It Was One of Those Days - Pt X


Here - watch THIS!
May 24, 2001
That Saturday morning started out dark and heavily overcast… it was looking to be one of the typical Ohio spring mornings that could bring any sort of weather for the day – rain, clouds, wind, snow, and/or even sleet – well, like I said - anything. The dark gray clouds hung low and heavy, as if ready dump a deluge of precipitation if they were poked with anything sharp. Given the temperature, at least it wouldn’t be snow – by noon it was already nearly 50 degrees and the forecast called for much higher than normal temperatures for the rest of month. As long as the rain held off, we were going to the track.

I had the GN ready and Kelly’s GTO was ok to go as well. I had already put the Drag Radials on her car the night before and it was going to be interesting to see what it could do. Brandon and Stacy came over right after lunch and B was his usual self – just itching to get to the track early for tech. He had previously decided to mount a new set of M/T E-T DR’s on a spare set of wheels that he had in the trunk of the GT500. He wanted to see what the Shelby would do on the stock 285/40-ZR18’s first, although neither of us had much hope that they could withstand the torque of the blown 5.4 even on a prepped track. Our experiences in his car in the past weeks held little hope of that. After seeing how the stockers would do, he planned on bolting on the DR’s and see how much effect they would have on his ET.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry anymore about losing air pressure in that pesky right-rear tire (the old Nitto D/R). For my birthday, Kelly had bought me a brand new set of 275/60-15’s along with a new set of Centerline TelStar aluminum wheels for the Buick. And at this point, they were already on the car. My old set (which only had about a thousand miles on them, if that) were up over the garage with all my other “I just might need this [insert name/description of item] someday so I can’t toss it out” items… sound familiar?

By mid-afternoon, amazingly the clouds begin to pull back and break up. A slight warm southerly breeze began to pick up and the thermometer on the side of the garage was bumping 60*. By 4:30, we were pulling out of the driveway and heading to the track, Brandon and Stacy in the lead, Kelly behind them and my GN bringing up the rear. In no time at all, we were there.

Pulling into the track entrance, you drive under a huge metal sign, “Tri-County Drag Strip – The Track of Champions”. Tri-County was a newer track than the one at Barstow and the entire complex is much nicer because of its age. The entryway drive is about a hundred yards long and you have to drive through a set of lockable metal gates. The entire complex is surrounded by a large masonry/brick wall along with reinforced chain-link fence.

After you enter the main entry gate, there are three ticket booths – one between the two entry lanes and one on each outer side to accommodate who might be paying the freight. So, as we figured might be the case for the first weekend and with the outstanding weather, a LOT of cars were there. There is a steady stream of vehicles of all varieties waiting to pull into the track and all three ticket booths were busy taking money from anxious racers and fans. Money was being made for sure.

Immediately after paying your entry fee of ten bucks (for Test and Tune Night) if you are the driver or five dollars as a spectator, you are then directed to one of three different tech areas depending upon how busy the event might be. Normally, most cars are sent single file to T-A 1 where you have to fill out a two sided sheet of paper giving the owners of the track all the info on you, your car, and your driver’s license as well as signing a release that absolves the track and it’s owners/employees/affiliates of any liability should you wipe your nice ride out. No problem there – do it at your own risk is how it should ALWAYS be done.

As soon as you fill out the Tech/Information sheet, two or three tech inspectors may look your car over depending upon what event might be planned and at what level you are participating. If they know your car is a heavy hitter, say running 10’s or better, they will be all over it and especially want to see the cage. However, for T&T night they pretty much just make sure that, if you are the driver, that you’ve got a helmet, long pants good shoes, and a car that isn’t leaking anything. They will then write a huge entry number (dependent upon what number of entrant your car is in respect to who came in before you).

