GRAND BEND, Ontario --
Of all the stories here, none was more phenomenal than that of 53 year old Smax Smith from Preston, Lancashire UK. Smax, who won the 2003 English Top Fuel Championship as a rookie, was the runner-up just last week in Top Fuel at the legendary Santa Pod Dragway in England. By Wednesday he had returned to Ontario, where he now lives, and checked in with his good friend Barry Paton to share his English weekend's results. Barry, who had been very active in helping Spiro Kontos prepare his new Nitro Funny Car for its debut here, suggested that Smax apply for the Kontos driving job. Originally Todd Paton was going to drive the aptly named KonRodz Camaro as well as the Paton Family Top Fueler here at Grand Bend. When Todd ran out of time and places to cross grade his Top Fuel driving license to funny car license as well it opened the seat for someone else to step in and Sir Smax was that person. Rain prevented a happy ending to his story when it washed out the Saturday evening qualifying session and left Smax outside the Nitro Funny Car field.
Vicky was making her debut in the Zombie Pontiac Firebird that is owned by Michigan's Rob Bruce. Vicky broke the reverser lever on her Saturday afternoon run and the rain Saturday night washed out her final attempt. The car only started to come together on Thursday when Vicky, and her husband Brent, arrived in Michigan from their Stephenville, Texas home. The newly-formed team combines Bruce's body and chassis with the Fanning's nitro Hemi engine. Future plans for the team are uncertain at this time.
Elijah Morton is one of the seriously cool guys in IHRA racing. However, he has endured a year and a half from hell after finishing 5th in the 2004 IHRA Pro Stock points chase. At this event he borrowed a J & B prepared Ford Pro Stock engine from the Robert Patrick camp to see if power was his problem. By Saturday "All Right", his best engine from his normal engine supplier, Mike Allen Competition Engines, was back between his car's frame rails. Tommy Lee, a former IHRA Pro Stock World Champion Runner-Up, debuted here as Elijah's driving coach. Tommy was moonlighting from his day job, which is being the assistant crew chief (to Roy Simmons) for Erica Enders on the Victor Cagnazzi team. Tommy is a long-time friend of fellow Tennessean Mike Allen, who asked him if he would stop by and see if he could be of any help in shaking the monkey that has been dogging Elijah.
Speaking of Tim Dooley, he debuted a brand new Sonny's Chevy Hemi at this event after blowing his previous Sonny's Chevy Hemi at a test session. In an attempt to get the first year driver some seat time in actual competition the team chose to participate in the NMCA race at Bowling Green, Kentucky during the IHRA break. As luck would have it Tim's previous engine failed one run before it was due to be freshened. Tim's new engine was fired for the time in the pits on Friday and interestingly, it is the first Chevy Hemi to be based on the new Donovan solid (no water) engine block. Tim further reported that he is still married after the engine catastrophe, which ruined everything but his cylinder heads.
My t-shirt of the event goes to the new KonRodz racing team. Proving that they understand marketing as well as racing, they showed up at their first-ever event with t-shirts to sell. Their shirt said, "Excuse me, can you help me find the guy that said this was easy?" When you consider how their first weekend turned out, their shirt could be claimed to be prophetic.
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