A TOUGH WAY TO GET NOTICED
Professional Funny Car racer John Force once proclaimed that he got more exposure for his sponsors because of his wild on track crashes than any of his competitors who were winning races. Well, John went on to become the winningest and most popular Drag Racer of the modern era but his statement still resonates as factual.
Last weekend at a Can-Am Series Super Stock race at Empire Dragway, outside of Rochester, New York, Jory took a shot a experiencing a John Force ‘moment’.
On the second qualifying shot Saturday afternoon, everyone held their breath as Jory tried to get our Kangacruz Mini Golf Carts sponsored Cavalier under control.
Jory left the starting line in the right hand lane with a .001 reaction time and the car ran 1.30 seconds in 60 feet, so at that point man-and-machine were having a good day. However, at 2 seconds into the run an engine coolant drain plug came out of the left side of the engine block and fluid got under the left rear slick. This meant all the traction was on the right rear slick, sending the car across the centre line and into the left lane. At this point the car was pretty much airborne and had only the right front wheel making contact with the track. Jory narrowly missed Chris Lozon’s Super Stocker, his competitor running in the left lane. The car then came back into the right hand lane heading nose first for the guard rail. Jory was able to pull the car away but the coolant was still escaping and the car again headed for the centre line. Jory again brought it back into the right lane. The car was fish-tailing and it looked like the right rear was going to tag the wall but missed by just a couple of inches. Jory finally brought the car to a stop just past half track.
The on-board RacePak data recorder showed that the car had about a 4 G-Force lateral swing as it careened from side to side. Some suspension and steering components were damaged and as a precautionary measure the car is now back at the original builder, PK Race Cars in Millersport, Ohio, to be checked out.
As the efficient Empire Dragway staff cleaned up the track surface, we towed the car down the return road and back to our pit area. The return road goes in front of the spectator stands and Jory received a lot of applause for his driving skills. In the pit area we were visited by a lot of folks who wanted to see the damage and congratulate/share their thoughts with the driver.
I think Jory did a good job handling the car. He said at one time he didn’t really know where he was positioning the steering wheel so he momentarily released his grip so the wheels could find their own centre. He also felt he applied some power at one time to ‘drive’ the car out of its trouble. Of course, then comes the time when the driver questions whether or not he handled things properly. And, since I’m the main guy turning the wrenches, I’m questioning whether or not I had everything tight. I’m thinking I didn’t.
So, just like John Force, our Northern Force team stole some of the limelight from the racers that found the Winner’s Circle, but I don’t think we’ll make a habit of it.
Photo Credit: Ron Rigby Photography