APD Member Spotlight Blog (June): Nick Shepherd

 

Hello friends. What a month it’s been!
The last time I updated you I was just starting to remember how to drive a race car, and I was also just starting to unlock some mechanical success on getting my car more consistent.  
This month I’ve had some successes, although in ways I wouldn’t expect. I’ve had plenty of losses too, but I’ll spare you most of those stories.
Thanks
Usually the thanks come at the end of these blogs, but for this month I want to put them on top. 
I received all of my goodies for participating in this year’s TIBR member spotlight program and I have to say that the generosity and service of the manufacturers was awesome.  
Thanks to Nitroplate, K&N, J&J, APD and Thisisbracketracing. I plan on utilizing all of these items. While I can’t wait to utilize an APD carb and get my headers plated, I can’t take those items off the car yet, so those are waiting items will be upgraded in the post season. I can say that I’ve already been running K&N filters on my car and god knows I need a good filter as I’ve got about 1,500 runs on a stock GM crank and my 2 bolt block. Because of the age of those components, I also REALLY needed a diaper and the J&J diaper fit on my car very easily. People complain about running these, but mine was on in about 15 minutes.
 
Update on Racing
May 29-30 – Yakima, Washington 
For Memorial Day Weekend I made the three hour trek to Renegade Raceway in Yakima. It’s an awesome drive up the Columbia Gorge where wind mills are being erected all over the place.
I convinced Ryan Schaefer to go with me and our friends Chris Johnston and Dustin Ward made the trek from the Seattle area. Best case we win, worst case we get to see our out of town friends.
Fortunately luck, a small amount of skill, and my trusty 62 Nova were able to find the mojo to reach the winner’s circle on Saturday night and runner up on Sunday. Sunday I lost to the aforementioned Ryan Schaefer who made the trip with me from Portland.
When I say a small amount of skill, I mean it. The third round Saturday was the first round in total darkness and I drove to the finish line under full power because I thought my competitor had red lighted. It turned out that I was confused where the win light was and took a .10 stripe or something like this. Fortunately, I was dialed honest (this happens rarely, but it happens) and put together a dead lucky .018 package.  
June 3rd – Woodburn Dragstrip Points Race
This was one of the best days I’ve ever had racing, yet I wasn’t even at a race track.
The first week of June my wife and I went to Washington DC for vacation. If you’ve never been, Washington DC is an amazing place to visit and there’s enough stuff to do to keep you busy for over two weeks. The only problem with this vacation is that June 3rd was a points race at my local track and I was gone. Fortunately, I had been planning for this all year. Our track allows us to have an alternator driver on the days we are gone, but it has to be the same car. I had my very good friend Steve Kelly drive for me. Steve is a brilliant guy and he’s had lots of former success racing, including winning the 2008 Pro National Championship. 
As I’m making my way through the Smithsonian museum, eating lunch and exploring our nation’s capital, I get this picture of the trusty ’62 and Steve in the winner’s circle. To say the least, I was ecstatic! 
A huge thank you to Steve for driving my car and doing so well with it! Thanks also to Ryan Schaefer, my mom and dad, Tom Avgerakis and Matt Kielman for being the pit crew while I was gone.
 
June 9-10th – Woodburn Dragstrip Rose Festival
While Steve had some success in my car the week before, I seemed to find an early exit out of three races this weekend. I was guilty of taking too much stripe, giving the stripe back and just generally getting knocked around. Somehow the car and I weren’t connecting either. Fortunately, it got some attention the next week.
 
June 17 – Woodburn Points
I concluded the day in the quarterfinals with some ultra sloppy finish line driving. My finish line driving is improving from earlier in the season, but it’s still got a ways to go. 
On positive light, I had an awesome day mechanically with the car. It varied only .012 to 660’ over 7 runs. My focus on the mechanics this year is really paying off.
 
Stats
Here are 2012 statistics to date:
WINS:

Bye
5
Opponent Broke Something
 
Opponent Red Light
12
Opponent Break Out
3
Opponent Too Slow
5
Better Light (more than .010)
11
Lucky
1
Good Race!
2
Other
 
TOTAL
39

 
LOSSES:

I Broke
 
I Red Lighted
2
I Had a Worse Light (at least .010)
4
Too Much Finish Line (>.015)
4
Gave Finish Line Back
1
Just Bad Luck (Good Race)
1
I Couldn’t Run My Dial
 
TOTAL
12

 
Round win percentage: 76%
Average green reaction time in elimination: .022 (still trying for a .017 although some rounds I’ve noticed myself strategically being a little softer)
 
Nerdy Math
Over the past month I considered what I enjoyed reading most out of last year’s blogs. For me, I enjoyed when a blogger would say something about racing that I could use. So, I will offer this nerdy math tidbit that you might find interesting.
If you want to know your mathematical odds of winning an event, you can use your round win percentage and multiply it times to the number of rounds the event is. For example, if your round win percentage is 76%, and the event is seven rounds to win, then your odds of winning the event are:
76% x 76% x 76% x 76% x 76% x 76% x 76% = 14.6%
It also works like this:  76% to the power of 7 (76% ^ 7) = 14.6%
 
Conclusion
So last month I was trying to remember how to drive a race car. This month I feel like I learned and forgot all in 30 days, but I do feel like I’ve now got the best race car I’ve ever had. For the next 30 days I’m going to really focus on my finish line driving again. I look forward to updating you next month.
I’d love to hear feedback on my blog. If you like, feel free to email me at nick.m.shepherd@gmail.com.
Thanks everyone. Happy racing.
Nick

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