AHDRA's Thunder in the Valley Nationals

Thunder and Lightning Made Things a Bit Frightening at AHDRA’s Thunder in the Valley Nationals

DEI Sponsored Team Half Fast

August 3-4, 2012 – It was bittersweet to be back at AHDRA’s Thunder in the Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tennessee, for the first time since 2008.

Super Nate Thompson of Super V Cycle (pictured at the left with Chip) – engine builder, machinist, good friend, and our valued sponsor for 8 seasons running – came out to crew chief for us.  It was fabulous to have him at the track with us, and great to catch up, too.

Testing on Friday afternoon started out well enough, and we were starting to make decent headway on our tuning issues when a hellacious storm ripped through the valley.

The rain went on for hours, and the day was done.  Not only was Test and Tune cancelled, but also the scheduled two rounds of evening qualifying.

The rains were torrential, and the winds were unbelievable and ever-changing.  Luckily, we were just getting ready to go make another pass when it had hit so we were, thankfully, there under our canopies instead of in the staging lanes.  Though our canopies were well tied down, the winds wreaked havoc and we were glad both Chip and Nate were there to help hold them down.  Many times the rain came “down” horizontally.  Our tables went for a ride in the pits – using the banners attached to them as sails.  We retrieved them before any damage was done to them or others in the area.  Every time we got our “stuff” protected from the rains, the winds would change direction and the rain would come straight at us from an entirely different angle.  The 50-mile gusts completely changed direction several times.  This went on for several hours – accompanied by an abundance of thunder and lightning.

Needless to say, all three of us and most of the contents of our pits were utterly drenched, and we were stuck out there in the elements.  All around us we could only watch as canopies got demolished, chairs went airborne, and garbage cans traveled by so fast you’d swear a motor was attached.  It was surreal.  My walker got soaked, too – even the pockets and their contents; but, thankfully, the tote under the seat escaped much of the rain and our camera survived.   I wish I could have taken pictures of some of this – it was a sight.

If the rain stayed away for the Saturday, they were going to fit the whole show into one day – qualifying and eliminations!  They were planning to start a little earlier than originally planned and run 2 rounds of qualifying instead of the traditional 3 for all classes, with eliminations starting immediately after.

There was no more rain falling from the sky on Saturday morning, but there was a lot of moisture in the air (80-95% humidity throughout the morning and afternoon, some of it finally starting to burn off when the sun came out around 2 pm).  Standing water from the deluge of yesterday along with a lot of folks drying their clothes and race gear on lines and fences (us included) didn’t help it burn off any faster, either.  Our first qualifying pass, in SEP (11.50) was to be our best run in qualifying – an 11.661 at 114.91 mph.  It was good enough to get us into the top half of the field at lucky #13 out of the 27-bike field.

The track had to shut down at least once due to excessive moisture weeping from the track.  There were some oil downs, too.  This forced qualifying to go pretty late into the afternoon.  Our last qualifying run – the 2nd qualifying round of ET, didn’t even happen until nearly 5:30 pm.  It was going to be a long evening!

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastFor the first round of SEP eliminations, we faced Kelly Overcash-Braswell.  Luck played a key role in this round – Kelly broke out, running an 11.400 to Chip’s 12.00.  We’ll take the win.

The next round was a round of ET eliminations, and the discovery was made that the computer timing was not working properly for the ET class.  It was suspected that the hellacious storm from Friday evening did some damage.  ET requires a staggered launch determined by the racers’ dial-ins.  The stagger was not working on the system.  For this first round, no time was recorded for either rider.  We had to do a rerun to determine the winner.  It was nearly 8 pm when we got our rerun, and we got our win light!  Immediately following this run was the 2nd round of ET Eliminations.

We dialed an 11.59.  Our opponent was no where to be seen near the finish line, so Chip got off the throttle at the top end to ensure against breaking out.  Good racing, Chip!

The timing worked for our second round of ET, too, and we got the win light again – this time in high style!  We dialed an 11.59 and ran an 11.591 !!!  AWESOME.

We were so thrilled at our run of 11.591 on the 11.59 dial.  We had to wait to do the 3rd round of ET eliminations until the end – they decided to put all the ET racing at the end of the program in hopes that they could come up with a plan or have the timing system corrected.  It is the only class that requires a staggered timing launch.

A little after 9 pm we made our next SEP elimination round and we raced the #1 plateholder (the 2011 champion) Brad Croneberger.  It was a close race – Brad ran an 11.603 to Chip’s 11.657 and got the win.  I’m sure the extremely long day and all the ET “excitement” played a part in that loss.

Finally, at around 11, they were preparing to run the ET class.  They still had a lot of reruns left to do from the 2nd round.  They attempted running the pairs separately down the track, but that didn’t work out, either.  So, they finally called it at 11:30 that they were not going to be able to complete the racing for the ET class.  This meant, unfortunately, that our 2nd round win did not count because they were unable to run any other of the pairs with successful recording of times.  Only the first run was going to count toward points.  It was a bit disappointing, but that’s how racing goes sometimes.  It was probably all for the best – safety is a priority, and it was an extremely long day and dew was due to set in as well.

So we’re off to our next race, AMRA’s Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky (the last weekend of September).

See you at the races!!!
- Team Half Fast

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