The team and I spent some time with the students and teachers at the UTI in Exton, Pa., Wednesday before the Reading race. I’m always amazed at the facilities they have available for these students. I would’ve really enjoyed some of the programs back when I was younger. The students are great too. They have a lot of enthusiasm and really enjoy looking at our race car and asking questions.
Thursday, I spent the day with Snap-on franchisee Jason Pearson and we had fun. We got back to the traditional ride along where I jump in the Snap-on truck and visit customers. It was kind of nice to do something different. The first place we stopped at was a body shop where they had quite a few Snap-on boxes. Chip Foose did one of his famous two-minute sketches on one of the boxes so it was an honor for me to have my autograph next to his.
Hospitality was a packed house both days full of Snap-on franchisees and customers. The northeast fan base is spectacular. I can understand why they have so many NFL teams. The weather conditions in Reading were crazy. It was cold, rainy, and then extremely cold on Sunday (like Antarctica lol). We had a great car and three out of four qualifying runs were great and capped off with our career best of 3.99. We’re the only team other than one from Schumacher to run in the threes which is unbelievable. It’s a credit to the team and the great equipment we have thanks to the support we receive from our sponsors like Snap-on, WIX Filters, Toyota, Herzog Contracting, and UTI. It was really an honor to be in that elite group. The interesting part is the car spun the tires hard toward the end of the run and slowed down to 313 MPH so it had more in it. Unfortunately, as the weather kept cooling, we went the wrong way with the set-up of the car and beat ourselves in the first round. That’s indicative of a cold track. If you have too little or too much power, you’ll shake right off the bat. We dropped in points one spot but we’re still very optimistic. Our team is focused on the last two races. It’d be great for our team to win at one or even both of the events in Vegas and Pomona.
I spent last weekend with some of the guys from my crew at the Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield. What a learning experience it was for me and the team. I have to thank Todd, Nacho, Chris, and Curt for helping out and working a lot of hours to get ready for this event and to test a week before in Indy. The whole team including Lee, Chad, Phil, Sterling, & Mike helped in the weeks leading up to the event. They really helped me reach my dream to be able to take another nostalgia car to this amazing event. I give Scott Bowen a lot of credit too, for building the car over the last year. What a beautiful masterpiece he built!
We made two runs at the Indy track to shake it down. It went down the track but didn’t really have the performance I expected. Between the test and the Hot Rod Reunion, I made a lot of calls and worked on the set-up. We did all we could at the event and had a great time. We made two qualifying runs but unfortunately with 32 cars, we were 18th best with a 5.97 at 216 mph and a 6.02 on the second run. It took a 5.94 to get into the show so we didn’t miss it by much. More than anything, we learned a lot and need to make some more changes to the combination of the motor during the off-season. Overall, the fans loved the car. It’s a piece of art as I see it and everyone recognized it from the ‘70s. It was replicated after the ’77 California Charger, run by Jerry Clayton and John Keeling. They had a vision and a race team that was very polished and their car performed well. Jerry and his wife along with Neil Leffler, who originally drove the car, were out at the event so it was great for them to be able to enjoy it with us. I also got to talk to friends of my Dad’s and they told me stories I’ve never heard, so that in itself was worth it. I love the nostalgia races and it’s definitely a growing sport.
Now, it’s back to work. Vegas is a cool race. What can you say, all the lights and big game. LOL. I feel like we’ve underachieved this year so we’re going there to win. It’s a fast track and I think it’ll be a little cooler there so we can yield some good times. We’d love none other than to close out this race.