Florida Drag Wars!!!


This was the first official (kinda) get-together of the RX-7 Club of Florida. Members attending:

Me (of course)

John Reineke (my roommate)

Carlos Iglesias

Dave Girvan

John Czahoroski

Gil Gredinger

Jeff Witzer

Matt Curtis

Chris Hartman (Matt's friend)

We had no sleep, good food, fast cars, and, all together, a total BLAST! The Drag Wars were somewhat under-attended, but most of the fun was talkin' cars and being together.

Here's the story from my perspective:

John and I hit the road early (8:00 am) Friday morning. We met up with Matt and Chris in Chris' '97 Eclipse GS-T (gets better gas mileage than Matt's red '93 RX-7) and had some breakfast at McDonald's. After some Hotcakes 'n Sausage, we hit the road, bound for Orlando. Unfortunately, we lost sight of Matt and Chris about 3/4 of the way down I-10 (I was determined not to let a Saturn pass me!) when they stopped off quick for a rest break. Anyhow, John and I continued down I-10 to I-75, then south to Ocala, home of Big Daddy Don Garlits' Museum of Drag Racing.

Big Daddy's museum was mighty cool - it had most of his dragsters, including Swamp Rat I and the car that took half his foot off, resulting in the concept of a rear-engined dragster. One of the cooler cars there was the rocket car - does the 1/4 mile in 4.6 seconds at 356 MPH!!! I guess it's time to get one of those for my FC!!! :)

Well, we met back up with Matt and Chris at Big Daddy's museum, and continued the rest of the way to Orlando. I had to get to the hotel before 6:00 pm to check in, so we were on a time constraint. As luck would have it, the I-4 exit on the Florida Turnpike is COMPLETELY not labeled, and we blew right by it!!! Argh!!! Anyhow, we turned around and got back in the right direction, only to be faced with sloooow rush-hour traffic in Orlando. We got to the hotel at 6:05!!! Checked in with no problems, though.

Got up with Dave Girvan after a big meal at Bennigan's (with a way-cute waitress!) and he said Carlos was going to be late - he was getting racing stripes put on the car. So, we hung out for a while at the hotel waiting for Carlos. 9:30 rolled by, and still no Carlos. Orlando Speed World (where Carlos and Dave were going to make some practice runs) was closed, so we headed to Malibu Grand Prix. If you haven't been to one before, Malibu has a large and twisty go-cart course in the back, and scaled-down F1 cars. You race 'em against the clock. VERY fun!!! They handle great (rear-engined) with awesome brakes. Dave and John got the best times, followed by me and Carlos (who met us there).

After getting to bed at 1:30 am (whoops!) we got up at 5:30 a.m. to head to Bradenton for the Drag Wars. We (me, John, and Carlos) met up with Dave at the 7-11 to caravan (that's John Reineke, Carlos Iglesias, and Dave Girvan, L to R). Notice the long shadows in the photo!!! Anyhow, got to Tampa (where we were going to meet Gil Gredinger and Jeff Witzer) late, and we didn't see them, so we headed on to the Cracker Barrel in Bradenton to meet the gang. Petit Racing's black drag car was there, being towed to the race. John Czahoroski met us there in his SWEET silver 1st gen. 9:15 rolled around, and we headed to the strip. Checked in at the gate, paid the fees, and found a suitable spot. Another fellow was there with a Competition Mica Yellow 3rd gen (whose name escapes me) that was going to have Cam with Petit Racing do some work.

Well, here's some highlights from the Drag Wars itself:

Matt Curtis with a LARGE 3rd gen exhaust

Cam Worth working on a yellow 3rd gen

A 3rd gen with SWEET BBS rims and a big wing

Carlos Iglesias' 3rd gen smoking a Buick Grand National!!!

A sharp silver FC3S

The engine compartment of said silver FC3S

The silver FC3S dragging a Ford Explorer (?)

Pics of the Puero Rican rotary powered drag cars...pic 1, 2, and 3

A red TurboII with BIG rims - the hood is up for cooling after a drag run

A yellow 2nd gen (with a Supra motor...boo!) and a yellow 1st gen (smoke him!!! :) racing

Carlos proves that you can REALLY pack a 3rd gen!

Yes, those ARE tires in Carlos' front seat

Well, after a LONG day at the Drag Wars, we headed back to the hotel to get a shower and some eats. Headed to Steak and Shake for some pretty good grub, then to Wal-Mart for some supplies. Headed back to the strip for some more test-and-tune (both Dave and Carlos ran this weekend). Cam's laptop failed for the drag car, and he wasn't able to set up the Haltech fuel management computer - he ended up not coming on Sunday. Anyhow, once the sun set Carlos, John Reineke and myself went to All-Star Steakhouse for some pretty good steaks and conversation.

After the steakhouse, John and I pestered Carlos to let us drive his HEAVILY modified 3rd gen. Of course, we got the obligatory pics of myself and John in the car!!! I must say, Carlos' ride is absolutely STUNNING. I've gained a whole new world of respect for the 3rd gen...WOW! John was of the same opinion..."that was the fastest car I've ever been in or driven!" Here's another sweet shot of Carlos' ride.

We crashed at about 11:00 pm - it was a LONG day, and we were all pretty sunburnt!

Well, we got up at 7:00 Sunday morning to get to the drag strip at a good time - except we forgot about Daylight Savings Time! Whoops! Got there a bit later than we should have.  We were hoping Sunday would have a better turnout - it didn't. Carlos and Dave made their runs, and were both eliminated on the first run. I don't even know who won the drag wars! We had fun regardless!

One of the more notable happenings Sunday was the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 that had been doing good 12 sec. runs all weekend. He came up to the line to do a competition run and...nothing. His transmission (automatic!) gave out on him. There was tranny fluid all over the ground and a hunk of the tranny. Good thing the car was trailered in - that would suck if that was the ride home! Remember, no matter how powerful your car is, the weak link is what will give out. If you modify one thing, make sure the whole system is upgraded to handle the increased demand.

Sunday also brought Super Mario - a jet-powered funny car that did a GREAT exhibition run. He turned the quarter mile at 6 seconds and 260 MPH!!! It was also the loudest thing I've ever heard - especially that HUGE column of fire coming from the afterburner!

After the day was done at the track, we went to eat at the Cracker Barrel before the long drive home. We caravaned for a way, and each slowly split off and went our own directions. Me and John got back around 3:30 am CDT...man, were we tired!!!! I was heavily hallucinating for the last 2 hours of the trip...fortunately, John drove the last leg. We didn't get up until 3 pm the next day.

It was a GREAT trip, and a big THANK YOU goes out to everyone who came and had fun. I'm looking forward to getting together with the group again!

BTW, there's more pics to come! John still hasn't developed his film, and I'll put it up as soon as it's ready.

Created April 8, 1997