Snippets from the 50th US Nationals at Indianapolis; 1st to 6th September 2004

From "Agent Nitro"

 

2nd September 2004:


I got to Indy OK, but I only just made the connecting flight after it left Gatwick an hour late. I then waited 1hr 20 minutes to get through immigration (What a surprise. Ed.) and I made the connection by about 60 seconds. Unfortunately, my bags didn't!
 
I'm chilling out here in Granger, Indiana at my friends house, having just been to Hooters for lunch. Wow, I am sure its was Daisy Duke serving in there.
 
I've got one good story already; as you might have seen, Force has a new shop and whilst being interviewed on ESPN the Wind Tunnel he said that he has got a brand new TF car plus all the parts and a sponsor for next year. Ashley is going to stay in AFD, so its anyone's guess who the new driver will be? I reckon that that Prock will tune the car instead, or as well as the third FC; then the following year Ashley might drive it. However Force in the past has implied that Ford want Ashley in the Mustang.
 
When I picked my car up there were about 10 Aussies there who had come for the race, and I met one English guy who was on the same flight as me who was going to INDY but hadn't been to Santa Pod for a few years! Travelling back to Indy to tomorrow, and to the track Friday, will drop you a line and maybe some
pictures then.

Agent Nitro.
 

3rd & 4th September 2004:

Despite driving through a heavy rain storm to IRP, the weather cooperated with the racers and fans wishes. The Pros came out at about 6-30, but I didn’t see the early pro stockers…. I was too busy wasting filling up Jim Jannard’s pockets in the Oakley outlet -  I must have paid for the Oakley Dodge to do at least a couple of runs. The coolest part of the proceedings was seeing the fuel altereds, Nannok, Pure Heaven, The Winged express and there was a Fiat altered whose name eludes me, just now. The Winged express did the best run, with the driver getting on and of the throttle at least four times. That’s what we want!

Something I forgot to mention yesterday was regarding the new driver cockpit shields. There are some teams who are already putting holes in the back of the shields in order to increase speed. However, as the car speeds up, the air pressure builds up behind the drivers head and thus pushes the driver's head right forward,  making it extremely difficult (impossible?) to see where they are going........!!!

I took three good nitro hits in the pits, with maximum hearing damage being done by the US Army team.  Their 'wonder wagon' made a really good run, despite being in the first pair of cars. Another notable happening in Fuel Funny Car was driver Terry Haddock who had none other than ‘Showtime’ Bob Jarrett as Crew Chief. They were suffering Blower Problems on his run.

As I write this its 10 pm and still 26C and is very humid. Tomorrow going to be really uncomfortable.

Picture gallery is here, for today.... Click on the thumbnail to view a full size picture...

       

       

‘Agent Nitro’ signing off

5th September 2004, 2:49pm

Saturday
 
WOW! It was HOT and HUMID. The first session was used by the teams as a practice for race day. Hardly anyone stepped up until the second session. The high light of the day for me was the Fuel Altereds. They got even more out of shape and Nannook ran a six twenty something at 212mph (Come back Clive Mechaell with your Altered! 6.20 at 219mph!). The winged express did one of its best runs a low seven at 200. Talking to Nannook's owner, he said his cars setup was a fairly accurate early seventies tune up with modern parts and pieces, where as the winged express was a more like a mid sixties' setup. When I asked how they enjoyed the recent Goodwood event, he said that Lord March told him that they were the best received display that the Estate had ever had, and they would like to have them back again.
 

Other bits and pieces:

Mike ashley has another new car comming, again a Mustang. Terry Haddock (with Bob Jarrett as Crew Chief) left the line very hard, but shut off at half track. The attendance figures for Friday was 25,000, and Saturday was even bigger. Monday should be crammed
 
'Agent Nitro' signing off
 
FUEL ALTEREDS FOREVER!!!!

 

US Nationals, Labor Day, Monday 6th September 2004

You’ve already seen the results, and yes it was a good race. What was even better was getting back to the hotel and seeing the TV show straight away. If you haven’t seen a recent NHRA show, then you won’t know just what depth the races are covered in. The show is two and a half hours long and covers Pro Stock Bike, Pro Stock Car, Funny Car and Top Fuel. There must be at least 15 cameras covering the meeting, including one per lane which follows each vehicle from start to finish line, tight close up, you can see very ripple on the Top Fuel car’s panels, and every ounce of tyre shake, in Pro Stock. Also several Funny Cars had two in car cameras on board, one looking up at the driver and one helmet mounted camera. Coupled with informed and relevant commentary from Mike Dunn, this is easily the best coverage Drag racing has ever seen.

Some other observations included:

Several Funny Cars now titanium shields built onto the back of the roll cages; I saw these present on Force’s cars, and Team Schumacher, although as far as I know these are not mandatory at present.

Scelzi beat force on a hole-shot in the second round, and then raced Cruz in the semi-finals. He smoked the tyres then got out of the car, yelling at Cruz, for cutting across him in the shut down area. Scelzi calmed down a bit once Cruz told him that he was on fire and was following the instructions of the turn worker. Scelzi then said “we don’t need minimum wage dummies doing this job.” Which I took to mean that, they dropped the ball concerning closing the points up.

On the way to the track I went through Brownsburg (where Force and the snake have big shops, and Schumacher is building a 100,000 square foot shop).  Force’s shop is only 40,000 square foot! But has space to fit all the force rigs in as if they were at the track (including Ashley’s). If you ever go to Indy, it’s much faster to get in and out the track via Brownsburg. It avoids the hour and a half queue if you follow the signs. The heat at the track was a killer; Saturday was the worst as there was no breeze. Fortunately I found a rest room which had showers in the middle of the infield of the circle track to cool off in.

I found the hot qualifying session a bit tedious, since no one was going to step up.  During Sunday morning, very few Funny Cars got down track, with the vast majority smoking the tyres at the transition from concrete to Asphalt. Sunday’s final session was very good. There was plenty of bumping going on, especially in Top Fuel. At one point, it seemed that with every pair the bump changed.

The runs of the meeting in my book was John Force running an incredible 4.74 during Friday’s session, which I think is the fastest on 85% and was way faster than anyone else. Along with Tony Schumacher’s 4.55 in the heat in round one, again way faster than anyone else, this goes to prove that Alan Johnson is the man. It took some real courage to put that set up in and risk smoking the tyres against someone who had it set up to get down track in the hope that the Number1 qualifier smoked them. Without doubt, Crew Chiefs Austin Coil (John Force Racing) and Alan Johnson (Don Schumacher Racing) are the best of the best. A fact borne out following the introduction of the 85% rule, when they both won the very next race.

Mac tools had four special edition vehicles, one in each of the Professional Categories. Following round one, three out of four were out! This left the Pro Stock Bike to carry the flag to the final, which was won by a Matco Tools bike….? It was the same story in Top Fuel! The only vehicle which won which was carrying the Mac tools logo was Gary Densham’s Funny Car, which only has small decals…

Well that’s all folks, an excellent race, all be it a bit hot! This year is the one time that I am hoping that’s its freezing cold at the European Finals.

Agent Nitro signing off for a snooze to de-Jet Lag

 

8th September 2004

Enjoy these few pictures!

     

 

For full results visit www.nhra.com or click here for the specific results for the 50th US Nationals.