NEOPMA Superchargers Showdown|
Team Sets New Personal Best ET
On Friday, October 21, the Wolfe Racing team loaded up and headed to Maryland International Raceway (MIR) for what was to be the next to last race of the 2011 season. This event, the Snap-On Superchargers Showdown, was rescheduled from September after rain forced postponement of the race. An open test session through the day on Friday was just what the team needed to work out a few more changes made to the car over the last few weeks.
On Friday evening, Dwayne would take to the track for a shakedown pass as well as the first round of qualifying. On the shakedown pass, Dwayne would pilot the Wolfe Racing Firebird down the track to stop the clocks with a 6.23-second elapsed time at 220 mph. After a few changes to the tuneup, we headed back out for the first round of qualifying as the temperature was quickly dropping. The car would experience a bit of tire spin on this run, but Dwayne would drive through it and go through the traps with another 6.23@220 mph.
With 2 more qualifying sessions on Saturday, we had a little more time to get the tuneup right before we needed to head into eliminations in what was shaping up to be an extremely stout field of Pro Mods. On the second qualifier, the changes made to the car were again uneffective and it would again run a 6.23...see a pattern here? So, we went back to the drawing board and took another swing at the tuneup to see what would happen. The car launched hard and would have trouble around the 60 foot mark again with a whisp of smoke off of the rear tires. Dwayne would again drive through the traction problems but the result would be a bit different this time. A 6.19-second elapsed time @ 222 mph showed on the scoreboard as the parachutes deployed. That would establish a new personal-best 1/4-mile time for the team. It was enough to qualify Dwayne in the #10 spot in the field of 16 cars.
In the first round of eliminations, we would find ourselves lined up against Larry Higginbottham (aka "Higg") in his 1957 Chevy. It would be a match-up of two cars utilizing Jan-Cen horsepower under (and through) the hood. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be a great run for either participant. Dwayne would shake the tires at the same trouble spot on the race track that had plagued us throughout the weekend. He would pedal the car and go on down the MIR 1/4-mile, but he would need to shut it off at 6.0 seconds when a vibration originated in the engine. Higg would take the win with a 6.10 to Dwayne's 6.52, but Higg would also experience an engine problem that would end his day.
And so it ends...the season was to conclude at VMP on 10/29 with the final race of the NEOPMA season, but with the engine trouble experienced at MIR, the team will not be able to make that race. After climbing to 4th in the NEOPMA points in our first season, the first round loss at MIR dropped Dwayne to #6 in the points standings for the series. Not bad for a team that was racing in the series for the first time and considering that 26 cars had run with the series throughout the season.
Wolfe Has Strong Showing at Shakedown
The last two attempts at racing this season ended with rainouts. After a month of inactivity due to the persistence of Mother Nature, the time finally came for the Wolfe Racing team to load up our Pro Mod Firebird and head to Englishtown, NJ for the 9th Annual Shakedown at E'town. This time, we were fortunate to have an excellent forecast that called for uncharacteristically high temperatures for the race weekend and absolutely no chance of rain.
The team has made some extensive changes to the car over the last few months, but everyone had high hopes that the hard work would pay off with performance gains on the race track. Dwayne took to the track for the first qualifier on Saturday afternoon, but the result would not meet the teams expectations. The engine would lose a cylinder just before the 1/8-mile mark and Dwayne would shut it off just before the 1000 ft, drifting through with a 6.39 at a mere 189 mph. When the team arrived back to the pit, the problem was quickly diagnosed and everyone went to work. In addition to the engine problem, a change was also necessary in the transmission before we could head out for the next round of qualifying. The entire team worked diligently and completed all repairs with plenty of time to spare. However, the work would not exactly be rewarded...at least not yet.
On the second qualifying pass, the engine would again lose a cylinder and slow prior to the 1/8-mile. Dwayne would again shut it off in hopes of saving as many parts as possible. So, the team again went to work to repair the wounded powerplant. With some support from Mike Janis of Jan-Cen Racing Engines, the root of the problem was diagnosed and quickly corrected. The team again performed extremely efficiently and completed all of the necessary repairs in plenty of time to make the 3rd and final qualifying round. As Dwayne powered down the quarter-mile, the dense air that had descended upon Englishtown provided just a little too much horsepower. Dwayne would need to pedal the car just after the 60 ft, but he would take it on through with a 6.51 @ 220 mph. This time, however, there would be no damage done. The 6.39 from the first qualifying pass was good enough to qualify us in the #12 position. So, we would head into race day on Sunday against the #5 qualifier, Eric Latino.
