Work, Travel and Racing, not necessarily in that order
If you read the last write up you know that updates of the caliber that I like to supply don't happen overnight. Actually they do just not in a punctual manner. Obviously I haven't hired a PR firm to get them out, and to take time to get the creative juices flowing usually involves a large plate of silence and thought with a side order of guilt. Short of a few social media updates no one even knows if we still have race cars or if we sold them and ditched NHRA for FIFA, traded Christmas trees for referees, or finish lines for goal lines. Trust me that hasn't happened and I only knew what FIFA was because I saw a commercial, do you know? To each his own I guess but with the hype and interest generated we all could take a lesson from the marketing strategy.
I'm going to try to keep this short. Two teams, four events, one runner up, no wins, 20 passes, no damage, catastrophic loss or mechanical failures. Thanks for reading, see you next month! Wait, I was just kidding!
Let's roll back to May 31st actually, when we took the Kuhn Racing Junior Dragster to the Mid Atlantic Junior Dragster Nationals at Cecil County with assistance from Lucas Oil, Clarke Industrial, Boccella's Performance, NGK, DJ Safety and of course our body man John Martin who keeps us looking good. Braylon ran three different classes that day and put 8 passes on the car. We ran within an off the trailer 8.85 to an 8.92 all day on an 8.90 index. After the first pass we got the KCS chassis dialed in closer to the 8.90 and he won a round in two of the three classes. He is learning at each race and I don't want to fill his head with too much information about the ins and outs of bracket racing or he might want to change his last name to Fletcher or Biondo. I think its better that he experiences the scenarios and learn as they come up with a little coaching before each pass about his opponent and maybe a little strategy. The event was well run and we want to thank everyone involved.
Now after the event is where the fun began. The following day was a points race at Maple Grove for Braylon and coincidentally they also had an 8.50 index race as well that my car would fit into. I wanted to have the opportunity to race both cars at the same event for the exposure and the rare opportunity to try to double up in the winner's circle with Braylon at an early point in his career because the chance to race both cars together won't happen often. Our new car hauler was never designed to haul both cars plus the golf cart so on the way home from Cecil County on Saturday night I stopped at Maple Grove. I unloaded Braylon's car and good friend Tony Branca helped us by keeping an eye on the car till I could get home, load my car and get back to the track for the night. Congratulations to Tony's son Vincent for taking a win and a runner up finish in the Saturday and Sunday race at The Grove.
Sunday morning rolled around and I had the challenge of getting both cars through tech inspection and taking care of the pre race maintenance. We had no clue to the run order for the day since it was a special event, and Junior Dragster was called to the lanes first. My crew was a little late getting to the track and I didn't see them before we took the junior dragster to the lanes. The next thing we knew they were calling the 8.50 index class and my car wasn't ready. I sent a text to Rob Puller about what needed done, knowing he was on his way to help, and when Braylon was done his run I sprinted back to the golf cart, yes sprinted that was not a typo, and headed to the pit. Rob was already there along with Keith Allen and the Nova was ready to go. What a relief!
Braylon lost in the first round unfortunately but I made it to the finals and lost to one of the regular 8.50 index racers in the area, and unbeknownst to me at the time we would line up again in eliminations 6 days later as well. All in all we had a great weekend and made 16 passes total on both cars at two tracks and did a great job of representing our marketing partners. Our neighbor Marlin Spotts took Braylon's car back home for us and I got mine home as usual. I left mine in the trailer as I would be heading out of state to work for a few days the following morning. Thanks Tony, Rob, Marlin, Keith and of course Jen for her help in keeping things together.
Work in Columbus, Ohio ended late in the week and I headed home and hooked up the trailer and headed to Cecil County for the Street Car Shootout the next day. With the summer heat moving in I was having trouble running close to the 8.50 index, after our first qualifying shot netted me an 8.60. That wasn't going to cut it in the long run, but was good enough to qualify 13th out of 31 cars. The decision was made by my crew chief, Marc Schankweiler, that's me, to increase the power output of our little BMS Racing Engines small block Chevy by increasing the nitrous and fuel jet sizes in our Induction Solutions fogger system. On the second qualifier we ran an 8.495, which is just five-thousandths too fast, but we had them right where we wanted them now. I got by the first round but in the second round I was put back on the trailer by my latest arch rival Super Villain Delon Pleasants. I attempted to adjust my staging procedure to help my reaction time and things didn't come together the way I had planned. Then after some top end driving antics I "gave him the stripe" as they say, when I got off the gas for fear of going too fast for the index and he drove by me for the win. Lesson learned! Great race with lots of cars and a good time was had by all, some more than others I would imagine.
A few days after the race a truck was sent by Continental Cargo to pick up my trailer to take it back to the factory in Indiana to make some adjustments to it that were quite up to par or as ordered. The guys at the factory stepped up to the plate and made it right and went beyond the call of duty. The trailer will be home by the time you read this and we will be loading it up for the NHRA Junior Dragster Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, Tennessee plus the Huddleston Performance and Mike Boss Fun Races the week before.
