HSMS HAS ROUGH OUTING
Engine Damage Takes Green Out Early
- Boise, ID - The
38th edition of Firebird Raceway's signature event was a weekend
of way below normal temperatures, huge crowds, record runs, major
upsets and lots of drama. The Nightfire Nationals are Idaho's
premiere motorsport's national championship, and the 2009 edition
was even bigger and better than any year previous. Headlining
the 4 day show was Top Fuel Dragsters and Nostalgia Nitro Funny
Cars. In spite of a grim economy, there were 32 nitro cars on
the grounds and both the Friday and Sunday crowds were bigger
than years past. Most credit the absence of the normally hot
weather for much of the increase.
For Troy Green
and the HSMS team it was less than a good weekend. Historically
the gang has not had much luck at Boise. Unlike Bowling Green
and Bakersfield, Firebird Raceway has not been conducive with
Brett Johansen's tune ups. This year was no different. After
crossing the centerline in his first qualifying attempt, Green
did manage to qualify 6th on his next. But a 6.11 was far off
the pace needed to go rounds.
In years past,
there were three pro qualifying sessions but in an attempt to
give their largest crowd (Saturday) a better show and have first
round of eliminations under the lights they dropped one session..
So, session two was the last chance to nail down a tune up and
jockey for a position on the ladder. It also left the team with
a tough decision that in hind site turned out to be the wrong
Said Green, "To
say we're disappointed is an understatement. We were behind the
8 ball all weekend and things never came together. We'll go home,
regroup, assess the damage and do better the next time out."
Tom Shelar was more direct. "Boise was about the worst outing
that I can remember. We need to get back to a baseline that we
had last year where we could run a 5.80 on any track."
of the points chase, the team will run the Pinks All Out show
at Bakersfield September 12 and pass on the Hot Rod Heritage
race at Sacramento on September 18th. Shelar stated, "We
will not be going to Sacramento. It is better to spend the time
and money on the car and another test session if needed before
Photos by: Arlene
Eliason, Dan Kaplan, Don Ewald, Darrell Conrad, Pam Schavrien
and Don Atkinson.
and race results below
With the car already prepped
back at the shop, and fired the day before at the SilverThin
Bearings Open House, Thursday afternoon was very laid back.
With most of the team still not in town, no one was in a big
rush to unload.
After solving an issue over enough
pit space, the first order of business was to get the awning
A new rule went into effect at
Boise that being that the Top Fuel cars must now have 2 10 lb
fire bottles. Frankie Hedge was put in charge of hooking up the
cables to the actuators,
Troy Green and Tom Shelar
go over the car as Green fills out the tech card.
By noon on Friday the crew was
all present and accounted for. The tech crew came by to cert
the car to race.
Jeff Norton (center) was on hand
to keep everybody honest - he is the Pro Tech Inspector.
Roger "The Iron
Chef" McMartin set up the hospitality table.
Rian Kono adjusted the
valves and got the engine ready to warm up.
This is how racing slicks are
shipped. They look like something ready for the scrap yard.
Troy untaped them in
preparation for mounting.
Todd Shappie installed
some new clutch discs that came in that morning.
Walt Stevens and Tom
Shelar check out the new driver cards.
Photog Dan Kaplan, Don Ewald,
Sam Chastain and Walt Stevens in one of the many BS sessions
over the weekend.
HSMS CEO Dale Singh and
Ewald discuss cameras.
On Friday Pete and Cece Palumbo's
son-in-law Charlie Lee and their Granddaughter Lauren came to
their first drag race. They flew in from Colorado just to see
what grandpa was always bragging about.. Lauren jumped right
in the car and loved it.
At 5:30 Green got in the car
for the warm-up for the first quaifying session scheduled for
Sean Bellemeur checked
Crew Chief Brett Johansen
went over the numbers on the engine monitor.
With the engine warmed, Tom Shelar
decided to put the new set of Hoosiers on the car for session
At 6:30 Palumbo and Kono
started to move the car toward the staging lanes.
Top Fuel Qualifying
- Session One
In the staging lane.
Kono went out to check the track
temperature while the crew waited for a clean up to fire the
Some guys just don't
fit the hero driver mold.
After a short wait the
car was fired and Green moved into the water box.
Being the last car of the session,
Green got the whole track to himself... and he needed it.
At the direction of Sean
Bellemeur, Walt Stevens guided Green back to the line.
Crew chief Brett Johansen has
one look at the engine as Bellemeur brings Green to the starting
The car was very sluggish
at the hit... the clutch way to soft.
After a terrible 60'
time the car started to drift toward the center line.
Out of the groove and got on
the unusual asphalt strip between lanes Green tried to steer
the car back.
In a heartbeat the clutch finally
locked up and literally tossed the car into the left lane,
Fortunately there was no other
car on the track or this could have been ugly. Said Green, "The
car moved so hard, so fast I couldn't do a thing but reel it
in when it stabilized."
