Y Block powered cars and trucks staging for quarter mile runs
What a weekend! Our group arrived back in town on Sunday evening after participating in the annual Fast Fords and the Y Block Shootout at Dragway 42. No doubt many of our subscribers are wondering how the Ford performed on the track. "Did the camshaft upgrade add any power? How about those headers? Did they make any noise? Do you think they added any power? Did you do your best to stay away from Ted Eaton?" I will certainly get to all of that (and I promise good news!) but first let me give you some background information since I am the official chaplain of the race weekend and am highly involved in the prep work leading up to the event.
From left to right: Tony Fritz, Ted Fritz, Hot Rod Reverend, and Bob Martin
Just a couple of weeks before the race, Tony met with me, his brother Ted, and Y Block coordinator Bob Martin. By this time there were many things set in stone and there was very little to do because Tony had already completed so much leg work leading up to this final meeting that was called just to get some last minute details squared away. At this point in the planning stages, such items as printed race programs, the classes, and the schedule had all been finalized. My "Drag Racer's New Testaments" were just about finished, and Tony had also asked me for one more print request - the run order for the weekend of racing. Our press team at the church ministry were able to crank that out within a couple of days.
The race programs are printed and bound by our church's professional presses.
Our large printing ministry at First Baptist Church, Bearing Precious Seed (BPS) prints literally millions of copies of the Bible each year in well over 60 languages. For translation and textual work we often partner with the Trinitarian Bible Society over in London, England. BPS is no "fly by night" organization. It has been in existence since 1973 and has printed Bibles for foreign countries and language groups who have never had a copy. Its most notable and recent work has included the countries of Sierra Leone and Mongolia.
Each race program included two books of the New Testament: the gospel of John and the book of Romans. We believe it a concise way to introduce unbelievers to texts that declare the deity of Christ and what the Bible teaches concerning being born again. I included a page in the program that explained why I inserted these two books of the Bible and why I believed it important that each individual read a copy. As you can see from the pictures above, each program is printed and bound with professional equipment. For those of you that would like a copy of either the race program or the New Testament, I will be glad to send you one free of charge.
The run schedule for racing over the weekend looked like this:
And of course on that run order we did not waste the space on the reverse side of the 8.5x11 flyer; we decided to use it to invite people to the church service I held on Sunday morning. In addition to the New Testaments, all of this layout, design work, and printing took some time but deadlines were met and on we went. Weeks ahead of our arrival at the track I had already reserved hotel rooms four our group of four, reserved a car hauler for the 55 Ford, made arrangements with the track owners to set up the Victory Tent early, and ordered the donuts and coffee from Tim Horton's in Ashland, which was about about 20 minutes away from West Salem. Did I mention that I was also trying to prep the 55 Ford? Time was certainly running out!
One of five cases of well over 1200 Fast Fords programs, printed, bound, boxed, and ready to go!
Things continued to fall into place even though we encountered some problems. On the Monday before the race I had to make an emergency switch of rental companies for our Victory Tent but that went quite nicely and the change ended up saving us several hundred dollars. The weather forecast was great and it certainly looked like we were headed for a fine weekend to hold an outdoor event.
The weather forecast pointed to wonderful weather for the immediate weekend.
Early in the week I began loading our equipment trailer that carried our sound system, generator, platform, bottled water (to hand out for free at the tent), grill, camping chairs, rolling tool box, signage, food stuffs, coolers, car ramps, jackstands, and other tools. My friend Chad Robinson drove the truck and trailer with my father-in-law, and I drove the truck and car hauler with my dad. I would have liked to have driven the Club Sedan, but since my dad and my father-in-law could not drive either truck, and since we needed to haul so much equipment (some of it was in the truck I drove) we had to tow the 55 Ford.
The car trailer was a very nice unit rented from a local company in the Cincinnati area.
A reminder to always check those straps! This one sheared in two during the trip.
As you can tell from the photo above we did have a problem. About two hours into the trip, my buddy Chad who was driving behind me noticed that one of the rear straps had broken in two. Thankfully we were close to a rest area, and we also had carried extra straps with us. So all in all, this was an easy fix. We had no other problems the rest of the way nor on our return trip to Loveland.
When we arrived at Dragway 42, the facility was empty except for the owner, Ron Matcham, mowing the pit area infield spaces with a large tractor. There were one or two employees milling about; but for the most part we had the run of the place as we unloaded the 1955 Ford Fairlane and waited for the rental company to arrive so that we could show them where to set up. The only hiccup we had was that there was a very large cell of storms about to come through the area (our only precipitation the whole weekend). Ron offered to let me park the 55 Ford in the large garage on the property and I promptly took him up on that offer when I saw the emergency alert concerning hail. We hunkered down and held our breath and the storm missed us by about 2 miles to the north. I was very grateful. At 3:30 pm the rental company showed up and got to work on setting up the 20x30 ft tent and chairs. We did take some time-lapse video to show the tent going up and hopefully I can include that footage in an upcoming post. Throughout the entire weekend, the tent was used for the drivers' meeting, handing out donuts and coffee, water, New Testaments, and especially for the church service on Sunday morning. We certainly got much use out of it!
The 20x30 ft tent was perfect for Hot Rod Reverend Ministries over the weekend.
Later on that evening the race track held something called "Thursday Thunder" but the attendance was extremely low. (There is good reason to believe that the storms rolling through kept people at home.) Well before dark we checked in at a hotel in Wooster about 25 minutes away, and then we grabbed a bite to eat. The next morning was spent making a run to the grocery store for ice, grilling meats, and the like. We also stopped at a used book store (I bought a book on welding and a book on building hot rods) and an antique store since my dad collects antique toys. We had lunch at a local diner and then headed to the track.
Friday afternoons at Dragway 42 are usually scheduled for something called "Test and Tune" and since Tony did not technically have the track rented until Saturday/Sunday, the pit area began filling up fast with all makes and models of cars, haulers, trucks, and people when the gates opened at 4 pm. Yep, even a few motorcycles and Jr dragsters were there. We definitely saw the largest crowd of people that evening. I had considered running the 55 Ford for the first time down the track but I decided to wait until Saturday morning since the lines were so long. All of this activity was just fine with us.
Keith Cornell, of Rolling Bones fame, on Friday took delivery of his MEL engine for Bonneville.
Here's the HRR crew enjoying the Test & Tune on Friday night!
From Left to Right: Don Jessup, HRR, David Martin, and Chad Robinson
Vic Correnti in his 9 second Thunderbird!
My friend, Soffian Adam, and his 1959 F100 during Friday's Test & Tune
When the sun went down at the track (about 9:30 pm) the place was really busy with a boatload of people and we were thrilled to see such a small-town America venue fill up like that. Of course, most of the Y Block faithful had shown up by this time as well and many of them chose to park close to the Victory Tent. Things were looking up for Saturday's Y Block Shootout, but I still had a sense of foreboding. I had only installed the cam, broke it in, and given things an initial tune. Would it hold together at WOT? Would I wipe a cam lobe? What about my E.T. and trying to be consistent?
Just so you are not left hanging, I did put together a quick video from Saturday and the bye run I had after winning the first and second rounds. I will explain more about the timed runs (earlier in the day on Saturday, before the elimination rounds) in Part 2. So for now, get a load of how the engine sounds at full throttle under load! Since the video is a solo run of the 55 Ford on the 1/4 mile you have no other engine noise to get in the way of the sound.
Bye Run During the Y Block Shootout
The Hot Rod Reverend
aka Daniel Jessup