DAY FOUR of Hot Rod Drag Week saw the over 300 racers head to the green hills of Tennessee and Bristol Dragway’s Thunder Valley. Nestled into a narrow valley Bristol Dragway is probably the most picturesque drag strip we’ve ever seen. However the increased elevation and high ambient temps conspired to keep the racer’s guessing with many running their worst times of Drag Week 2018.
In the Aussie camp the day started off with Ben Neal and Mark Arblaster going head to head for the first run. It had the makings of an interesting matchup because both cars have run 9.1 over the quarter mile in Australia and neither of them had their factory engines; it was Barra versus LS. Both had trouble free runs through the previous night into Tennessee and they were first up at the track. Benny got the hole shot in the Cresta and fired away from the line as the sun rose above the majestic mountains overlooking the track, but Arby looked to be chasing him down when a massive fireball erupted out from under the driver’s side of the car.
POR440 had pushed out a head gasket and hurt the block in the process. Arby’s day, and week was done. The Cresta went through for a 9.73 at 142mph, but the boys weren’t happy with that so they came back out later for a another pass but it only went through the traps for a 9.91 at the same mph.
Jamie Farmer and Kevin Morton had an interesting night with the Fox-body Mustang. It developed a bit of a rattle so the guys decided to pull the intake again and they replaced another roller lifter; this time BEFORE it dropped its guts. The nitrous-assisted Mustang managed a 12.62 at 109mph at Bristol with the guys battling a dodgy shifter. Hopefully the Mustang makes it back to Atlanta and then to Australia. Jamie plans to put a twin turbo Coyote engine into the car when it hits our shores.
Robby Abbott was also in survival mode and he ran just one pass with the Malibu wagon. The Green wagon didn’t seem to like the 1670ft elevation and could only muster a 14.16 at 96mph, but Robby had a grin from ear to ear as the problems that plagued the previous days seem to fade into the past.
The Gault’s were another team that went with the ‘One and Done’ philosophy today with the big blue Chevy running 11.26 at 121mph. All they did was pull the air cleaner lid but the car seems to be running fairly rich this week.
Brian Jensen's first pass of 9.88 at 136mph was a good start, but he came back out for another pass later in the day and ran a slightly quicker 9.83 at 136 again to maintain his third position spot in the Street Race Big Block NA class.
Harry Haig also had two cracks at the tree today. During the night the guys managed to damage the front shocks and so the car wasn’t leaving the line like it should and the result was a 9.11 at 153mph. A trip to an auto parts store yielded a pair of cheap new shocks and a time of 8.97 at 156mph. This means the guys are still in third position in the Street Race Big Block Power Adder class and only one hundredth of a second behind second place. A good number tomorrow could put them up to second, and they’ve just bought a fresh pair of 315 radials to help them do the job.
John Faraone is having a cracker this year with the Charger running a seven second pass every day so far, but it hasn’t been totally smooth sailing. The ignition seems to be having some issues and it is blowing rotor buttons apart. John blew one yesterday at zMax and then another today at Thunder Valley, but now he knows there’s a problem John knows where to look. So when the rotor button blew today it was a relative quick fix. The Charger only faced the line once today and it managed to run 7.78 at 183mph on a soft tune. With an average so far of 7.76 seconds the Charger is looking very good to take home third place in the Unlimited category. All John needs to do is make it back to Atlanta and run another seven and the trophy is his.
Today’s drive saw the racers head south through misty conditions on some very windy roads with two mandatory stops. There were no breaks given today; everyone has to do the 209 mile drive before they head to the track for Day Five. It all ends tomorrow, one way or the other.