My Experience With Elite Motorsports, NGK/NTK 4-Wide Nationals at ZMAX Dragway

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I want to share my experience at the NGK/NTK 4-Wide Nationals at ZMAX Dragway this past weekend. This was my wife's first time at an NHRA event, and we both had a blast.

Let's backtrack to a month ago though. The owner of @High Performance Lubricants, David Ward, and I were having a phone conversation while he was at the 4-Wide race in Las Vegas. He makes the oils for Elite Motorsports who fields the 4x Pro Stock Champion Erica Enders and Troy Coughlin Jr who took the reigns of his uncle's car this year. They also field 2 other cars in Pro Stock and 1 car in Pro Mod. Anyway, we got Elite's engine builder, Kyle Bates, on the phone who invited me to join them when they came to ZMAX Dragway this month. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to see how this team works behind the scenes. They were nice enough to invite my wife along as well.

We drove up on Friday morning and met Courtney Enders at the gate that afternoon. We were shown to the pits and introduced to most everyone. They opened up their operation to us which was awesome to see. We got to see how the team functions behind the scenes. They have walls of gear ratios for every gear except for 5th which is always 1:1. They change gear ratios after every pass depending on the track conditions, ambient conditions, and other factors. They change the tune after every pass based on the same conditions. They measure the tires after every pass for circumference and balance. They control tire pressure in 0.1 psi increments. Spark plugs are pulled and checked after every pass. They pull valve covers and inspect valve spring pressure and lash.

The engines are naturally aspirated 500ci and turn 10,500 rpm making close to 1400 hp.

The oil they use is a 0w-8 with a 10 quart capacity and dry sump system. They don't regularly monitor oil pressure unless a problem arises. So long as the pump is sending oil, they send the car down the track. Oil related failures, with this oil, are very rare. This is the result of Mr. Ward working with their engine department to test repeatedly to ensure the upmost reliability from that oil.

Unfortunately, the weekend didn't turn out the way Elite had hoped. Erica qualified 3rd with a 6.534 @ 211.59 mph. Troy qualified 9th with 6.554 @ 210.28 mph. Unfortunately, Erica got eliminated in the 1st round, beaten on a holeshot. Troy advanced to the finals but came up just short against Dallas Glenn, who got his first event victory.

They shared some stories with me from the road, how they've gotten to where they are, and talked of what laid ahead in the future. I got a bunch of pictures. I won't upload them all, but I'll upload the important ones.

My wife got to experience her first ever NHRA race. I got her to stand by the fence for the Top Fuel cars which completely blew her mind. If you've never seen Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, I highly recommend that you do. Even if you're not into the sport, it's not like anything you'll experience anywhere else. We were sitting in the pits during one of their qualifying runs, several hundred feet from the track itself, and our coke cans were shaking on the table when they went down the track.

I got to speak with a woman I've admired since I was a kid, Shirley Muldowney. We bought two autographed posters from her, the proceeds of which go to her charity that helps disadvantaged and abused children.

I also got to speak with another woman in the sport who I've watched race since the 90s, Angelle Sampey. She shared some insight with us about her years of racing and how having a child changed her perspective on racing in some ways. Unfortunately, she was also eliminated in the 1st round this weekend, but my wife is now a huge fan of her.

John Force, someone else I grew up watching a lot, got his 152nd win and became the first person in the sport to win in 5 different decades. I got to congratulate him on his win and check off another childhood bucketlist item. That man is a legend in drag racing.

The owner of Gunskins, a company that makes wraps for guns and tumblers, was there as well. I got to talk with him for quite a while and he ended up giving me an awesome 1/2 gallon tumbler with the 2nd amendment wrap on it. I made the mistake of letting my wife wander about the midway with my wallet. :oops: We drove up with only 1 bag and came back home with 4 due to all the stuff her and I bought and other stuff that was given to us.

Erica, Courtney, and Troy signed our credentials for us, as well as some memorabilia. This was definitely the experience of a lifetime. A huge thanks to Elite Motorsports for giving us this opportunity and a thanks also to David Ward at High Performance Lubricants who got me on the phone with them to make that happen. This was definitely a weekend I won't forget. I hope to be able to do it again soon.

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wwillson

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I got her to stand by the fence for the Top Fuel cars which completely blew her mind. If you've never seen Top Fuel dragsters and funny cars, I highly recommend that you do. Even if you're not into the sport, it's not like anything you'll experience anywhere else.
About 15 years ago I took my Dad to his first NHRA national event in Chicago, where he saw his first nitro car run down the track. He was pretty impressed with the noise and I made the comment, "That is the loudest noise I've ever heard in my life." He paused and said, "Yeah, it's loud, but the loudest noise I've ever heard was when I was laying face down in the jungle and the B-52s were carpet bombing about a mile away." That's one of the only things my Dad ever told me about Vietnam.

Since most of us haven't and never will be close to carpet bombing, we'll have to settle for nitro cars as the loudest noise we've heard.

Glad you got to see the cars up close and meet the teams!
 
