For some, luck is just something that happens to them; others have to make their own. Just ask Warren Johnson, the “Professor” in the NHRA Pro Stock ranks. He has been preaching the above headline for as long as I can remember. This month I have two stories; one is racing related, and the other is about hauling our possessions down the road.
First, my good friend Greg Ventura and his dad, Al, were at an NHRA National event, running their Super Gas Nova. Greg called me after his third time hit going into eliminations. The car had performed flawlessly over the three runs, but while he was in the trailer recording his run and weather conditions, his dad stuck his head in and said, “We’ve got fluid running out from under the car!” The Powerglide transmission case had completely cracked around the low gear band adjustment screw, and the fluid was pouring out. Luckily, it made the run and didn’t leave fluid on the track.
As luck would have it, they came prepared with a spare Powerglide transmission. After swapping out the trans and driving around the pits, everything was ready to go. There was only one little problem: The original transmission used a 1.96 First gear to help get the small-block–powered Nova moving out the beams and accelerating in First gear. The backup was a racing-built trans but it only had a stock 1.76 First gearset. Greg was wondering what this would do to his performance, since he had never run this transmission ratio in the car. We talked our way through the changes and came up with a strategy for his starting line delay and a throttle stop setting to adjust for the higher gear ratio. This is where the preparation comes back into the story. For all the adjustments that Greg and I came up with, we missed it by about 50 percent. His reaction time was slower than we expected, and the on-track performance was about .02 slow. He lost the first round, but it taught us a valuable lesson. Next time, he’ll know what number to put into the car to work with the higher gear ratio. It wasn’t enough to be prepared with a spare trans; he also needed the data. It costs us way too much money to race these cars without giving ourselves a chance to win.
Obviously, preparation not only applies to your racing endeavors, but also in getting us to and from the track. While Greg was off running the National, Daniel, Lisa, and I had struck off to run the Pacific Street Car Association race in Las Vegas (we had a decent weekend, with us both going rounds). On our way home Sunday, we had a blowout on one of the tires on our 24-foot Pace trailer. The trailer has more than 50,000 miles on it, and it’s on its second set of tires. (Note that I always check the tire pressure on all of our rubber before long trips.) As Daniel and I were swapping out the trailer tire, we found that the small floor jack I was carrying would not pick up the 8,000-pound trailer to get the tire off. I was able to steal the scissor jack out of my 3/4-ton Chevy truck to assist. I had only had one other issue with a tire in the 13 years on this trailer, and I’d had a bottle jack with me at the time. Being prepared for anything while you’re on the road is very important.
Check your rigs for everything you would need to get you and your families back on the road. The last thing you want is to be stranded with all your worldly possessions. Also, make sure you have some way to lock up your trailer tongue to prevent someone driving away with it. You never know, you may end up having to run into the next town with your truck and leave your trailer on the side of the road. That would be one bad feeling driving up to where you left your trailer to find it gone! Always be prepared.