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© 1999 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

The trick to avoid drowning is to hold your breath for so long that you start breathing through your ears, like a fish.

Capitol Raceway, Crofton, Md.

Test Session: Saturday, March 27, 1999

It was supposed to rain, and it was supposed to rain hard. Maybe even snow.

It didn't. Hahahahahaha.

We took the Paradise Garage 1998 Pontiac Firebird up to Capitol Raceway hoping the weather would hold. It was a cool day so we wanted some good timeslips. When we got there, we met the two dozen or so other people who also decided to take a chance.

Sharing a track with a couple dozen people has its advantages and disadvantages. In the plus column, how many passes do you want? In the minus column, you wind up racing the same folks over and over, and sometimes have no one to race at all.

Not surprisingly, we were the only LS1-powered car at the event. We were also the only Firebird, and one of only two F-bodies. Considering that the last Capitol Raceway event was swarming with F-bodies, it felt kind of odd.

The techies couldn't believe that we planned on running a stock Firebird into the 13s on Eagle RSA tires. But after checking that we had a helmet, they let us go.

My wife went up to the stands where she could get a nice view of the track with our camera while I got into the staging lanes to start the fun.

The Firebird and I stage in Lane 2. Check out my cool melon.
After waiting for about an hour (the reason was unclear -- this track likes to make people wait), we finally got to prove the techies wrong. I peeled of a 13.7@105! That's my fastest trap speed ever, but a slower e.t. by 0.04 second. I would have enjoyed my personal victory more if the Grand Prix in the other lane hadn't walked away from me with a 12.1@115.

Next round, five minutes later, my e.t. moved up to 13.8 and a trap of 104. This would prove to be the most frequent time for the day, but it was enough to spank a red Fox-body Mustang LX that ran 14.5.

Seven minutes later, I had my butt handed to me by a white late-model Talon which ran 13.3 to my 13.8.

Seven minutes later, I ran by myself for another 13.8. Just before my run, an Acura broke his transmission during his burnout, shutting down the tower-side lane for a while. But there were so few of us, we just used the one lane and there still wasn't a backup.

Because the tower lane was closed, I had to wait a whole ten minutes before I could go again. This time I turned another 13.7 but, oddly, only clocked 103 mph.

At this point I decided the Firebird probably needed a rest, so I rejoined my wife in the stands to check out the competition while the car cooled. There were only a handful of pro streeters; most cars were normal drivers. Four Fox-body Mustangs showed but no SN95 cars. The Mopar contingent had a good showing, with a 'Cuda that was eating everyone alive and a Dodge Demon that could hold its own. On the flipside, a Ram truck reminded everyone why trucks are for towing.

That's me in Lane 1. (Nice reaction time!) Thanks! This race was against a black Mustang but her lousy R.T. and 16-sec. e.t. kept her out of the picture -- literally and figuratively.
A half-hour later, I was back in line and spanked that red LX again, this time 13.8 to 14.2. He was getting faster.

Four minutes later, a white Mustang GT came up to the plate. He had better luck -- my miserable 14.11 (thanks to a bad 60-foot) only barely beat his 14.16. Phew!

Another four minutes later, I lined up next to a red Taurus SHO. I had flashbacks to the Taurus From Hell (at MIR on 10/2/98) but it turned out to be a different SHO. This one was a bit SLO with a 15.7 losing to another 13.8 on the 'Bird.

The Mustangs wouldn't give up. Another GT staged with me, five minutes after the SHO, and lost: 16.4 to 13.7, coupled with my 0.56 reaction time vs. her 0.94, resulted in a three-second margin of victory.

Six minutes later, everyone was cooling their cars so no one was ready to run. I went by myself, and frankly it's just as well that no one was in the other lane. I missed second gear and coasted to a 15-second pass. Oh well.

I stopped to let the Firebird rest some more. I sat in the stands with Kara and we had a good time watching the competition. This included a CRX which spat more blue smoke out its exhaust than off its tires and a Camaro which seemed to be running about two seconds slower than the owner said it could go.

After the 19-minute break, I put my melon back on and got in line. Ahhh, well, I pretty much just drove into the lane of my choice. The SHO lined up for another go and lost again, this time 15.6 to 13.8.

Five minutes later I was back in line and looking for a '93 Talon I had seen from the stands. I almost ran him but a GTO pro street cut ahead so... heh. It was no contest. I was looking at taillights right out of the box. His 12.1 easily clobbered my 14.1.

Undaunted, I was back in five looking for that Talon. I found him and was in for a surprise. I missed fourth gear and coasted to 14.0@84 but he blasted off a 13.5 so he would have won anyway. I later caught up with him and found that his innocuous little car was running 16 lbs of boost. Heh, no wonder he was flying.

I was running out of cool cars to race, so I went one last time, seven minutes after the Talon. This time my adversary was a lifted-to-the-moon Chevy Blazer. If he could catch me, he surely could drive over me too. Luckily the powertrain wasn't as heavily fortified as the suspension so my 13.8 kept me out of danger. With his 17.4, I was halfway down the return road by the time he broke the beams.

Clearly I was not going to do much better than 13.8. I had made 14 passes in two hours. This seemed like enough for one day, especially with my wife stuck in the cold bleachers. We regrouped and headed out.

It's good that we're posting consistent times, but it'd be nice if they were consistently faster. Part of the problem, of course, is the Eagle tires. Some BFGoodrich Drag Radials would go a long way. So would racing at a better track. Capitol's facilities are filthy and the track surface is mediocre so traction is limiting even under the best conditions. We're going to some better tracks soon, so we can't wait to see how they turn out.