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

'Course a Porche will attract 'er more than a tractor.

Maryland International Raceway, Budds Creek, Md.

Bracket Race: Saturday, October 9, 1999

We awaited Dragathon IV with great anticipation, but not without a little concern as well. The D4 curse had hit other drivers hard, with an inordinate number of engines, transmissions, and differentials in the garage for rebuilds. Then a fellow member called a pox upon us for questioning about rain dates. We spent the week leading up to the event driving carefully and shifting slowly.

Fortunately we made it to Destructathon IV unscathed. We left unscathed too, which is saying something considering the amount of carnage -- hence the nickname. Two differentials expired and enough pushrods got bent to make a set of windchimes. Miscellaneous engine and transmission problems hobbled even more competitors.

But when the club average of 106 cars is 13.2 at 105 mph, cars are gonna start breaking. Our Formula is a ways below average so we had little to fear.

So the Mid-Atlantic F-Body Organization again teamed up with the Northern Virginia Corvette Club and the Hampton Roads Corvette Club. But this time around we invited the Washington Area Impala Lovers instead of the Vipers, due to poor Viper turnout. Hence the dropping of the V-V-F designation. All three clubs descended on Maryland International Raceway for a morning of test-n-tune and eliminations.

The Firebird gets ready to launch at MIR.
With two and a half hours of test-n-tune time, we decided this was an excellent opportunity to get some testing done on the MS&R airbox. We decided to test the MS&R piece, then switch to the stock unit, then switch back to the MS&R piece, hopefully in time to still run eliminations.

Our first run was a nice 13.80 at 104.5! Not bad, especially considering we still have a dying clutch! Unfortunately, the rear in Michael Harper's Trans Am next to us blew up. Major bummer for Michael, and 25 minutes of cleanup for us. But the next pass was worth the wait -- 13.78 at 104.3! Practically on top of the previous run!

On the third pass we missed third gear. So that one was a throwaway. And on the fourth pass, when we tried to clean the tires, we cleaned the clutch instead. The weak clutch showed in the comparatively weak 14.0.

You snooze, you lose. Bye Bye Firebirdie.
Into the pits for an airbox swap. We had it swapped out pretty quick; the MS&R piece lends itself well to swapping. We borrowed an extension bar from a Corvette team, which made it a lot easier. Thanks guys! Next time we'll bring our own.

While wrenching away, my uncle David arrived with cousins Jesse and Chris. It was the first time we'd met these guys and it was great! They stayed for the rest of the morning and rooted us on.

With the stock airbox installed, our first pass dropped all the way to 14.20. Disbelieving, we made a second run. This time we got 14.33. Now look, there is no way an airbox is worth four tenths. Forget it. There's just not that much horsepower to be had. We figured the heat was taking its toll and beat it to the pits to swap the MS&R box back in.

It was a race against the clock, and because of the MS&R's tight fit, we barely made it (hint guys:
longer studs for the lid please). We got back in the staging lanes with just one practice run left. How did we do? 13.82! Right back to where we were in the morning. So much for the heat theory.

For the first round of eliminations we dialed in at 13.80. This proved to be pessimistic because we ran 13.77. At midday! On a bad clutch! Luckily the other fellow in a black Formula redlighted so we got to move into round two.

This time we faced a red Trans Am with a 12.60 dial-in. Hey what's a second between friends right? Yow. We stuck with our 13.80 dial, figuring the weak clutch wouldn't be able to duplicate the previous run.

It didn't matter. I beat the green bulb by 0.021 sec. Red light. Dang. I halfheartedly ran down the track. No point in flogging it now.

On the way home from Destructathon IV, I was left with more questions to ponder than answers. What is up with this airbox? Can the stock piece really suck so bad that a replacement is worth four tenths? That's absurd! Heck it doesn't even show any improvement on the dyno! But of course the dyno is static so that's not the best indicator for airflow.

Nothing to do but test it some more. We'll be looking for a test-n-tune in the near future. Watch for it.