V-V-F Dragathon III
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© 1999 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

You say potato, I say yecch.

Maryland International Raceway, Budds Creek, Md.

Bracket Race: Saturday, April 10, 1999

Ahhh... the V-V-F Dragathon. An exciting event pitting the talents of the Mid-Atlantic F-Body Organization against those of the Viper Club of Virginia and Maryland, the Northern Virginia Corvette Club, and the Hampton Roads Corvette Club. These four organizations descended on Maryland International Raceway for a morning of practice followed by a blistering eliminations bracket race.

There was some seriously fast machinery here. We were not one of them.

Oh sure, we attended, and we competed, but our stone-stock LS1 Firebird was no match for the very serious street machines dominating the event. It was an honor to be among them.

The Firebird on a practice run.
Good thing we were proud to just be there, because the morning quickly revealed the pecking order for the day. I missed third gear on my first run, and that was after posting a comically bad 2.73 sixty-foot. Clearly I had forgotten everything I ever knew about drag racing. Just in time to do it in front of all my peers.

I scored a rematch with the maroon Camaro and smacked him but good. And that was the last time I was to win a run for the next three hours. You name it, I lost to it. Yes, there were Vipers and Callaway Twin Turbos and Lingenfelters running around, but I was not losing to them. I was losing to my fellow Camaros and Firebirds. And I was losing bad.

It felt like each run was worse than the previous. I watched my timeslips leave the 13s and head for the 14s like the bad old days before I took some friendly driving advice to heart. Each time I expected to get back where I belonged. Each time I did not. The frustration grew. I took some time off to cool my head and car. I hoped that would help. It didn't.

Finally I just chalked it up to a bad day at the races and determined to get as many runs in as possible, since I would surely be sent home in the first round of eliminations. They called us to line up -- Camaros in Lane 1; Firebirds in Lane 2; Corvettes in Lane 3; Vipers in Lane 4; and the nuts who insisted on paying $50 to test-n-tune in the middle of our club shootout in Lane 5. But one of those nuts was driving a 1968 Charger so I certainly did not object to their presence.

The eliminations structure was simple. Each class of car would run until there was a class champion, and then each of the four class champions would race for the overall win. I dialed in at an anemic 14.10.

Firebird vs. Firebird. Always a close match.
My lineup was against Wayne Edelen, a sportsman and gentleman who always takes the time to say hello and show you around. His purple 1996 Formula is as fast as it is beautiful. He showed me his taillights in short order. But when we got up to the booth, the track official put the slash on my car! How was this possible??

Wayne redlighted! Well. My luck at winning the first round at MIR was holding out. At least I could tell my friends that I won one round.

Second round was against a red WS6 Formula. When we crossed the line, we could pretty much look straight at each other. It was anyone's guess. We pulled up to the booth and... mine! By 0.080 second. Amazing! I passed the second round.

Third round found me in the front of the line. There was an odd number of cars so one of us was destined for a bye run. I cut the deck and drew a card. Ace! My God! I got the bye!! They shuffled me to the end of the line and I enjoyed my solo run, knowing I'd be back one more time.

I faced a fellow LS1 car in the fourth round. His was a black WS6 Trans Am. And he was good. I knew in advance that it was over for me. Which goes to show what I know. He broke out. Flabbergasting. That meant it was me and one other Firebird.

His was a black LT1 WS6 Trans Am with unkind remarks about Mustangs lettered in the glass. His was also a red light. Damn!! That made me the Firebird class winner! Holy smokes! Not bad for a beginner! But it wasn't over yet.

No, there were two final rounds. The Camaro and Corvette champions faced each other, leaving me with... the Viper. A bright blue Viper GTS. We exchanged thumbs-up before lining up. I took off first, well in advance of the Viper's green light. But he caught up. We went to the booth and... he got it. Yep! The Viper won. He broke out, too; but I committed the worse sin: I redlighted. I tripped a .490. Damn!! It was a near-perfect run too: 14.102 on a 14.10 dial-in. But a red light is a red light. I was finally done.

Me, my car, and my trophy!
The booth guy told me to head for the tower and collect my trophy. "What are you talking about?" I asked. He explained that I was the class winner and I needed to get my trophy. A trophy? I didn't know we were racing for trophies! Too cool!

So now I have this really nice trophy from my amazing class win at the V-V-F Dragathon III. I couldn't be happier. And considering the way the day started, I couldn't be more surprised.

Apologies to those club racers whose names are not mentioned! Drop me an e-mail and I'll make a correction.