Let me start off by saying that I have a pathetic showing of how great the weekend was. While I had all my camera gear, GoPro’s and all sorts of stuff to capture the event and come back with something spectacular…I was having too much fun hanging out with friends and driving my car to care. So…we are going to step down to iPhone pictures and video of only one run. I did have a friend of mine down there that is a photographer so when he gets his shots done I’ll post some of those.
First, I decided to drive my car down instead of trailering it. My wife and I packed it full of all of our stuff along with a jack, everything to wash the car with and tools to work on the car. I had dropped off my drag radials at Vengeance to put in the trailer so that was the only thing that wasn’t in the car that we needed for the weekend. It was packed in the backseat and trunk! Road trip time! We actually left Alpharetta, GA on Thursday night around 6pm. I had a really important business meeting in Pensacola, FL that following morning so we were going there first. Any of you guys that have been watching the weather leading up to the event already knew there was rain in the area. This wasn’t just rain…it was monsoon downpour. We spent most of the 354 miles to Pensacola in it. We got there late Thursday, I had my meeting in the morning and we headed off to Ocala which was another 376 miles. We caught up with the rain again which was even worse this time and I spent hours white knuckling the steering wheel just trying to make sure the idiot drivers around me didn’t hit my car before the event. We made it there around 4pm and I headed straight to the bar for a beer. I was tired.
Side note: All of the nitrous runs are being done on a 150 shot…not the 200 the car made 1,215whp/1,077wtq on.
Day One – Saturday January 24th
The next morning rolled around and it was time for the event. The forecast called for the rain to stop around 9am which it did but the strip was still pretty wet. We prepped the cars and waited Around noon or so they started running cars so we were ready to go. Saturday really ended up being a bust for me for the most part. 1/2 of the day was because of the rain and the other half was me. I only made two passes on the car. This was my first 1/2 mile event ever…much less on the car so this was a break-in for me as much as it was the car.
Saturday Pass #1 – Blower only – 153.7936mph
The first pass was made to figure out how we should time the nitrous in. I lined up and hit it. The car felt great. It was pulling through the gears and doing exactly what it was supposed to. Traction was terrible and there was a crazy cross wind on the top end thanks to that front moving through that made the car want to skate all over the place. Everyone was talking about it and it made it for a pretty wild ride towards the finish line. 1st and 2nd gear were worthless at the line as well. My car topped out 4th and popped off the rev limiter about 100 feet or so before the finish line so the pass was faster but it made no sense to shift. We were going to time the nitrous so it came in at 3rd with a ramp to try to keep the tires hooked to the ground.
After that pass…there were several cars that ran into issues. Some blew up…others took a wild ride all over the track. That started to get in my head and I already knew what the traction and the wind felt like at the end of the track. Finally I put my big boy pants on and hit the line for a second run.
Saturday Pass #2 – Blower and Nitrous – 164.7145mph
The car moved out. The nitrous was hitting well but seemed a little delayed. I wasn’t sure why yet as I had only made one pass on it but it still felt smooth and really strong. At the end of the day, I had Brian in GA by one mile an hour and I was the fastest 4 door all day long until the last 30 minutes when a friend of ours on a 250 shot nailed down a 170mph. That will just give you an idea of the conditions and how much slower the trap speeds were in comparison to usual numbers. I think everyone in the RWD category was saying they were off by at least 7 mph due to traction. Even the AWD cars were sliding all over the place but at least they had the added advantage of getting more power to the ground. So at the end of the day, I got a clean pass in on the nitrous and I was competing with the guys that have consistent track records of making power and great traps. I was happy…but there was something every obvious about my setup that was going to hold me back…having to shift into my 0.80 ratio 5th due to the 3.73 gear in the manual was really making the car fall on its face at the end of the run.
Day Two – Sunday January 25th
I woke up Sunday morning ready to hit it hard. First day jitters were gone. The nasty cross wind at the end of the track was gone. Traction was still the same but at least the other conditions improved and we were going to get a full day in.
Sunday Pass #1 – Blower and Nitrous – 168.0358mph
Awesome! First pass and we are getting at that 170mph mark! That was a great way to start the morning. We hadn’t changed anything on the car and we picked up almost 4mph on the top end. I was feeling great about the way the day was going to head. The car felt awesome and I prepped for the second run.
