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After being stymied in three attempts to get in a season-finale race, Twins Cities Raceway owner Tom Wetherald reported that problems in lining up scorers and push trucks for the show convinced him that it was time to start preparing for the 2014 season.
While racing at Twin Cities is finished for the season, there is one more item of business for 2013. An awards banquet will be scheduled in January. When the talents of concession operator Sue Collins are combined with those of track owner Wetherald, the food should be good. That should put the racers in a receptive mood to hear news about Wetherald’s plans for the 2014 season.
Wetherald said that work is under way preparing the facility for the 2014 season. Truckloads of stone are being hauled to add to pit road. Seating is being added to permit the track to hold bigger events. In addition, work is scheduled to upgrade the racing surface and the sound system.
However, the big changes for 2014 likely will involve the schedule. They plan to customize their schedule to allow more fans and competitors to attend events at the track.
“You know that I don’t give up on anything,” Wetherald said. “We will continue to work on the program and the facility to make them what they can be.”
Father, son enjoying success
Ernie Neal of Columbus has been a major factor in drag racing for many years. His skill as a driver has been a known quantity.
However, his skill as a fabricator and mechanic are the factors that make the difference. His specialty has involved converting front-wheel drive cars like Cavaliers and Sunfires into rear-wheel drive machines. His work is so impressive that last season at a race in Bowling Green, Ky. he was given an award for having the best engineered car.
Ernie’s son, David, is a relative newcomer to drag racing. Although the younger Neal has been involved in racing in one form or another for many years, it mostly involved motorcycles. However, for several years he was also part of Derek Scheffel’s sprint-car crew. This gave him experience with the kind of engines that now powers his drag cars.
The younger Neal made a trip to Ohio Valley Raceway near Louisville on Oct. 12, and he turned in an impressive performance. He came home from Kentucky to prepare
for the Fall Classic to be conducted Oct. 18 _ 20 at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) in Clermont.
Father and son showed up at Lucas Oil Raceway intent on ending their seasons with a strong performance. David Neal’s car is a Pontiac Sunfire converted to rear-wheel drive. It is powered by 300-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch Corvette engine with a 585 CFM four-barrel carburetor. It competes in NHRA’s GT/C class.
Ernie Neal’s ride competes in NHRA’s GT/D class. It is the same Chevrolet Cavalier rear-wheel drive conversion car that he has been racing for some time. It is powered by a 350-cubic-inch, 275-horsepower Corvette motor with throttle body fuel injection.
Both Neals returned from Lucas Oil Raceway on Sunday evening with their names on the list of NHRA class records. David Neal lowered the GT/C Class record from 9.70 seconds to 9.19 seconds; and Ernie Neal cut the GT/D Class record from 9.85 seconds to 9.53 seconds.
The honor that goes with holding these class records is not an unmixed blessing. Following the run, the team has to tear down their engine to make certain that there are no illegal components. Included in the items checked are the bore, stroke, and deck clearance. In addition they must absorb the cost of a gasket set, oil, and components and supplies necessary to complete the teardown. They must also do the work to facilitate the officials’ inspection of the chassis.
NHRA rules are an interesting blend of stock specifications and permitted modifications. Special crankshafts are permitted, as are custom balanced aluminum flat top pistons. Although the valves must be stock, extensive flow work may be done to increase the efficiency of the delivery of air and fuel to the cylinders.
Although both Neals were obviously the fastest in their class, they both fell victim to their efforts to squeeze a little more performance from the cars. Ernie Neal red -lighted on the first run, while David Neal red-lighted on the fourth run.
David Neal also had a second car in competition. He ran his 1967 Chevy II in the Saturday night Pro race where he ran five rounds before falling victim to the competition.
The Neals weren’t the only local racers in competition. Jerry Mellis drove his car to wins in the first two rounds.
In the third round, Mellis was afraid that he would “break out” (run too fast for the class in which they are competing). Consequently, he came out of the throttle in an attempt to lose just a little speed. Unfortunately, he lost a little too much speed, and their day was done. Their car is equipped with electronics that limit the speed of the launch. There is no similar system to control the speed at the big end.
Another local racer, Clay Arnett, went to the semifinal round with his 2013 COPO Camaro in Stock Class. The Arnett COPO was running very impressive numbers of 9.06 seconds at 150-plus mph.
Ryan Haag runs a 1967 Camaro in SS/EA powered by a 396-cubi-inch Chevrolet engine mated to an automatic transmission. And, at Ohio Valley Dragway, he won the Super Stock/Stock Combo elimination. He lost in the second round at Indianapolis.
Local racers now have all winter to decide what they are going to do to update their cars for next season. One thing is certain: Massive amounts of cash will be involved.
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