LOMBARDO RACING NEWS
LuAnn Bishop joins Lombardo Racing
I am extremely proud to announce that LuAnn Bishop has joined Lombardo Racing. LuAnn was born and raised in Indianapolis, where she resides with her husband Randy, who is also a member of the NHRA Drag Racing community.
LuAnn brings extensive experience serving the promotional, hospitality, and operational needs of sponsors and teams at NHRA's highest levels. She is known and respected throughout the industry for her professional approach, tireless work ethic, and ability to make guests and fans feel right at home. I'm confident LuAnn will prove to be an invaluable asset as we strive for continued improvement in all key areas of our program.
We appreciate your support and involvement and wish you and your families the best of holiday seasons,
Lombardo Racing charges to the semis in Pomona, the Division 7 title,
and 6th in first top 10 national finish
Among those of us addicted to NHRA Drag Racing, the term "on tour" carries a certain understanding or better put, describes the position of your program. Not that long ago it was fairly common for drivers, owners, and crews to hit the road and stay there; running Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night shows. Match racing to earn enough money to compete at select national events with the best cars in the country. Running Vegas, Vegas, and Pomona three weekends in a row and staying gone for Automotive Industry Week, (SEMA/AAPEX) is our sampling of being on tour and a glimpse of that way of life.
Weather and world championships were the talk all week long at Pomona. Thursday looked fine, Friday and Saturday appeared dismal, and a beautiful SoCal Sunday was predicted to save Monday Evening's Full Throttle awards banquet time slot. It was at times chilly, but thankfully the weather played a smaller than anticipated role. We worked around a few drizzles and the last pro qualifying session was cut short, but we were able to stay on schedule. Two new champions were determined in dramatic form, then honored Monday in Hollywood.
Our Thursday qualifying at Pomona usually proves to be inconsequential, due to the "green" track. This year we ran after the first Nitro session. This combined with NHRA's counter rotating race slick track preparation equipment allowed unusually competitive early passes. We went 5.62 at 258 mph for fourth; Bartone was low initially with a 5.55. We stayed consistent on Friday with laps at 5.65 and 5.63 for the #7 qualifying position and Paul Gill lowered the boom with a 5.50.
The 16 car ladder and #10 spot in the field pitted Clint Thompson (who could have been mistaken for a NAPA team car last weekend at Las Vegas) against us for round one. This marked three weekends in a row we have faced each other in eliminations. We stayed right on our game at 5.68, grabbed a little margin at the tree, and held off his 5.65 for the right to race on Sunday. Though disappointed, in true sportsman fashion, Clint offered his congratulations and said he genuinely enjoys the friendships and family environment of NHRA's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Second round on Sunday brought sunshine and a monster match up for us. Tony Bartone in Rick Jackson's Centre Point Collision Mustang, second best nationally only to Manzo, had our number this year at Houston, in the finals at Chicago, and at Dallas. In front of the home crowd we ran our best lap of the weekend, matching Bartone's 5.59, and earned our second holeshot victory! By this time we're racing for fun. Our sixth place national points position has been determined and there's nothing better than going rounds!
Our good friend and Bob's former driver Sean Bellemeur is also going rounds and the ladder has us paired for the semis. After some routine maintenance with a pit space full of customers, fans, friends, and family we head to the lanes. That California sunshine and the resultant track temperature was just enough; we went past wheel speed to tire smoke and a semi final finish. Jay Payne went on to win the race and vault from 6th to 3rd in the national standings. After recently winning the Woodburn Divisional, Sean proudly drove his MasterCam/Bellemeur Racing Camaro to the runner up spot. With your support we have earned three race wins, two runner ups, the Lucas Oil Division 7 Championship, sixth in the national standings, the 2011 Division 7 Jeg's Allstars nomination and 2012 points lead in same. To our marketing partners listed below and Bob and Tami DeVour, Jim Adolph, Dustin Yoho, Mike Rios, Scott and Jim DeFrancisco, my family Michele, Ryan, and Jordan, and our other great crew at Jackson's NAPA in Brea, thank you for a great 2011 season!
Lombardo Racing has been proud to represent NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Gold Filters, NAPA Legend Batteries, Lucas Oil Products, NGK Spark Plugs, Goodyear Racing Tires, NAPA Belts and Hose, Mechanix Wear, Simpson Safety, Co-Line, and J&E Pistons. Thank you for the championship season!
As far as championship battles go, this year's NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division 7 TAFC was exciting to the very end! After trading the lead during the season, we went into last weekend's final divisional event in the country 21 points behind Jay Payne. We needed to go two rounds further than his Fire Ice entry to claim the title.
