GRAND BEND, ONT. - Despite chasing an aggravating "gremlin" all weekend, Al Billes and the Billes Racing team had the Canadian fans on their feet every time they brought the swoopy, bright yellow '53 Studebaker to the line during the IHRA's ...
GRAND BEND, ONT. - Despite chasing an aggravating "gremlin" all weekend, Al Billes and the Billes Racing team had the Canadian fans on their feet every time they brought the swoopy, bright yellow '53 Studebaker to the line during the IHRA's inaugural Mopar Parts Canadian Nationals Presented by Castrol.
Billes, of Barrie, Ontario, had qualified in the number one position at the first two events of the year, but this weekend a team from New York State made a "three-peat" a pretty tall order with a stunning 6.179 in Saturday's final qualifying session.
Billes qualified fifth overall with a very respectable 6.377. But his "Sudden Stude" has run much quicker, and in fact held the ET record of 6.268 for quite a while in 1999. Like all the Canadian racers in attendance at the landmark event, Billes wanted to put on the best possible show for the capacity crowd. But there was just "something" in the car that prevented Al from taking it that extra mile. (That would be quarter-mile in this case, wouldn't it)?
"I think we must have worked on everything under the hood and in the drivetrain during the course of the weekend," remarked Billes, "The team worked really hard, but we just couldn't pin down our problem. With the tremendous support from a huge Canadian crowd, and the cool, near-perfect supercharger weather, we were really high on our chances to get our first win of 2000."
"Of course, we're pretty satisfied with a semi-final appearance against this tough Pro Mod crowd. We just want to go a few more rounds in Cordova (Illinois). We've got two weeks before we go there, so we'll be putting in plenty of shop time between now and then getting things sorted out."