If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It
The statement, “If it was easy, everyone would do it,” is such an overused axiom but it rings true to most things in life. If everything we ever did in life was easy, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate the victory of overcoming the adversity. Nothing in my life has ever come easy and there have been many times that I’ve questioned my ability to complete the task. I’ve been through military basic training twice, once for enlisting and once as a commissioned officer. I’ve been a very young father with no money and an assignment overseas. As an entrepreneur, I’ve started numerous businesses, and failed most of them. The one challenge that rises to the top was attending Undergraduate Pilot Training. Those 12 months of training truly tested my perseverance and persistence. Every waking day, I studied and prepared for a training flight only to be brutally destroyed in debriefing by the instructor pilot who was happy to recount my every mistake in gross detail. Looking back on that, I now value the experience as it made me a stronger and more resilient person. It has also made me a better driver as I now approach driving like flying an airplane and always try to stay open and receptive to constructive criticism offered by my team.
Drag Racing Is Humbling
Drag racing is humbling. We campaigned the Pure Heaven Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car / Fuel Altered for many years. My third pass in the car in 2008 during a license upgrade run posted a quick for the time 6.11. We were thrilled that we had made such quick progress with our brand-new build. Shortly after that initial success we found ourselves solidly locked in the 6.30 range as the car would pick on various pistons, run after run. It didn’t matter what changes we made, it would run a 6.30 or worse. Over the winter of 2010, we received a phone call to participate in the newly created IHRA Fuel Altered class that would debut in Palm Beach, Florida in January 2011. We spent the entire winter freshening up and servicing our racing program to prepare for the 2,500-mile trip east. Completely frustrated by our inability to make progress in going faster I grabbed my laptop with Racepak data and took a trip down to a longtime family friend and crew chief, Robert Reehl. Less than a minute into starring at the data on my laptop he quickly sniped, “hang 40 grams of weight on your clutch”.
It was a very long drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to West Palm Beach, Florida knowing that the only change you made, besides normal maintenance, was to hang 40 grams of weight on your clutch. Our first pass down the track netted a 6.03 @ 230 MPH. We were beyond ourselves and it seemed like the celebration wouldn’t end, but it did. Drag racing is humbling. As we pulled the manifold off we found a lifter bar broke, rotated, and destroyed our lifter/camshaft/block. Not a huge deal, we had a fully prepped spare motor ready to go but we couldn’t make the 45-minute turnaround for the final round. We pulled to the line the next day with the spare motor and unloaded a 5.93 pass. My first 5-second run! We truly hadn’t intended on running that quick and had made no tuning changes but what we forgot is that the spare motor had a -.020-decked block and that extra bit of compression helped make more power. Oops! We still hold the IHRA Fuel Altered record. http://www.ihra.com/stats/records
That should be the end of that story, but it isn’t. Drag racing is humbling. As we serviced the motor after that pass, the oil came out of the drain plug accompanied by the silvery color of aluminum. Upon further inspection, our brand-new rod decided to exit stage left. Most said it was because we were running the car hard to post a five-second pass. Not true! Most teams running that particular brand of connecting rod in 2011 experienced the same fate. For us, it was truly humbling. We were 2,500 miles from home with two thrashed motors and a long schedule of events ahead of us. We went from being on top of the world to being at the bottom. That same friend who told me to put weight on the clutch offered some encouraging words, just like my family did for me during the most grueling days of pilot training. Quit your crying. Pick yourself up. Press on. Figure it out. We did just that, and we finished the entire year on a single motor. We finished #3 in points despite only attending less than half the 2011 events. We celebrated in the winner’s circle many times that year. It was very hard on our team and family, but we made it through. We are now stronger and more resilient because of that experience.
Some Guys Just Need A Break
Sometimes all it takes is a breakthrough to make a champion. John Force was once a low-buck independent drag racer until he got his break in 1987 when Castrol Oil believed in his vision. Prior to that opportunity, John was an amateur drag racer who spent more time on fire under fiberglass then he did in a corporate boardroom. Today, John has leveraged that breakthrough into a mega-million-dollar corporation that has not only revolutionized the sport of drag racing but has also arguably weakened the fan appeal that once made it great. Today’s landscape of professional NHRA Mello Yello teams are a who’s who of corporate billboards. Mostly gone are the low-buck independents who would thrill the fans with upset victories. The passion and willingness to never quit in the face of adversity of an independent is what brought fans out in droves to see the underdog upset the factory team. In the “good ‘ol” days of drag racing the cars had names, the drivers had reputations (good or bad), and the rivalries were fierce.
We know exactly what we are up against. It won’t be easy and it will be very expensive, but we believe that there is a reason that we have made it even this far. We have a great following of supporters that believe in our dream and we know that through persistence, persistence, and No Mercy we will have our breakthrough. It’s never easy, and it never will be. For example, as we prepped for our 2017 debut event at the Nitro Spring Training, we suddenly found our blower case cracked. For a mega-corporate team, they just grab another one off the shelf. For us, that is a huge setback. However, we pulled together as a team, came up with a few solutions, called on friends that can help us, and overcame the adversity. We figured it out!
Competing at this level of racing requires millions of dollars per year to operate successfully, yet, the No Mercy Racing family believes that our breakthrough is right around the corner.
No Mercy Nitro Funny Car – Chasing a Dream in 2017