The drama started early when rain eliminated our Friday qualifying run. Like many of the 13 cars competing for the 8 spots in the show, we missed the set up by a bit in our first shot Saturday. On the "do or go home early" last qualifier we laid up a nice, fairly safe 5.679 at 255 mph for fourth on the ladder. We drew Annie Whiteley first round. She's only new to driving these cars, is impressively smooth, and comes from a racing family dedicated to success on multiple levels in the Lucas Oil Ranks. Annie left us a little gap at the starting line and our 5.76 squeaked by her 5.71.
After a lengthy oil down and nearly an hour in the staging lanes we rolled up for round two. Only two rounds remain and we have to go two past Jay so a win light here for him clinches his division title. Luck is on our side: Clint Thompson covers him and keeps the story interesting! Now it's our turn and we have #1 qualifier Paul Gill from Massachusetts. By this time it's chilly. We do everything possible to avoid running on tracks below 60 degrees- now both of our infrared guns read 49! It's not only tough to produce wheel speed in these conditions, but there's little or no data to reflect on for clutch and fuel system settings. Motor up, swap feet, and it's in the .950's to 60 feet so we're on our way. But the track never turned loose of the rear slicks and the car rattled out of the groove toward the centerline. I got out of the throttle, steered left, and saw an also struggling Gill out the side window! Back to the loud pedal and a couple of gear shifts for a 6.17 at 249 mph victory. It wasn't pretty, but neither were the conditions. NHRA wisely reschedules the final rounds for Monday.
A runner up finish would leave us tied with Payne. Our opponent Clint Thompson beat us first round last weekend at the Vegas National Event and has been down the track both rounds this weekend, 5.72 and 5.67, so we needed to step up. We stage, swap feet, and Clint goes .015 on the tree-you have to be kidding! My .073 was acceptable and consistent, but left me a side window full of funny car for about 1,250 feet. Our 5.65 at 256 mph covered his 5.74, but by just three hundredths of a second (14 feet). Thankfully we lead where it matters most-at the finish line! That single 100 watt bulb on the wall in the shutdown area signified our third 2011 victory, another Wally, and a hard earned Division 7 Championship.
NHRA is reportedly releasing the new regional format for the Top Alcohol Classes in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series this weekend at Pomona. Crew Chief Bob DeVour, Jim Adolph, Dustin Yoho, Scott and Jim DeFrancisco, Mike Rios, and our extremely supportive sponsors earned three wins, two runner ups, and what may be the last recorded Division 7 Championship. We head into the World Finals fifth place in the national standings. Thank you for the championship ride and for allowing us to represent you.
All the best,
Lombardo & NAPA to the semi finals at the “Big Go”
The U.S. Nationals at Indy, long nicknamed “The Big Go” is the largest, most prestigious drag race of the year. Many teams challenge themselves to run well enough the first half of the year to justify entering Indy. Unlike the Jeg’s Allstars any current team can take their shot at qualifying; there just seems to be an unwritten rule that you don’t pull in the gates without some momentum in your pocket. Run on Labor Day Weekend Indy is one day longer than normal and you can park and set up one day earlier-it’s a marathon of a drag race.
Bob warned me that it was going to be hot. Friday it was 100 degrees for qualifying with track temps between 134 and 136 degrees! We were a bit aggressive in the first session, spun the tires in the middle of low gear, pedaled it to 5.85 252 mph for a spot mid pack. Q2 was warmer and trickier yet. It’s tough to make power and even more difficult to transfer it to the race track. Of the 23 cars entered Bob tuned us to an impressive 5.72; low e.t. of the session and third overall!
It was still warm for Saturday’s single shot. We made several changes to try and control the wheel speed. We achieved that, but went just past the optimal window and ran 5.74. We were a tenth off of low e.t. but still a respectable fourth both in the session and overall. We’re in a solid position with only the Sunday Morning qualifier left.
All weekend we’ve anticipated this fourth timed session. It was cooler as expected, 15 degrees air temperature and over 40 degrees cooler on the track! This was a prime example why you race Indy day by day-the weather and schedule can change so quickly. The air and track were so much better that if off our game we could go from fourth to twelfth in a blink. The conditions tempt you to swing for the fence, but if you miss, your punishment is a trip to the back of the pack. We charged to a safe but very respectable 5.65 to stay fourth in the show. Manzo pulled from his 29 years at Indy for the #1 spot. Bartone is second, local Fred Hagen, then us. Going into eliminations we’re in pretty good shape-fourth of 23 cars and we’ve been down the race track on all four attempts.
Late Sunday afternoon we drew veteran Vern Moats in the Kendall Oil car first round. As it continued to cool, you could feel the place get quicker and faster. We were on time with an .046 light, improved to a 5.60 at 258 mph, won the round and earned the right to run on Monday. Alexis DeJoria in the Patron Tequila car went 5.56 to advance and grab lane choice against us second round.
