Dwayne Wolfe Wins NEOPMA "Door Wars" Event at MIR|
Season Opener Brings Trials, Tribulations and Ultimately Victory
Photos Courtesy of Mark @ godragracing.org
The Wolfe Racing team began its 2014 season on Friday, April 11 at a test session held at Maryland International Raceway, the day before the "Door Wars" event. We all had some high hopes for the coming season and arrived at Budds Creek believing that we would be very competitive. We thought that we could win, but then again you have to hold that belief going into every race or there is no point.
Dwayne made three total passes on Friday with the first two being early shutoff passes to ensure that we had a safe enough tuneup to go to the end. Before the third pass that evening, he was given the green light to take the 'ol 2002 Firebird through the full length of the 1/4-mile. While we were in the staging lanes, the announcement came over the PA system that Royce Miller (owner of MIR) would provide 2 free pizzas to the CREW of the car posting the quickest ET for the session. We had already decided to make a full pass, but hey, free pizza is a pretty good added bonus. The car left hard and stopped the clocks with a 5.99 second elapsed time at 236 mph. Shortly thereafter, as promised, Royce delivered 2 pizzas to our pit as that was in fact the quickest pass of the 20 or so cars that made a run during that session.
Saturday brought us into qualifying with the first session in the early afternoon. Dwayne would again rip off a 5.99@236 mph pass to put him in the #2 spot after the first session. The order would remain unchanged at the top of the charts after the second session, so we went into the final session in that same #2 spot. Dwayne would end up being in the final pair of cars to see that track in that session and by then had been bumped down to #4 (losing one spot by a mere 0.003 seconds). We weren't all that concerned as we thought the better air conditions would make for a really nice improvement for us. Unfortunately, that was not to be as we slowed on the run to a 6.04@235. There was a lot of bad news to come from that run, but the good news is that the 6.04 was our slowest full pass that the car would make all weekend.
That final session brought some carnage to the Firebird. The most obvious damage was that the driver side window frame broke away and the wind ripped off the window spewing it onto the track in about 20 pieces. Now, it was made of Lexan, so less of a big deal to be out on the track, but it posed a significant problem for us to fix. To add to that, after arriving back in the pits, we discovered that there was significant leakage in several engine cylinders that was not present the night before. This problem was significant enough for us to be worried, so we dug in and fixed the problem. At 11 pm Saturday night, we started the disassembly process. At 1 am, we were wondering why we were awake and working on this car. At 2:30am, we were finished with the engine repairs and putting the car in the trailer for the night. At 7am, we were back up to repair the window and at 6pm we realized the goal that drove us to go through all of that work.
After the long night and morning of repairs, the entire team was exhausted but still focused on our task at hand...winning the race. We got into the staging lanes about 10 minutes before the first round of eliminations and lined up to face off against Chris Russo. After the near all-night repair session, Dwayne was a bit slow on the tree against Russo, but the Jan-Cen horsepower of the Wolfe Racing Firebird was enough to run Russo down on the top end of the track to take the win with a 6.02@236 mph. That set up a second round meeting with "The Undertaker" Tommy Gray in his blown Corvette (also Jan-Cen powered). Dwayne would again cruise straight down the MIR 1/4 mile and again run a 6.02@236 and take the win to move into the semi-finals against Pete Farber, a regular on the NHRA Pro Modified tour.
This semi-final race between Dwayne and Farber was one of the best that you will ever see. At the flash of the yellow, Dwayne would leave on Farber by 0.014 seconds and the two would be locked door-to-door the entire length of the track. Dwayne would need that starting line advantage to take the win as both cars ran nearly identical (only 0.002 seconds apart) elapsed times. Dwayne would get to the stripe first by 0.012 seconds and move on to the finals where he would face off against the 2013 NEOPMA Champion, Gary Courtier. In the final, Courtier would leave before the tree was activated, handing over the win, but that didn't stop Dwayne from running the car through to post another 6.001-second elapsed time at 237.5 mph.
So, in a brief recap: 5.99, 5.99, 6.04, 6.02, 6.02, 6.01, 6.00. That's not too bad for a car that is: 11 years old, 100 pounds over the minimum weight limit, has working tail lights and has steel quarter panels.
This is the team's first NEOPMA series win. It is very special to all of us and we have many, many people to thank. For this specific event, we have to extend special thanks to fellow competitor Bruce Mullins and Scott Myers of SM Race Cars for providing us the parts to get the window fixed on the car so that we could continue into the race on Sunday. Also special thanks to Jan-Cen Racing Engines / Mike Janis Superchargers for the horsepower to make it all possible.
Wolfe Racing Featured in RPM Magazine
Team Featured on the Cover of August 2013 Issue
The Wolfe Racing team was featured in the August 2013 issue of RPM Magazine. Mark at goDragRacing.org provided all of the photos and text for the article and did a great job representing the team. The entire magazine is now available online for viewing here.
