It was Driver Error – October 2013
Many of you know that I entered competition in the Sportsman Class at Woodburn Dragstrip during the 2013 Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series. I entered fourteen events driving my 2001 Hyundai. Winning a total of nine rounds during the season earned me an 11th place finish in the standings. I would have loved to have gone to Spokane for the NHRA Division 6 Summit ET Finals, but due to the fact that my wife was scheduled for her pacemaker replacement just two days prior, I thought it was best to stay home with her. I would not want to be 350 miles away if I were needed because of some complications. I guess it was just a matter of priorities. However, they say that her current pacemaker will be good for up to 13 years. So just wait until next year. I am hoping to return for another year of competition and would love to earn my spot on the team if at all possible.
As I analyze my year of racing, after having been away from a full season of competition since 1985, (That would be 28 years!), I see I only had one really good day with results of which I could be proud. It was the second event of the year when I made it to the finals to face Robert Glafka. It was decided even before we started due to driver error — my -.015 red light. The ET slips show that I was extremely inconsistent at the tree all season. Six losses were due to my red light start and five were the result of an extremely slow reaction time of .100 or slower. One time I broke out and once, the car simply did not run the number. My best race of the year was vs. Jerry Durant. I was out first with a .006 RT to his .018. He ran his number with a 7 and took the win with a .0029 MOV. My conclusion is that driver error accounted for 11 of my 14 losses. Perhaps lack of focus could be a contributing factor.
Lack of focus is also the cause of many crashes that occur on our streets and highways. Because my race car is also my daily driver, I do my best to always stay focused on our streets. However, such was not the case last week. I was south-bound on a four-lane street which also had a center turning lane. Desiring to make a left-hand turn into my favorite restaurant, I pulled into the center turning lane. As a sign of courtesy, the driver in the left hand lane coming towards me stopped to allow me to go across. At least four cars stopped behind him, which blocked my view of oncoming traffic in the right hand lane. I waved to him to thank him for his courtesy as I crossed in front of him. I was just starting onto the ramp into the restaurant’s parking lot when I heard the sound of sliding tires as an oncoming Cadillac was headed towards my trusty Hyundai with my beautiful wife, Lorraine, seated on the passenger side. Driver error can sometimes be fatal. We were so fortunate this time as the Cadillac just barely left a scuff mark on the Hyundai’s right rear. Driver error and lack of focus can often lead to more catastrophic results than just losing a race. Sometimes it can be fatal. My advice is, never lose focus when driving, whether you are at the racetrack or on the highway.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980. Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.