Willie Burnett: July Blog

Oh how the summer days fly by. The last time I left you gallant few committed readers I was coming off a mildly positive month seasoned with mediocre driving and a lot of luck on my behalf. A busy month lay ahead and the sky was the limit. Damn! I miss those feelings of positive optimism as I write this installment of “How not to get the job done”. If that doesn’t give you a prelude to the last few weeks of my season then all I can say is that I continue to surprise myself with my own inabilities behind a steering wheel.

As promised, my first stop this month was a third visit to the evil lair of Tulsa Raceway Park for my second points race in the CDRA circuit. Since my current points total placed me in a heated battle for last place I thought that there is no place to go but up. If my definition of “up” included 100? temps and an elevated level of competition then I hit it squarely on the head. 
First round Saturday I pull up feeling light headed from the sultry temps and see my competitior on a 5.38. Knowing she’s a stone cold driver my mind is set that it’s time to put my big boy pants on and drive this one like I deserve to be here. We hit the water box and I see her dial on the boards reading 5.30. My immediate thought is “I bet she doesn’t even see that they have her dial in wrong. This is gonna be a cake walk.” After I hit the tree and look blindly at the “dialer” in the other lane chucking taters at me like I’m the governor of Boise, my brain goes blank. After I flash back to reality I realize that my .030 package doesn’t beat her .018 no matter how easy I thought this race was going to be 5 seconds before. All I could think is “Did somebody go to Luke’s school last week or what?” The lesson (a rare sight in my column) to be learned here is don’t take anyone too lightly since they may be reading the same articles and going to the same schools that you are. After another pricey buyback and a 3rd round beat down by “Mr. TRP” Jeremy Maples I was ready to shake my heat stroke and get some Baja Jacks in my belly (If you’re in Tulsa you have to make a stop there. It’s like Chipotle on crack, minus the frequent bathroom visit aftermath). After a hot miserable day behind me it was a battle getting my head right to do it again in a few hours. Well, Sunday is a new day and…
Sunday sucked. Take .017 and out by .004, snuck by doorcar badass Bob Gilmore 2nd round with a “how’d I do that” bumping to .006 take .0017 accident, and turned it .023 red third round. All this fun ended in another, all too common, mid afternoon trip back to Kansas.
 
