Good evening to all. As I sit down to write this blog many things have crossed my mind. The main thing is how many ups and downs there are in this sport. It doesn’t just apply to the small teams but to the large teams too.
Denver... oh Denver, how great you were to us! When we arrived at Denver, it was a little different than normal. Usually when we get there me and Terry get everything set up and ready for tech. This time the truck arrived and got parked and then Terry flew to Seattle to see McKailen. The way our plan is laid out we can only leave the state for 10 days at a time, so in order to get as much time as possible we have to roll our visits together. So he took an in-state visit for a few days and rolled it with our out of state. So Friday morning Terry and McKailen got on an airplane and came to Denver! Everyone else, including myself, arrived on Thursday, so we all did as much as we could to be prepared without our fearless leader there to make sure we all were doing what we were supposed to. Denver also was the first race that the new latching and tethering systems were required. It is hard to handle a technical problem when Terry isn’t there, but luckily it was pretty easy because we followed all the directions that the NHRA had given us.
Our weekend in Denver went pretty well. We progressed every lap, and we qualified. Most people don't realize how important it is to a small team to qualify. On our final lap of qualifying, we went 4.43, which wasn’t too bad, and it made us #15. So we had to face our friend Jack Beckman first round. Jack is always so funny. He makes everyone laugh but always tries to do right by the small teams. We lost to him first round but it was a great race. He went 4.24, and we went 4.37. That was our best pass of the weekend. It is said that the “mountain” is worth 2 tenths of a second. Needless to say we were really looking forward to Seattle.
But before Seattle could happen we came home with the boys and let them be crazy! We did so much stuff in that short amount of time. We went and saw the movie Turbo, which they both loved! We went to the beach for the day. The boys played so hard that they crashed out in the car on the way home. We went to my parents, and the boys played there while Terry and I went on a date! Most importantly, we spent time together every day! As the boys are getting bigger they are getting braver... as all little boys do. I think it’s hard for them to only get to be together short periods of time because they just start to figure out their places and then they have to separate again. McKailen is getting ridiculously good at reading. He reads every day and enjoys it. Braiden tries to copy him but isn’t quite there yet!
After our time at home we took a road trip and picked up the truck and then continued on to Seattle. We, of course, run Seattle because of McKailen. I don't think we would have gone up there if it wasn’t for him. So we went to the Great Wolf Lodge while we were there before we were allowed to set up on Wednesday. It really bummed us out we had to return McKailen on Wednesday and then we weren’t allowed to see him the whole week we were there. His mother got married on Thursday (Congrats to Bambee and Ed), and we were glad that he got to be part of that, but it really stunk the rest of the weekend that he was there and we never got to see him. But it’s all good because we get to bring him home next week for another 10 days! How awesome is that!
So many people have asked us what happened. The car has been running so well and then this national event seemed to work against us. Usually we are ok with a rainout on one of the days, but this time it worked against us. Since we didn’t get to run Friday, we only got the two chances on Saturday, and by the time we figured out the problem, it was too late. The clutch is the heart of these cars, and there were a couple of problems. It was more of a communication error than anything. One person that it was being done one way and a change was made and none of us thought it would be that critical. We have been getting some help from one of the larger teams, and they are trying to teach us to run fast. We can run 4.30 and some 4.2s, but they want to skip right over that and go for a teen or a 4.0... unfortunately they don't know how to back up, and we aren’t there yet, but it's going in the right direction. In the same breath I must say that this sport has so many ups and downs... you could be like Ron Capps, who won in Sonoma and then didn’t qualify in Seattle. I am sure that is harder than what we go through! When this car finally decides to make a full pass under power it’s going to be fast. I think she (the car) is being temperamental. (Like most women, myself included)....We are giving it the attention it wants and needs, and she is going to pay us back...we know it! Oh and one more amazing bit of information: Congrats to Shawn and Taylor Cowie! Their story is amazing, and it is so great that he was able to come back and do it big for his first national event back. I don't know them but Terry does and he was so excited to hear that Shawn had won. His story is unbelievable! Congrats again!
So after the race, Braiden flew home with my mom so that he could spend a few weeks with his dad. (Speaking of, I had someone ask me if Braiden was Terry’s son this weekend, and I would have thought that after this long everyone knew.... Braiden is from my previous marriage just as McKailen is from Terry’s. However, Terry treats both boys the same and would do anything for either of them.) McKailen was, of course, staying there, so it was just me and Terry. We decided that we would swing through Vegas on our way home because it was only 100 miles out of the way. Our first anniversary was on the 11th, so we thought it would be a good couple of days just us. Of course, our trips never really go as planned. So on the way down to Vegas the big truck blew a water hose, and it added a nice 6 hours on to our trip. So we arrived in Vegas late. After the first day of catching up on some much-needed rest we took to the strip. Terry and I are not very big gamblers, but I will say that they have the Deal or No Deal games and I really enjoyed those! We always picked a case with little to nothing in it, so it was short lived! We also won tickets to see the Blue Man group show, and it was pretty cool! On our last night there Terry finally agreed to go on the NY NY roller coaster. Now let me explain Terry is deathly afraid of heights, and I am not! I love coasters... I would go on them every day if I could. This was a big step for him, and I appreciate his willingness to go with me! He even said he would do it again. Woot! Woot!
