At the gentle prompting of a sponsor and a couple of high tech co-workers, it’s been brought to my attention that I need to step out of the dark ages by linking this blog to video, facebook, and my most recent project……Honest Charley T-shirts! You know what, they’re right….after all, I still have a Samsung LG900 camera phone (my wife hates it), barely know how to text, and this blog is pretty much a monologue, as online social networking isn’t exactly my strong suit either.
Thank goodness we’ve got good people at Coker Tire that are willing to help out. Our in-house media moguls, Jason White and Tommy Lee Byrd, keep us current by cranking out video and Facebook updates for all to see. Thanks guys!
Also, as you may or may not already know, Honest Charley Speed Shop was established in 1948 and is the nation’s oldest mail order speed shop. This is highly relevant to me as they’re located right next door and provide speed parts for hot rods all over the world, including mine. Well, recently I had the privilege of working with our graphics guy, Michael Mattheiss, on some new HC tee shirts for the guys to take out on the road to fall car shows and swap meets….check ‘em out!!
The plan is to stack ‘em high and watch ‘em fly! If all goes well, we plan on bringing out about 4 new graphics every quarter. We’ll keep you posted…
Finally, project 4.70 is well under way, and I’d like to extend a VERY big welcome to new sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing Oil!!!! Gibbs has long been a dominate force in NASCAR, and due to their strict performance standards, they’ve set about developing a line of lubrication products that are now excelling in all forms of motorsports. Please check them out as they make a premium product for almost any automotive application.
Well, put a stamp on it and mail it…the 2011 race season ended for me last weekend at my home track. I guess that technically speaking a track that’s a 4-1/2 hr, 250 mile one-way tow to another state, wouldn’t be considered “home” by most standards. BUT, Montgomery has been awful good to me over the past year and a half as 3 of my 5 race wins in the Outlaw 5.30 Index class have come at MMP. The track always seems to work well, and the competition is fierce, but for the most part friendly….therefore Alabama truly feels like a “sweet” home to me.
Such was the case Friday afternoon as my good friend Mike Freeman and I arrived at the track in time to do our routine maintenance, and take a test lap before the evenings single qualifying session. As fate would have it, our lane assignment was in the lane that NO fast cars had been down all night long…the left one. You see, when testing began, the very first car out on the track was an outlaw pro-mod who went in the right lane, and nailed down a 4.0 pass at nearly 200 mph with seemingly little effort. So all of the other cars tested in the right lane right up until qualifying…accept us. So in a “green” lane with very little traction I set out to get some type of barometer of where we stood for the ensuing qualifying session. What a ride. Left, right, left, and right again spinning the tires all the way through the 1/8th mile for a 5.42 pass, and to add insult to injury, I hit a 55 gallon drum smack square, dead-on in the pits on my way back to the trailer. Apparently somebody was thoughtful enough to sit it out in the dark in order to save a parking place for one of his buddies. I got out of the car wearing my full gear, including helmet, and just sat alone inside my dark trailer for about 5 minutes trying to piece together what just happened. This sure didn’t feel like home…
After a quick sulk, Mike and I set about making a series of adjustments over the next half hour or so and managed to make the best of the bad conditions by putting a 5.34 pass on the books in that dreaded left lane which qualified us somewhere in the middle of the pro ladder. Live to fight another day was my mantra, and I was just happy to come through without any noticeable wounds to man or machine.
Saturday was an all day long tuning struggle and after it was all said and done, we’d slightly improved upon our qualifying order with a 5.32 pass. While it was an upgrade, it still seemed like miles apart from the string of nearly perfect 5.30 passes that I’d watched my competitors make. As I was sitting strapped in the car, I swear that I saw no less than 4 cars run the number. Oh well, if there’s anything I’ve learned about this stuff it’s that while qualifying at the top can definitely help your odds, it certainly won’t win you races…you have to show up and do your part every round.
On this particular weekend it didn’t appear is if we were going to win much of anything. However, my daily devotion that morning encouraged me to “press toward the goal” (Phil. 3:14), and not look behind me. While this was great advice, I couldn’t help to notice what was actually in the lane directly in front of me…..a JET ENGINED DRAGSTER! Now, I’m as big a fan of fire, smoke and mayhem as the next guy…but not when I have to drive my temperamental race car right behind it in a lane that’s now been essentially oiled down with kerosene.
Looks like I’d have to make my own traction and hope that it would be enough. So I did a burnout from the water box to past the 60 ft marker feathering the throttle on and off in an attempt to lay down some rubber and burn off some kerosene. While the crowd certainly enjoyed it, and John Force himself would’ve been proud, I wasn’t so sure it would work until I saw my win light come on. Whew! Press forward…
5 rounds later, and without the benefit of lane choice all night long, I found myself in the unlikely position of another final round appearance. Sweet Home Alabama again! However, a victory just wasn’t meant to be as I had the better reaction time, but was late to get on the brakes and gave it up on the other end of the track, breaking out with a 5.297 or by 3 thousandths of a second. Of course I wanted to win badly, but Mike and I both agreed that even though this mess had fallen just short of a masterpiece, it was still a strong outing and a nice way to end the season.
If you’ll recall, last year I raced right on up until Turkey day weekend in an attempt to capitalize on the racing momentum that seemed to be going my way. This year, even though I’ve gotten a small streak going, I’ve decided to end things a little earlier as my battle proven Camaro is in dire need of a freshen and some upgrades in order to be competitive next season. The plan at this point is to; take the engine apart, upgrade the internals from a 565 CID to a 598 CID, add a second nitrous kit, lighten the car with fiberglass components, re-do the chassis and 4-link components….and paint the entire car. Basically, the only thing we’re going to change is everything, lol…in an attempt to run the 4.70 class. Seems pretty ambitious, but we’ve already gone from 6.0 to 5.30, so why stop now?
As for the blown alcohol nostalgia funny car, we’re making progress there too.
So far I’ve gotten my block and heads from Dart, valve train components from Comp, crank from Lunati, wheels from Holeshot, and tires from M&H…now that the racing season is over, it’s a matter of finding the time and parts needed to make the 509 CID combination come to life. Hopefully we’ll be on track for the track sometime later next spring.
Finally I’d just like to say thanks again to all of the old and new sponsors & friends who have hung in there this season and helped through all the lows and highs, the list is long and God is at the top. Without praise going up in ALL situations….the blessings can’t rain down (thanks Andy). Next is my wife, and crew chief Amber, Corky Coker of Coker & Phoenix race tires, Jack McInnis of Dart Machinery, Chris Douglas and crew at Comp Cams, Stanley Poff at TCI transmissions, Marlene and Joe at Holeshot wheels, Steven Farrow of Farrow Motorsports, David Leach, Mike Freeman, and my pastor Ken Clark of Oakwood Baptist.
Let’s do it again in 2012!!!
It’s true that Phoenix tires have won the NHRA Super Stock title for the past 2 seasons, numerous national and regional events, and even an outlaw race or two….but the true litmus test came this past weekend as the newest members of our product development team, Taylor, Benjamin and Joseph Cunningham put a well-used Phoenix tire through its paces. Although the tire was repeatedly beaten like a drum…we’re happy to report that it adhered to the aforementioned crews high standards of big fun!
Last week, an organization called Beat the Heat held its World Finals event right here in the Chattanooga area. They had a car show downtown, and then a cruise in at Coker Tire’s headquarters on Thursday, then lots of racing action at Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip on Friday evening and all day Saturday. We snapped a few photos of the cars, while they were at Coker….several of them, including local racer and police officer, Joe Warren, run Phoenix tires on their cars! Check it out!