It Has Come In Twos
The past month has had a consistent theme. I lost two very close races by a couple of thousandths. Both of them were my fault, mind you; I had both the races won. This sport of drag racing will humble you down every time you think you’ve got it figured out. Unfortunately, one of the races was an NHRA National event where I had qualified number one, and had the best package of the event (0.006) second round (see the theme), only to give up the stripe in the third round by 0.002 second! The second race was one of our Summit ET series points races, which I promptly lost in the second round by a couple of thousandths by breaking out by more than my opponent had. If I keep racing like this I better find a new hobby. Then again, maybe someone has made that decision for us.
The second blow to motorsports came with the announcement of the closure of Toyota Irwindale Speedway. This was one of the country’s premier short tracks. Every year you could watch the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. This race was televised on Speed, featuring the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where teams from the East and West series battle it out for national bragging rights. Not only did we lose this very nice facility for circle racing, there was also an eighth-mile dragstrip that hosted a weekly Thursday night program and a monthly Summit ET series event. Irwindale has been fielding a Summit team to the ET finals for the past 10 years.
To drive the final nail in the Los Angeles racing scene was the announcement of the closure of Auto Club Dragway Fontana. As I have written in the past, it’s time for us racers to be better neighbors. This (temporary) closure is the result of a multiyear litigation with local homeowners over noise issues at their homes. The judge on the case ruled that the previous Environmental Impact Report was not valid and required that the track close until a new study could be run with a sound wall in place. Not only does the new report have to be run, the track must meet much more stringent sound requirements than in the past. Last year we had a much-abbreviated season because of the legal battle. Now, we’ve lost the track for an unknown period. In my opinion, it will take at least a year to satisfy the judge, if we can at all. I pray that we see our track back in the future. With this closure, there are no active dragstrips in the L.A. area. With the price of fuel, it makes traveling almost out of the question.
As I said above, maybe someone made the decision for us to try our hand at some other motorsports activities for a while. Since our drag racing hardware has been parked, we may need to turn up the heat and finish our track day car. This will give Daniel and I a purpose-built track car that we can compete in local (Auto Club Speedway) road race events, autocross, drifting, and time-attack. Keep in touch and we’ll bring you up to speed on our small-block install and ’cage fabrication on a Brand-M sports car. Sounds like something to keep me out of trouble. Until next month, be safe!
Q. I enjoy reading your Q&A every month. Could you help me decide which crate engine I should go with for my ’83 Z28? I want to choose between the ZZ4 and the ZZ383 GM crate engines. My car is carbureted with automatic, and I will be mating the new engine to a 700-R4 with either 3.42 or 3.73:1 gears. I know the ZZ4 is available turnkey with a carb, a distributor, and wires, and the ZZ383 needs an intake, a carb, a water pump, and more.
I have heard that the ZZ4 is somewhat mild and could use more cam timing. The ZZ383 comes with a higher lift, a greater-duration cam, and roller rockers, giving it 70 hp and 45 lb-ft more than the ZZ4.