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

"Great balls o' fire!" is not something you want to hear at a track.

Capitol Raceway, Crofton, Md.

Bracket Race: Saturday, April 24, 1999

Today the Earth moved.

After months of hedging and apologizing and rescheduling, Josh II finally ran out of flimsy excuses about having stuff to do and joined us at Capitol Raceway for the Saturday practice session.

It was great to add a third car to our dragstrip assault. Hopefully he will become a regular competitor. We brought a pretty interesting mix to this session: I brought the Paradise Garage 1998 Firebird Formula; Josh brought his 1995 Mustang GT; and Josh II brought his 1992 Talon TSi.

Josh and I arrived at the track way too early so we spent a lot of time listening to the "insiders" who know someone get some practice runs in while we waited outside. But eventually they let us peons in, almost on time, so that we could go wait in line at tech for an hour or so. Too crowded? Um, no. The competitors were the only ones there. They didn't send an official down to tech us in until they were good and ready.

With tech out of the way, Josh and I got into the staging lanes along with a couple other early birds and waited for them to let us begin practice. And waited. And waited. They told us they were waiting for more cars. Ahem, the reason we showed up early was to beat the crowds, not to wait for them!

Josh II showed up, teched, and joined us in line. He left for the track an hour and a half later than we did, and he did not miss a single run. Great.

Headed down the track! You can see how the car just hunkers down a little and takes off.
The only good that came out of this delay was meeting Matt, who brought a 1997 Mustang GT with a 5-speed and SVO side exhaust. Cool. Hi Matt!

It finally dawned on the track officials to let us get a little practice in during the practice session, so away we went! And for the first time ever, Josh and I squared off. It wasn't an even match; we knew it wasn't going to be an even match; it was fun anyway. I ran a 13.69 to Josh's 14.69.

Both of us stayed in that general area all day long -- at least when we remembered how to drive -- and we even dialled in at 13.65 and 14.65 respectively. How weird. Josh II, meanwhile, was still learning the ropes. His initial 19-second timeslip was gradually whittled down to a respectable 15.6 and his 2.5-second 60-ft went all the way down to 2.1. Gotta love all-wheel-drive.

We didn't get too many practice runs in, especially as the day wore on, because of continued delays. And now for a brief word to Capitol Raceway, in case you guys are reading this:

You have a good location. You have nice restrooms. Even your food prices are not too extreme compared to, say, a movie theater. But the way you run your track is going to force us to drive to another facility.

It's flat rude to make paying customers wait when your staff is present. We came to race, and if we are there when the gates are opened, it's because we want some early runs. It is not so that we can stand around in the staging lanes, wondering what's going on.

You closed one lane, then eventually reopened it and closed the other, so you could prep the track. You said you had to do it during practice because it was raining the day before. Fair enough. You can't control the weather. But why were you doing it in the middle of practice, when you had all morning to make such preparations? Naturally this resulted in everyone getting half as many runs as they could have.

Finally, if someone has soaked the track or some other calamity beyond your control has closed the track, you need to tell your racers! We don't like standing around for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or more for no apparent reason. Oh, and by the way, we can't hear you talking during a burnout.

Rant mode off.

Josh II started having fun when he beat a third generation Firebird during practice, but unfortunately had to leave for work. Josh and I stuck around for eliminations, which, of course, started late.

In the first round of eliminations, I was forced to run a friend of ours with a modified LT1 Camaro (white with orange stripes; you can't miss him). I beat him, but not by much -- he broke out by 0.0002 sec. Josh, meanwhile, smacked a green 1993 Mustang when he hit his dial-in on the nose and had a reaction time of 0.55, only slightly slower than his day's best of 0.52.

Wouldn't you know it, our Camaro bud did a buy-back. Since he was the only one in the Street class to do so, he got a bye run and lined up with us again. This time he matched up with Josh. I faced a modified 1965 Mustang but was a little off my rhythm after an interminally long one hour between runs and lost with a 14.09@101, my second-worst time for the day. Josh fared better than I did, but Camaro Dude beat him by 0.08 sec.

We were both done. But still, we made it past the first round, which is better than half the field managed. Josh also set a new high trap speed: 14.6@95.4. I equalled my best of 13.66 but could not better it.

Josh and I are ready for the next competition, but it probably won't be at Capitol. Hopefully Josh II will be able to join us again soon.