Brad Plourd Guest Editorial

 

2011 was a memorable year for my team and I, it was filled with many ups and many downs! That being said, it’s funny how we generally only remember the good times, much like a breakup! I am one of the lucky few who get to call drag racing my living. I have had tremendous support not only from my family but corporate backing to help in this dream. Thanks to Luke and his tremendous website, thisisbracketracing.com for allowing me to be able to share this event triumph with you.
I want to try and relive the 2011 O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals at my “home” track, Pacific Raceways in which we won Super Comp. When I say the season was full of ups and downs, this week took the cake. My mom’s mom had been struggling with her health for around a year and ultimately lost her life on Monday morning of the Seattle race. That hit us very hard, my family was very close to her, she was a firecracker! Obviously, the entire week was a somber time. Usually we have many friends for the race that stay at our house and we kind of tend to party a bit, this week was different. We still had the “crowd” so we had to make do with the hand we were dealt.
Racing as always starts Friday as it’s always a 3-day race, time trials went as planned and we were ready for race day. Saturday morning started crappy as I went .003 early letting the clutch go in stock to my buddy Doug Lambeck, who is one of our regulars to stay at our house. I don’t know how many of you guys/gals run 2 cars, but it can be so great and so bad sometimes. This time was no different; you want to do well in front of the “home” crowd. It’s hard to get back up after just being defeated, sometimes just minutes before. As we were waiting for Super Comp to be called, I was thinking to myself, “Don’t lose in both, just go crush someone!”
Round 1: I was in the lanes and am paired randomly with Ross Souza, who he and his family are good friends of ours. His car struggled to start, and for a minute I thought I’d get a freebie but after a few minutes of waiting for his team to get a jumpbox, we raced. I pretty much always try and hold a few to give me a little more control at the big end. So for Rod, I was setup to go 8.85-ish and when I let go I felt confident I had the jump (I was .015) and I was right. He was on me earlier than he should have been, so I made my mind up to “get behind” and I ended up going 8.898. I was going a little faster than I thought, 8.838, but luckily he was too!

Round 1
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.015
8.898
151.59
R. Souza
.023
8.864
167.40
.026

Round 2, was later that evening so we had a full day of NHRA enjoyment. The weather changed a bit and it was a little bit of a guess going into the round, I typically will lean toward going faster than I’m setup on rather than missing it on the slow side. I was paired on the ladder with Cody Scheu, a racer I was not familiar with. I had heard his name on the NW level (national opens etc) but he hasn’t traveled too far yet, which we all know in Super Comp means….NOTHING! He ripped the tree (.008 to my .022) but he was a lot closer to me than I thought he should be, so I dropped stupid to get above. Win light was glowing…

Round 2
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.022
8.966
146.40
C. Scheu
.008
8.882
167.84
.098

Round 3 was a Canadian racer from another great family, Frankie Giroux-Plaizier. We were pitted very close to each other so she and I gave each other a couple jabs before the run. This round was particularly nerve wracking because it’s the last round on Saturday and we all love to race in the “big show”. Luckily for me I had a pretty good jump at the tree (.013 to her .047 ) and I was able to back into her and take the stripe by .009 even though it was a “coin flip”situation to take it or get behind. She was going under which made it a tricky look for me with her subpar light. Luckily it worked in my favor that round.

Round 3
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.013
8.899
167.09
.009
F. Plaizier
.047
8.874
170.23

Being able to stay at my parent’s house is very relaxing and fun with friends and family. Even with the somber situation we were still able to have a few laughs and get a good night’s rest.
SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!
This was the most difficult day I have had to race in my life. My mom struggled with scheduling the memorial for my grandma, but ultimately selected Sunday. My girlfriend Katie and I helped as much as we could early Sunday to make things easier for my parents. Once about noon rolled around we drove the 8 miles to the track to get unloaded and ready. Here we go!
First up, after rd 2 of the pros was Comp, Super Stock and then us. I was paired with Scott Karsten, he was driving a car for Thomas Bayer. I have a lot of respect for Tom, he is very knowledgeable and a VERY good driver. Knowing this, I was prepared for anything. An interesting thing that happened on this run was my opponent was fully staged, I was still bumping in. But I could hear him on the chip; I thought that was odd because I wasn’t in yet. I proceeded to flicker it and we left, with me getting a jump. I was going into the round thinking it was a “slow” round so I setup accordingly, but he was on a pass! I couldn’t get near him to kill anything, so I dropped to get above again and the beacon was on.

Round 4
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.021
8.950
149.22
S. Karsten
.036
8.845
162.63
.090

Semi-finals are the most important round for anyone. Not only do we all want to get to the finals, but the pay is a huge increase! Derek McMasters was in my way. Not knowing anything about Derek bothered me, but all I could do was run my race and hope that would work. I got the jump once again and as we neared the finish line, I could tell I could get rid of some and safely take it. All in all I was 14 take 9…a really good race! He was .028 and 8.891, I was .014 8.898. When I got back to the trailer, the only person there waiting for me was Katie. She said all the normal things like, awesome babe! Great job! We’re going to Sizzler, etc…but I could barely acknowledge her. She was saying, “Brad what’s wrong”? I was getting emotional about possibly winning for Grandma. I couldn’t believe it was coming out right now! Nonetheless, we were final round bound.

Round 5
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.014
8.897
167.52
.008
D. McMasters
.028
8.891
166.71

With the weather and wind stabilizing pretty well we were ready. My final opponent was another Canadian, doorcar superstar Ken Mostowich. Ken is probably the best SC doorcar racer in the country; he makes really good runs and is always a threat with his beautiful Cavalier. As we waited for Ken to come to the lanes, my dad text and said, “How long until the final”? I responded, we’re in the lanes, hurry up. I thought nothing more about it until I was finishing bucking in and I see both my parents. I could not even look at my mom because I knew I would lose it. I felt so bad for her and wanted so badly to make up for us having to miss the memorial. I know grandma would have wanted me to race, and to win.
Pulling into the water at Seattle is very unique. There are people everywhere and people with restricted passes are able to get very close to the starting line and that makes it very exciting to see a lot of familiar faces. My buddy Kyle Rizzoli and I had a really good handle on the Lucas Oil dragster, so staging I was very optimistic. I left in front once again (.009 to .015) and I shot out a good ways in front because of his bigger speed (180+). But while going down track he was a hair closer than I was thinking he should be so my mind started racing. 3 possible things to do at this point: 1.) run him as deep as I can and drop to get above. 2.) Try and take it as tight as possible. 3.) Try and take it but anticipate his .02 drop.
Plourd (near lane) vs. Ken Mostowich in the final round
I went with #3. I got a couple good rips in just past the 1/8th to get rid of some early and then basically made it a dead heat before I hit brakes to anticipate his drop. I had a really good feeling he would not hold it to the rug behind me, and I was right. My 8913 beat his 8918. 1 out of 100 we make the right choice!
 

Final
Reaction Time
ET
Speed
Stripe (MOV)
Me
.009
8.913
160.65
.011
K. Mostowich
.015
8.918
168.79

After the pictures at the top end, I got very emotional again! What the hell Plourd! When my friends, family and other racers greeted me at the scales, I lost it. Every emotion I was holding in came out at once! I didn’t get out of the car for at least 10 minutes while everyone was there supporting me and making me not feel like such a huge“p#%@y”.
All in all it was a weekend I will never forget. With all the things going on it couldn’t have ended any better.
RIP Marlene.
 
Brad Plourd, far right, standing

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