One of the coolest things about motor racing is sharing a passion with and getting to know such a diverse group of people. We’ve pitted next to racers that skip meals to buy tires and wouldn’t be anywhere else. Monday while suiting up to battle his daughter I received best wishes and safe racing sentiments from John Paul DeJoria, owner of Patron Tequila and Paul Mitchell Systems. Life treats me and my family very well but believe it or not, Mr. DeJoria’s social circles rarely impinge on mine.
Alexis’s last alcohol race, (her Nitro Funny Car debuts at Dallas in two weeks) was not to be her best. Her car died at the end of the wet burnout and we got a single. It’s now gone from 100 to 65 out, the track is tight and we came in a few hundredths behind. Now with a free pass we add some launch rpm to our big run settings. We rocket to 60 feet in .93 seconds but it’s too much too early and we smoke the tires.
Every class has a couple of standouts. In Top Alcohol Funny Car we just happen to have Frank Manzo, the driver with the most wins in all of NHRA. His 5.46 lap in the second round is two hundredths off of the national record. Even when qualified well when the show narrows down to four it gets mean. Knowing that a 5.60 wouldn’t get it done we take a shot at knocking a tenth off of our best prior lap. It left well but got in trouble, sacrificed a couple of pistons, and left us one round short of the final. Manzo would run 5.49 then return to do it again for his 10th Indy Victory. Frank won his first national event in 1980 and is approaching 4,000 career passes in funny cars. We’re two years into this program and have clearly identified areas for improvement. We need to build a little more power for our cool weather/national event track tune up, keep digging, and we can get there. I’m very proud of our progress.
Thanks very much to NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Filters, NAPA Legend Batteries, Lucas Oil Products, NGK Spark Plugs, Goodyear Racing Tires, NAPA Belts and Hose, Penske Chevrolet of Indy, Mechanix Wear, Simpson Safety, Co-Line, and J&E Pistons. From Fallon to Chicago to Dallas we’re proud to represent you.
All the best,
Seattle’s Best Eludes Lombardo
There’s really no other way to report it, we had a tough go in the Northwest; it just seems to be all or nothing this year.
After going to four finals in five outings we set off for Seattle as National Dragster’s Tricky Tipster favorite to win the Northwest Nationals. We qualified at the back and beat ourselves first round by crossing the center line and collecting timing cones. This is not the result we were looking to post for NAPA Filters Platinum, Gold, and Silver Brands, Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Legend Batteries, Lucas Oil, NGK, Goodyear, or the rest of our sponsors and guests.
We just didn’t have our car. It wasn’t responding to changes and now it wanted to go everywhere but straight when challenged with tire shake or spin. With seven working days before the Divisional Bob DeVour rallied our team and Chassis Builder Brad Hadman to “front half” our chassis-quite the undertaking in that period of time. For those unfamiliar, this means you cut the car in half at the pedals and build a new chassis front section. Then you remount the engine, fuel, ignition, and steering systems, computer box, tanks, etc. Most take a month or so and wouldn’t consider attempting mid season.
The only way to sort out the “new” chassis is to jump in and make laps; the Seattle Divisional was our best opportunity. We made a couple of half passes to confirm all controls and systems functioned. Once comfortable we started leaning on it to run the number and qualify for the show-points are points and we’re here to race. Unfortunately an electrical gremlin stood in our way and took several laps to troubleshoot, leaving us without a qualifying lap to post.
With the biggest race of the year our next stop, Saturday morning we arrived to race or test. NHRA advised that we would race number one qualifier Brian Hough first round. Bob went back to the initial Seattle tune up. Brian and I left within six thousandths of a second of each other, our 5.737 came up 16 inches short of his 5.740. Another first round loss feels like a baseball bat in the gut, but our car was back! It left smooth, stayed right in the groove, and went 254 MPH like it was on Easy Street.
So we leave Seattle a little, no, a lot humbled, but much to be proud of. We’re fourth in the national points, leading Division 7, we have a team that chose the performance solution that required the most work and dedication possible, and we have our car back!
Every drag racers goal is to drive at Indy, winning the event is a dream few get to enjoy. My Dad won the “Big Go” in the 1985 Blue Max Campaign; I wonder how many fathers and sons have matching U. S. Nationals Wallies? One thing I know for sure-I wouldn’t trade seats with anyone right now! To Bob, our great crew, and sponsors, thank you very much. Here’s to the "all" part of the all or nothing 2011 tour!
