HALLSVILLE, Texas - Not to many drag racers can say that their first ride in a race car was an alcohol funny car. Of those few, even less can say that they went to the semifinals at their first national event. Rookie Federal Mogul Funny Car...
HALLSVILLE, Texas - Not to many drag racers can say that their first ride in a race car was an alcohol funny car. Of those few, even less can say that they went to the semifinals at their first national event. Rookie Federal Mogul Funny Car pilot Steve Burck is one of those few, and hopes to make another impact in only his third race during this weekend's NHRA Division 4 Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series event in Hallsville, Texas.
Burck, a 50 year old business owner from Corpus Christi, Texas, first got into drag racing in the early 70's working on Bill Roger's "Traveling Texan" Nitro Funny Car. Now, over 25 years since he quit going racing, Burck is back into the funny car scene, this time Federal Mogul style.
Out of sheer determination, and will to race, Burck loaded up and went to his first race in Baton Rouge, La., back in March, with no crew, and one run shy of his license. With the help of Warren Dauzat, Todd Simpson and a few other racers, he finished his license on the Thursday before the event, but still had no crew.
That's when Federal Mogul Dragster driver Lee Callaway sent his friend and former driver/tuner A. J. Seruntine Burck's way. Seruntine and his former crew, from Louisiana, had just came out to spectate and see old friends. Seruntine quickly found himself in the crew chief spot. They went out in the first round of that race, but the next race would be another story.
At their next event, the O'Reilly Nationals in Houston, Burck used a combination of luck and consistency to nearly pull off the win in only his first race. In round one, his opponent Richard Shaver, the No. 2 qualifier, hit a finish line cone, giving Burck the win. Due to the low car count, that gave Burck a bye into the semifinals. In the semifinals, he had to run Division 4 heavy hitter Todd Simpson. Burck had Simpson beat to the 1000' mark when his burst panel exploded (a pressure relief device to prevent explosions), and Simpson just squeaked past to win. To add insult to injury, Simpson's final round opponent, Kebin Kinsley, had to borrow Burck's transmission (Burck was the only car with a comparable ratio) to make the run. So, in essence, had Burck beat Simpson, he would have a single to his first national event win.
With that behind him, Burck heads into this weekend's race in Hallsville hungry for victory. He hopes that the marginal surface at Hallsville will level the playing field for his Profax Welding Tools sponsored '98 Avenger, which has a roots supercharged, older style Brad Anderson combination. He also hopes that the third time is the charm.
"We obviously hope to go out and qualify," said Burck. "From what we've heard about the track, we're not going to try to go out there and kill the world. Even though we enjoyed a reasonable amount of success in Houston, we still feel like we are working our way up the ladder. We're just going to try to go up there and run with them, and do the best we can."
Burck also feels with two races under his belt, he is more comfortable in the car, and may be able to improve his driving and performance this weekend.
"Looking back, my philosophy has always been baby steps, and one step at a time," stated Burck. "That's the way we've approached this whole program. We've had a lot of good input from some of the people that have been around the sport for a while, which I value greatly. I feel very confident in the car, simply because of the way we have taken it slowly. I have made over 40 runs in the car just testing at a track back home. So now, with more experience under my belt, it helps to encourage us."
"I've never been to Hallsville," Burck continued. "From what I've heard about the track, I think that 5.90's to low 6.0's will get the job done. With what we learned in Houston, I don't think those are unattainable numbers for us. I think the car has it in it. We're at a slight disadvantage with the roots blower, but I think at this race, the track will be the equalizer."
The Federal Mogul Funny Cars will have one qualifying run on Friday, with two more on Saturday. Final eliminations will be ran on Sunday. Stay tuned to SummitRacing.com's Drag Race Central for round by round updates of the action from Hallsville.