Dwayne would give up lane choice in the first round of eliminations to Latino. When the cars left the line, Dwayne had a significant advantage on the lights and he would never trail. The Wolfe Racing Firebird powered through the traps with a weekend-best 6.24 @ 224 mph to Latino's losing 6.91. This would earn us a berth in the second round against the Steve Petty-tuned turbo car of Jose Gonzalez. At the flash of the green, Dwayne would leave with an 0.05 second advantage, but the turbo car proved to be too much. Gonzalez would take the win with a 5.96 to Dwayne's 6.29. Gonzalez would go on to win the event.
In the end, the team had a weekend of which to be proud. Everyone worked extremely hard and persevered through several significant hardships to advance into the second round of one of the premier Pro Mod races in the country and set a few personal performance records in the process.
VICTORY!! -- Wolfe Wins at Motor Mile Dragway
Interesting Weekend Leads to Unexpected Race...and Win
The photo above shows the result of the race at Motor Mile Dragway in Radford, VA this past Saturday. However, it doesn't tell the whole story.
The weekend began with a plan to head to Maryland and run a test session at MIR on Friday and an invitational race at Capitol on Saturday. After we received word on Thursday that neither event would be held due to the massive amount of rain received in the previous week, the team decided to call an audible and head south for drier tracks and sunny skies.
We pulled into Motor Mile Dragway on Friday evening to do some testing of a new combination that has been installed in the car over the past few weeks. The team was expecting some growing pains during the test session as there was much to learn with the new setup. Unfortunately, the on-track learning ended after only one pass, as one of the newly installed parts experienced a serious failure. After diagnosing the problem and locating the parts to fix it, we disassembled the car and prepared to complete the repairs on Saturday morning.
With our issues on Friday night, we decided to just test on Saturday even though there was a race for us at the track that day. When the car left the starting line on the first test pass of the day, it was clear that the problems from the night before had been corrected. The car smoked the tires immediately, which in this case, was a welcome site. With a few changes to the tuneup, we headed out for our second test pass, following closely in behind the Super Street Outlaws Big Chief class. This time, the result would be drastically different. Dwayne would pilot the Wolfe Racing Firebird down the 1/8-mile with a fairly clean pass, posting a 4.22-second elapsed time at 174 mph. Considering that was good enough for the number 1 position in the Big Chief class, the officials at the track came calling on us. The class had a low car count and they wanted us to participate in the race. We were a bit reluctant given our need to test our new combination, but we decided to jump into the race. On the next pass, we would officially cross the scales to weigh-in for the class and make another clean pass at a 4.24 @ 175 mph. After the second round of qualifying, that pass would actually only get us into the 3rd position.
Given that we came to test and now found ourselves in a race, the mindset should change, but instead the crew chief decided to not change the tuning approach for the day. Heading into the semi-final round, Dwayne would be paired against the Big Chief points leader, Don Tolley, in his blown 69 Chevelle. Dwayne and Tolley would leave the line dead even and stay that way through the 330 foot mark, but Dwayne would pull away on the back half of the track and take the win with a 4.20 @ 176 to Tolley's losing 4.23. That win, accompanied with the win by Greg Meyers in the other semi-final, would put Meyers at the top of the Big Chief points heading into the final. Dwayne would have lane choice over Meyers, in his screw-blown Firebird. At the flash of the green in the final round, Meyers would have a slight advantage on the starting line and the cars would run side-by-side all the way to the finish line. On the top end of the track, our Jan-Cen Roots-blown AJ481X would overpower the screw blown Hemi of Meyers. Dwayne would take the win light with a 4.16 @ 177 mph to Meyers losing 4.19.
We didn't plan to go to Radford, but the weather forced it. We didn't plan on racing, but were convinced to do so. When we did race, Dwayne would defeat the points leader in the Big Chief series twice, in two successive rounds of competition....AND we won the race. It was an interesting weekend.
Wolfe Qualifies 3rd at NEOPMA Maple Grove
The Wolfe Racing team headed north to Maple Grove Raceway on August 12 for the second time in as many months, with high hopes of improving on the results from the previous trip.
