Friday, May 24, 2024

Team DragChamp hits the Race Track

After sitting out the 2018 racing season, Team DragChamp finally made a showing at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas last weekend. While I didn’t find a win light, it was exciting to be racing again.

For some background, I’ve been competing in Super Gas for the last twenty years…man time flies. I drove a series of cars for my parents during this time and found some success over the years. At the end of 2017, my Dad decided to retire after forty-plus years of racing.

That left me without a ride for the 2018 season. During my time away I decided to start DragChamp in order to stay involved with sportsman drag racing. After spending so much time covering the sport, I couldn’t stand the thought of missing another season.

After convincing my wife that a race car was the best idea ever, I stumbled across a nice Undercover dragster in the Houston area. Just a couple of weeks later my new hot rod was delivered and we were back in the racing business.

Gary Don Free Dragster

Over the next few months I spent my days working my real job, my nights working on DragChamp, and weekends on the race car. I’m not sure I realized what I was getting into but it’s been a hell of a ride.

For a car that was almost race ready, it sure did take a lot of work to get it to the track. Thankfully my Dad had closed his automotive machine shop in 2017 so he had plenty of time to help with the dragster. I’m so thankful that my Dad loves cars and loves drag racing. If not for him, I don’t know that I could do all of this.

After several months of work, it was a wonderful feeling when we pulled on to I-10 heading to Baytown for our first race of the season. The race was scheduled to be a two-day bracket race but the weather had other plans.

Gary Don Free Dragster

Race one turned into a one time trial and race scenario which didn’t help me at all. After a year out of the driver’s seat, you could say I was a little rusty. In addition, it had been over 15 years since I last owned and drove a dragster.

In Super Gas we go on the throttle stop as soon as we release the trans-brake. That takes a ton of the initial hit out of the launch so you don’t get much of a hit at the line. All I can say is I felt like I was kicked by a donkey when I let go on Saturday! A 1.07 sixty foot is significantly different than the 1.64 sixty foot times I was accustomed too.

Once through the traps I couldn’t have been any happier. I posted my quickest 1/8th mile lap ever, 4.77 @ 143 mph and it felt amazing. All the hard work, money, time, and efforts were rewarded in just a few short seconds. It’s amazing how going fast can do that.

As far as the race was concerned, I didn’t make a great showing. We had some new car bugs which shortened our race day considerably. After spending the rest of the day working on the car, we looked forward to Race 2 on Sunday morning.

The weather once again toyed with us as heavy fog from the bay covered the track on Sunday morning. The fog never lifted, the race was cancelled, and our first outing was complete.

While I was busy with my car all day Saturday, other racers were making rounds. I had intended to do a little more work for DragChamp while I was racing but my car had other plans. With that said I did manage to get some photos with help from my son, Austin.

Here are results and photos from the Houston Raceway event.

Burleson Construction, Inc Super Pro
Winner: Stephen Hughes
Runner-up: Zach Martinez 
Emmons Autoplex No Box
Winner: Cole Herbold
Runner-up: Derrick Patton 
Custom Truck One Source Sportsman JR
Winner: Landon Exner
Runner-up: Mallory G. Mosley
Custom Truck One Source Advanced JR
Winner: Sara Grace Reid
Runner-up: Wyatt R Young
JR. Street
Winner: Jaycee L Lowery
Runner-up: Hayden P. Trumble

Stephen Hughes Houston Raceway
Back-to-back Super Pro Winner Stephen Hughes
Nova Houston Raceway
Super cool Nova
69 Camaro Houston Raceway
Beautiful ’69 Camaro
dragster Houston Raceway
Super Pro Dragster

Now that we’ve knocked the rust off, it’s time to do some more racing. Our next event will be the NHRA Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Event at Houston Raceway Park March 22-24.

Remember to visit DragChamp daily for sportsman racing news and race results.

Gary Don Free

About the Author: Gary Don Free is a lifelong drag racer with victories in bracket racing and at the NHRA national event level.  Prior to graduating college, Gary Don spent eight years running an automotive machine shop with his father.  After graduation, Gary Don moved into the corporate world where he spent the last 20 years in senior management positions with a variety of companies.  The skills he learned on the track, in the shop, and in the corporate world are applied to DragChamp.com to promote sportsman drag racing.

Connect with Gary Don on Facebook @DragChampMagazine or email garydon@dragchamp.com

For more Team DragChamp racer blogs, click here.

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