214 MPH BURNOUT SHORTENS MASTERCAM AA/FD's WEEKEND AND POSSIBLY TRIGGERS A CLOUDBURST by Cole Coonce, NR June 15, 1999, Los Angeles, CA--What is the saying? Something about if you can't be glorious, be spectacular? Such was the fate of the ...
214 MPH BURNOUT SHORTENS MASTERCAM AA/FD's WEEKEND AND POSSIBLY TRIGGERS A CLOUDBURST
by Cole Coonce, NR
June 15, 1999, Los Angeles, CA--What is the saying? Something about if you can't be glorious, be spectacular? Such was the fate of the Hedge & Alexander Mastercam AA/Fuel Dragster as it fell victim to its own bodacious horsepower in a first round loss to Jeff Miller and the "Time Bandit" AA/FD at last weekend's Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals in Indianapolis, IN.
After qualifying solidly in the 3rd position with a 6.29 on Saturday, the team was extremely optimistic about eliminations on Sunday. The 6.29 run saw a whisper of tire smoke 30 feet into the run, but it evaporated before driver "Wild Bill" Alexander had a chance to even contemplate grabbing the brake and stopping the loss of traction. Knowing they were on the edge of overpowering an exquisitely prepared racing surface, clutch manager Tom Shelar opted to soften the clutch set up.
Awww, but the only thing more capricious than drag racing is the weather in Indiana . . . Hot and humid conditions on Saturday's qualifying pass transformed into a moist and muggy climate on Sunday morning as pairs of dragster were run off between scattered cloudbursts. Ergo, despite Shelar backing down the clutch, when the specific gravity of the atmosphere changed so did his baseline. . .
Alexander factored this in as eliminations commenced. After the green light, he stood on and off the loud pedal three times (WHHHAAPPP! (silence) WHHUMMPPP! (silence) WWWHHHAAAAAAAPPPP!) in an attempt to calm down the motor and terminate the tire spin, but to no avail. The potent "Root Beer" Hedge prepped-Donovan Hemi was making loads of horsepower. Alexander, however, was reluctant to blame the team's troubles on the weather or clutch management. "I got impatient," Bill said. "I squeezed off the brake handle too soon." Perhaps--but after the run, other digger shoes were soliciting Alexander for advice about how to contain tire spin.
In defeat, the Mastercam car posted numbers of 7.54 at 214 mph, in contrast to a victorious 7.20, 195 for Miller. A silver lining out of this cloud of tire smoke for the Mastercam bunch was the expressions of joy from their competition. "Those guys were almost in tears," is how "Wild Bill" reports the emotions of the "Time Bandit" crew in the shut down area of the drag strip. The "Time Bandit" team had been campaigning the same short wheelbased, big block chevy powered digger out of Garrettsville, Ohio for over twenty years--and reportedly this was their first round win of note! (Furthermore, in qualifying 7th for the event, they recorded a career best 6.96 at 200 mph.)
Postscript: the billowing tire smoke from the first round loss was truly spectacular---but perhaps signaled more than just the end of Hedge & Alexander's day. Local weather experts were unsure if all that tire smoke had actually seeded the overcast skies and triggered a torrential downpour that forced cancellation of the last rounds of eliminations. . . due to the inclement weather, both semi-final victors--Gotelli Speed Shop and Champion Speed Shop--were declared event co-champions.
Next up for the Mastercam AA/FD: Goodguys 4th West Coast Hot Rod Happenin', July 31-Aug 1, Pomona, CA
Hedge & Alexander Mastercam AA/FD Website