Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TAN Driver Blog - Johnny Ahten - TAD

Well the racing season is over. I finished the year with the three race swing out here in the West, two weekends in Vegas and the Finals in Pomona. I have mixed emotions about it all. We are really making progress with the tune up. The last two years we were tearing stuff up; valves and heads every run. It seemed whatever we did it was still angry at us. We had to make a change; the repair costs and parts replacement were killing us. Halfway through 2012 we made some fairly significant changes and it put us in no-man’s land as far as a tune up. We went to Salt Lake City Utah and smoked the tires. We didn’t gain any data from that so we went to Sonoma and it took us all through qualifying to slowly make progress. It kept running quicker and quicker with each pass. The really important part was we weren’t hurting a thing. That was the win in itself!

Due to funding we made the decision to sit out a few races and save up for the last three races of the year. It was difficult to sit out that long but we took the time to really study the Racepak and freshen everything on the car. We were still gun-shy about the altitude in Vegas but the car continued to improve. We weren’t worried about anybody else, just focusing on making progress without destroying parts. So far so good. We got in on the bump and got beat by the incredible Jim Whiteley in first round.

The following weekend was the final points race and all the hitters stuck around. We wanted a set of new Goodyears at the National but they didn’t have any A/Fuel 1230’s so we kept putting laps on our older set, which were getting up there in runs. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get them to the points race either so we had no choice but to put even more laps on our older set. The car continued to improve, going A to B each pass and staying healthy. We got in a very tough field 5th and I’m very proud of my team for that in itself. First round the tires finally caught up with me and we smoked them at 1.7 seconds.

Goodyear was able to bring some 1230s to Pomona and I put a fresh set on the car as quick as possible. The weather wasn’t going to cooperate with my plans and decided to rain us out on Thursday, taking one qualifying session away from us. That put us behind and we shook the tires hard on Friday morning. We were a little concerned because it takes a few laps to scrub the tires and we had one shot left. Normal service; we backed off on the clutch, tuned for weather, and hoped for the best. I bumped it in shallow and mashed the pedal. It yanked the nose up, carried it, and at .7 seconds it went into shake. I was ready so I pedaled it only to pick the nose up again and carry it again shaking, except this time it was drifting to the centerline. I was fighting it hard but it really wanted to go left. I finally gave up right next to the 330 cone aborting the run and ending our season. Pomona is by far my favorite track and I was pretty bummed out to be done on a Friday.

We only have two short months to get back out there and a lot to do in the meantime. We’re excited to swap into a larger trailer and are hoping to finalize additional funding. I’m also going to be grinding floaters and hanging Christmas lights the next few days. I really have to thank my dad, Al. Without his hard work and dedication I wouldn’t be able to do what I love. I also have to thank Howard Katano. Without his support we wouldn’t be able do this either. Of course Kevin Colvell, Chuck Costabile and Bob Ahten keep the car together. Thank you to Island Renovations, 801 Racing, Hedman Hedders, Fireman’s Brew, Goodson Tool and Supplies, DJ Safety and of course John Rogers and THR5 Communications. These companies keep our team going. Thanks to Top Alcohol News and its fans for following our team! I can’t wait!

Johnny Ahten is the driver of the Island Renovations/801 Racing/Fireman's Brew A/Fuel Dragster. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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