Sunday Pass #2 – Blower Only – 148.1238mph
The time had come. Brian Landfried and I were lining up head to head. I had been looking forward to this moment ever since we signed up for the event. I had this all planned out in my head. He was going to get the jump on me and cross the line first but I was going to trap higher. I just knew it. We lined up, did our burnouts, purged the nitrous…and we were off! He got the jump like I expected but then I hit third gear and something just wasn’t right. We was pulling away like a freight train and my car felt slow! Shit!!!!! I forgot to arm the nitrous!!! Once I figured that out I just got pissed and let it coast over the finish line. Not only did I not get my run with Brian that I wanted…but now he has video of completely dragging my ass all the way down the track so bad that I disappear!! I am not ever going to live that one down! Pissed off…I didn’t even take my helmet off and hot lapped the car.
Sunday Pass #3 – Blower and Nitrous – 163.6364mph
Well…the pissed off run didn’t go so well either. I completely ripped off the tires and didn’t check bottle pressure before running. Nitrous fell on its face at the end of the run because I had basically purged the pressure out of it prepping for two runs. Slow time and frustration. It was time to go calm down and get something to eat. I was just making things worse!
Sunday Pass #4 – Blower and Nitrous – 165.4412mph
It was a clean pass but the air had gotten warmer. I also was still feeling like the nitrous wasn’t hitting as hard as it should. We got back to the trailer and started messing with the programing. We then realized what was happening. The delay and ramp we built in was happening in every gear. We had put in the pause feature so it wouldn’t reset with every shift but since we were having traction issues…I wasn’t able to power shift the car so the shifting delay was too long. We stripped that out and the ramp and decided to just let the car eat. We set everything up and headed back out.
Sunday Pass #5 – Blower and Nitrous – 168.9189mph
The fastest pass I had made yet. The car felt much faster. This same setup in the morning would have been awesome but we were making serious progress. No more delay…tons of power. We were good to go. I still felt like the car had a little bit more in her so we came back…messed with the tune a little bit and I got back in the car.
Saturday Pass #6 – Blower and Nitrous – 131.5020mph
Last pass of the day…car is feeling good. Let’s hit it and make a clean run. I could tell as soon as I got off the line that the small change in the tune we made had really woken the car up. 3rd gear felt incredible. The car was hauling ass. This was the run. I could already feel it. 170+ hear we come. Shift to 4th was perfect. The car was even wiggling a little sideways in 4th! I was putting a hole through the floor of the car with the gas pedal. Time for 5th! Shift! Miss! Fuck! I completely missed the shift to 5th on my best run and last one of the event. I left off the gas and roll across the finish line at idle. The guy I was running with ran a 150mph+ pass and he was no where to be found as I cross at 131 coasting. That was the run. The car felt perfect and driver error messed it up. That’s racing a manual car for you.
At the end of the day, I had the 3rd fastest CTS-V at the event (Brian was second with a 172 on a 200 shot and the other friend of ours in his 4 door pulled off a 173 on a 250 shot) and 2nd fastest 4 door and heavy weight competing against cars running bigger shots and that have been to multiple of these events before. I was incredibly happy even though I completely messed up my last run that was going to be perfect. The car has a ton in her and we learned a lot about the setup to make it a monster at the next event. The biggest thing is that we are going to change the rear end to a an auto setup that gives me a 3.23 gear that will carry the car to 180mph in 4th. That combined with a 200 shot will get me to the end of that gear in the 1/2 in GA for sure.
My wife and I packed up the car and headed back home driving an additional 390 miles back home and the car was still running great.
The weekend was awesome and the crew at Vengeance showed up in force. We had 34 cars there and it was a blast. They took home a good amount of trophies for the weekend even if I wasn’t able to grab one this round. The support, friends, family and everything else that surrounded the experience that Vengeance Racing brought was unreal. They also built me a car that was able to travel over 1,120 miles and made 8 1/2 mile race passes which 5 had a 150 hit of nitrous! I don’t know about you guys…but that impresses the hell out of me. The tune, build, everything is just spot on.
At the end of the day, I walked away with a car that traveled more than just to and from the event and it competed with the top of its class. The knowledge I walked away with will bring this car to the win at the next event. I can’t wait. And yes…the Recaro baby seat was in the car for every pass with two of my son’s stuffed animals strapped in and ready to rock.