With Dwayne strapped into the seat and the car approaching the head of the staging lanes, the skies threatened and intermittent sprinkles fell to the ground. Fortunately, the weather would hold off and Dwayne would take to the track for our first qualifying session of the day. Dwayne would be lined up against class points leader Tim O'Hare as the first pair of blown cars to see the track. Both cars left the line and would run through the quarter-mile under power. This would prove to be the only pair of cars that would get ahold of the racetrack in this session, as O'Hare would be first and Dwayne would be second (6.43) after the first round of qualifying.
By the time Dwayne would pull onto the track for the second qualifier, he would find himself bumped down to the third spot in the order. Considering that we were the final car in line, it was certain that we would be no lower than third on the qualifying sheet at the end of the day. The only remaining question was whether or not the Wolfe Racing Firebird would have enough performance to rise higher in the standings. Dwayne would pilot the car down the track successfully, but there would be no improvement on this run. With qualifying completed, we stood as the third qualifier behind Tim O'Hare and Kevin McCurdy. With the field set, Dwayne would be matched up against Scott Filkins in the first round of eliminations.
As we prepared the car for the first round, the skies opened and several inches of rain fell in a short period of time. The event was then cancelled, with Mother Nature once again taking the victory.
Wolfe Qualifies Among Stiff Competition at NEOPMA Super Chevy Show
Being avid Chevy guys, we have wanted to attend a Super Chevy Show for many years. Of course, now that we own a Pontiac Firebird, it is time that we finally get to go to one. The Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association brought their "1320 Pro Mod Warriors" to the storied Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, PA on 7/15/2011. A total of 9 Nitrous Pro Mods and 12 Blower/Turbo Pro Mods were in attendance to attempt to qualify for the two 8-car fields.
There was a promise of a shakedown run on Friday afternoon (which we were very much looking forward to), but a scheduling conflict with the track didn't allow that to happen. So, instead of getting a little testing in, we headed out that evening for our first round of qualifying. During the run, a bumpy and ill-prepared track beyond the 330-ft mark caused us a few issues and caused Dwayne to need to shut the car off early as it moved hard toward the center line just before the 1/8-mile mark. The run would yield a 7.10 @ 148 mph, but not near what we wanted to see. We would have two more shots at qualifying on Saturday.
The first pass on Saturday afternoon would come in the right lane, which proved to be a better lane for us. Dwayne blasted down the quarter-mile and went through the traps at 217 mph, stopping the clocks with a 6.448 elapsed time. That was good enough to get us in the field, but there was still one round of qualifying remaining. We would be back in the left lane for the third qualifying pass and would again have some issues on the big end of the track. This time, though, the car would go through under power with a 6.508 @ 215.96. The 6.44 would hold up to qualify us for the #7 position in the 8-car field, making the Wolfe Racing Firebird the only non-Chevy in either Pro Mod field.
Qualified for the event, we could relax a little on Saturday night before heading into eliminations on Sunday. The good news is, we qualified #7. The bad news is, #7 must run #2 in the first round. Oh well, the bigger they are, the harder they fall...right? We would go to the line on Sunday afternoon to take on Tim O'Hare in his beautiful red 69 Camaro. Tim qualified in the #2 position with a 6.12 and would have lane choice for the first round. Dwayne would see the amber on the Christmas Tree, but the car would react quicker than usual, turning the red light on in his lane. While it would hand the win to O'Hare, Dwayne would drive the car on through the quarter to run a 6.485. O'Hare would go on to win the event.
We made a lot...and we mean a lot... of changes throughout the weekend, but the performance just wasn't quite there for the car. We did attain some consistency that we have been looking for, but we have a few issues that have yet to be resolved. We are working diligently on those issues and we believe that we are pretty close to the solution. The schedule for the next month or so is up in the air, but we hope to solidify that in the coming weeks.
EOPM Competitors Too Strong at "The Farm"
At the last Extreme Outlaw Pro Mod race at MIR in May, we sneaked into the field in the 8th qualifying position. This time around, we headed south once again to "The Farm", Farmington Dragway. We would encounter some stiff competition at this event with 19 Pro Mods on the grounds to attempt to qualify for the 8-car field. Names like Todd Tutterow, Randy Weatherford, Bobby Baucom and Greg Godwin were in attendance to take on the 1/8-mile at "The Farm".
