For those familiar with televised drag racing, such as Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Cars, the racing is easy to understand. When the starting tree green light goes on, the drivers hit the throttle in a race to be the first car across the finish line.
When the Joe’s Transmission Service TNT Super Series visits Elegant Builders Raceway Park tomorrow night, the winner will be the driver who slows down the best, according to TNT series director Ted Barnes.
After the stop at the Lancaster strip, the TNT series will move on to Empire Dragway in Leicester Saturday.
In the TNT competition, the series utilizes a 7.00-second index on Elegant Builders Park’s one-eighth mile strip and a 10.90 index on Empire’s longer, quarter-mile track.
At the Lancaster strip, drivers must make their runs as close to 7.00 seconds as they can without going quicker. If they run quicker, the timing computer will access a breakout penalty, which results in a loss even if that driver crosses the finish line first.
Therefore, the object is to get a good reaction time off the starting line, cross the finish line first and have a run somewhere around 7.00 seconds. The same applies at Empire, except the number will be 10.90.
“All of our cars in the series are always going to run quicker then the index times, so we need to have a way to slow our cars down so that we get as close to the index time as possible,” said TNT director and competitor Ted Barnes. “We use an electronic timer known as a throttle stop.
“During the run, the throttle stop will close the butterflies of the carburetor for a predetermined period of time during the run to slow the car down. You cannot control the throttle stop from inside the car during the race. It is all set up in the pits before the run.
“This makes for good strategy because based on the track conditions, weather and other factors, teams will program their throttle stops before a run for different settings challenging their know-how. It becomes educated guessing.
“Also, as Lancaster and Empire are two very different tracks, what throttle stop settings one uses on Friday will have to be totally different for Saturday’s race.”
Barnes founded the TNT series in 2006 and it utilizes drag-racing cars that typically compete in the National Hot Rod Association’s Super Street or the International Hot Rod Association’s Hot Rod classes.
“This is our seventh full season as a series and on May 25 at Empire we had an overall TNT series record of 35 cars at that event,” said Barnes, who is from West Lincoln, Ont. “A few weeks ago, we had 28 at Cayuga in Ontario and that is the most cars we ever had for a TNT event on Canadian soil.
“Also, we have a lot of money and contingencies and sponsorship dollars available this season. For the first time, we will also have a Driver of The Year Award.”
This weekend’s doubleheader came about because of early-season rainouts. Those clouds might have had a silver lining, according to Barnes.
“Originally, we were set to come to Lancaster for our first two series races of this season, May 10 and May 24,” he said. “Both were rained out. So we decided to reschedule the May 10 event for this Friday at Lancaster, and the May 24 race at Lancaster was reset and moved to Empire for this coming Saturday.
“This gives not only the local Western New York drivers a chance to race for two days in a row but we also have a lot of drivers who have cars that can race with us that live three and four hours away that can now come and race with us twice in one trip.”
Barnes will also be in competition at both races in his 1972 Datsun, a car he has campaigned for over 20 years in various drag-racing circles.
The TNT series was also set to race at Elegant Builders Raceway Park on June 28 but that was rained out.
“The first three times we’ve been scheduled to run at Lancaster this season, all three have been rained out and I hope this coming Friday will not be the same or I’m in big trouble with the management as they will blame me,” Barnes said with a laugh.
George Skora III emerged victorious in the Late Model 50 portion of the Race of Champions Weekend, last Sunday at Oswego Speedway.
Springville’s Paul Grigsby has now won two DIRTcar Late Model feature races this season at New Humberstone Speedway.