We're getting to the middle of the year, teams and drivers are definitely starting to plan their points chasing strategy. When you roll into Woodburn, Oregon for a Division 6 points meet and find 13 good cars, with some of the teams testing as early as Thursday, you know things are starting to get serious!
Our Good To Go NAPA Hot Rod, backed by NAPA Legend Batteries and Pro Series Starters and Alternators enjoyed a very solid weekend. We were third quick in testing with a 5.78. We then set low e.t. with a 5.70 in the first qualifying session. We kept that low e.t. spot until the final pair of the third qualifier when Jay Payne bumped from 3rd to 1st with a 5.66.
Seattle and Woodburn, aside from the high probability of rain are among our favorite dates. The Northwest is seemingly always pretty and green, and eight time NAPA Five Star operators Tony and Eric Wilson take full advantage of the quality time with their customers. Rows of motor homes, camp trailers and energetic enthusiasts are welcomed and appreciated by the racing family management team; Woodburn is one of the best divisional facilities in the country.
We were scheduled to battle the Synoil Car from Canada first round, but Mother Nature had other plans... It rained Sunday right up until NHRA and the track management team postponed the race to September 15th and 16th. So we're qualified #2 in the eight car show, but no elimination rounds means no impact on divisional or national points.
The rig is already home and between race preparation is underway. Next up is the O'Reilly Northwest Nationals August 5th-7th in Seattle. Nothing would make us happier than parking the NAPA Car in O'Reilly's winners circle-we'll be ready
I have attached a starting line shot, we had grip! To NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Legends Batteries, Lucas Oil Products, NAPA Gold Filters, NGK Spark Plugs, Goodyear Racing Tires, NAPA Belts and Hose, Co-Line, J&E, Mechanix Wear, and Simpson Race Products-thank you very much!
Lombardo charges to Chicago money round, “Good To Go” tour stays hot!
Drag Racing 101: if you happen to start the season with a few forgettable performances where say, you end eliminations with the same number you had after the first qualifying session, just start winning rounds! The points add up quickly and everyone, from the owner/driver, crew, and sponsors to the fuel, tire, and parts suppliers are so much more positive and fun to be around.
The concept sounds very simple because it is; but believe me it’s hard to do. My crew chief Bob DeVour, Dustin Yoho, Jim Adolph, Scott DeFrancisco, and Mike Rios deserve a “Standing O” for righting this ship and battling to a runner up finish in Chicago; our fourth final in the last five races. Our NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators Funny Car has made competitive if not low e.t. passes in 12 of the last 13 rounds of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competition. We also hustled to a respectable semi-final finish in the Jeg’s Allstars.
During Thursday’s tech and set up tasks we worked with the Jeg’s and ESPN crews installing and fine tuning the onboard cameras. Great-two more eyes looking at everything going on in the car! Between the cameras and the computer one doesn’t even start a sentence containing a fabrication or slight bending of the truth, they’ll be short lived at best! Ultimately this was a very cool part of the weekend. Our footage was broadcast live on ESPN3.com, much of it should be utilized during ESPN2’s coverage this Sunday, and we have a complete DVD to review. Jeg’s contracts with ESPN and allowed us to provide the action right to the end. Thanks very much to Woody, (Scott Woodruff) and the Jeg’s Organization for this opportunity and their substantial support of competitors in the LODRS.
Q1 LODRS 5.717, 256.65 for the #6 spot of 22 cars
Q2 LODRS smoked the tires, too much for the hot and tricky track, slipped to #8 in
the event, #4 in the Jeg’s Allstars eight car field
Q3/1st round Jeg’s Allstars against Kirk Williams 5.688, 254.18 for the win
R2 Jeg’s Allstars against Frank Manzo we leave together but smoke the tires mid track, breaking my perfect record with Frank, (had never raced him before)
R1 LODRS against Kirk Williams (again) 5.713, 253.23 for the win
R2 LODRS against Cassie Simonton 5.711, 250.64 for the win
Semi-Final LODRS against Vern Moats 5.674, 255.00 for the win
Final LODRS against Tony Bartone 5.701, 253.99 for runner up
Strong and consistent performances allowed us to go earn round wins over Kirk Williams, Cassie Simonton, and Vern Moats. We never ran low of the event, but we didn’t stray so far to miss the track and beat ourselves. The track was as hot as 137 degrees and the humidity/water grains were high, especially in the morning sessions. We were certainly looking for that 5.60 combination, the place was just plain tricky.
22 cars entered this race and we were down to two; we grabbed a small lead at the starting line and marched to 60 feet in pretty good shape. I didn’t see the Centre Point Mustang until the 1,000 foot mark. We laid up a nice, smooth 5.70 and came up just a car short to his 5.63.
