10-10 "On The Road" With Luke Bogacki - How Time Flies
It’s amazing how time flies. Here it is fall, and I’m due for another quarterly update on my racing misadventures for you loyal DragRaceResults.com readers. Speaking of time flying, can you believe I’ve been writing this column for ten years? Can you believe Scott still keeps posting them? Can you believe you’re reading this? Again?
It’s been an interesting season to say the least. Personally, life has been incredibly good. I’m madly in love with the woman of my dreams, and we bought a beautiful home here in Illinois. ThisIsBracketRacing.com has grown to reach heights I’d never dreamed of. My family and friends are happy and healthy. I have no complaints.
As you loyal readers know, however, I can always find something to complain about on the race track! It’s hard to say this season has been a disaster. Whether it’s bracket racing, Super Comp, Stock, Box, No Box or Footbrake, I feel like I’ve been competitive on a regular basis. It seems like every week I’m involved late in the race. I’m chasing NHRA points for the first (and likely last) time, and I’m in the national top ten in both categories. I just haven’t won races like I expect myself to, and that frustrates me.
At the conclusion of my last column, I had just left the Tenn-Tuck Triple Crown event at Beech Bend Raceway in July with the latest in a string of quarterfinal losses. From there, I set out to Cordova, IL for a big dollar quarter mile bracket race. I took my fast dragster and Bryan Robinson’s Nova Stocker, as we had made some significant changes and Cordova sounded like an excellent place to test.
Have I mentioned how challenging Stock Eliminator is? Like most of you, I used to watch results on the internet and in the magazines and think “I can whip these guys.” What you fail to understand, until you’re one of “those guys” is how difficult it is to maintain a competitive vehicle in that class. There is more mechanical challenge to that category than any I’ve ever been associated with. Take this as an example. After nearly three years of work: toying, tinkering, and testing, I really felt like we had a competitive Stock Eliminator entry early this season. The car has always been fairly consistent, but we were finally finding some power and getting it to the race track. At a divisional event early in the year we ran 10.15 in AA/SA. Granted, that’s not a record setter, and it doesn’t even belong on the same race track as the new Cobra Jets and Drag Pak cars, but that’s a formidable run for our combination. Given our budget and the fact that we (Bryan Robinson, myself and engine builder Brian Rogers) do everything ourselves, I was pretty proud of that timeslip.
Fast forward to the summer months. With the same combination, I couldn’t run the 10.60 index at the Norwalk national event. In the weeks since, we changed everything but the paint. At Cordova, the best ET I could muster was a conservative 10.71 (and I threw the trailer at that car). As much as I’d like to make excuses, the lack of performance had no affect on the outcome of the race. I entered the car in the No Box category and lost more rounds than I won. I believe my worst reaction time of the weekend was .021, and I got my butt kicked all over that place!
In the dragster, I managed to get down to 10 cars in Saturday’s $10,000 race before finding a new way to lose. My car unexpectedly shut off about 100 feet into the run. A closer evaluation revealed a fuel tank full of water. They don’t run too well on H20.
I got that situation remedied and advanced to the quarterfinals in Sunday’s $5,000-to-win race before turning it -.002 to Anthony Layne. Prior to that round, I’d strung together five reaction times between .006 and .010. Sitting in the staging lanes, I thought “Why give up .006 to Anthony Layne?” Take a wild guess at what I did with the delay box… Yea, I pulled .002 out. BRILLIANT! Another loss in the quarterfinals, just what I needed.
I only spent a day at home after Cordova before I had to make the journey south to No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose, LA. There, Britt and Slate Cummings joined me to host another ThisIsBracketRacing.com “Live” driving school on Thursday and Friday prior to the Great American Bracket Race. I also put together a 32-car race for an American Dragster at the event. Of the most excitement to me, however, was the fact that I had my crazy little Vega back in the trailer for the first time in nearly two months.
I have to give a huge thank you here to Jason Lynch and Tracy Oliver. I had the fast car and the Vega in my trailer. Jason and Tracy each transported a car to the track for me. So by the time the weekend officially kicked off, my slower ’08 car was on the premises as was the new American Car we were putting on a race for.