So now we are home, and we are on the gas like there is no tomorrow! We are working on engines all day every day. We need to get caught up for our customers and that’s what we are doing. We will not be racing again until Dallas. As many of you have figured out I still don't have a license and we thought that Dallas was going to be the big debut, but we are going to again push it back. However, it is already set that all of our guys will be staying after the Dallas event so that I can complete my license. Super excited! There will be another female Top Fuel driver… Woohoo! Really looking forward to competing with Leah she is a great friend of mine. Go buy her shirts in the NitroMall!
On the last note of this blog I would just like to say thank you to my husband, Terry, for being the person he is. If it wasn’t for him I don't think life would be as great as it is. Looking forward to the next 50 years — I love you babe! Happy one year wedding anniversary!
A father’s love is always there whether you can see it and feel it or not. This year we tried to make a point to show our kids how important fathers were. As many of you know we have a son who lives in Seattle with his mother and we don’t get to see him near as often as we would like. Some may ask why, and there are many reasons that go along with that. We are only allotted so many days out of each month, sometimes it has to do with money or time or both. You don’t realize how much time it actually is away from work. Usually there is a day traveling to him where you miss most of the day then the 3 or 4 days we get with him and then usually we lose the next day because of the traveling. It is super important to us to get our time with him, and while financially it has been really tough the last few months, we have still made it up there to see him. The last few months Terry has only been able to go once, so we made sure that for the month of June Terry and I both went. It has been since October last year that I have been able to come. While I wish I could go more, it is more important for Terry to go.
So we knew this week was going to be special, but we couldn’t have imagined that it would go as well as it did. McKailen and I have had a pretty good relationship, but there have been its bumps. Being a step parent is harder than they tell you, and when you only get a limited time it’s even worse. This time couldn’t have been any better… he was super affectionate, he listened and wanted to help with everything. Kailen and I had been planning things for us to do with Terry for weeks. He really wanted to go to the Great Wolf Lodge, and while I know it was more for him than it was for Terry I was really excited to get to take him. So we had a great time playing in the water and just hanging out. The only person missing was Bman… he spent the time with his dad, and I am sure they had a great time. We took Kailen to the dentist while we were there. We went to Gentle Dental, and they were the nicest people. The staff was great. It had been a long while since he had been there, so I was a little concerned, but the people made it so easy. We had such a great time with him. I can’t wait to spend more time with him.
After we saw him we flew home and worked for a few days. We then left for a match race. SALT LAKE CITY here we come… Talk about amazing fans! We were so excited! We ran both of our cars, and they did such a good job. Our guys did amazing turning two cars around in 2 and ½ hours… couldn’t have asked for a better weekend with the cars! After our match race we decided that we would go to Chicago. We know it was last minute, but we really wanted to go.
We know we didn’t qualify, but the car is really showing it wants to go. We just need to speed it up a little, but we are doing it in steps. But I can say that we are not even on NHRA’s radar… we have had no oil all year and still have our freebie! Speaking of NHRA, we are now required to run a new latching system as of Denver and we are trying like crazy to get it on the car, but it is super difficult. There are now tethers that go from the firewall to the front two latches… that’s right I said it two latches!
Since we have been home we have been working like crazy on both the cars and in the shop. I think every day Terry and I have been here until 10 pm or later. I need a vacation! What a crazy month it has been and is going to be! Well, have a great week, and I will be back at it soon to write you more. I do believe I have an On the Run story at the end of the month, so hopefully there will be some really cool stories in that one!
Hey everyone! So we went to Houston and while the weather was not the best I can’t say I feel bad about qualifying. We have been on the good and the bad of the weather so I can only say that this time it fell in our favor. We had a great time. We had a new sponsor on the car for that race. All Floors & More from Tomball, TX was on the hood. For any of your flooring or countertop needs please call 281-857-1557 or visit their website at www.allfloorstore.com.
So back to the race… Sunday morning came, and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, it seems like all the rain the day before affected the track. We heard most of the dragsters smoke the tires. Then we watched the two pairs in front of smoke. I started thinking that the odds were in our favor. As I watched the run, Cruz and Terry smoked around the same place, and Terry caught that one super-fast…We started getting a lead, then it smoked them again, and it got pretty sideways. They were both on and off, and then our car shut off. Terry said he didn’t see him and thought we had it and then he heard him on and off and there was nothing he could do. For those of you who don’t know, we put a pan pressure sensor on our car at the beginning of the year, and because of all the pedaling #4 piston got mad and created pressure and it shut the car off, then the chutes came out, which slowed him down even more. We are not disappointed because other than the one piston and one sleeve there was nothing hurt!