The first qualifying pass for the Wolfe Racing Firebird would lose traction prior to the 60 ft. mark, stopping the 1/8-mile clocks at a mere 4.963 @ 148 mph. After a few changes, we headed back out for the second qualifier, this time with much better results. Dwayne would blast down the track to a 4.132 second elapsed time at 177 mph. That would not be enough to get into the stout field, so we were down to one last shot at getting into the show. In that final qualifier, we would again improve, but a 4.126 was not enough to get into a field in which the bump spot was a 4.05.
Following the second round of eliminations, we would head out to the track for a test pass to try out a completely different setup in the car. The change would be an improvement until the 1.2-second mark when the car experienced some severe tire shake.
There you have it; our weekend down on "The Farm" wasn't what we had hoped it would be, but in the process of continual improvement, we are making some progress working out some issues. The car attained consistent 0.970-second 60 feet times, even with some excessive tire spin. We may not have gotten into the field, but we can take some solace that some big name racers also didn't make the cut.
We are now on to the NEOPMA race at the Super Chevy Show at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, PA.
Wolfe #1 Qualifier at Motor Mile Dragway "Big Chief" Race
On June 10, 2011, the Wolfe Racing team headed south to Motor Mile Dragway in Radford, VA. This was our second visit to the track with the car, with the first being a test session sponsored by one of our corporate partners. This time, however, the team came prepared to compete in the "Big Chief" class associated with the Super Street Outlaw Series. This is a wide open class with the primary rule being a weight limit that is specific to each type of power adder. A total of six cars showed up for the event, with two of them being screw-blown cars. So, how would the little roots blower on the Wolfe Racing Firebird fair against the screw blowers?
We made it to the track on Friday night in time to make a single test pass. On that pass, the car would launch properly, but would encounter excessive tire spin just before the 60 ft. mark. Dwayne would pedal the car very quickly, get it to recover and then proceed down the 1/8-mile to stop the clocks with a 4.19 second elapsed time at 173 mph. With a good starting point, the crew put the car away for the night and waited for race day.
As Saturday dawned, it was hot...very hot. Just as we were about to be called to the lanes for the first qualifying session, the skies opened up and a massive thunderstorm dumped several inches of rain and marble-sized hail across the area. Mother Nature strikes again and washes out another event? Not quite. Fortunately, the skies cleared, the track was dried and several hours later, we were on track for our first qualifying session. Taking the information from the night before, the tuneup was adjusted slightly for the first qualifier. As the car launched, there would be no pedal needed this time, and Dwayne piloted the 'Bird down the race track to a 4.21-second elapsed time in the heat of the day and 4600 ft density altitude. This 4.21 would be enough to keep Dwayne as the #1 qualifier for the event.
Entering eliminations, breakage on several competitor's vehicles setup for a strange bracket. All first round "matchups" would turn out to be bye runs. This would setup a second round matchup for Dwayne against Harold Robinson in his Naturally Aspirated GTO. We would lose a grip on the race track in eliminations, but fortunately for us, Robinson would red light, handing Dwayne the win and a trip to the finals. In the other semi-final, Greg Meyers, in his screw blown Firebird, would get a bye into the final, setting up the all-Firebird match-up. Due to some parts issues, Dwayne would slow to a pedaling 4.80 in the final and Meyers would power down the track with an event-best 4.17 to take the win.
While we weren't able to take the win, a #1 qualifying position and runner-up finish on a questionable race track made for a decent outing for the team. Next it is on to Farmington Dragway for the EOPM race in a couple of weeks.
Wolfe Qualifies Among a Tight EOPM field
Promising Results in Team's First Race of the Season
Finally, a chance to race. The weather hasn't been kind to us this season, but on May 29, 2011, we finally got an opportunity to race in an event. After two rainouts, we jumped into a loaded field of Pro Mods in the Extreme Outlaw Pro Mod (EOPM) event that was held at Maryland International Raceway as part of the Custom T's Doorslammer Nationals.
