Bristol Dragway is one of the few tracks that truly make their fans and racers feel at home. A thoroughly modern facility houses multiple concessions, spotless restrooms, acres of paved pits, world-class night lighting, friendly track workers, air-conditioned suites--even showers for the racers and campers, but it's the dragstrip's outstanding starting-line bite that the racers crave, and get, at Bristol.
We've been coming to Bristol to watch and to race for years, and based on our experience, we can see why the events held here just keep getting bigger and bigger. The promoters of Super Chevy Shows were wise to stake a claim to the late-June weekend, as the place was packed with wall-to-wall Chevys this past June 23-24. We found plenty to gawk at on the starting line, in the car show, in the pit area and at the manufacturer's midway. Our only gripe is we had to work instead of race.
Like a kid with attention deficit disorder, your editor bounced around frantically, fixating on Camaros, Chevelles, Novas--even Impalas. Bristol's pretty much at the juncture of four states--Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina, so there's a great cross section of all these cars from a big area. We're partial to drag racing, so we spent most of our time on the starting line and in the pits, where we talked with racers about their cars. And while Super Chevy has a fine program of exhibition and pro racing in the form of jet cars, wheel-standers and Pro Mod Nitro Coupes, it's the bread-and-butter sportsman racer we sought out in their lairs.
You'd be hard-pressed to find an excuse not to race at Super Chevy, because there is literally a class for everyone. At the ground level, you have the DOT bracket class, which is pretty much drive it in, strap on your helmet, and race. You've got to have a driver's license, valid registration, insurance, and street-legal equipment (including tires). As a bracket class, you make time trials, and then pick a dial-in based on your time runs. The dial-in is your best guess of your ET, the idea being to run as close to it without going quicker. Reaction time also plays a part; you snooze, you lose. In a nutshell, make your best guess of your anticipated ET (that's your dial-in), get off the line as quick as you can (your reaction time), arrive at the finish line first, and don't go quicker than your dial-in. There's $1,000 for the winner and $400 for the runner-up, so it's way better than doing Main Street holeshots on a Friday night.
One rung up the ladder is Bracket 2. This is for the established racer with a dedicated race car, or the street guy with a real jones for speed and the snot to run with the big boys. Full slicks are the order of the day, and as with all bracket racing, your dial-in reflects your best guess of your elapsed time (ET). As with the DOT bracket, the winner is the one with the best "package"--the best combination of reaction time and ET. If B2 doesn't trip your trigger, Bracket 1 may do the trick. These guys run the fastest cars, up to and including dragsters. The cars have the stoutest engines, the most scienced-out suspensions, and the most sophisticated electronics, including trans brakes. A trans brake is a trans mod that uses a system of valves and solenoids (triggered by a button on the steering wheel) to lock an automatic trans into reverse and First gear simultaneously.
Hit the trans brake button, put the throttle on the wood, let the Christmas tree lights come down, and release the button on the last light. Hang on tight, because releasing the trans brake is like getting rear-ended by a Mack truck.And there's another technological twist. With so much on the line, racers want to guarantee that perfect ET "package," so the perfect reaction time is vital. Super-human reaction times in B1 are the norm, and come by way of a device called a delay box. Tied in to the trans brake and the engine's rev limiter, a delay box is a sophisticated timer with an adjustable dial that allows the driver to subtract milliseconds from the 1.5 second delay comprising the three amber countdown lights on the Christmas tree. The amount of adjustment is based on a combination of the car's roll-out, human reaction time and the car's mechanical reaction time. You stage the race car, activate the delay box (and thus the trans brake), then release the button at the exact moment the top bulb lights. If you've set the delay box to the right number, the trans brake releases at the exact moment the green light hits.
Too complicated? Bring the car polish, some rags, a lounge chair and a cooler of beer. You'll find plenty of kindred spirits in the car show area. The Super Chevy Show gives out trophies for practically every year and model of Chevy, including late-models. Your chances of scoring gold are far better in the car show than at the track, but you won't be going quite as fast sitting in that armchair. If any of this sounds like your cup of tea, we suggest you log on to www.superchevyshow.com. You'll find the upcoming schedule of events, previous event results, and other helpful stuff. And if you want to know where PHR will be next, log onto www.popularhotrodding.com and go to the "Events" section of the message board.We'll see you there. PHR would like to extend special thanks to Christopher Perrin, the PR master of Bristol Motor Speedway. When the clouds opened up and washed out our Sunday photo shoot, Christopher came to our rescue and provided dry open space under the stands at the circle track. Thanks, Chris!
Super Chevy's Bracket 1 class is traditionally filled with NHRA Super Gas cars, many of th
"This car is my obsession. I used to drive it all the time before I got pregnant," says Br
Odell Davidson of Morristown, TN, must've always wanted his daughter, Amber, to be a drag
Delay boxes aren't the slightest concern to 18-year-old April Proffitt (left) or 16-year-o
Travis Cox of Galax, VA, has a solid performer in his '67 Chevy II--it's packing a stout 3
You know we're suckers for Colonnade-style mid-'70s A-bodies, so when we met David Ford an
Mark Grace owns his own machine shop--Smoky View Machine Shop in Maryville, TN, to be exac