If you do not want your ET shown on the lights, they will write “NO TIME” on the side window facing the announcer’s stand. This will clue the announcer (assuming he’s paying attention) to turn off the lighted display at the far end of the track prior to your run (and for your lane only) telling everyone what you are running. Some guys want this done, especially if they are bracket racers. Most of us there at T&T don’t care – show how well we ran to the world, we don’t care. And, we don’t usually care who is in the other lane – T&T night isn’t about racing an opponent as much as it is seeing what you need to tweak on your own car or abilities to get the absolute lowest ET and maximum MPH for your runs.
Waiting in line to get to the Tech area, Brandon shut down the GT500 and walked back to the GN with Stacy hopping in the passenger side seat of Kelly’s GTO. We definitely were going to have to wait a bit – apparently we weren’t the only racers who thought getting there early would mean we could get through tech faster!

“Hey, Steve! Man, I am PUMPED! I can not WAIT to launch the Shelby tonight!”

Like I said, B is anything but subtle.

“How many miles do you have on her now, Brandon?”

“Well, I just looked at the odometer and if I remember right, it’s around 2200-2300 miles or so. Hard to believe I’ve driven it that much but man, those Fords are meant to be driven. With the mild winter, I’ve gotten a lot of seat time in it so I’m feeling pretty good tonight!”

Remember me telling you about Brandon’s loyalty, especially to Ford? He is one dyed-in-the-wool B.O.B. (Blue Oval Boy).

“Hey – by the way, Kelly’s Goat sounds pretty good! Did you do anything to it?”

“Nah, it’s the stock exhaust. Other than the Drag Radials, it’s completely stock. Those LS2’s are pretty healthy but the thing that hurts that car is its weight – I think it’s nearly 3800lbs. If that car was about 400-500 lbs lighter, it would be a killer. As it is, it ain’t no slouch and she’s told me about embarrassing a lot of ricer-boys and even a few of you Mustang jockeys at the stop lights!” I couldn’t resist trying to deflate B’s enormous overly-confident Ford ego – and as usual, it didn’t work; he just ignored me and kept going. Ya gotta love the guy!

“I haven’t seen anyone yet that I know. But man, there is a lot of nice iron here tonight! Did you see all the 5.0’s? One of them that was two or three cars up from me – and that was driven here – has a chute on the back of it! Could be an interesting little notch-back to see run. And I can’t believe the number of trucks that are here! And I know at least two of them are diesels! Steve, the world is changing…”

He was right; vehicles that we used to think would never be seen on a drag strip were now repeat visitors and beyond that, many of them were downright scary. Take the diesel pickups – I saw one run a 10 second ET last fall! Black smoke was bellowing from the exhaust but the white Dodge Ram absolutely destroyed some guy’s confidence in his LS1 SS Camaro – it only ran a ‘lowly’ 12.2 – and STILL lost to a diesel pickup!

The 5.0 crowd was definitely well represented this evening. Looking over the parking area where everyone picks their ‘space’ to de-trailer, mount tires, etc, there were a LOT of Mustangs that had numbers on their glass. Several old muscle-cars could be seen, including a couple of SS Novas, a few Chevelles or Malibus, a few Cutlasses, and so forth. But as it always happens, time has a way of weeding out the old stuff. The VAST majority of competitors tonight would be stuff that was mid ‘80’s or newer.

By this time the line had begun to move again so B jogged back up to the Shelby and we moved forward. In no time, we were all though tech and then proceeded to head over to the parking area just south of the staging lane entrance to the track. We found three spots that were adjoining and pulled in, having decided beforehand to walk up and see how the track looked.

At this point, it was almost 5:30. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky but with Daylight Savings Time only a few weeks away, darkness didn’t fully descend until around 6:30 so there was some sunlight still to enjoy. Yet, the air temp was already dropping - the big digital thermometer and clock on the back side of the announcer’s stand read a cool 53*. Forecast was for a low of 46* tonight so we were more than a little concerned with even being able to hook up to such a cold track. But those fears weren’t going to deter us tonight – in less than an hour, we would be racing!

We all joined up and headed over to the stands. Already, cars were running and the wonderful sounds of engines being revved for burnouts, staging, and launching/shifting were filling the cool evening air. The air smelled clean and fresh – except when the clouds of tire smoke may drift over us. Or, the smell of burnt race gas or alcohol might try and intoxicate you with their heady, semi-sweet but pungent aromas. For a racer, all a girl would have to wear for perfume would be something along the lines of “Eu-de Tire Smoke”; he would be helpless in her company! The earlier breeze had died entirely – the Stars and Stripes hung limp and lifeless on its pole so the smells of full bore racing were plentiful the closer you got to the track.