Wolfe Breaks Into 5-Second Zone
Qualifies #2 for MIR Door Wars
The team headed to MIR to open the season at the MIR Door Wars event which was the first points race of the 2013 Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) season. With significant changes over the winter and some new horsepower directly from Mike Janis Superchargers, we had extremely high hopes for the weekend. There were some trying times, but in the end, one of the team's major goals for the past several years had been accomplished.
We started the weekend making a few test passes on Friday. On the last pass of the day, we noticed a less than nice sound coming from the rear differential of the car. After disassembly, we identified the problem and quickly setup another set of gears in the center section and re-assembled the car just before the skies opened and several inches of rain fell across the race track. Overall, the test session was informative and let us know of a few changes that were needed for Saturday.
The weather front that passed through on Friday night caused a dramatic change in the weather conditions at the track for Saturday, but the only thing we cared about was that there was absolutely NO rain in the forecast for the rest of the weekend. Based on our results in testing, we decided to make a torque converter change for the first qualifier. During the warmup, Dwayne noticed that the car would not shift gears properly. After a few unsuccessful attempts, we had no choice but to once again disassemble the entire transmission and converter drive assembly. We did find and correct the problem, but by the time the repair was complete, we had missed the first qualifier. As a result, we decided to make even more changes and adjusted the gearing in the transmission while everything was already disassembled. With all repairs complete, we were finally ready to take to the track for our first qualifying attempt.
After the massive changes to the car since Friday night, Dwayne pulled the Wolfe Racing Firebird onto the track and ripped off a 6.02-second elapsed time at 235 mph (both personal bests). That would put us third on the qualifying sheet after the second round, with one more qualifying round to come. As darkness fell over the racetrack, we headed to the staging lanes for the last qualifier as the air density continued to improve. On launch, the car pulled hard throughout the entire run and as Dwayne crossed the finish line, the scoreboard lit up with a 5.96.
It had been accomplished! The team's first 5-second elapsed time was now in the past. That pass would put us into the #2 qualifying spot, a mere 0.01 seconds behind the #1 qualifier, Jeff Miller. The only thing left to do now was continue to improve and go after the race win on Sunday.
With similar weather on Sunday as on Saturday, we headed to our first round matchup with Bob Bailey around Noon. The track was in great condition for the first round and we proved it. Dwayne would blister the track in the Jan-Cen Racing Engines/Mike Janis Superchargers "entry" and rip off a 5.91 @ 237.6 mph, the low elapsed time for Round 1.
5.91 @ 237.59
That would again set personal bests for the team and set us up for a second round matchup against Tim O'Hare. Unfortunately, the string of good passes would end as the Firebird would shake the tires around 80 feet out. Dwayne would pedal the car and stop the clocks with a 6.95@213 mph. It would be enough to take the round win, but it would not be enough to give us lane choice over Angela Ray in the semi-finals. Given that no competitor had won a round of eliminations from the left lane all day was cause for great concern. As expected, the left-hand lane just couldn't hold the horsepower and we spun the tires before the 60 ft. mark. Angela would take the win with a solid 6.06 and move onto the final where Jeff Miller would take the event win.
It was a very interesting weekend for the team. We set some personal records, had our share of trials and tribulations and ended the weekend in the semi-finals of the 16-car Pro Mod race. The weekend didn't end exactly how we had envisioned it, but we did quite well and we have quite a few competitors watching us closely. There certainly is more left in the Jan-Cen Hemi, so stay tuned for the rest of the year.
Wolfe Racing Team Getting Ready for 2013
Changes Nearly Complete, Season Opens April 19
2012 was a season of firsts: Our first 3-second pass in the 1/8-mile. Our first sub-6.10-second pass in the 1/4-mile. And, of course, our first crash. Some we want to remember, some we can't forget.
Regardless of the happenings on the track in 2012, we certainly learned a lot and we feel that it prepared us for a successful 2013. Several changes have been made to the 'ol 2002 Firebird over the long, cold winter. Our guys at Jan-Cen Racing Engines have worked up more horsepower for us including a newly configured blower from Mike Janis Superchargers.
The team is currently on schedule to finish up all of the changes to the car and we will be ready for our season opening race at Maryland International Raceway on the weekend of April 19-21. Friday, April 19 will be a test session for the team, where we hope to work out any bugs in the car. Qualifying will occur on Saturday with the competition being on Sunday.
The full 2013 race schedule for the team has been posted on this site, so check it out and find a time to come out and take in some drag racing action with the Wolfe Racing team.
Team Updates Hauler
The team updated the hauler over the winter. Take a look at the transformation: Hauler Phase 2 - 2013
Wolfe Races to Final Round Appearance in Pro Mod Class at Shakedown Nationals
Reaches Final Round at Legendary Event for Second Time Since 2009
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... all in one weekend, but not in that order.