School went great. I want to thank each of our attending students: we had a really good group of racers. Of course thank you to Britt and Slate who did a great job, and to Gaylon Rolison, Paul Cartwright, and the No Problem Raceway staff for being so accommodating.
We got school wrapped up Friday afternoon and started right into the day’s $5,000-to-win event. My weekend in the Vega was short-lived. I made it one lap around the pits before discovering a pin-hole in a cylinder that filled the motor with water. Obviously I’m just not meant to race that car this season. I did run my ’08 dragster (I left the keys to the fast car with Jason Lynch) and managed to break thru my quarterfinal jinx. I lost in the semi-finals to my co-instructor Slate Cummings. I guess that’s one round better than I’ve been doing lately.
Friday night we started the dragster race, which eventually saw Gary Williams earn the victory over Bart Nelson. Gary took home a beautiful new American Car with paint from Todd’s Extreme Paint and products from Moser, Mickey Thompson, Ohlins and more. The car was a $25,000+ value, and just added to the incredible season that G-Dub is enjoying.
Saturday brought the $50,000-to-win main event, and a good day for the Bogacki camp. With the Vega on the sidelines, and a second entry already purchased, I hopped into Jason Lynch’s dragster. Between the two of us, we had four entries: He drove his car and my fast dragster. I drove his car and my slow dragster. With five cars remaining in round seven, we still had three of those entries alive. The ladder was generated that round, pairing Jason (in my car) against me (in his car). With my entry in my own car, I was paired with my engine builder and good buddy Todd “Bones” Ewing. My other buddy from New Mexico, Jim Calloway had the bye run.
I ran Bones first, and gave him a free pass to round eight when I lit up a -.004 red light. In the pairing with Jason, the winner between us was guaranteed a bye run into the final round. Since we were driving each others car, we were pretty much guaranteed a good payday regardless of the outcome of the round. With that in mind, I lit the cherry for the second time in about 5 minutes with a -.003 red light. I said it didn’t matter, so it didn’t bother me, right? Jason’s in my car so we’re both winning. And hey, if I can’t be in the finals, there’s no pairing I’d rather see than Jason and Bones. But I just lost both entries in the quarterfinals!!!! Of a $50,000-to-win race!!! For my 91st and 92nd quarterfinal loss of the year (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit)!!!
As it ended Bones whipped J.J. in a close final, but we all made a good chunk of money and went away happy. In Sunday’s $10,000 race I found a new way to lose in the fourth round of competition, and Jason advanced to the 6th round in my slower car before falling to A.J. Ashe.
I elected not to make the trip to Atco, NJ the following weekend. Instead, I sent my slow car up North with Jason and I stayed home to take a weekend off. The plan was to ride over to I-57 Dragway with Jessica and watch her race while drinking some beer on my end. With the slow dragster in New Jersey, the Vega blown up again, and a pair of NHRA races on the horizon, I didn’t really have anything to race anyhow. That all changed on Saturday morning, when I got a good call from my buddies Chuck Broy and Scott Skinner offering me both of Scott’s cars for the evening.
I had driven Scott’s Nova a few weeks earlier at I-57, and I’d never sat in his dragster (but a dragster is a dragster, right?). A few hours and about 15 rounds later we parked both cars in the winners circle. It wasn’t a huge payday ($2,000-to-win in both classes), especially after a split with the car owner. But it was really fun to win in someone else’s stuff (I had fans!), and it provided a much needed boost in confidence. I haven’t done much winning this year, and that night I actually drove really well. I felt like I might be remembering how to do this! Oh, and as a side note, I obviously figured out how to get past my quarterfinal hump: I got the bye in both classes with five cars remaining!
Here I am in the winner circle at I57 with Chuck Broy, the Skinners, and my crew guys Josh & Tristen. Photo Courtesy of Rene de Groof.
The following weekend I set out for Cordova, Il once again for another fun-filled weekend of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing action. In text, it’s hard to lay the sarcasm on very thick: these events are about as fun as watching grass grow.