Then on Monday we were able to test the dragster! I was sooooo excited! It’s always fun when we get to do that. I feel like I did a really good job and Terry is super proud of me and the car so it was a great weekend all together. We made it home and unloaded the cars. While I feel bad for all the people who went to Atlanta and got rained out I was glad to see they were making it up. We were supposed to have a match race the second weekend of May, and unfortunately for us this time the weather was against us! So we drove over and dropped off our car at our sponsors in New Jersey. Then Terry flew to see McKailen, and B and I flew home! A few days later Terry came home, and then he was on the gas trying to get customers blocks out. He has been working so hard to catch up and it’s like it doesn’t stop long enough for him to breath.
Oh and on a side note… McKailen came to Texas for his spring break, and we had so much fun! We went to the Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas for Braiden’s birthday celebration. Kailen and I got to spend some much needed quality time together! We went and saw a movie and hung out while B was in school and Terry was working on the cars. Really bummed that I didn’t get to see him for Mother’s Day.
So after that Terry and I went to London. We have been trying to put together a deal to take one of our cars over to Europe for two races this year. They are also looking at next year for us to run all the races. They have five… It seems like so few, but the weather doesn’t seem to want to cooperate them. We were told that for the Easter event there was still snow everywhere… that of course sounds off the walls here in the USA. Terry and I have both been there but this time I’m an adult and have the best husband who even though he is not fond of heights took me on The London Eye… It is so beautiful there. When I went the first time Big Ben and the parliament buildings were my favorite. They still are. I believe I got more photos there than I did anywhere else. It was really great to meet all the people over there that are Terry’s friends. People that use to work with Terry and some new ones who just wanted to learn. We had such a great time, but it was really hard to be away from our boys for that long and because of the time change we were limited when we could talk to them. More limited with McKailen than B… It’s really hard and you take advantage of always being able to call them.
photo by Roger Richards
So when we came home, we were literally home for 10 hours and Terry worked in the shop until I was practically dragging him out so that we could get to the airport to get to New Jersey. Dipinto International was our sponsor again for this race. We always look forward to going to Jersey and seeing people that were part of Terry’s life. It seemed like less people came out this year than years past. One of Terry’s friends Wayne normally works on another team and even he didn’t come out. We usually stay on Monday and either go to the city or go to his hometown and see how things have changed. This year we didn’t get to do that. We had to get home to get back to work. It seems like there is never enough time in the day, week or month to do things when we are home.
While we were in Jersey we were super happy with the car. The first run it went down there but put a cylinder out. We were 10th after the first session. Then on the second session I pulled the pig tail, but when I did that the pins stayed in and didn’t let the MSD go into retard (which helps slow it down through the shake zone) so it ripped the tires right off… So we were ready for Q3 it went out and went 4.51. While we know it was slow we knew we could tune from that. So we were hoping that we would make it a little better and get in the show, but it went out and ran 4.52. When we brought it back we realized that we were off a little on the primary weight on the clutch, which made it much slower to the 60 foot which in turn didn’t help it further out. So while we were disappointed that we didn’t qualify at Terry’s “original” home track, we are super proud of the car and we can’t wait to go racing again.
We have a match race in Salt Lake City, Utah, the same weekend as Epping, NH, so we will be there. The great thing about this match race is that it is with both cars! Yes both cars! We are really excited to do it. We are having the guys come in for a BBQ on Friday and then we are going to work hard on Saturday. After that we are hoping to go to Chicago! We really enjoy that race, so I am hoping all goes well and we can attend. While the car count is getting higher on it we believe that if we take a step forward at the match race we will be able to make great strides forward for Chicago!
We are still hoping to run the dragster at Seattle with me driving. We have been working really hard to make sure that I have a sponsor for that race and that the car is ready to go. Terry will not let me run until it’s right. I too have been practicing and am getting excited. Of course there is always the chance that all of our ducks will not be in a row and then Terry will drive the dragster or the Funny Car.
Well now that you are caught up on what we are doing and how things have been going I should get back to work. One more note… we are going to see McKailen for Father’s Day, and we are all so excited because Kailen and I have been working so hard to make it special for Terry! I believe that mothers, fathers and grandparents day are so important because these people love you and I hope that all of the people in my life know how important they are and how much I appreciate them and we are trying to instill the same qualities in our kids! Oh and school is almost out, so it’s time for Kailen to come home … WOOHOO!
