Friday Night Test-n-Tune
Paradise Garage

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© 1998-1999 Brian F. Schreurs
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75&80 Drag-A-Way, Monrovia, Md.

Test Session: Friday, August 14, 1998

75/80 Dragway, a small track south of Frederick, Maryland, hosts a test-n-tune for all comers every Friday night. Admission is $15 for a driver and a car; $5 for crew. There are no trophies, but runs are conducted round-robin; there are no eliminations. The pro streeters and the motorcycles are separated from the street cars but there is no further subcategorizing of the street ranks. Thus, it's possible to run against an 11-second supercharged Corvette or a 20-second rusty Tercel.

The Firebird waits for its turn in Lane 2.
My wife and I took the Paradise Garage Firebird there to see what it could do. I hadn't been racing since the Charger retired some years ago, and I wanted to get back into it. My friend Josh followed us in his Mustang GT to get a taste of bracket racing, and our friend Josh II was to meet us there with his Talon TSi once he got away from work.

We arrived a couple hours after the gates opened and found the place busy but not swamped. After breezing through tech we lined up in Lane 2, our assigned lane. I contemplated how to launch a 300-hp stick-shift musclecar and settled on dropping the clutch at 2,000 rpm.

When my turn came I did exactly as I planned and when the tree went down I watched my opponent fly down the track as I sat there at the starting line, making beautiful clouds of bluegrey tire smoke! Eventually the car moved forward and I rolled through the traps at a rather unimpressive 16.7 seconds.

Josh fared about the same, scoring in the low-16s on his first-ever trip to the drags. At the time his Mustang, a 1995 GT with the 5.0L, was lightly modified: a K&N air intake, underdrive pulleys, a B&M electronic shift improver, a Flowmaster cat-back exhaust, BFGoodrich tires, and a cool thermostat were the extent of his performance modifications.

On my second pass I fared somewhat better, lopping two seconds off my time but also sacrificing three mph because of a botched 3-4 shift.

A good launch, strongly on my way to missing the 3-4 upshift.
Although we hoped to run against each other, it was not to be. I met my match against a heavily modified Mustang, but on my last two passes I ran away from a basically-stock LT1 Firebird. Meanwhile, Josh kept squaring off against a BMW 325i and kept beating it, much to the frustration of the Beemer's driver.

But where was Josh II? He finally arrived while track officials were cleaning up a pro street Chevelle that had dropped a wheel and spun into a jersey barrier. He paid to race but hadn't been through tech yet. We sent him back to tech just as the Chevelle was cleared out.

Josh II got through tech while Josh and I squared off against our respective adversaries but, apparently, Peck went into Lane 3 (a pro street lane) by accident. Naturally he missed another round of racing because he had to work his way out of the pro street cars and get into the back of Lane 2.

On what turned out to be my last run of the evening, I noticed raindrops on my windshield as I passed through the shutdown area. I figured that was the end of racing, but got back in line just in case.

Sure enough, before long it was raining with authority. Street cars scrambled for the exits while pro street cars ran for their trailers. It was chaos until the track officials came out and forced some semblance of order on the exodus. The evening was over, an hour early. Josh ran a best of 15.9 seconds at 91.7 mph and I ran my LS1 Firebird to a 14.4 at 98.6, easily besting the LT1 Firebird's 15.4 at 92.3. Josh II never ran.