Nearing the stands, you have to pass one of the two concession areas first. Here is where the really good smells are found! Nachos and cheese, hot-dogs, Coney-dogs, hamburgers (grilled on an open-flame grille), French fries, popcorn and more were ready to go for hungry racers and race-fans. The smell of a fresh quarter-pound burger right off the grille, sizzling on a soft bun with all the condiments on a cool spring night is hard to describe but if you know what I’m talking about, I bet your mouth is watering right now.

Being too excited to eat, we passed the busy concessions and headed on up into the stands. Amazingly, the fans were out in full force! The seating area on both sides of the track looked to be over half full which was a lot more than you usually would see. The announcers were busy doling out the info that had been transmitted to them for each car/driver; information that was gleaned from our entry sheets earlier.

“Up next in the Mobil 1 lane is Darrell Thompson in his ’88 Monte Carlo SS. Darrell is a local boy and has been racing here for a few years. His Monte has a 350 with some other goodies and is always competitive here at Tri-County. In the far lane, that would be the Summit Racing lane, is Hannah Myers. This is Hannah’s first year here at Tri-County and she’s fielding one of those new Honda Si’s that we’ve been hearing about. Hannah tells us that the car is stock and that tonight is her first night ever on a drag strip. Don’t worry Hannah! We all had a first time here too so you’ll do fine. And while Darrell and Hannah get staged, on back in the burnout area are…”

The guys never stopped. There is never any dead air time at Tri-County; if they aren’t talking - such as during an oil-down on the track - music is playing. I guess that is why T-C became so popular – a racer or a fan just feels comfortable here…

We watched a couple of pairs of cars run. And actually, Hannah didn’t do badly at all – she ran a very low 15 second ET! It appeared that, despite her claim of this being her first time at the drag strip, Hannah was no stranger to launching and shifting a competitive car. She did very well indeed.

B and Stacy had gone down to the concession area for some popcorn and drinks and were just coming up the steps to where we sat when the announcer’s voice got our attention again…

“Well, folks, here are a couple of interesting cars coming up for you. In the far lane, it’s one of those new Dodge Chargers – an SRT-8 to be precise. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dodge’s new Charger, this version is the big boy of this release. It’s got a 6.1 liter HEMI with a rated 425 hp. Yes, it’s got four doors and many of you are saying, ‘That ain’t no Charger!” but wait until you see it run. It’s FAST….”

Sure enough, waiting to pull through the water in the burnout box sat a blood red SRT-8 Charger. And it looked like the very same car that had been shadowing the house in recent days. The announcer continued…

“However, we won’t get to see the time that this bad boy might run – as you can see on the window, it says ‘NO TIME” so the display will be turned off at the driver’s request. But I’m SURE you’re gonna enjoy it – if you listen closely, you can probably hear a noise you don’t normally hear in the new SRT-8. It’s the whine of a blower or something. I don’t have any more info on this car other than the driver’s name. Driving the big red Dodge sitting over there in the Mobil One lane is…”

Brandon and I glanced at each other, waiting to hear who was driving the car – if it WAS the same car we had seen twice earlier. Hell, it HAD to be – how many SRT-8’s like this were around? Who could it be? Even as we were waiting, the SRT-8 was melting the hides having just pulled through the burnout box. The whine of a blower was EASILY heard – to be honest, the blower wasn’t whining as much as it sounded like it was screaming…

“… hold on folks, the writing is smudged a bit here… ok, I’ve got it now… driving the Dodge is…”

Ok… enough suspense already… We all were leaning forward in the cool evening air waiting to hear…

“…driving the Dodge is another new driver here at Tri-County. Folks, it looks like EVERYbody wants to run at Tri-County and don’t’ think for a minute that the Yates brothers who own this fine place don’t appreciate it! Anyhow, driving the Dodge is Bill Reynolds. Bill hails from…”