This blog started right after Pomona, and I am just getting to finish it… Sorry! Seeing that we have just completed the first event of the season I felt it was necessary to sit down and write about what happened. Well, Terry and I left as close to on time as we have ever, so we arrived in Pomona late Monday evening, and we just parked the truck at a sponsor’s and went to the hotel, then on Tuesday we went and got the vinyl put on the car. Gatorwraps in Ontario did such a great job. Thank you to Rod and Keith for all their hard work. Then Terry and I went and set up the pit. After we got everything set up we decided that we would leave and go to dinner for Valentine’s Day. We knew there was no way we would be going out on Thursday.
Wednesday we got started, and I felt like most of the day I spent at airports. I made three different runs to three different airports. Needless to say I was over driving in California right then. One of our guys was running late, so we didn’t see him until early Thursday morning. Well we thought that Thursday was going to be the start of an amazing weekend. We were mistaken. We started by having problems with our clutch and the spacing of things. Then as we worked through all of that the computer started having problems. We could have rushed to make the session, but we decided that we would wait until Friday. We wanted to have the best chance to do well.
So we called it an early night and then came out super early Friday to make sure we were ready. We went up to make a run, and we made it about 150 feet. While I know this is not what everyone wanted it’s not as bad as you think. It did the same thing on Q3, but I can now tell you what happened. I know it showed on the television coverage that the burst panel came out and they said we “banged the blower.” This however is untrue! Yes, the burst panel came out both times, but we didn’t hurt the blower. One of our problems is that our blower is just so much better than what we have ever had. Our initial thoughts were varied. Those two run we hurt the #7 piston. This year we put a pan pressure sensor on our car. We are tired of being called names and giving NHRA money, so with this sensor a couple of things happen. If the car sees a certain number of pan pressure it shuts the car off. So it left well on both runs, and then it saw some pressure and shut it off. This may seem extreme, but we have our reasons. It’s not mandatory, but we don’t want to be those people. As we serviced the car, we saw what was happening and had a few questions. First, it blew the ring land out of that piston, which we found that one of the rings was an odd size. Seeing that everything that went in the car was new we weren’t sure why. So we continued on.... on the last run we smoked the tires.
That was the end of our weekend. We were all kind of bummed, but it didn’t go as badly as most people thought. We then decided that while we were out here we might as well go to Phoenix to try and get some more runs under our belt. You see over the winter we made a lot of changes… new systems in the clutch and made some changes in the motor and a new management box.
So in Phoenix we started our weekend by trying to back the car down. We have been slowly backing it down to figure out where we are supposed to be. In Pomona we worked with another team, and they showed us how the blowers that go on these cars are much better than they ever have been. When Terry started racing he was given a formula to go by to tune the car. He has always used that formula, and in recent years we have been getting better equipment, which has made his chart further and further off. So we acquired three different programs to compare, and it all shows that we have been about 6% over in tune up. With that it will make for some problems… to say the least. So now we are trying to get use to using these and trusting the numbers. It is very hard to do. In Phoenix the car was really trying to run… by the last run it left the line hard, and we were all so excited. It put a cylinder out and pushed Terry towards the wall. He continued to move closer to the wall because the front end was in the air. When it does that you can’t steer it. To settle it down he pedaled it and it moved a little but then was still to close so he had to lift. So he coasted through with a 4.58, which is better than our times the last two weekends. The car is really trying to run.
So after that we came home and got to work. We pulled the motor out to check the crankshaft and service everything. We fully intended on going to Las Vegas… we worked until there were no more options. There just wasn’t enough of the logistical money to get it done. So we are here at the shop today and super bummed because starting tomorrow everyone gets to do big smoky burnouts and we are not there! However, while everyone is out their running I can say I am super excited because the dragster is going back together. We are building a motor for it now and everything will start going back together over the weekend. We have a match race May 10 in Martin, Mich., so we are getting it back together for that and because I am finally going to work on my license again! We are trying to test it after Houston, but we have to make sure all the funding is there. It’s funny how Terry is pickier about my car and money than his.
In other news, I turned 29 on Monday. Everyone I have ever known has said “29 and holding”… I don’t feel that way. I am looking forward to being 30 and moving on! I think it’s more because I still look like I am 15 and get told that all the time. So I think my holding number will be 35! Terry gets to bring McKailen home for Spring Break in a week and a half. We are so excited! Braiden turns four on the 8th, but we are waiting to celebrate until McKailen is here. That is the only thing Braiden wanted! Oh and to go to the wolf lodge! Braiden is also starting to play T-ball… his first practice was supposed to be today, but it was rained out so we will try for Saturday. I think he is going to be really good, but I am a biased mom for sure! I wish McKailen could be here to play too or at least get to play in Seattle. I think he would like sports if he could. I do know he is looking forward to a Jr. Dragster!
Have a great weekend, and I will start working on another blog quickly. However, you can check out our “On the Run” story that just came out this week. Or keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter!