The 2012 Season opener was Full of Highs and Lows.

My father and Hoss left from Boston to head to Jerry Bickels shop in St. Louis, Missouri the Wednesday before the first divisional of the year, which gave us seven days to complete our new Camaro, which was far from being completed. When they arrived, the car was not wired or plumbed yet.

The team at Jerry Bickels, headed by Mike Meyer and Don Cross, was superb. In 4 days they had the car 100% intact, wired, plumbed, seat cushions in, warmed up and ready to rock and roll. Or so we thought it would be that easy. In this sport that’s hardly ever the case. My father and Hoss loaded the car into the trailer on Tuesday and headed southeast to Virginia Motorsports Park and arrived Wednesday night for the Thursday test session.

I arrived via Richmond International Airport on Thursday morning at 10am, due to work obligations, and saw the car for the first time when we rolled it out of the trailer. I was literally speechless. It was just a rendering on a computer screen before this. Now I can touch it and feel it. It was breath taking.  We didn’t waste any time and got right to business. Warmed it up, went to tech and to the staging lanes to make a pass on the new chassis to see where we stood.

Let me start off by saying this car is like sitting inside of a missile, so sleek. When I sat in it for the first time, I felt claustrophobic. The window is at such a slant it distorts your view through the plexiglass windows. The new ISP safety padding around my head makes me feel completely encapsulated and the nose has a cowl induction hood on it, making it stick up even higher. Needless to say there is going to be an adjustment period from the GTO which was easier to see out of. This is the view from my eyes.

So we go up for the first pass and the car takes off and immediately goes to the left so I abort the run. Now without giving my father too much credit, I can honestly say he is the best in the business tuning a 4 link setup. I have the utmost confidence with him adjusting the car to go straight. We do all the post run checks and he adjusts the suspension and we give it another try.

Straighter but needs more adjustment.

With this type of car you want to sneak up on it because a 1/16th of an inch can mean the difference of going hard left to hard right. We also notice on the computer graph that the torque converter seems to be a little loose. Friday at noon was our first official qualifying run of the weekend, so we needed to make all the adjustments correctly for this run. We spent the night looking over the data, made a few phone calls to discuss converter options and came up with a game plan over dinner.

Friday Morning.

WOW! 6.74 @ 204mph!!! What a Ride! This was the HIGH POINT of the weekend. Which unfortunately was short lived.

Qualifying run #2. Friday 4pm

Another great launch, car was on a string. Good 60’ numbers, 162mph at the eighth mile and KABOOM! Shockwave rolls through the car and the engine expires. I coast through the finish line to a 6.88 @ 170mph. As upset as I was, I must say all the safety devices worked perfectly as not a drop of oil escaped the engine diaper and under belly pans of the race car keeping me off of my roof.

We tow it back to the trailer and look at the carnage. The entire valve train was either broken or not in its original place. There were two holes in the oil pan which means we broke at least one rod, probably multiple.

The reality starts to set in. With no spare engine in the trailer, we were done for the weekend. All the hard work of Jerry Bickels guys, 40 hours of driving my father and Hoss put into this trip, the countless hours to come up with sponsors, the opportunity to win with the new race car, all crushed in 6.88 seconds. That is the reality of this sport. Some people would give up. Our team views it as a challenge and presses on.

The weekend did have a few more positives, we were fortunate enough to be presented the Best Engineered car of the weekend, which is the first time our team has won that honor.

Also this weekend was the final race to claim Jegs All Stars points and because we qualified for the race we clinched the All Star spot and will be going to race in Chicago at the Route 66 Nationals in June! We are very excited about the opportunity to represent our division for the second straight year. With Jegs being a sponsor on our race car, it makes it that much cooler.

As I am writing this we are heading back to Boston, rolling up I-95, which is about a 12 hour ride. We are coming up with a game plan to send the engine back to Steve Schmidt’s so they can diagnose the problem and come up with a solution. It appears we will be taking the engine out at about 3am when we get back to the shop, crating it up and shipping it out first thing monday morning. If all goes will we will have it back in and be racing again in two weeks at Atco Raceway for the PC Richard and Sons National Open.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading,


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