The Wolfe Racing team headed north for the final race of the season on October 12th, this time destined for the famed 1/4-mile at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. The team headed up on Friday to have plenty of time for final preparations for qualifying on Saturday. Early Saturday morning, we welcomed a special guest to the pit to help us out for the day: Mr. Mike Janis made the trip to Englishtown to lend a hand at getting the Wolfe Racing 2002 Firebird tuned in for the 32-car battle that would take place on Sunday. In making final preparations for the first qualifing session, the laptop used to tune our Pro Mod decided it would throw a temper tantrum, completely crash, corrupt the hard drive and refuse to boot for the remainder of the weekend. Needless to say, this was not good. With less than an hour until the first qualifying session was SUPPOSED to begin, we had no way of tuning the car. With a quick sprint over to the hauler of fellow competitor and friend, Jim Bersani, the first step to recovery was completed. "Uncle" Paul (Jim's tuner) took care of us and lended us a spare laptop that had 2 of the 4 software applications needed already installed on it. The third piece of the puzzle would be handled remotely by Mike Janis, Jr of Jan-Cen Racing Engines.
There were significant issues with the timing system at Raceway Park on Saturday. With Pro Mod in the lanes and the Wolfe Racing team third in line to hit the track, the timing system completely crapped out, much like our laptop did earlier in the day. After 4 hours in the staging lanes, the track officials finally sent us back to our pit. Eventually, we would get to make a pass at 6:05pm, about 5 hours later than expected. The car would shake the tires on the first qualifier about 60 feet out. Dwayne would pedal and go on through the 1/4-mile with a 6.29 second elapsed time at 207 mph. The second qualifier would not have any better result. At the end of the night, Dwayne would sit 16th on the ladder for the 32-car field.
As Sunday began, the team could not look at the data from the day before. With a bit of a revelation, we overcame this last hurdle with the help of Logan Wolfe, Dwayne's 12-year old son. With a little guidance, Logan would find and email us the information that we needed. FINALLY, we were back up and running and could fully diagnose the problems of the day before.
The 32-car field would mean that the winner of the event would need to win 5 rounds instead of just the normal 3 or 4. With the loaded field of Pro Modified racers, there would also be no easy rounds. That was evident when Dwayne would come to the line facing 2012 NEOPMA Champion Steve Drummond in the first round. In this match-up, Dwayne would leave the line first and not look back, running a 6.17 at 228 mph to take the win. That would setup a rematch from the 2nd round of the 2011 Shakedown with the eventual winner of that event, Jose "El General" Gonzales. Gonzales, the #1 qualifier in this year's event at a 5.78, came to the line and likely wasn't ready for what was about to happen. Dwayne would again leave the line first and would say "No way" to Jose, as he would punch out the #1 qualifier with a firstname.lastname@example.org mph to a losing 6.09 for Gonzales. And what do we get for that? A third round match-up against perennial powerhouse, Tim O'Hare. O'Hare would shake the tires in Round 2 and Dwayne would have lane choice. This time, Dwayne would encounter tire shake about 80 feet out, but he would drive through it and stop the clocks with a 6.14@231. O'Hare would run a 6.13, but he would throw it away by red lighting, handing Dwayne the win and a pass into the semi-finals.
Dwayne would take on Gary Courtier in the semi-finals in a nitrous versus blower matchup of NEOPMA members. Dwayne would make another strong pass and take the win with a 6.12@230 mph to Courtier's shutoff 6.96@146. With 4 rounds down, we were now headed into the final. Joining Dwayne would be Eric Latino in his Team Green 1969 Camaro. Latino made the trip down from Whitby, Ontario Canada to race at the Shakedown. Eric and Dwayne would also face off in the first round at the 2011 Shakedown. Dwayne would take the win in that encounter when Latino encountered an engine problem. This year, though, the outome would be different. Dwayne would again run a strong 6.12@232, but Latino would take the win with a 6.01@243.
What a weekend. It was definitely a roller coaster ride, but it just goes to show that you cannot give up until you are eliminated from the race. We fought through some significant adversity and ended up making it to the finals at one of the biggest races in the country. We certainly couldn't have done it without the help of a lot of people, all of which were mentioned in this article. We mentioned the individuals, but we need to give strong credit to the organizations as well. Special thanks goes to Jan-Cen Racing Engines and Mike Janis Superchargers for all of the help and support...not only at this race, but over the last couple of years. We also need to say thanks to Jerry Riggleman at South Fork Auto & Body. He put in countless hours this year getting the car patched up after the crash. This race was the first one that the car was completely back to normal with the color scheme being re-painted onto the nose.
*** See 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Results Pages for More Information on past race seasons ***