Team Half Fast Update: AMRA Nationals

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastIt was a race weekend, so of course it was, at some point, going to be raining. The rain plagued the racing all year long, so why should the last weekend of the season be any different?  After a rainy evening, we were greeted on Saturday morning with overcast skies with rain in the forecast yet again.

The AMRA had a fantastic turnout of racers for the finals’ weekend with full fields – a phenomenal 27 bikes were there for the 16-bike field of the SE (11.50) class, 19 for PE (10.90) and around 68 bikes for “E”!!

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastAbove photos are during testing on Saturday morning – both showing Chip in the near lane and Erik Nelson of Shoestring Racing in the far lane.  Our test passes were quite productive and promising – our last pass that morning was a stellar 11.519 at 117 mph.  We were ready.  The program for the afternoon was hurried – more rain anticipated and Sunday’s forecast was dismal.  The weather held out, though, with cloudy skies, and temperatures stayed in the high 70s all day long.

Our first pass out for qualifying was for the SE 11.50 class, and we ran an 11.530 at 117 mph.  Then we stepped it up a notch to run PE (the 10.90 class) and managed an 11.192 – we figured this was probably enough to get us an alternate position.

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastOur last run in the first round of qualifications was for “E” class.  We tried to hit the 11.50 mark dead on for it, but we went too fast with an 11.444 at nearly 118 mph.  The next run was the second qualifying round for 11.50, and we knew we had to slow it down.  We went a little too slow and pulled an 11.576.

The weather was really cooperating, and it was pretty good air at this time (only around 2000 feet density altitude), so we had the tune-up just right for the atmosphere.    Our second round of qualifying for the PE 10.90 class was nearly identical to our first round in PE – we ran an 11.20 at 117 mph.   We had a mechanical failure during our second round of “E” qualifying (the shift button failed), so we were only able to pull a 12.348.  Chip fixed that back at the pits and got ready for our last round of qualifications.

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastOur next run was the third and final round of qualifications for SE 11.50 and we ran a sweet 11.516 – earning us the #2 qualifying spot in the field!  We skipped the next two rounds of qualifying (for SE and for “E”) and saved our energy since we knew the conditions and the bike wouldn’t improve much beyond our first round for SE, and there was an important change in the schedule that we needed to prepare for.  Though we anticipated possibly making the SE field as an alternate, our 11.19 in SE was good enough to put us in that 16-bike field at #16.

The usual agenda for Saturdays is testing in the morning with qualifying in the afternoon to early evening.  However, because Sunday’s forecast called for lots of rain, the AMRA decided to start the eliminations Saturday evening.

Our first round of eliminations was in “E”.  We dialed an 11.49.  Chip was way ahead of opponent Adam Cain, so he peddled near the stripe to guard against breaking out.  He went through the traps going only 112.17 mph and took the win with an 11.520!  Way to go, Chip!

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastThe next round of eliminations were in the SE (11.50) class where we had qualified #2 earlier in the day.  It was just before 7 at night and the temperatures were dropping, the humidity was rising, and we’ve proven to all who were watching that we were running our number.  We had a formidable opponent that round – Jim Van Fleet, who was well aware of how close we were running to that 11.50 number.  Jim popped the old red eye, but Chip wasn’t aware of it, so Chip chopped out at the finish to ensure against breaking out.

We won our first round in both “E” and SE.  The weather was turning, though, and it would have been dangerous to run any further, so that was the end of racing for Saturday.  A few raindrops fell as well.  They’d finish up running that first round of SE in the morning and then continue with the rest of the classes.

DEI Sponsored Team Half FastIt rained a lot overnight, but the sun greeted us in the morning.  Rain was still expected later in the day, so instead of the usual time trials to start the morning, we went right back into eliminations.

The first round for us to race that morning was the second round of eliminations for the “E” class.  We dialed an 11.45 and ran an 11.548.  Unfortunately, the old red eye got us at the starting line and the win light wasn’t for us.  The next round of racing was the first round of eliminations for the PE 10.90 class.  Glen Sutton, number 1 qualifier in PE, took the win when Chip pushed the tree and grabbed another red light.

Our third round that morning was the second round of eliminations in SE 11.50.  Our opponent was none other than our good friend Erik Nelson of Shoestring Racing.  We’ve been getting a hole shot on him all day Saturday during testing and qualifying.

It was a successful weekend, all in all.  And AMRA managed to get the show in before the rain started – a phenomenal feat!

We came into the finals #4 in the National Points in SE 11.50 class.  Read about the banquet to see where we finished the 2011 Race Season!

Read more about Team Half Fast at their website