Johnsons Set Record Pace in Valdosta Test Session
ACDelco & GM Performance Parts teams unofficially shatter both ends of current NHRA record in off-season test
Sugar Hill, Ga., December 15, 2005 - The primary goal for any NHRA racing team's off-season testing is to work on preparing for the upcoming season. Long days are spent trying new components and combinations, with the ultimate goal to find an edge for the next year's POWERade championship chase. Therefore, little attention is paid to elapsed times or top speeds recorded during these trials, as for the most part they are nothing more than an indicator of a certain set-up's performance potential.
However, during a three-day test session held earlier this week at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, GA, Pro Stock standouts Kurt and Warren Johnson combined to post numbers that were impressive under any circumstances, as the father and son team unofficially eclipsed both ends of the NHRA national record.
1. KJ has one quick ACDelco Cobalt
The younger Johnson was the first to make news, as on his final run on Tuesday afternoon, the ACDelco Cobalt rocketed down the concrete quarter-mile in 6.604 seconds with a top speed of 209.95 mph, which is nearly three hundredths of a second quicker than the current standard, and a mile and a half faster than the top speed mark. Even with the impressive showing, the session was not without its own set of challenges,
"Although everything worked itself out, this test session certainly didn't start off to be a great one," said the younger Johnson. "We originally had commitments from seven or eight NHRA Pro Stock teams to be there this week. However, our two cars ended up being the only ones showing up, and the track didn't have the necessary amount of runs on it during the day to keep it in prime condition.
"Fortunately, Roy Hill was there with one of his drag racing schools, and they broke the track in during the morning. In addition, Shad Dean and his entire crew at South Georgia Motorsports Park did a great job, staying until 10:30 Monday night preparing the track and making it a good surface to run on the next two days.
"The atmospheric conditions were border line, not really the type you normally like to have when you're looking to learn something. However, we went to test some things that we didn't have a chance to during the regular season. I wasn't really after consistency; in fact, I was trying something different on every run.
"Even though this is only a test session, our performance is significant because we were finally able to run well in these mine shaft conditions, which historically has not been our strong suit. In the past we seemed to be off a little bit, whether it was in the clutch, engine or chassis. But in the last few days, our ACDelco Cobalt was finally able to run as well as it should under these conditions, which puts us in a good position, not only for the next test session, but the beginning of the year as well."
2. The Professor shows serious speed in his GM Performance Parts GTO
Not to be outdone by his talented son, on Wednesday six-time champion Warren Johnson blasted through the speed traps in his GM Performance Parts GTO at 210.08 mph, which is almost two miles per hour faster than the NHRA record, with his 6.613-second elapsed time also bettering the standing 6.633-second mark.
Even though the numbers are not considered official unless recorded at a national event, the tandem's performance at this preliminary session also has "The Professor" enthused as the teams move forward.
"Even though people were saying the conditions were beyond belief, they weren't even as good as when the record was set last year in Gainesville," said WJ. "Don't get me wrong, the conditions were good, but not absolutely premium. To give you an idea, our relative altitude was 274 feet, which was about 600 feet worse than the conditions some other Pro Stock racers encountered testing in Bradenton last week. The only comparison we had on hand were a few IHRA racers, who ran in the 6.51-second range with top speeds of 215 mph, which is nowhere near the 6.30's at 220 mph they ran at their last national event.
"In addition, we were racing on a track that, although very good, had never been prepped for our type of race cars, so the first day we couldn't even get past 50 or 60 feet. For example, they didn't have scraping equipment, a jet dryer or even a blower. Fortunately, everyone there from the track was very enthusiastic and more than willing to work with us, so we showed them what we needed. They hand scraped the first 300 feet on Monday night and sprayed it (with traction compound) the next morning, and by 2:00 that afternoon, we were able to run well on it. I believe that once they get into the regimen of proper track preparation, South Georgia Motorsports Park will become one of the best test facilities we have.
"Our plan going in was for our team to work on the chassis side while Kurt worked on the engine side. However, once he ran that 6.60 on Tuesday afternoon, we took his set-up and put it in our GM Performance Parts GTO verbatim, leaving the engine alone and it went 6.61 at over 209 mph. We then worked on the tune-up, and even though the altitude was 90 feet worse from the earlier run, we were able to go 6.61 at 210. We then brought the cars back to shop and weighed them on the new surface plate, and they were both over the 2,350 pound minimum with us in it, so they were at legal weight.
"The importance of running those numbers in testing is that it gives us a bigger window as far as the chassis is concerned, so we can now focus on the engines. Certainly the numbers were outstanding, but this session was productive because we've established a better chassis set-up than we've had in two years. We've been working on some new components, and we're finally able to start using them, which has given us a leg up on the car side. We're happy from that standpoint and elated about the numbers, but our work has really only just begun."