Amy decided to take this picture to remind me that pouting is not a good look on a man. I can be a very poor loser.
After another CDRA beat down in my recent memory and a bitter taste of racing in crazy heat I decide to switch it up the next weekend. Instead of heading to Wichita to chase CDRA points in a battle that’s as good as over (either Matt Driskell or Chris Brown have dominated the series so far this season) and sit thru another forcasted heat wave, I decided to make good on a promise and head north. My good buddy Josh Kanselaar has been begging me to come up to Iowa and try out the waters up at Eddyville Raceway for years and I thought a break from the norm is just what the doctor ordered. As Amy and I pulled into the   1/8th mile country club tucked away in the middle of Iowa “aka, Nowhere” on Friday night of a well needed Independence Day weekend (no kids, it’s not officially called the 4th of July. That’s just that day it’s on) I breathed a welcomed sigh of relaxed relief. I know you read this blog to see .00X take .00X out by .00X but let me digress for a minute and tell you that Eddyville is the nicest 1/8 mile facility I have ever been to. This joint is nothing but trees and manicured grass with a hunk of asphalt dumped in the middle. That combined with the most extensive breakfast menu I’ve seen in my travels damn near brings a tear to my eye (and if you know me then you understand that I like my breakfast). 
If the Eddy Dinner was next to my house I would sell my refrigerator. If you get the chance to sample their breakfast I recommend the “Modified” or their hand battered “Jr. Dragster” French toast sticks. It’s off the hook!
 Well back to racing. I entered their Quick Series and SP with the Blue Beacon. I decided to spray it first pass of SP so I knew where I could place myself on the ladder. The Beacon put down a respectable 4.55 at 153 and then got an eye opening reminder that a pure 1/8th mile track is just that…short. After a quick reality check I had to decide if I could make the circle track turn at the end of the shut down (yes, the shut down includes the back straight and 2 turns of a mini paved oval) or if I would be clearing the back straight and taking a corn cob nap in the adjoining field. Obviously I brought it down tight on the bottom groove and did my best Clint Boyer impression to wheel the ol’ girl into the pits. I pulled to the ticket shack like it was the winners circle rambling off “I’d like to thank Staples, Cheerios, Levi Garret, Sprint, and Viagra for giving me a helluva car today”. 
Back on the straight track I did a great job of getting busted 1st round in T/D and horrible job of getting to 6 cars in SP before they pulled the plug due to time. I, for one, was relieved to see the day come to an end since my first hair raising pass was at 9:45am and my last was at 1:45am. I was in dire need of a cocktail and a nap by that time. Sunday wasn’t much to speak of since it rained out after first round. I may not have won but “I got paid biatches” and for the cherry on my nice and easy weekend sundae Amy and I got to see tons of fireworks on the way back to the Sunflower State. We passed three professional shows and umpteen other random private displays all from the comfort of the tow rig.   I couldn’t think of a better weekend in recent history and I want to send a special thanks Josh, Chrissy, Tucker, and the whole Kanselaar family for their hospitality.
I had to include a shot of Josh’s “Shomaro”. Word on the street is WJ won the 1976 Winternationals in this very car…I could be mistaken tho.
Don’t give up on my ramblings yet everybody because my ”Close but no cigar” story is moving to an abbreviated end very soon. The relaxing schedule continued to the next weekend as a one day race at KCIR is all I had planned (Hey, at least I was running 2 classes so get off my case). I bashed thru some rounds and actually drove damn well, for me at least. The beacon decided to pick up a nasty tire shake issue mid track which meant I was either going a 4.97 or shuttering to a 5.01. Since I had the go fast bottle in tow I put the beacon on a 97 and decided to spray thru the shake when it showed its head. I wheeled my way into 4th round of SP and the final of Top Dragster. In SP I came across my buddy Chris Damico in his 6.0 ultra clean Vega. The guy can slay the tree and put up a number so I stuck to my guns. “If it shakes…spray to get there” was the plan. That plan would’ve been the right decision but as the shift came and the shutter of the Mickey’s passed all I could think was that I might be able to get there on motor alone. In my world “might” ends up being .007 behind at the stripe and that doesn’t turn on the win light. OK, I have one more shot to redeem myself. The chance to finally put a W on the board this season is the biggest monkey on my back and only one man stood in my way. Too bad it happened to be a guerilla in the form of Jeff “Peanut Butter” Solomon. He’s only the defending CDRA champ and recent Division 5 SP ET Finals representative. That resume turned out to be good enough to make me look like a fool (with a little help from yours truly). I start my burnout in neutral, dive into the stage bulb and bump my .004 green to a .010 red. I’m starting to feel like I have a chronic case of Premature Finishlinization. Oh…ehh…ugh…no…this has never happened to me before.   Oh…Yes it has…Time and time again.
I made another final this year!!! Yep, I lost again.
After another near victory (and an, all too common, mental collapse), I decide to start a complete suspension rebuild on the Malibu so I can take it to my old home track in Manhattan, KS (go KSU). After a 4-link redesign, I decide that triple entering the Bu is a good way to cure its (and my) ales. I’m sure many of you have never been to, or even heard of, Midwest Raceway in Manhattan. It is an old school 1/8th mile track that is all you could expect out of a facility that still doesn’t have 330’ clocks. They have weird classes with unique trees but always pay very well. Earl and Nancy operate the track on a part time basis but it’s always worth a stop if you get a chance. I put the Bu in the Bracket II (S/P), Sportsman (No-E), and Pro Sportsman (the first 2 ambers come on at random times so it is a bottom bulb class where all electronics are allowed). I didn’t fare well in the transbrake categories since my electronic shifter wasn’t working correctly (due to my stupidity in not checking the shift timer) so I failed to make it out of 2nd round in 2 of my 3 shots. I did seem to find a spot foot braking in the Bu and made it down to 6 cars before Troy Ross went .000 to my .132 behind the wheel of Chris Livingood’s “Flat Blacki” Vega. Luckily Troy finished the job with a win to make me feel a little better. JR Lobner made a decent showing as well in the S-11 by winning Pro Sportsman but since MWR doesn’t have a winner’s circle I don’t have any pictorial proof. Even though I failed again at least my boys picked up the slack.  
Nothing feels more appropriate than seeing the Lobners wrenching on something at the track. Fuel pump in the tow rig? What the hell…John will get it R&R’d under flag time with no problem.
 
The three nasty door cars all in a row. The Cruizer, The Blue Bu, and The S-11 ready to do work at Midwest Raceway
 
The Bu and the Wagon battling it out in No-E
As my wounds left from late round losses and bonehead mistakes start to fester I can only look ahead and think of the possibilities in the near future. I will be rockin the Blue Bu for a couple weeks including a showing at Luke’s SpringSummer Doorcar Bonanza Spectacular Shootout (or whatever it’s called) and finish off with a choice of NHRA / CDRA / Big Bucks / local racing options as summer sizzles on. 
I couldn’t end my whining session without cutting and pasting in all the people that help this one legged ass kicker keep on rolling.   Thanks to Amy, Micala, and Jeryka for the pictorial evidence of my trials and tribulations Also a thank you goes out to APD, Nitro Plate, J&J Engine Diapers, K&N Filters, and “LB Money” at ThisIsBracketRacing.com for all the sweet product and giving a guy like me a place to tell my tales. If you just can’t get enough of Ivan NoDrivin (you know you want to) feel free to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter at @IvanNoDrivin. I hope to see you all back next month so for now…keep them bumpers draggin’ and win lights blinkin’. 
I’ll leave you with a little food for thought this month.
 Ivan “Confucius” NoDrivin say: “No matter what lane win light blinking in, you helped turn on” 
 
 
 

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