The team arrived on Saturday for a few test passes to check out a few changes that were made since our last trip to the track. While not wildly successful, the team gained enough information to setup a decent baseline for the first qualifying pass that was to occur Sunday at Noon. With the tuneup set, Dwayne would be one of the first pair of Pro Mods to see the track for qualifying. The car would have traction issues at 80 ft, but Dwayne would drive through it to stop the clock with a respectable 4.043 second, 176 mph qualifying time. By the end of the first round of qualifying, this time would be good enough to put us 6th in the qualifying order with two rounds to go.
With a decent pass in the books, the team was looking for a little more to get into that illusive 3-second zone. However, a significant warmup in the weather after the first pass would take that possibility away. Dwayne would consistently pilot the Wolfe Racing Pro Mod down the track with consistent 4.07 passes on the final two qualifying runs of the day. Those runs would not be good enough to improve our qualifying position. After we arrived back to our pit following our final qualifying pass, there was one pair of cars left to go down the track that could bump us out of the field. At the time, we sat on the #8 spot for the 8-car field (with a total of 17 cars vying for those positions). As Marc Hayes and Danny Perry encountered tire shake in the first 60 ft, it became clear that we would in fact qualify for the event.
Qualifying is great, but when you are #8, you get the pleasure of running the #1 qualifier in the first round of eliminations. This happened to be Chris Rini in his 68 Camaro, who ripped off a 3.951 pass in the third round of qualifying to jump to the top of the ladder (which co-incidentally moved us down to the bump spot). In this first round battle, Rini would leave the line first and never trail, running another 3.95-second pass to Dwayne's 4.06. Rini would go on to the final, but would lose to Steve Vick, who put down a 3.93 to take the win.
And there you have it. The story of our first full race of the 2011 season. We had a consistent car on race day that was good enough to qualify in a field that contained several ADRL regulars. Consistency is a critical component in winning races. We have found a little consistency, but we will be working diligently to find a little more performance to allow us to continue to compete at such a high level.
We would like to thank the EOPM series directors as well as the Custom T's team for all of their hard work in promoting this event. It was a good time for all and the event provided some great competition. We are looking forward to working with them at their next joint event at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, VA in July.
Wolfe Racing Team Testing Cutting-Edge Technology
New Fiber Optic Sensing Equipment Being Adapted to Motorsports
Wolfe Racing, LLC has teamed with an industry-leading fiber optic instrumentation company to adapt the company's revolutionary technology to the world of motorsports. This technology has been progressing steadily over the last few years and the time has come to approach harsh environments such as that presented by a Pro Modified vehicle. With the knowledge that the team has regarding the capabilities of the fiber optic products, we firmly believe that they will allow significant advancements in the next few years in the world of drag racing as well as throughout all of motorsports.
The use of fiber optics as a means of performing sensing measurements is not a new concept as it has been highly in aerospace and other industries. However, until now, this specific technology has not been used in motorsports. Optical fiber is lightweight, rugged, inexpensive, around the same diameter as a human hair and it provides an extensive measurement range. All of these traits make it perfect for use in motorsports.
An initial test has already been completed with this equipment on board the team's Pro Mod Firebird with good results. We are not at liberty to discuss any more details of this testing at this time, but more extensive information will be made available in the coming days or weeks. The team will continue testing the equpment throughout the year at select events.
Check back for more details on this new, exiting and absolutely amazing technology that Wolfe Racing is helping to bring to motorsports.
2011 Season Update
There hasn't been an update to the site for a few months, but really because there isn't much to report. The team has traveled to perform a few test sessions and enter one race, but weather hasn't been kind to us in the first few months of the season.
In 2011, the team joined the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) and ventured to Maryland International Raceway (MIR) in April for the series' opening test session. On the second pass of the year, Dwayne would pilot the Wolfe Racing Pro Mod Firebird to personal bests yet again at all incrementals leading to the 1/8th mile (4.001 seconds @ 180 mph). He would then shut the car off around the 1000 ft mark and drift through with a 6.35.
Upon the conclusion of the test session, we felt prepared for our first race of the season, which was to be in Farmington, NC on April 23. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and the entire event was washed out the day before the race.