Currently I am starting my third week working in Michigan at a nuclear facility, but have had the chance to help fellow racers Andy and John Warren the last two weekends at races in Kentucky and hope to be at the NMCA/NMRA event in Joliet later this week.
I also had the chance to spend some time in my wife's home town and some time along and on the Ohio River.
I also took delivery of a new semi-custom fire suit from DJ Safety with some love thrown on the sleeves and chest of a few long time supporters to show our thanks. We are working with Tim Charlet of Lumin8 Lifestyle Brands to develop some "hero cards" for Braylon to help promote and educate the younger ones that stop by the pits to look at his car.
A little tweaking and some pictures with better resolution and we are there. If you need any marketing ideas Tim is a wealth of information.
I hope to be out of this state soon and back at track with our own cars soon and hopefully make some events mid to late July and the first couple weeks in August, just to reassure myself that a two layer fire suit is miserable in the summer and get my money's worth out of the air conditioner in the trailer. Hope to see everyone soon and stay cool!
From Hero to Zero! 8.50 Index Drag Racing -NHRA, SCSO Cecil, Jr's at The Grove
Dictionary.com defines the phrase Hero-To-Zero as an adjective "pertaining to a very sudden rise in popularity or success." I wouldn't say our program has had a lot of success and as far as popular goes I haven't been asked to sign any autographs lately so you be the judge.
We were suddenly successful at our first race of the season on April 5th at the Cecil County Streetcar Shootout. Myself and my test pilot Rob Puller ended up qualifying in the number one position when an 8.500 flashed on the scoreboard in qualifying for the 18 car 8.50 Index field.
We ran the number 16 qualifier in the first round who had entered his first 8.50 race and was learning the ropes and sorting out his combination. Rob got the win light. In the second round we won by virtue of a red light start in the other lane and in the third round we won again as our opponent had to chase us down after his late start and broke out. So it was onto the final round against last season's champion Mike Good.
Unfortunately the temperature was in the low 40s and after a crash in another class we decided it wasn't worth scratching our paint and we split the pot with Mike. We, meaning Rob, left with the points lead by virtue of the final round appearance and the low qualifier point.
Not that we were heroes because there aren't too many of those around, but follow along as I wrap up Mar-Schan Motorsports' activity from April into May and see how suddenly things turn around.
Two weeks later we took Braylon out for his 2014 debut in our 8.90 KCS Junior Dragster. We went to our home track at Maple Grove Raceway and signed him up for points to give him something to work toward instead of just random wins and losses plus the benefits of being on Team MG for future events.
We made 4 runs with a total spread of twelve hundredths of a second between them, which had me slightly pleased. There is definitely room for improvement but these little one cylinder alcohol burning chunks of cast aluminum are sometimes finicky.
We are running Fred Craws horsepower and we have plenty of it, I just have to do a better job reading the weather.
Braylon won the first round against a faster and older 7.90 driver, which was a confidence booster, but I missed the tune up in the second round and we ended up on the wrong side of a double breakout when trying to chase the other car down. The lesson Braylon took away from this race was if you aren't going to catch the other car and take the stripe first, lift off the gas and don't break out yourself. Let the other car have its 50/50 shot at missing their mark. Hopefully that will stick in his gray matter under the hair gel and blue helmet.
Two days later Braylon had his tonsils and adenoids removed along with some sinus surgery for good measure.
After two weeks of eating a diet that helped put Ben and Jerry's kids through college and losing weight I now have to add more weight to his car. I might have to get on that program myself!
The following week we loaded up our Nova and headed to Atco for the NHRA PC Richards National Open Series with enough nitrous oxide from Boccella's Performance for root canals for all of Division 1. We qualified in the #9 position out of I believe 22 cars with an 8.531. We fought a headwind on Saturday during the first round of eliminations and didn't have the extra power needed to run the number and got put in the trailer by Carey Cable Sr. and his beautiful Nova. It was our first taste of an NHRA event atmosphere and it was a well-run event. I learned some things in the tech line that were never brought to my attention before. This is a good thing because the sport is risky enough and the rules are written with the blood and pain of those that have raced before. A new fire suit from DJ Safety is being sewn up using measurements from places on my body that I didn't know a seamstress could put a cloth ruler. I can't wait for it to show up!
I elected to stay on Sunday and test for the race the following weekend at Cecil County where Rob would be back in the driver's seat. I had to put more power to the ground to be able to make consistent 8.50 passes as the weather warms up. "That's easy, just jet it up!!" That was the plan after establishing a baseline for the day with Saturday's tune up. I made a few passes to try and work the bugs out with the suspension and newfound power. The constant headwind made it impossible to judge where we were really going to be at in normal conditions, but everything was done on the mechanical end to give Rob the best car for the following weekend to help keep his points lead.