We were bested by Manzo, who has the most NHRA Wins of any driver, in any class, and Bartone, the current national points leader, but we left with a basket full of points. The new national points ranking looks like the waiting list at Pietro’s, (our good friend Joe Murdaca’s restaurant near Infineon): Bartone, Manzo, Lombardo, Ferro. We’re third in the country and leading Division 7, so I have a big red X on my back, but the view is extremely good from here. We’ll be protecting this position battling a field full of hitters at the divisional in Woodburn, Oregon this weekend. Tony and Eric Wilson usually bring a crowd of NAPA Folks and Woodburn is known as one of the best attended points meets anywhere-always a fun outing.
I have attached a final round starting line shot and will send a link to the feature article in this week’s National Dragster. We appreciate the coverage and help promoting the NAPA Legends Batteries Good To Go July Sales event, just as we appreciate all that you do. To NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators, Lucas Oil Products, NAPA Gold Filters, NGK Spark Plugs, Goodyear Racing Tires, NAPA Belts and Hose, Co-Line, J&E, Mechanix Wear, and Simpson Race Products-thank you very much!
Lombardo Top Gun Report - Back to Back Victories
Greetings Team NAPA!
Stop two of the NAPA Legends Batteries "Good To Go" tour brought another victory, a widened D7 points lead, and a much improved 5th in the national standings! This was just a solid venture from the start. Our team arrived a day early to display at NAPA in Fallon, one of Dave Finley's well run jobbing operations. The town was buzzing with Octane Fest, a motorsports celebration including Monster Trucks, Tractor Pulls, motocross jumping, cruise nights, and NHRA Drag Racing. Top Gun's enthusiastic staff clearly values NAPA's involvement. They arranged expanded pit area for our guests next to the stands, ran a parachute shot of the NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators car in their annual program, and ran the same shot in the past few issues of National Dragster to promote their event.
Friday was flat out cool. We did a television interview for the 6:00 news, went 5.93 in the left for quickest in testing, then 5.93 in the less favorable right lane for #1 qualifier and top speed. While these are not blistering laps, it's tough to make power at 6,100 feet corrected altitude. The field is admittedly short but not without quality. #3 in the world Jay Payne is on the property. We also had four national event winners and multiple LODRS Champs; welcome to Division 7.
We're still in the right lane for Q2, where the mid day sun robbed a little racing surface grip. We turned the tire, stepped out of the groove, used all of the race track and still went a respectable 5.99, now Q3. More routine maintenance with a lot of work for just 5 seconds of track time, but thanks to David Jordan and Terry Cornwell we have NAPA Jobbers, employees and dealers from Fallon, Hawthorne, Sparks, and Tahoe watching and learning how these 260 MPH Funny Cars tick. Q3 brings our shot at the favored left lane and Bob DeVour makes the most of it with a class leading 5.87-another #1 qualifier!
As #1 qualifier we earned the first round bye, but we don't back off and go 5.863 246 MPH for lane choice, low e.t. and top speed of the event. Our round 2 opponent Doug Gordon has won this race the last three years and is arguably one of the best alcohol funny car drivers in the country. Stuck in the right lane, Doug takes a successful .016 stab at the tree, almost beating our "edge of the tune up" 5.92 lap. Payne advances and will have lane choice over us in the money round. We've never seen anyone win from the right lane at Top Gun but we didn't come here to give up.
We suit up, tow up, and position our cars for the final blast. Bob checks the track and approaches. In football coach fashion he bangs on the injector, stares right through my visor: "THIS IS WHY WE DO THIS!!" The next thing I hear is 3,200 horsepower come to life through eight short pipes; it's showtime. Jay and I do long burnouts; the fresh rubber provides grip and they're fun. We stage and leave with identical reaction times. I can hear his car but never see him. Our car steps to the left, but responds well to steering and the 1-2 shift. At 1,000 feet Jay is ahead by .005"/21 inches. With a top end charge we pull ahead and win by that same margin. Broadcast through NHRA's media stream, the track announcer calls it the best drag race he's ever seen!
Bob DeVour and crew have provided me and our sponsors back to back wins, low e.t. at the last three events, three consecutive divisional final rounds, and a serious boost in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Points Chase. My sincere thanks go to these guys and Napa Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Legends Batteries, Lucas Oil Products, NAPA Gold Filters, NAPA Belts and Hose, NGK Spark Plugs, Goodyear Tires, and Mechanix Wear. Next stop is Chicago for the Jeg's Allstars and Route 66 Nationals. We're "Good To Go".
All the best,
Greetings! We enjoyed a race weekend that will be difficult to describe, I'll just give it my best.
After setting low e.t. at Houston, Bob DeVour was determined to get even with racing's lady luck, and Auto Club/Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield just happened to be the location. Familiarity is not an issue, having taken four TAFC Drivers to the winner's circle there in his last five visits.
To help launch the upcoming NAPA Legend Batteries national sales campaign, we re-branded the funny car with their new slogan "Good To Go". We adorned the hood with Lucas Oil's Logo/battle shield, and with the continued support of NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators, NAPA Gold Filters, NGK, NAPA Belts & Hose, Goodyear, and Mechanix Wear, over the Ridge Route we went. The car that Bob and his crew provided me and our sponsors there proves just how "Dangerous and Determined" DeVour can be!
Here's the event checklist:
--quickest and fastest in testing
--low e.t. and top speed of the meet
--low e.t. every session
--reset the track record, twice
--six runs in the right lane between 5.60 and 5.65
--won the event
--clinched the Jeg's Allstars Honors
--took the LODRS Division 7 points lead
--hurt no parts, zero, none-never even took the heads off
--Tim Delcid, NAPA's Bakersfield multi-store owner hosted 80 customers, employees, and fans Saturday in our pit area
--the weather was perfect.
--after setting low e.t. on Friday, the local paper ran a "Good To Go" smoky burnout shot of our car to highlight the early results
--my Dad joined us for the weekend, and the rest of my family traveled for race day and winner's circle photos/celebration
It was an absolute pleasure to pilot the NAPA Pro Series Starters and Alternators Funny Car all weekend long. We've been low e.t. before. We've been to final rounds and enjoyed winning at the national level, but we went into this final with six (right lane) laps in a row between 5.60 and 5.63, each of them good enough for low e.t. of the event! DeVour and our crew were in a zone; all I had to do was negotiate with the race track.
We have a two day store event in 29 Palms next weekend, then another Lucas Oil Divisional Race in Fallon, Nevada June 9-12. We're back for a little while to service and prepare for the Jeg's All Star Shootout and Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago, July 7-10. Then we're off to the beautiful Northwest. Here's to more race reports like this one!
You'll notice that I've attached a photo of Gary Christiansen. Gary was a husband, a father of three in grade school, and served NAPA (last as a DC General Manager) until cancer took him last year. Gary and his family have been on my mind quite a bit lately; our NHRA winnings will be forwarded to his children's scholarship fund.
Thanks for allowing us to represent you,
Good morning! Although our first round departure doesn't show it, Houston was a healing weekend; we left there with our heads held high. Here's a blow by blow so you better understand our perspective:
Qualifying session #1, right lane: car leaves hard, runs in the .940's to 60 feet, then makes a move towards the wall. The wheel is not fixing it, so I make a throttle correction and push the 1-2 button. The car comes back, runs hard through second and high to 5.64 at 257 mph. We're low e.t., #1 qualifier with a pedal job in low gear-DeVour is making some power!
Qualifying session #2, left lane: a bunch of teams are struggling with the 87% humidity, or the mugginess is getting the best of their common sense. We soften it a bit, car leaves fine but gets in trouble when it pushes a right rear intake seal. Payne goes 5.59 for low, we're now #2.
Qualifying session #3, right lane: this is a downright tricky track, the best groove off of the starting line puts you in the bald spot. NHRA has their hands full trying to get the rubber to adhere to the concrete racing surface with this level of moisture in the air. Bob DeVour is exceptional at tricky tracks. We go 5.75, 254 for low e.t. of this round as well!
First round, right lane: how do you qualify number two and draw former national champion Tony Bartone first round? They're 0 for 3 in qualifying and are at the bottom of the ladder. Seemingly fully aware of our consistency, Tony rolls in deep right to the second light. I bump in and we're off, with .037 and .081 under our belts. Our 5.58 at 259, low e.t. of the event, comes up a hundredth short. Unbelievable.
Bartone goes on to win the race. We leave with low e.t. in qualifying sessions 1 & 3, first round of eliminations, the entire event, and most importantly, our old car back. It's hard to accept the score after running so well, but it's the nature of drag racing.
My thanks to Bob DeVour, Dustin Yoho, Jim Adolph, Scott & Jim DeFrancisco, and Mike Rios for all of the hard work through this first leg of 2011. To our marketing partners and product sponsors-we appreciate your support and are striving to improve with every event attended.
Now our focus is on winning the two upcoming Division 7 races. Then we'll rejoin the national event circuit in Chicago for the Jeg's All Star Event. With some newfound bounce in our step, we wish Bakersfield was this weekend!
All the best,
John Lombardo Jr.
Napa Auto Parts
Alan Rinehart, one of NHRA's great announcers routinely says that drag racing is a "right place at the right time kind of sport". Reflecting on our two Las Vegas Races, a more appropriate quote would be tough to find.
At the points meet we made it to the finals with a car that went a to b, but was not up to our normal standards. At the national event last weekend, we worked through qualifying to find the combination of power, transmission/gear ratio, and clutch to take advantage of the much improved and smoother racing surface. We're now on the right path, but didn't quite strike at the right time.
Shortly after the 1-2 shift in our second lap, a broken injector fuel line fitting caused the motor to go lean, resulting in a pretty good fire, especially for an alcohol car. It lit the cockpit quickly, but went out as soon as the shutoff lever took away the fuel. Our Simpson Safety Equipment was singed but flawless, and thankfully there was no damage to the body. At the end of qualifying there were no high fives, but we earned a spot in the middle of those entered; 11th in the 16 car field and much better off than those on the outside looking in.
For first round of eliminations we continued down a tuning path from our last qualifier. I believe that Bob and the crew hit it well; certainly better than reflected in the e.t. slip. We lost 5.78 to 5.69 in what could have been a really, really good drag race if I had been on my marks. Humbling is not the word-these cars don't care how well you drove the day or the week before. But I'm all for finding the positive spin; we believe this direction with the fuel system and clutch will provide the low gear numbers to run very well in upcoming events.
NHRA parked us on the end of a main spectator row, so we enjoyed great exposure and traffic throughout the event. Aside from a little bit of wind, the beautiful Vegas weather helped draw solid crowds. We forget because we're near it so often, but it was great to hear how much fans appreciated being up close to the cars and drivers, and how approachable NHRA/Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Teams are. Our new photo handouts and larger posters were a big hit.
We're hard at work on maintenance projects now. Then it's off to Jerry Ross's Killer NAPA Store in Redding for Kool April Nights on Friday. Early Saturday Morning we'll truck over to NAPA Chico for a Customer Appreciation Event. Later in April we'll help the folks at NAPA Oxnard with their event. Although it's not quite like going 260 mph in the quarter mile, we get to meet some great customers, help jobbers in their markets, talk a little drag racing, and most importantly, show them how much we appreciate their business. I always look forward to sharing tools and methods we've learned to incorporate in our jobbing operation, while learning from some of the best operators in the country. You might call that "Collective NAPA Know How".
All the best,
John Lombardo Jr.
Napa Auto Parts
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Hard work, testing, persistence, and a little bit of luck lead us to a runner up finish at NHRA's Las Vegas Division 7 race over the weekend.
With the SummitRacing.com Nationals on tap this weekend, many in the sportsman ranks travel for back to back weekends. We set up early and made one test and tune run on Thursday. Top Alcohol Funny Car saw 12 cars fighting for 8 spots in eliminations; after three "hits" we qualified sixth with a 5.68.
We lined up with familiar opponent and last year's Division 7 champ, Steven Gasparrelli for round one. Although we left within two hundredths, it was over pretty quickly. We duplicated our 5.68 qualifying lap; Gasparrelli shook and was out of the groove and off of the throttle early. One down.
Mark Woznichak had run 5.70 to advance, so we earned lane choice. I believe the left had yielded some of the quicker times, but we tend to go with our best prior, so we held station in the right. We left the starting line with a nice advantage, and enjoyed the lead all the way through. Conditions brought air at about 3,000 feet corrected, 400 feet worse than prior sessions. We slowed seven hundredths to 5.75, but earned the right to "run for the money against Top Alcohol Veteran Jay Payne in the final.
We took a couple of hundredths at the tree, and even according to Jay had the match in hand to 330 feet. He had run four of five laps in the low 5.60's, so we took a swing at a 5.60 flat combination. That pesky rattle that all within the sport simply refer to as "1.2" set in at about that time. And while steering the car back in the groove, and reaching for the 1-2 shift, too much momentum was lost. Near the 2-3 shift I can see Jay, and at 1,000 feet he's gained a couple of car lengths. These 526 inch engines are hard on parts at 10,000 rpm, and we have a long weekend of national event competition just a few days away, it was time for the parachutes.
We enjoyed racing all day Sunday, scoring some extremely valuable NHRA and Jeg's All Star Points, where we widened our Division 7 lead. The Jeg's All Star program is a separate deal, a race within a race, like the Big Bud Shootout from years ago. At the National Event in July at Chicago, eight cars will run eliminations during qualifying for a separate purse and Jeg's All Star bragging rights. One team will represent each of the seven divisions, the eighth spot is based on performance from the prior year.
Our to do list is long, and we're looking to run hard this weekend, so we're headed back to Las Vegas early to get after it. Luck plays a part in NHRA Drag Racing, but hard work and persistence pays dividends. Thanks for your support of Lombardo Racing in 2011.