Our next attempt at racing occurred with the NEOPMA series again at MIR on May 13-14 as part of the IHRA Mountain Motor Nationals. The Pro Mods showed up in force for the event. We struggled all weekend, but finally made a decent pass in our 4th and final qualifying session, getting in the show with a 6.35 @ 219 mph. Now it was time for our first round of eliminations for the 2011 season. As we sat in the staging lanes, Dwayne buckled into the car, preparing to face Larry Plummer in the Pullen Motorsports 68 Firebird, the heavens filled with lightening and the loud cracks of thunder. Everyone (and we mean everyone) frantically headed for their haulers and put their cars away as quickly as possible. During this process, the clouds opened and washed out the remainder of the event.
The Wolfe Racing team will again be in action on May 29, 2011 at MIR for the Extreme Outlaw Pro Mod 1/8th mile race. With some good fortune from the weather, we may get a chance to race for the first time of the season.
2011 Schedule Posted
Team Looks to Continue Progress from 2010 Season
The beginning of the 2011 season is soon to be upon us. Check out our preliminary schedule for the upcoming season.
Wolfe Racing Team Ends 2010 Season in Orlando
Significant Adversity Overcome to Qualify in Top Ten of World Street Nationals
Orlando 2010... Where do we start? This has been a race that we have wanted to attend for 15 years, but we never had the opportunity or the equipment. This year, however, we made the leap and headed for the Florida sun to compete in the Super Pro Street category at the Real World Street Nationals at Speedworld Dragway in Orlando. This event would be loaded with legendary Pro Street competitors and past champions, such as Tony Christian, Chris Rini, Mike Hill, Steve King, Tim Baptista and Tony "The Sandman" Williams.
A normal schedule at this event provides for four qualifying sessions, two each on Friday and Saturday, with final eliminations on Sunday. However, this year there was a reduced car count at the event, allowing each competitor to get an opportunity to make a total of six qualifying passes. As it turned out, we would need every one of them in order to break into the field of 32 cars.
The race track in Orlando is tricky to say the least. It is a combination of race tracks that we normally race on, but it is not like any one track. Therefore, it provided some significant tuning challenges when coupled with a few changes to our normal car configuration due to the rules for the event. On each of the three qualifying attempts on Friday, Dwayne would successfully pilot the car 30 ft. from the starting line before the car would go into a brief tire shake and then violently spin the tires. Pedaling the car to get it to recover, we would muster only an 8.10-second elapsed time at 197 mph by the end of the day on Friday.
This inability to get down the race track on the first day of qualifying was part of our struggles for the weekend, but it definitely would not be the last that we would experience. After the second qualifying pass on Friday, we were nearly in an off track accident as the parachutes from a car exiting the race track hooked our wheelie bars and nearly pulled our car into the rear of our golf cart loaded with crew members. Fortunately, Dwayne was able to grab the brake quick enough to stop the car before damage or injury could occur. But the drama for Friday would not end there.
The final pass of the day on Friday would begin with an ignition problem and end with a fire under the hood of the car. With delayed response by the safety crew, there was fire damage to the hood and some of the components on the front of the car. The team worked diligently over the next few hours to get the car repaired and ready for Saturday's qualifying sessions as we were not in a good position on the qualifying sheet after the first day.
Tensions were rising high for the team as we started Saturday morning with the promise of only two qualifying runs, but the possibility that we would again get three. We made some significant changes to many areas of the car for the first session on Saturday in hopes of learning something that may help us to manuever this tricky race track. Well, to keep it simple...those changes just didn't work. So, fresh out of ideas, we turned to Mike Janis, 2-time Pro Mod World Champion. Mike has helped us significantly in the last few seasons, so we called him on Saturday morning, described what we were seeing and asked his opinion on what we should try. After a brief, but extremely informative discussion, we dialed up several changes to the car setup and went out for our fifth qualifying session. This time, the car would get to the 60 ft. mark before experiencing severe tire shake that caused the engine to shut off. Progress! Even though it wasn't what we were looking for, it let us know that we were finally moving in the right direction.
Upon getting back to the pit, we discovered that the tire shake actually damaged the battery on the car. We promptly installed our spare battery and began testing all of our electrical systems. Well, it turns out that the spare battery was also not functioning properly, so we had to go to a vendor that was at the track and buy a new battery so we could make the final qualifying session.