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nice post with great pics!! used to go to Maple Grove Raceway near Reading Pa for their yearly NHRA big GO. pro racing is very competitive + spendy these days!! pro stock runs very close for sure but Nitro rules for me + being able to get close in the pits when they check start their engines after a rebuild after EVERY run is amazing, eyes watering from only short bursts of throttle on the JUICE!! wonder how long they will be around due to $$$$ as the number of Fuel teams get fewer yearly, but a great experience for sure + TV dont do any justice compared to being there 0 to 100 mph in ONE SECOND for top fuel says it all!! NHRA tries to balance the speeds + keep it safe, a tough task as big $$$$ spent yearly off season to go faster + only those with $$$$$$ are competitive in pro classes. but NOT a fan of TOOO wide thats 4 wide, hard enough tracking two cars!!!!!
 

RDY4WAR

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About 15 years ago I took my Dad to his first NHRA national event in Chicago, where he saw his first nitro car run down the track. He was pretty impressed with the noise and I made the comment, "That is the loudest noise I've ever heard in my life." He paused and said, "Yeah, it's loud, but the loudest noise I've ever heard was when I was laying face down in the jungle and the B-52s were carpet bombing about a mile away." That's one of the only things my Dad ever told me about Vietnam.

Since most of us haven't and never will be close to carpet bombing, we'll have to settle for nitro cars as the loudest noise we've heard.

Glad you got to see the cars up close and meet the teams!

My wife is mostly deaf. She was born without the stapes bones in her ears, which is kinda like the tuning fork that converts sound waves into recognizable audio. Without her hearing aids, she can't hear anything except the sound waves themselves coming across like a faint bass drum. She can hear perfectly underwater because of how sound carries in water.

She had to turn her hearing aids off, take them out, and put earmuffs on when the TF and FC cars ran and it was still hard on her eardrums. She got used to it after a few passes and enjoyed herself. There was a funny moment in the pits involving her hearing. My wife was elected to a position in SC politics earlier this year so she had to work a little on Friday while we were there. She was sitting in the corner of the pit with her hearing aids on under her earmuffs and her hearing aids have bluetooth. One of the crew guys must've thought she was crazy because she was just carrying on a full conversation with noone around and earmuffs on. I noticed he kept looking over there so went up to him and I told him about her hearing aids having bluetooth so she can take phone calls through her hearing aids without having to take her phone out of her pocket and the earmuffs fit over the hearing aids so she can chill in the loud pits and still cut out all outside noise on the phone call. He thought that was the coolest thing ever. lol

I grew up watching drag racing with my father who himself raced a Mustang in lower classes. He took me to my first NHRA race when I was about 5, and I remember Warren Johnson won Pro Stock and John Force won Funny Car. I've been fans of both and hooked on racing ever since. He always wanted to be behind the wheel of a PS car which is a dream of mine as well. He passed in 2011, but I know he was applauding from beyond the grave this past weekend. I had my mother mail me my father's good luck coin which he got from Eddie Hill some time before I was born and carried it around with me the whole weekend so he was there with me in spirit.
 

OVERKILL

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My wife is mostly deaf. She was born without the stapes bones in her ears, which is kinda like the tuning fork that converts sound waves into recognizable audio. Without her hearing aids, she can't hear anything except the sound waves themselves coming across like a faint bass drum. She can hear perfectly underwater because of how sound carries in water.

She had to turn her hearing aids off, take them out, and put earmuffs on when the TF and FC cars ran and it was still hard on her eardrums. She got used to it after a few passes and enjoyed herself. There was a funny moment in the pits involving her hearing. My wife was elected to a position in SC politics earlier this year so she had to work a little on Friday while we were there. She was sitting in the corner of the pit with her hearing aids on under her earmuffs and her hearing aids have bluetooth. One of the crew guys must've thought she was crazy because she was just carrying on a full conversation with noone around and earmuffs on. I noticed he kept looking over there so went up to him and I told him about her hearing aids having bluetooth so she can take phone calls through her hearing aids without having to take her phone out of her pocket and the earmuffs fit over the hearing aids so she can chill in the loud pits and still cut out all outside noise on the phone call. He thought that was the coolest thing ever. lol

I grew up watching drag racing with my father who himself raced a Mustang in lower classes. He took me to my first NHRA race when I was about 5, and I remember Warren Johnson won Pro Stock and John Force won Funny Car. I've been fans of both and hooked on racing ever since. He always wanted to be behind the wheel of a PS car which is a dream of mine as well. He passed in 2011, but I know he was applauding from beyond the grave this past weekend. I had my mother mail me my father's good luck coin which he got from Eddie Hill some time before I was born and carried it around with me the whole weekend so he was there with me in spirit.

I've only ever been to IHRA events (IHRA Mopar Nationals a few times, at Cayuga and at Grand Bend) but I've always been a huge fan of John Force, the man is a legend and it is incredible that you were able to experience that victory and record live! Absolutely amazing!

Sounds like you both had a great experience!
 
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