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SSCC Sept. 2000


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Silver State Classic


September 2000

Black Tiger Races in Silver State

Silver State Classic gets a little taste of classic American Muscle. By Jack Blum and Bill Bauer

If you haven't heard of the 'Silver State Classic', you can think of it a 90 mile bracket race against the clock. The event starts about 200 miles north of Las Vegas Nevada (the Silver State). The course is 90 miles of state highway 318, and includes several straight-aways and some hard turns. Racers select a 'Target Speed' ranging from 95 to 170mph in 5mph increments. Rookies (like us) can only select speeds from 95-125mph, so of course Bill and I selected the 125mph bracket (may as well go for broke!). For you drag racers- 90 miles at a Target Speed of 125 MPH calculates to a 43 minute, 12 second dial-in! Then there is the final bracket of unlimited! In this bracket, you can go no slower than 180 and as fast as you car or your nerves will go. The current record is an average of 207.7801mph over the 90 miles with the highest radar speed of 227mph. Unlimited is our long-term goal for the 1968 Fuel injected 472cid six speed double overdrive GTO. The car was built to do a maximum speed of 210mph (aerodynamics not withholding). Some of you may have seen us literally building this car on the concourse show floor at the 1998 GTOAA nationals in Wichita, KS. Well, the car has been on the road and ready to race for about a year and a half after some oiling problems.

The basic schedule is tech and driving school on Thursday, travel to Ely on Friday for a parade and then a car show on Saturday and finally the race on Sunday morning. Bill and I packed up on Wednesday and headed for Las Vegas. Unfortunately, while loading the car onto the trailer, it clipped the edge of one of the exhaust cutout sliders, snapping it clean off (rumble-rumble-rumble). This meant we were now going to have to run the race with both cutouts open, oh well I guess we will just have to yell a lot! (See our videotape of the race for proof of the yelling) We arrived at the Showboat hotel in Vegas at about 5:30pm and found our way to the reserved parking area for racecars. We saw several Corvettes, Panteras, late model Mustangs and Vipers as well as a 1965 Corvair (150mph bracket), a 1969 Camaro, a 1961 Chrysler 300R and a 1970 Mercury Cyclone. Wednesday morning we first registered and received our pile of K&N stickers for the car. We then headed down to turn my car into a rolling billboard before we could enter the tech line. Once passed tech, we headed over to the (free) portable full chassis dyno. Their machine could only handle a full power run in 4th from 2000 to 5200 rpm. I guess shifting though the gears at full throttle would have sent the machine rolling down the Vegas strip. The car pulled 383hp@4800rpm and 469f/lbs@3600rpm torque at the rear wheels. A little lower than it did back home, but then it was 102 degrees in Vegas. We then loaded the car up and headed for the Las Vegas Speedway. As a rookie, I also had to take the driving school before the event. This was one of the best parts of the trip. We learned a lot about driving and it gave us a chance to shake down the car on the Las Vegas Speedways road course. We made about 10 laps and I was ready to start passing some of the Corvettes and Porsches, when the car started to sputter and then finally died. A quick check on the side of the road revealed no fuel pressure. We had to then let the car sit there for an hour until all of the qualifying was over. We then went back out to the car, and sure enough it started right up. Damn vapor lock. It was 107 degrees out there, and I had never run the car in that kind of intense heat, along with the open exhaust. Thankfully, Bill asked if I could qualify in one of the tracks little BMW M3's. Well, even though I had to drive a BMW that you put on rather than get into, I got qualified (Thanks Bill). One of the people we met at the track was Fred Garcia from National Speed & Performance Center in Las Vegas. Fred said if we needed any parts to solve our fuel problem that he would keep the store open that night as long as we needed. So as soon as we left the speedway, we headed over to National. We tore apart the whole fuel system from the tank to the return, but could find nothing wrong with any lines or the filter. So we decided to write it off as just too much heat and stress and not enough high speed air to cool the system. We figured that the race at 125mph would not cause this to happen again (we figured wrong!). Bill and I would both like to send a very big thank you to Fred of National Speed & Performance Center (phone 702-384-9080) for sticking around well after closing time. Fred also gave us a complete tour of the store. We could not believe the inventory they have. It was like Super Shops, Pep Boys and a couple of other speed shops stuffed into one store. Thanks to Fred they have a great supply of Pontiac parts as well (they do mail order too). In fact, Bill bought the rocker studs that he's been looking for and I was very tempted to buy the 22-gallon fuel cell they had.