Upon getting to the staging lanes for that final qualifying session, we found out that we were indeed bumped from the field of 32 cars, so we were on the outside looking in with only one chance left. This has been a common occurence in 2010 for the team and it is something that we are looking forward to not experiencing much in the future. Out of 39 cars, we were qualified at #35, and only 32 would be taken into eliminations. We made a few more changes in a similar direction as we made for the previous run and headed to the line for our final shot at making the field. One second into the run, we knew we did it. The car spun, but Dwayne kept it on the track under power and went across the finish line with a 6.61 @ 212 mph. That was enough to vault us from #35 to #8 on the ladder, allowing us to actually out-qualify half of those legendary racers mentioned earlier.
As Sunday dawned, we were ready to get to racing. With some guidance, we finally learned how to get down this racetrack and we were very happy to have the trials and tribulations from the weekend behind us. Because, with all of the trouble that we had on Friday and Saturday, we certainly wouldn't have any more incidents that we needed to face on Sunday...would we?
When eliminations began, Dwayne would face off against the #25 qualifier, Johnny Cobb, in his nitrous-assisted 1957 Chevy. Dwayne would leave the line first and never trail, stopping the clocks with a 6.59 @ 213 mph and advancing into the second round to face the #9 qualifier Dave Norris. In that round, Dwayne nailed the tree and quickly pulled away from Norris' turbocharged '68 Camaro to take the win with a 6.60 @ 211 mph (see video of this run courtesy of grs-motorsports.com, here). That victory would advance us into the round of 8 and earn us a shot at the #1 qualifier and new track record holder, Tony Christian.
We would put enough in the tuneup to take him down, but it wasn't to be. Dwayne and Christian were neck-and-neck until Dwayne would again experience tire shake about 80 feet into the run. He would drive through it, but the car would again go completely silent 6.0 seconds into the run due to a broken blower belt. Christian would take the win, but he would pay a hefty price and we would again be reminded that everything happens for a reason. As Christian crossed the finish line, he would experience a mechanical failure that would cause him to lose control of his car, cross immediately in front of Dwayne at 200+ mph and impact the left wall. With some evasive driving, Dwayne would avoid Christian's car and the shrapnel that was all over the track and bring the Wolfe Racing Firebird to a safe stop at the end of the track.
Now that the weekend is over, we can look back and call it a success, but it sure didn't feel like that at nearly any point throughout the weekend. This weekend is simply a reminder that racing is a humbling sport and to never give up. We are proud of the efforts of the entire team throughout the 2010 season, but especially in the trials that we experienced in Orlando. We went there to try and win one for Doug. We didn't get it done, but one of his favorite phrases easily sums up our weekend: "That's racing".
Extensive coverage (including videos) of the event is available online at the following locations:
We also need to say thanks to the guys at HorsePower Sales Speed Shop in Orlando, FL for helping us out with the parts and pieces that we needed to repair the car from the fire and tire shake damage.
Shockey Competes in Extreme Golf Cart Race
Jay Shockey, car chief for the Wolfe Racing team, tried out his driving skills on the Thursday before the World Street Finals in Orlando. Jay jumped into the Extreme Golf Cart Competition held annually as a prelude to the Finals. With his hat turned around backwards for maximum aerodynamics, he was assisted before his runs by his crew (Dwayne Wolfe and Jon Hill) in the burnout box to ensure that the tires were heated properly. In his two qualifying sessions, Jay would run consistent 1/8-mile elapsed times of 30.2 seconds.
When eliminations rolled around, Jay took his hot rod to the starting line with a 12-second head start against his quicker opponent for the bracket race. The cart left a little soft, but picked up on the top end. Jay pedalled it a few times but crossed the finish line with a 29.3-second elapsed time. This was slightly quicker than his dial-in, so unfortunately, he was eliminated from the competition. When asked after the event why he didn't slow down a little more, he could only shake his head and say, "I tried to...but she was making too much boost". (Note: You really had to be there to fully appreciate this article.)
Wolfe Racing Loses a Friend
By Matt Wolfe
Doug Bittinger was many things to many people. To us, he was a machinist, supplier, mentor and above all, a friend. On 10/20/2010, Doug passed away at the age of 68 at his home in Mountain Lake Park, MD.
Doug's work ethic was second-to-none and it was driven by his extreme passion for engines, racing and most importantly, for learning. His intelligence would rival any engineer in the world and his talent and mastery with his hands surpassed even the best machinists. That combination of qualities is what made him so impressive. Doug was completely self-taught. If he didn't understand something, he studied it constantly until he not only understood it, but mastered it. If you discussed something with Doug that he wasn't familiar with, a few months later, he would be explaining the concepts to you in much greater detail than you had ever known.