Oddly, I didn’t hear what else the announcer said… Bill REYNOLDS… why did that name sound familiar? Reynolds… Reynolds… nah, it couldn’t be, could it? Was Bill yet another person related to Ned?
Once more, the announcer kept reading… all the while the car opposite the SRt-8 did its burnout but with much less gusto than the Charger. We all agreed – while the LS1 Camaro in the Summit Racing lane might sound healthy, it was going to be cannon fodder for the Dodge. But just as we were watching the pair pull into the beams, the announcer’s voice caught our ears again…

“And while we wait for those two get staged, take a quick glance at what just pulled into the staging area. It’s one of those new high-dollar Mustangs, race fans! It’s a gen-you-wine, bona-fide, 2007 Shelby GT-500! Oh, yeah folks, this is a bad, BAD boy… and from what I hear, it ain’t stock either… just take a look at those stripes people, this is one gorgeous car!...”

Once more, B and I were surprised. It appeared that both the Shelby and Dodge were here tonight and we were going to actually see them run… we waited to hear who the driver was… meanwhile, the SRT-8 had the Pre-Stage and the Stage bulbs lit; the Camaro had only the Pre-Stage beam broken…

They were both idling at the line… the Camaro was creeping forward…

“…and driving that Shelby folks is someone whose name we’ve seen in the papers recently. We were all shocked by the death of her husband in that tragic car accident last fall…”

Now, both sets of bulbs were lit… both cars’ engines picked up rpms, preparing to launch…

“…Ned Reynolds was known as a long-time supporter of drag racing. He will be missed…”

The first amber light lit… both the SRT-8 and the Camaro were straining to be loosened of the mechanical bonds that held them fast…

“… driving the black and white-striped Shelby is – whoops! We’re about to launch the cars folks! Directing your attention back up to the line…”

Second amber bulb is lit, the third is about to illuminate… everyone’s eyes are focused on the two cars, especially the SRT-8, its blower shrieking in anger… the Camaro had to be a stick car – it’s RPM’s were much too high to be on a converter…

The third amber lit and both cars launched, breaking the beams at what seemed to be identical times. But within 200 feet, the SRT-8 was walking the Camaro… it was already over. The Camaro was dead…. We watched both cars race to the finish as we heard the next pair (just ahead of the Shelby) finish their burnouts and being to pull into the lights…

The Dodge won easily, that was clear but it also sounded as if the driver may have backed out of it a little early. It was too hard to tell from the stands... No time was shown on the display at the big end of the track for it. The Camaro rolled through with a highly respectable 12.16 @118mph. That meant that the big Dodge was at least a mid or low-eleven second car, maybe more…

“Steve – who the hell is Bill Reynolds?” Brandon’s mind was racing as much as mine…

“I don’t know, B… I’m guessing he’s some relative of Ned’s, maybe?”

Kelly spoke up.

“He’s Ned’s father, Steve. I remember seeing his name on some of the documents… Bill Reynolds is Ned’s father… And while we’re talking about Ned, you’re not gonna believe what just pulled onto the track behind the black Shelby…”

To be continued…
The next chapters to this story probably won't be posted until later this week... ;)
haha he will post it Sunday night at 11:59...


Nah... it will be sooner than that.

Probably around 11:50 Sunday night! :biggrin:

(Actually, I'll probably get some more posted Saturday afternoon... ;) )
Sorry guys but I'm not going to be able to post Part 11 today. It's just been too hectic.

I promise that I will have it up soon and no later than late Tuesday. Hang in there - it only gets better! ;)
One would think that when you kill off such a dominant character like Ned... the story would be less interesting.

Not So!

Awesome story Raven! You have Talent. :)
Raven -- It would be great if you could get these stories published in a magazine like GM High Tech Performance.... car guys all over the country would LOVE to follow these from issue to issue...I know its not easily done, but it crossed my mind.
Oh the suspense!:D

There's some guy who'll be in town in a few weeks, he's Nick Cages brother the director and he's looking for talent/ideas. Maybe Raven can get some stories on the big screen:eek: