Katie’s NHRA Blog 6/1/11
I remember when I was probably about 13 and I was in the points chase at Redding Drag Strip in the Jr. Dragster class. It came down to the last race and the semi final round. I had been neck and neck in the points all year with David Myher and we were about to see who was going to be the track champion. When I climbed into my car I remember wanting it so bad. I have always been really competitive, but competing against boys made me even more competitive. After we made the run, I looked up just hoping to see my win light come on because it had been a close race. It never came on, and I looked over to see the win light in David’s lane. My heart felt like it sank into my stomach and I was so disappointed. That was probably the first time I had ever wanted something that bad, now that will to win is engraved in my brain.
Ever since then I have always been completely in love with bracket racing. Even though I lost that race and the championship, it’s hard not to smile after such a close race. Bracket racing is such a thrill to me and it is such an art. If you’re not good on the tree or un-aware of where your opponent is on the track, chances are your probably done for. Growing up, I just assumed all drag racers liked bracket racing and that most people knew what it is, but I am finding that this is not true. For anybody who doesn’t know I will give you a quick explanation. Each competitor sets a dial-in, which is the estimated time they think it will take them to get to the finish line. Then, the tree is staggered to each person’s dial-in, so technically if both racers have a perfect reaction time and reach the finish line at their exact dial-in time, they will be tied. However, if you go quicker than your dial-in, you break out and automatically lose. It is such a mental sport, and many of the racers who do it, have perfected it.
When I first started bracket racing on a bike, I had a guy tell me that once I got to the thousand foot mark on the track to turn my head around and just watch my opponent. He said something along the lines of this “Katie it’s a straight line, you know where the finish line is, watch the guy in the other lane, because you have no idea where he is otherwise.” Now I remember thinking at first that this guy was completely losing it. I’m riding a 135 mph motorcycle, and he wants me to watch behind me. Then of course, after about 3 races every time I got to that thousand foot mark my head was turned around looking at the opponent. Through my racing career the more
This past week I had spent almost every night in the garage getting my bracket motor into my pro stock bike. We had built the motor out of parts that we already had on the shelves at home. We were planning to head to Sonoma over the weekend for a two day memorial race. I could not have been more excited. Before this weekend I had only been to two races, so over this year I had only made about 8 total passes on my bike. Usually by this time in the season, I have made a lot more passes because of bracket racing so I could not wait to be out on the track. We got through the first day, unfortunately losing on a break out in the first round. However, we had made good progress because that was the first time we had ever run the motor. I woke up the second day, and I could not wait to be on the bike. I had it in my head that this was our day to take home a win. I was the last person out for my first qualifying pass. Going through my normal routine in the burn out box, I was so ready to just ride. As I was doing my burn out everything felt good. My dad signaled me to start coming out of the water, and right as I was pulling in the clutch the bike died. Now usually when this happens, you know something is wrong because it is rare to have a bike just die. Being the competitive people my dad and I are, he ran over and grabbed the starter to start the bike again. About that time a friend of ours from another team ran over holding little chunks of hot metal. I looked in his hand and my heart sank, I knew we had blown up our motor.
I found myself again pushing my bike back out of the water box. I was really let down, but I have this philosophy that you can’t let other people see that. So I took off my helmet and smiled, and we took our bike back to the pit. When stuff like that happens, you just have to smile and keep going, because there isn’t much else you can do. I am very thankful that it happened in the burn out box. We did not kick a rod out or anything of that nature, so there should be some salvageable parts. Also, it’s a lot easier to have it happen in the burn out box, because if it happens down track a lot can go wrong when the bike is spitting out oil and parts. I am sad to say, that it will probably be the end of our bracket racing for this season. We really have to watch how much money we are spending. We decided with what we are trying to achieve in pro stock, it is better to put the bracket racing aside for now and take care of our pro stock stuff. We are still up in the air about what NHRA races we will be able to make the rest of the year, but both my dad and I are working really hard, so I have faith that good things are headed out way.