In Super Comp I made a nice run in round one that came up short (I think I was .013 and took .004 to lose the double breakout). I did manage to go some rounds in Stock, but left the tree with a very late reaction time in the final round against Tyler Wudarczyk and that was all he needed to whip me.
Jessica and I left Cordova and headed for the thriving metropolis of Durand, IL to spend a couple days at the Folk household, only without the Folks. The Folk family was in Michigan between races but were gracious enough to let us stay in Durand without them, do some laundry, and enjoy the pool. Brad Plourd tagged along for the trip and we all had a large time before we set out for Brainerd, MN Tuesday evening.
Here’s Brad atop the infamous tool shed at Nick Folk’s house. He’s about to plummet from the roof into the deep end of the pool. Legend has it that seven grown men have made the leap at once
My Brainerd trip went a little bit better than it did in ’09. I wasn’t disqualified in Stock, which is always a plus. My stellar national event performances in Super Comp continued in Brainerd, as I got ousted by eventual winner Gary Stinnett in round one. Brainerd was my last national event that counts for points in 2010. In six events, I never managed to get out of the third round. If that doesn’t spell national champion, I don’t know what does. Way to waste a really good divisional season Bogack…
It’s all about to go downhill. I made it to Sunday’s final eliminations in Brainerd with Bryan Robinson’s Stock Eliminator car before falling in the quarterfinals to Ben Line.
In Stock I made some nice runs to make it into Sunday eliminations. There, Ben Line made me look like a complete rookie and sent me home in (take a wild guess) the quarterfinals. There was a semi-final bye run awaiting the winner of our pairing, so it was only a $6,000 round (minimum). I love this sport.
We made it back from Brainerd without issue, and Jess started school the following Tuesday (she’s a 6th grade teacher). I had class of my own the next weekend, as Shawn Langdon and I brought ThisIsBracketRacing.com “Live” to Mid-State Dragway in Havana, IL. We had some brief weather issues, but I felt like class went really well. Thanks again to all who had faith enough in Shawn and I to spend your hard earned time and money in the class. Thanks to Shawn and to Jacklyn Gebhardt, Jeff Still and the entire Mid-State staff. We had a blast.
The Mid-State outing also marked the return of the mighty Vega to competition. In Saturday’s gamblers race I decided that giving it back .002 in Super Pro wasn’t close enough; so I gave it back .001 in the semi’s of No Box. Sunday I advanced to the semi-finals in both categories (one round better than normal) before losing both in that round.
Next up brought the Lucas Oil Series event at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green. Bryan had the Stocker back in Iuka trying to solve the .5 slow puzzle, so he wasn’t able to bring it to the track until Saturday morning. Then, on my one qualifying run, it promptly failed to shift. Have I shared how much fun Stock is?
Anyhow, first round I dial the index, fully expecting to be holding well over a tenth. I catch my opponent really late in the run but decide to (try to) take the finish line anyhow. My win light didn’t come on.
My first thought: “That guy was just .020 and under and beat me.”
Reality: That guys was just .080 and .06 above. And beat me.
I was .020 and gave it back .001 to be a nice, conservative, .14 above the dial. In my defense, I thought I was holding a ton and was going .03 above on the rug. But you gotta get in front. Way to contend for the title Bogack!
In Super Comp I managed to find a way to win at the track that has always been so good to me. My car was phenomenal and for once the thousandth’s went my way. I hoisted the Wally at Beech Bend to really put a stranglehold on the Division 2 points chase and give myself an outside shot at the national title once again.
Jay Hullinger, Jason Lynch, myself and track owner Dallas Jones after my Super Comp win in Bowling Green.
Rather than go on to Indy for the U.S. Nationals, I elected to stay home and race at I-57 Dragstrip over Labor Day weekend. I’d like to say I didn’t have much luck but the truth is I didn’t do a very good job. The highlight of my weekend was spraying the heck out of my slow dragster to go 4.70 in an attempt to make the Quick 8. I ended up ninth (by .002!) but got in the show when one of the qualifiers broke. I didn’t do much of anything in Saturday’s race, but managed a runner-up finish in Footbrake on Sunday to Jeremy McKague (who single-handedly wrecked my weekend, beating me on three occasions en route to a pair of victories).
