12-08 "On The Road" with Luke Bogacki
"On The Road" with Luke Bogacki
My how time flies! It seems like yesterday I was writing my last column in the heat of summer. In reality, that was three months ago, and summer is long gone--we’re looking at another hard freeze tonight in
When I left off last column, I had just come off a fabulous mid-season run that included three national event wins, and a number of bracket triumphs. While the final chapters of the season weren’t quite as successful, I did manage to find myself in the right place at the right time with some regularity. It wasn’t a dominating performance by any means, but it worked well financially, and as a “professional” racer that, ladies and gentlemen, is the bottom line.
This tale of woe will start of in
Labor Day weekend, I had my own cars prepared for a road trip to
There, I managed a decent showing; going deep into eliminations each day of competition in my CSR Performance Dragster. I never made a final in the main event, but reached the quarterfinals twice and was still in competition on Monday when the rains set in with about 12 cars remaining. I did make a final round appearance in a gamblers race on Saturday night. My would-be final round opponent was my engine builder and longtime pal Todd “Bones”
The only damper on the weekend, outside of the
The short week following Labor Day presented an interesting dilemma. Tuesday morning, IHRA announced that the
After careful deliberation (I thought about it while I pulled the wounded bullet from the Vega… I tried for an hour to talk Jason Lynch into going with me… Then I talked him out of his car so I could be sure to qualify for Top Dragster… Then I called everyone I knew who might have a car there that I could drive… Then I called to see about having a wing next-day’d from
Rather than head to Epping, I spent a luxurious weekend of fun in the sun testing at
I spent the following week in the thriving metropolis that is
Back at home, Bones and the crew at Huntsville Engine got the Vega bullet back together for me, and I dropped it in and headed to Carolina Dragway the following weekend for my final IHRA Pro-Am event of the season. Coming in, I had claims left in Top Dragster and Hot Rod. I was leading the Division 3 standings in T/D, and still had an outside shot at the Division 2 Hot Rod title. Plus, a strong showing in either category would move me up in national points as well.
After an all night drive, I made it in time for Friday test’n’tune, which gave me an opportunity to make sure everything was right with the repaired power plant. As expected, is was perfect, running right where it had before I turned Adam loose with it… Unfortunately, after three runs the transmission had a hitch in it’s giddy-up; a tell-tale sign of a broken planetary. The night after changing motors, changing transmissions wasn’t exactly at the top of my list. But duty calls, and that was the call of the night. What’s with the Vega? That motor/trans combination only had 1,200 runs on it--they just don’t build things like they used to…
I’d like to tell you how much the thrash paid off, but I had another dismal weekend. After a great season in Top Dragster, I failed to win a round in two days of competition, which left my seemingly surefire division title very much in jeopardy. In Hot Rod, my weekend was a microcosm of my miserable Hot Rod Season. On Saturday I was .012 on the tree and mathematically ineligible against Chip Johnson’s .011 package in round 2. On Sunday, my opponent actually gave me some room and I screwed up. I think I’ve mentioned this a time or two, but Hot Rod sucks.
With that behind me, I set out for
I also made an attempt to run Super Gas in the Mickey Thompson Vega, as Super Comp was not contested at
First round, I get a real good draw: National points leader Brina Splingaire. Perfect--why not open my Super Gas national event career by taking on number one… I actually had the right idea, I just failed to execute miserably. Brina treed me, and I knew it. So I got on the override with all intentions of parking the crazy little Vega to 9.90-something as she sailed by at 165. But, I lost track of where I was and got on the binders way too late, actually crossing first by .001 and losing a double breakout.
I did stick around to play crew guy/cheerleader and see Adam win his first NHRA national event in Stock Eliminator. After touring the country chasing the NHRA tour all summer to no avail, he definitely deserved to get a break and enjoy the spoils of victory. People have looked at me like I have three eyes for the last three years, but I’ve said (and still say) that Adam is, in my opinion, the best footbrake driver in the country. The way that he finished the 2008 season, he’s definitely making a case for himself.
I returned to
This year started off inauspiciously as well, with a red light in the second round of Thursday’s special Dragster Race. In Friday’s $30,000-to-win event I advanced to sixth round in my dragster, and made a good lap only to get slapped around by Justin Melton who went on to runner-up. In the big show, Shane Carr whipped me in the dragster in round three (that marks the 1,011th consecutive time Shane has beaten me), but I managed to string together some good runs in the Mickey Thompson Vega. In the seventh round, with 14 cars remaining, I got to talk about it! We cut the purse a little bit there, assuring the seven losers that round of $10,000. I squared off with Chris Brown that round and won a great race. I was .001 and a couple thousandths under, and Chris was .003 and took .001 to lose a double-breakout.
With seven competitors remaining, we decided to give each of the losers $20,000 from the overwhelming purse. There, I ran Tommy Plott and my day came to an end. Tommy was .007 and took .006. I was .011, but the Vega made a bad run for the first time all weekend, unloading the rear tires when it hit the wheelie bars and running .02-over. It’s not like I could be upset with the Mickey Thompson Vega. From the time I unloaded on Thursday morning until that 8th round loss in the Million, it had varied .006 to 330’--in 16 runs over three days!
My buddy Dave Triplett went on to win the race, defeating
As if that windfall weren’t enough, on Sunday I got things rolling once again. I had both cars in going to 5th round, where I broke a transmission in the dragster. That crazy little Vega once again made a stand, as I advanced to the final round before getting cracked by John Labbous, Jr. We drove back up the track after the final, without getting our tickets, and he asked me what the race was. I said “I think I was hi-.00, and you got there by about a hundredth.” He was dead-on 8, and I was .01 above with a zero.
He said “Yea, that makes sense. I’m pretty sure I was .000.”
“I let go and thought I got it, then I watched you leave and you looked good, so I bumped .004 out and gritted my teeth. When it left, I thought it was red. I’m pretty sure I was .000.”
He was .000.
That guy doesn’t suck.
I got to cap a stellar weekend at the “Million” by taking a picture with Little Caboose after he whipped me in the Sunday $30,000 final.
I’m going to use the Million Dollar Race as a good stopping point. The second half of this column will follow in the next couple of days, as I’ll wrap up the 2008 season with a review of my less than impressive trip East to
At this point, I cannot pass up an opportunity to shamelessly promote my latest undertaking, www.ThisIsBracketRacing.com. The site will probably not be up when you read this column, but it will launch around the first of the year, so be on the lookout! What is ThisIsBracketRacing.com? In a nutshell, it’s a subscription-only online driving school. As you avid readers know, I was fortunate to be able to put on a driving school at Mo-Kan Dragway early this season, and I had a ball being involved with it. That got my wheels turning, and this website is the end result. Detailed information will be coming out in the next few weeks, but as an overview, the site will consist of monthly tutorial columns from yours truly. These columns will span various facets of sportsman racing, with an emphasis on race strategy and a cerebral approach to ET Bracket and class racing. I’ll also have guest editorials from some of the best and most recognizable racers in the country, and tons of other information and aids aimed at making subscribers more successful and better prepared racers. Annual subscriptions will be available at an introductory price of $119, with a three month trial period and money back guarantee. Keep your eyes open, and be sure to check out www.ThisIsBracketRacing.com as this vision comes together.
Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned to DragRaceResults.com for “Part 2” of the final 2008 installment of “On The Road!”