All the best,
John Lombardo Jr.
Napa Auto Parts
Wed, 2 Mar 2011
Since I've been driving the NAPA Auto Parts Top Alcohol Funny Car there have been a few occasions when our competitors have accused us of "sandbagging" during qualifying. After taking the first round turnoff at the Phoenix Divisional Race and the Winternationals at Pomona, I can assure you this is not the case.
It's an interesting time in NHRA's Top Alcohol Funny Car class. I've heard these cars called "5 second supercharged pro stockers," due to the tight racing, and "the most difficult cars to drive on the property." Racers are rarely shy on opinions. Whether these quotes are accurate or overstated, these hot rods keep you busy!
Challenging outings cause one to reflect on progress and current position. After a few events of fairly conservative, driver training tuning, well orchestrated by our experienced crew chief Bob DeVour, we became very accustomed to off the trailer laps in the mid 5.60's. We would usually follow up with a 5.60 flat or so to put us solidly in the field. In fact, we've been number one qualifier at national and divisional races. But TAFC became a meaner class in the second half of 2010. Manzo's national records had rarely been threatened in the last couple of years, (set before the minimum weight was increased), especially by anyone other than him. Now it's been bested at two national events in a row. There's impressive new technology in cylinder heads, superchargers, staging systems, and ignition electronics.
We recognized that low 5.60's will no longer get the job done. We've run some 5.50's, and we're very proud to be in that group, but the new mark is low 5.50's with a side of 5.40's when track and weather conditions allow. The tuning window at this new level of performance is tougher to find and narrower once you arrive. Like several teams, we just haven't found it yet. We're sifting through data and comparing charts and graphs. We're hoping this analysis combined with on track testing will put us back in the hunt. Good for the whole class is the increased intensity and heightened media coverage of this record setting competition.
With rain delays at both races, even snowball fights with Mother Nature's hail in the pits at Pomona, we still enjoyed hosting friends, family, and our valued NAPA Customers. We appreciate your support and involvement; hope to see you at an upcoming race or customer event.
Please visit our website at Lombardoracing.com
All the best
Chills, thrills, and thankfully no spills to report from the NHRA Auto Club World Finals this year.
A couple of our competitors are known to end up trying to bump in and qualify for the show during the last session. Until recently, but now at the last two, that's been a stress with which we haven't had to deal. Thursday we ran before the Nitro classes and overpowered the track right at the hit. Friday in Q2 we may have overcompensated a bit, but our 5.745 at 255.87 provided a trip down there and some data.
NHRA's home track yielded really, really fast conditions for Q3-fantastic air and optimum track surface temperature. For this reason, our 5.745, which would normally be 10th-12th, had us in 19th and on the outside looking in. Our scheduled 3:30 pm slot ran well after dark, and the elapsed times dropped with the sun. We laid down our quickest and fastest pass ever, 5.54 at 262 m.p.h. 19th to 3rd is a heck of a move, and with 75 Napa Guests, crew, friends, and family present, this was a monster run. By the end of the session we were 5th, upstaged slightly by Bartone/Jackson/Boggs 5.44, 266-the quickest and fastest pass in the history of the class!
You wondered about the chills reference? Here we were whistling down through there, in the dark at over 260 mph, through one of the shortest shutoff areas in the country! We saw two go into the sand, neither with much real consequence. You have to be on your game at Pomona-there is no room for mechanical or driver error.
First round ran Saturday at 1:00 in the afternoon. The corrected air was 1,000 feet worse, the track had a little bit more temperature, and those awesome e.t.'s were still in our heads. While we knew not to expect the same numbers on the scoreboard, we just didn't calm it down enough. We marched through 60 feet at a decent click, but out about 1.1-1.2 seconds it spun the tires and I wasn't able to get it calmed down. We arrived second with a six flat or so and 2010 is now in the books. Sunday we had a solid crowd, with time on our hands to entertain, promote, take photos, and show our Napa guests and NHRA fans just how much we appreciate their business and enthusiasm for the sport.
We finished second in NHRA's tough Division 7, 12th in the country, (of nearly 100 drivers), and gained absolutely valuable experience at some of the best tracks in the country. Because the Top Alcohol points are earned at just five of your first eight events, it's common practice for competitors to avoid the toughest shows early. We took the other approach and hit the major races and markets; knowing that the racing experience would help us in seasons to come.
We've enjoyed the ride in 2010; thank you very much for allowing us to race for and with you. I have the pleasure of driving one of the best alcohol funny cars in the country-know that we are already planning and preparing for our 2011 campaign!
All the best,
John Lombardo Jr.
Napa Auto Parts
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