It is now May 3rd and we are definitely getting some seat time in and seeing some different venues. We are back at Cecil County for the monthly Street Car Shootout and with Rob in hot seat. On our first qualifying pass for the 8.50 index class we ended up running an 8.487, which was just a little fast. That headwind the previous weekend made it hard to dial in the car when the air was still. We added weight to the car for the second pass confident that we would end up in the mid 50s and comfortably in the field. Now this is where the "Zero" part of our cliché comes into play. Due to a mental lapse on the starting line with all the things that need to be done inside a nitrous car prior to staging Rob failed to arm the electrical system for the nitrous oxide. I am pretty sure it's something I have done myself and many others have as well. Unfortunately that was our last attempt to make the field for the race and we picked up Zero points for our efforts and slipped to 4th place in the point standings by the end of the day. We did jump over into the Pro Drag Radial class to get some more runs in and hoping for the $3000.00 payday. We qualified 2nd in a very short field but lost in the first round like we should have against the car and combination we were running against but you never know, you don't race on paper.
All in all it wasn't a bad month. The good thing is nothing got broke or scratched and we are planning our next outing this weekend with Braylon's Jr. Dragster at Maple Grove Raceway. Stop by the pit and see us or give one of our sponsors a call for their great products and services and tell them you saw their parts on our cars. Thanks for hanging in there and reading a month worth of updates. When one of us makes the big time I promise we will hire someone to get the news out quicker and with more feeling and emotion. Till then you are stuck with me! See you at the track!
Mar-Schan Motorsports - Springing Forward
It must be getting close to springtime because the grass that is visible along the edge of the melting snow is a muddy mess. A few more days, and inside the patio door, the kitchen floor will be a beautiful shade of mud. Can't wait!
Another sign of spring is the packed house at South Georgia Motorsports Park for this weekend's Lights Out V event. If watching the live feed doesn't help by wetting your appetite for racing then you have obviously inadvertently clicked on the wrong website!
It was warm enough to actually turn the heat off in the garage and open the doors while I put the recently freshened ATI Superglide back in position under the 48-year old floor of our Nova.
Thanks to JC and the gang down at ATI Performance Products it was quickly turned around, and even delivered close to home by one of their shop guys. While I was sliding around on my back it was a good time to inspect and clean the dirty side of the car including the suspension.
In the last couple of months I have had the opportunity to attend my first Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis. It was a far cry from attending PRI in the sunshine state in December but it was a great opportunity to meet new people and work on partnerships and relationships.
To be successful in racing and in life one needs to have a solid blend of both, and having a chance to see and meet the people that help you out from across the country always helps.
We are fortunate enough to have kept most of our racing partners and sponsors happy and they have acknowledged that we have their support again in 2014. I did attend trying to focus on growing our performance parts business and to that end I was successful as Mar-Schan Motorsports LLC is now an official dealer for Nickels Performance Warehouse.
Minimal changes are in order for our engine combination this season and it is out and at BMS Racing Engines for some inspection and updates. Bullet Racing Cams has tweaked the grind of our bump stick adding some lift and duration as required to be able to take advantage of the nitrous oxide we introduce to the combustion chamber.
The old grind was kind of a dual-purpose cam that would be good to cruise around in and still be fast. Well the "fast" of just a few years ago and the "fast" of today have a totally different meaning. With electronics and engine technology and tires like the Mickey Thompson ET Drag Radial Pro tire times have really changed. We still plan on starting the season in the 8.50 index class but maybe we will dabble in some X275 racing or True Street events.
The NHRA in Division 1, which we are a part of, has added three 8.50 index races to their National Open Series events this season in the North East. This will be a first for the division and we hope to put on a good show for the fans seeing it for the first time. The schedule includes adding the class to the Penske Truck Leasing Pennsylvania Dutch Classic at Maple Grove, which is an iconic event and we are stoked have an opportunity to be on the same stage as some of sportsman racing's best.
Speaking of NHRA, my stepson Braylon is a member of the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League and he is getting ready for his first full season in an 8.90 car of his own. He has been practicing in a junior dragster simulator, which is based on the cockpit and of an actual racecar. It's hooked up to a full size starting line "Christmas Tree" like the one that would signal the start of a race, and he is improving his reaction times because of it. Unfortunately it's set up in our modest living room and I want to apologize to my dogs for interrupting their favorite lines where they used to run laps. Oh and my wife and anyone who has wanted to walk around the cocktail table for the purpose of personal comfort.
We have Lucas Oil back on board with our car again for a third season and they are helping out with the lubricants that Bray needs on his car like their SAE 5W-20 Junior Dragster oil and Chain Lubricant. Several of our marketing partners have been able to cross over to both of our cars including NGK, Clark Industrial Supply, Boccella's Performance, DJ Safety, Mickey Thompson, and John Martin Painting. Maybe you see a spot or opportunity to add to your company's exposure on one or both of our cars.
One of the other changes you might notice in our pit is that the old motor home is gone and so is its fuel bill along with our old 26' trailer. A new 32' custom trailer will replace that with some creature comforts like air conditioning and a bathroom package. This will give us convenience of a pickup truck with a sizeable hauler that we can stay in.
If you are tired of hearing terms like Polar Vortex, suffer from cabin fever, all the while wondering how Hannah Montana became Miley Cyrus the "Wrecking Ball", then keep following along with us because in a little more than a month we will be racing at a track near you!
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