Various members of the Gotta Have Builds team had been part of five of the seven NMRA stops this year and everyone has had a great time along the way, learning each of the new 2013 Mustang GTs and meeting many great people. They had their ups and downs but Gotta Have It Race has been running great and Bill and Steve were ready for the finals.
Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky is one of the more unique tracks the team has seen this year. Not only do they have a drag strip, there is also a circle track and an amusement park, complete with water park! The whole complex is nestled on a large horse farm that you have to drive right through the center of to get to the track. Beech Bend is well known for being very fan friendly, with the stands being only 10 feet from the track. Their outstanding prep is also well known, and they did not disappoint for this event!
The lanes opened for test and tune at 11 a.m. on Friday morning, and Bill and Steve made sure they were near the front of the line, ahead of the huge amount of cars attending the finals. On Bill's first pass, he launched at 4500 RPM to get a feel for the track. The rumor of excellent prep on the track proved to be no joke, as Gotta Have It Race hooked hard and then bogged down due to the traction. Bill still had a respectable 1.66 60 foot time and ran an 11.85@115 MPH, pretty much equal to his last pass at Columbus. There was no doubt he was leaving ET on the table, though, so he was psyched for the next pass. The lanes were PACKED so they decided to let Gotta Have It Race cool all the way down and sit back and watch some of the action. Around 2:00 p.m., Bill pulled the car up to get one more hit before qualifying. This time, he revved the car up to 5500 RPMs and let it rip. The car dead hooked and pulled the wheels to a 1.600 60 foot time, which was the best 60 foot time yet for Gotta Have It Race, and so close to the 1.5 Bill wanted so badly. Three power shifts later, he was rewarded with an 11.55@116 MPH, the best competition pass ever!! He had a solid .033 light as well, so he was in great shape heading into qualifying.
Qualifying was to begin at 3:30 p.m., but got pushed back to close to 5:00 due to some breakage. Gotta Have It Race was nice and cool when Bill went up for first round. He did his usual second gear burnout to put a little heat in the Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials and staged the car. He went for it with another 5500 RPM launch and, once again, left wheels up en route another 1.601 time, but, unfortunately, the run went south when the driver misplaced his map to 3rd gear and coasted to a 14.23@78 MPH. That was Bill's only missed shift in competition all year and thankfully it came during a test pass. He drove back to the pits as texts poured in from fellow racers and friends asking if he needed a GPS to find third. Bill took the ribbing in stride and he and Steve packed up for the night. He still had another solid .068 light, so he was dwelling on the positives.
Saturday morning brought some really good air to Beech Bend. Bill would have really liked to have made a pass in that great morning air, but wasn't called for qualifying until close to 1:00 p.m. The air was still good then, so he was excited about the run and had completely forgotten about the missed shift the night before, right up until the Gotta Have Build team's friend, Michael Johnson from 5.0, was laughing while making shifting movements with his hand while waiting to take pictures. Bill put that out of his mind again and did his usual burnout and staged. He left the line at 5500 RPMs and, once again, hooked and went 1.605 in the 60 foot with a .090 light, which was his worst of the weekend. Thankfully, he didn't miss third gear this time, and Gotta Have It Race made a clean pass, clocking 11.57@115 MPH, backing up our 11.55 pass. He ran in the 7.30s in the 1/8th for the first time ever, with a 7.39@95 MPH, proving the car is getting it done in the 1/8th mile.
The final qualifying pass of the day got pushed back to nearly 7 p.m. due to an oil down. On the plus side, it had cooled off a bit and the track still had bite. Bill really felt that Gotta Have It Race could possibly run 11.40s if he could get everything right. Since he already had a few good runs in, it was time to let it rip. After his usual 2nd gear burnout, he staged and brought the RPMs up to 6200 and dumped the clutch on yellow. Bill got just a little wheel spin and Gotta Have It Race was moving down the track. He hit the 1/8th mile in only 7.37 seconds, which was his best ever, but the 11.40s eluded him again, as he went through the traps in 11.51 seconds at 116.59 MPH. The 60 was a little off with a 1.614; a typical 1.60 60 foot surely would have gotten Gotta Have It Race into the 11.40s, but the 11.51@116 MPH was still a great pass and is the car's current best time!
Sunday was elimination day and the weather was beautiful. Bill and Steve chose an 11.55 dial-in, figuring Bill should be able to run that number all day long given the conditions. For the first round, Bill was paired up against an automatic 2013 GT that had been pretty consistent. That car was dialed in a full second slower, so Bill would be chasing him down. He left first with a .096 light and Bill followed a second later with a .051 light. Bill's 60 foot was again a 1.608, and the race was on. The run felt good, and Bill's competitor was half a car's length in front of him as they neared the finish, which made Bill pretty sure he was going to break out and go faster than his dial-in, which he did, running 12.41 on a 12.55 dial. Bill was thrilled with his pass, as he went 11.56 on an 11.55 dial in. If he could continue that performance, he was going to go deep into eliminations. Bill's .051 reaction time qualified him 3rd in the 33 car field, which was pretty solid!
For the second round, the Gotta Have Builds team drew a 2005 Mustang GT running a Whipple supercharger. His dial was an 11.84 to Bill's 11.55, so, once again, Bill would be chasing. The 2005 GT had a stellar .021 reaction time against Bill's .096. Unfortunately, the race was over in the first 60 feet, as Gotta Have It Race spun the tires hard and only went 1.80 compared to Bill's usual 1.60. Bill gave it all he had to try and catch up, but he just couldn't make up the difference. He lost with an 11.78 on an 11.55 dial-in. The margin of victory was .19, so it would have been a great race if both cars had matched Bill's typical 1.60 60 foot.
All good things come to an end. With that pass, the Gotta Have Builds team's 2012 NMRA SST Season was over. Overall, they had a good run, just barely missing the top 10, which isn't bad for a car that they've only owned since May. They have been constantly improving their ET and are hoping to get the car to a few more local events to see if they can break into the 11.40s. The drivers in the NMRA are top notch and every round's win is a challenge. Congrats to each of the 2012 NMRA Champions!
Coming up tonight: The Gotta Have Builds team takes part in the Friday Night Street Races at the track in Beaver Springs. If you're not up to anything tonight, head up and race against Gotta Have It Race and Gotta Have It Street!