With only two qualifying
sessions it really hurt not getting a time on this one.
With the second session scheduled
for 1 PM things got rolling a little earlier on Saturday. But
since the car had been serviced Friday night there was little
Brett Johansen and Steve
Kono ran the valves.
Green and Shappie packed
Noon - time to warm her
Top Fuel to the lanes.
Saturday - Qualifying
Boise has a unique staging lane
in that it is right in front of the pits side stands and elevated
above the race track. This allows the fans to see the cars and
drivers up close and personal and lets the teams see how track
conditions are playing out.
Track temp up from Friday's
Johansen and Rick Shelar
fire up "Great White".
Green would once again
make a single run.
Johansen and understudy
Sean Bellemeur make final tweaks to the engine.
Once again the car was
very soft at the hit of the throttle.
Another lackluster 60'
time but the car was going straight.
In spite of drifting to the right
this time the car did not make any violent moves to the other
Staying in his own lane Green
clocked a mediocre 6.11 at 235.54 to land in the #6 qualifying
At least they were in the show
and had a chance to figure out why the car wasn't running as
Above lies the center of a decision
that was like the old Paul Newman quip of "Why did a guy
take off his clothes and jump into a blackberry bush"? The
answer of course was, "Well, it was a good idea at the time".
This would qualify for the same answer.
After coming back from the run
the team started throwing around the idea of doing an engine
swap. The engine in the car had not performed in testing. The
spare engine had won Bowling Green. The decision was made to
change them out. Good idea at the time.
Tom Shelar did his normal cylinder
head services while the engine in the car was being readied for
a take out.
Stevens checked out the
burst panel for safey reasons.
After the heads were
off the engine was lifted out and the other put in.
Parts were everywhere.
Todd Shappie first took off the
clutch and back engine mounting bolts.
As it is every year,
the fan response was incredible.
Saturday - Eliminations
- Round One
While the drama was played out
in the pits, Green was at the obligatory drivers autograph session
in the upper pit section. Most of the drivers had hand outs and
the fans ate them up.
Round 1 was scheduled for 7:00
but actually got underway about 7:45. Green was paired with Mike
McClennan in Mike Fuller's "Forever Young" car. McClennan
had lane choice.
The car was more aggressive on
the bottom end and promised to give the blue car a good race.
At this point Green was hanging
in with McClennan but once again slowly sliding out of the groove.
At this point Green was dangerously
close to the wall but it didn't matter - the engine was a dead
Then the engine burned the #
7 piston and debris from the piston got stuck under the # 7 intake
valve. When it blew up, the # 7 intake valve was not sealed to
the seat letting the ignition spark the fuel into the manifold.
When # 7 is on it's power stroke # 4 is on overlap. The explosion
in the intake manifold blew the # 4 intake valve into the # 4
exhaust valve and that is why the # 4 valves were broken and
the chamber and piston in the # 4 hole were beaten up. Got that
The good news is the Manifold
designed by Tom Shelar performed exactly as it was designed to
do in this situation. The explosion in the manifold was so big
the burst panel area was insufficient . The manifold is designed
to split if the explosive energy is so big that the burst panel
area and the blower shear studs are not enough to allow the energy
to escape fast enough. ( Scott Kalitta's 's manifold exploded
opening up the engine valley, Mendy Fry in Frank Hedge's car
at Sonoma had the same issue both resulted in a big fire.) The
only fire Green experienced after the initial explosion was a
small amount of oil from the oil pressure gage being damaged.
And they did not put any oil on the track just a small amount
of nitro from the fuel system. Boise Boom
We apologize for the quality
of a couple of these photos but they were obviously shot in low
light and pulled from a video camera.
Oiled in, Green did a
masterful job of keeping the car off the wall and in his lane.
As Great White limped along McClennan's
ride had problems of its own. The ensuing oil down led to a 52
minute clean up and delay running funny cars. There are many
good things to say about Firebird Raceway but their speed in
doing track clean ups isn't one of them.
After Green radioed back that
he was fine, the crew went to pick up the carnage. Even in defeat
the HSMS team gets a lot of fan appreciation and they always
Back in the pits the engine was
cleaned up and put into the trailer. If you look close you can
see a cracked in half blower manifold. What you can't see is
all the internal damage both in the engine and blower. The repair/replace
bill on this deal won't be pretty.
To say Sunday was low
key would be a definite understatement.
The Iron Chef packed
Jim Murphy stopped by to check
out the seat and view in the HSMS fueler. He is having trouble
seeing in his car and is thinking about getting a Miller-Gibson
fuel injector like the one in Great White. He could see fine
so don't be surprised if you see a different injector on his
WW2 Racing entry.
The highlight was the team getting
together for an impromptu Happy Birthday for Walt Stevens who
turned the big 70. All he got for his endurance was a bunch of
silly birthday cards and several laughs.
Happy 70th Walter!
2009 Boise Nightfire Nationals Video