A little focus before a bout with Peter Biondo during the Million Dollar Weekend. Photo courtesy of DragRaceQuebec.com.
The next weekend I ventured to Indianapolis, errr… Muncie, Indiana for the annual Million Dollar Drag Race. The weekend started out promising: I was runner-up in the first $10,000 race of the event, but it went downhill from there. I just ran my slow car in every race except the million (Jess and Chuck Broy brought the Vega up with them Friday night so that I could show everyone how not to win a round with it in the big show) and didn’t have much success. In the big dance I got down to 26 cars before losing a close race with eventual semi-finalists Jonathan Clay.
Mom, Jess, myself, and a ragtag group of roughnecks after my runner-up in Muncie.
I then headed back to No Problem Raceway for their version of the NHRA traveling circus. There, I lost a horrible round in Super Comp when my car sped up a solid minute and I did a pathetic job of driving in round two. I advanced to round four in the Stocker before kicking it .006 too soon with the red light start.
Last weekend things made a turn for the better. I traveled with Jess and essentially her whole family to Music City Raceway in Nashville for the Southern Survival Shootout. There, I managed to park both cars in the winners circle Saturday night, pocketing a $5,000 Super Pro victory in my slower dragster and a $4,000 No Box win in the Vega. I made some really nice laps in the dragster and I got away with several mistakes in the Vega, but things finally came together. Sunday reality set in, as I failed to make the pay window in either car, but it was a good outing nonetheless.
Jess, myself, the Lynch family and the Illinois clan after a double-win at “The Hill.” Photo courtesy of Rick Gonzales.
That’s the story for quarter number three. I’m hoping for a clutch performance in the 4th to call the season a resounding success. In NHRA points, I think I’m pretty safely in the top ten in both categories, which would be an accomplishment in itself for our first year of competition. I feel pretty good about my chances to win the Division 2 title in Super Comp, and we’ve got a shot to win Stock as well. The national championship is still a possibility mathematically in both categories, but it would take a stellar finish on my end, and I’d have to depend on some help from the others in contention.
I’m back on the bracket scene for the next two weeks, with events close to home in St. Louis, and Bowling Green. Then I’ll finish out my NHRA season with back-to-back points meets in Reynolds, GA and Noble, OK. We’ve got a pair of ThisIsBracketRacing.com “Live” schools coming up: a Junior Dragster only class at I57 Dragstrip October 8, and one for the big cars at Sand Mountain Dragway October 30-31. After that I’m off to Florida for the annual winter series before I hang up the helmet on 2010.
For those of you planning to attend the PBIR 5-Day in November, Donny Urban and I are hosting a special 32-car race for an American Dragster at the event. The car is coming together now, and it’s going to be a really impressive piece. For details, check out ThisIsBracketRacing.com or call Donny or myself.
Thanks again for reading, I’m really happy to be able to continue to report some of my misadventures here on DRR. As always, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the people and companies who make my racing possible. First off: thank you to all of the members and advertisers on ThisIsBracketRacing.com. The site has taken off and been better received than I’d ever envisioned, and I love getting up and talking racing everyday. Our members are the best! Thank you to my girlfriend Jessica and her family for putting up with this crazy lifestyle I’ve made for myself. And of course thanks to my many marketing partners for manufacturing and distributing the components that I depend on week in and week out: Bill Taylor Enterprises, American Race Cars, Huntsville Engine & Performance, Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels, K&N Filters, JEGS, Moser Engineering, K&R Performance, Auto Meter, BRODIX Cylinder Heads, Ohlins Shocks, Dixie Racing Products, Frankesntein Racing Heads, Advanced Product Design, B&M, Figspeed.com, Nitroplate, Hedman Hedders, ISC Racers Tape, Todd’s Extreme Paint, PimpMyCrew.com, Milodon, Sunset Racecraft, Goza Racing Products, Sparco, Rockett Brand Race Fuels, J&J Engine Diapers, Nitrous Express, and of course DragRaceResults.com.
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