Doug's "what you see is what you get" and direct style isn't often seen in today's world. In talking with Doug, if you came away without knowing what he really thought, it was probably because you weren't paying attention or you simply didn't understand what he said to you. Doug was also the epitome of a racer. He went to the racetrack to win and if he didn't win, it wasn't good enough.
The last time I spoke with Doug in August is something that I will not soon forget. I have heard his voice in my head at the racetrack multiple times since that discussion, and as usual, he was right. Dwayne had many, many discussions with Doug over the years and will greatly miss his advice. In short, Doug made us better and we are where we are today in part because of him.
The entire Wolfe Racing team is saddened by Doug's passing and we will miss him. Members of the team will be attending Doug's funeral on Sunday, October 24, just a few days before heading to our final race of the season in Orlando, FL. As Doug would have wanted, we are going to that race with only one purpose: to win it.
Shakedown at E'Town 2010
Wolfe Racing Sets Personal Bests in Englishtown
On Friday, October 1, 2010, the Wolfe Racing team set off for Englishtown, NJ and the annual Shakedown at E'Town event. This race was a memorable one for us in 2009, as we worked our way into the final of the 1/8-Mile Challenge against Mike Janis. We were hoping to rekindle those memories and find the same fortune that we found one short year ago in Englishtown. This time, however, we decided to join in the Pro Mod Blown class that raced the full 1/4-Mile instead of racing to our normal 1/8-Mile distance.
The weather was a little interesting leading into the weekend as a tropical storm (Nicole) drenched the east coast in rain. We planned to stop off on Friday for a quick test session at Cecil County Dragway on our way up to the Shakedown. While there was no rain in the mid-morning hours, the damage from the storm had been done and the track crew would need to spend the day preparing the racetrack for the Friday night event instead of running the test session that was originally planned. With that deviation in plan, we headed north into the remnants of the storm and pulled into Englishtown as the rain was ending.
Saturday dawned with brisk temperatures, but bright, sunny, cloudless skies. The excellent air conditions and the lack of data on the 1/4-Mile presented some interesting challenges for the team. On the initial qualifying pass of the day, Dwayne piloted the Wolfe Racing, LLC Pro Mod 2002 Firebird to a 6.290-second elapsed time at a somewhat sluggish 217 mph, placing Dwayne #7 among the 22 Pro Mods entered into the event.
Our second qualifying pass would be nearly an identical run to the first, with the difference to come at the end of the racetrack. At 200+ mph, the car briefly lost traction and dove for the centerline. Dwayne would pull the parachutes quickly and keep the car under control, while stopping the clocks with a 6.285 time at 216.9 mph. Dwayne would slip into the #12 qualifying position after the second round, with one round remaining.
We headed for the staging lanes at 10am on Sunday morning for our final qualifying run in hopes of improving our position prior to eliminations. Earlier in the session, we were bumped down into the #14 spot and inching ever so close to the dreaded "bump" (#16) spot. On this third qualifier, Dwayne blasted down the track and established new personal bests at every increment (including a 0.968 60 foot time and a 4.012 to the 1/8-Mile) and crossing the line with a 6.217-second 1/4-mile elapsed time at 220.98 mph. With that performance, Dwayne would jump 3 spots into the #11 qualifying position for the loaded Pro Modified field.
With the improved performance from earlier in the day, we headed out to the track for our first round of eliminations against Al-Anabi's Von Smith, former champion and current NHRA Pro Mod series points leader. We found ourselves in yet another David vs. Goliath confrontation, but last year proved that anything is possible and the team was ready for the challenge. At the launch, Dwayne experienced a bit of premature acceleration and would hand the win to Smith with a red-light foul. He would pilot the car down the track with a 6.23 at 221.98 mph. Adding insult to injury, Smith would slow prior to the 330-foot mark and drift through to the finish.
And so ends our second trek to the Shakedown at E'town, but with slightly different results from our first visit. The team set and re-set all of our personal-best times and speeds during this event and it set us up for our final event of the season in Orlando, FL at the World Street Nationals later in October.
*** See 2010 Results Page for More Information on 2010 race season ***