Friday morning we had an early checkout and breakfast at the hotel, and headed back to the Las Vegas road course track where the rest of the racers were taking a tour of Carrol Shelby's race facility (we decided sleep was more important). In the afternoon we caught up with the caravan and headed up to Ely. The caravan stopped at Lund (a gas station and a trailer park) for lunch and a drivers meeting. It also gave us a chance to see some of the other cars and meet some of the other drivers. After lunch the caravan then stopped along highway 318 at the entrance to the narrows. They just want you to know what it looks like before you get there. We drove the truck and trailer through the narrows at 70 and it seemed to be not as bad as we had heard it described as. We even stopped on the opposite side, so the race officials could point out what the area looks like a mile before you get to the narrows. Not too intimidating, but I sure would not want to approach it at high speed unless I was sure the car could handle it. Especially since the entrance turn is a sharp right, and off-camber at that! Once in Ely, we check in to our motel got gas and headed to the high school. At about 4pm the high school was full of cars ready to run the race, but first a nice slow drive through town. The parade went clear through town (about 3 miles) and ended up at the convention center. Throughout the parade, since the cutouts were open we could not help but gun it a few times to the cheer of the crowds (cheap thrills). SSCC (Silver State Classic Challenge) hosted a great buffet dinner, along with some presentations. We sat at the GM Orphans Team table and got to know some of our teammates. On Saturday morning, we headed over to a local park for the car show. They parked us with the GM Orphan Team cars. Bill and I had fun attacking an old Porsche with a sledgehammer they had there for charity. Later in the day John Schneider (from the Duke's of Hazard TV show) showed up with one of the few remaining Hemi 69 Dodge Charger 'General Lee 01'. He was happy to see another muscle car there and we got to get a picture of him in my car. John ran the General Lee in the race (100mph class) and his wife ran the same class in her classic Corvette.

That night we decided to take a test drive in the country to calibrate the speedometer. We collected several samples and calculated that 125mph would be 127.5mph on the speedometer. We then went back to hotel and stayed up until about 1am calculating the exact time we should pass each flag station and then the final 10 miles. Then it was off to try to get some sleep (yeah right).

Sunday morning we got up at 4:30am in order to get some quick breakfast at the McDonalds. It was then another 45-minute drive to the starting line. They first queued us up at a truck stop. Then about an hour later we were off to the starting line. All the cars were lined up on the side of the road broken up into classes. We then waited about another hour doing a little nail biting before we headed to the start line. Their tech people did one last look over and a good hard yank on the 5 point belts (can I breathe now?). They use a Christmas tree like drag racing, the only difference is there is no burnout's or hard launches. You simply take your time and get up to speed carefully. Bill started the stopwatch with the lights and we were off. I took my shifting through the T56 building up to our target speed of 127mph over about 3 miles. It was then time to get used to trying to hold our target speed since I currently have no cruise control. We decided to do 127 for the first leg, then decided to bring it up to our maximum tech speed of 140mph including in the "Radar Trap" area, where your top speed is recorded before the narrows. The race organizers send the racers official certificates with your recorded trap speed, so at least we have proof of our 140mph run. This would give us enough time in the bank so that we could slow to 100mph in the narrows. It seemed to work, as we got to the narrows right on time and slowed to 100mph. After going through the first couple of hard turns, I yelled to Bill "We could have gone a lot faster" but that may have been because I just got done doing 140mph for over 75 miles (In less than 30 minutes!). They say after a while you can get speed drunk where 100 seemed like 20. We breezed through the narrows and quickly jumped back up to 125. We were then at the 79-mile marker. Bill then started a 10-second count down to each mile marker. At mile 82 we were only about 2 seconds slow. No problem, I just eased up the speed. Then cough, sputter and spit. The car was vapor locking again. We tried a few futile attempts to get it going again. Then we dropped below 80mph. The rule is if you go under 80 you're out! So we pulled over to the side of the road. After I shouted a few words I wont print here and a quick punching match with the steering wheel, we had to get out and stand off the side of the road. We then had to wait for 3 hours for the race to be completely over before attempting to get the car going again. We did get to see the rest of the cars pass by, and of course when John went by he had to play the General Lee's infamous horn Thanks John! Although it was pretty cool to have the unlimited cars whizzing by at 200mph+ only about 50 feet away. One of which was the top speed car of the day, a 99 Grand Prix Winston cup car. After a long hot 3 hours we heard the all clear on our scanner. We headed back to the car, and just like at the track it started right up. At least we got to drive across the finish line. Some others were not that lucky. Three cars we know of blew their engines that day. One or two others fried the transmission (including a brand-new Mustang, who's transmission let go less than 5 miles from the start) or overheated. The truck and trailer were there waiting for us as we had the son of one of the racers drive it down the night before. I gave the guy a good tip since we made him wait 4 hours longer than he needed. We decided not to stop in Vegas for the awards banquette. Bill had to be to work the next day, and I wasn't feeling much like partying, so we headed straight home. After sitting in the 110-degree sun for 3 hours, all we wanted was something cold to drink, and to sit in a vehicle with air conditioning. The capper of the day was when the AC in my truck went out just before Vegas and it was still over 100 degrees. Don't get me wrong, overall it was a great time. In fact, we are already planning for the trip in May. This time Bill is going to drive and I will play navigator. Then if all goes well, in September we will step up to the 155mph class (165mph tech speed). Then in 2002 we plan to do the unlimited class shooting for an average speed of 190mph, and a "Radar Trap" speed of 200mph, which is the reason for building this car in the first place. It won't be easy, but then again that's our motto "If it was easy, anybody could do it!"




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