Woodburn Dragstrip
7730 Hwy. 219
Woodburn, Oregon

The Most Important Three Rounds of His Life – November 2014

It is the biggest three rounds of racing in a bracket racer’s career!  I am referring to the three rounds of competition at the NHRA National ET Finals to be held at the Auto Club Finals at Pomona Raceway the second weekend in November.  Winning these three rounds and being crowned National Champion is the dream of many. But only a few will ever earn the privilege to compete for this prize.  Woodburn Dragstrip racer, Nicholas Shepherd, has earned that right to compete in 2014 with the goal to add his name to the two local racers who have achieved this honor.

I have often said that the key to winning a race “is all in the tree”.  I would like to modify that statement a little bit and say that the key to winning a race “is all in the package.”   The reason for stating this is because in some cases,  a racer can actually have a slower reaction time but win the race if he/she can run closer to the selected dial-in.  When I won this event in 1980, we did not have all the incrementals and computer print-outs included in our time slips as they are now.  I guess by doing the math, adding the reaction time and the elapsed time and subtracting the dial in, we could compute what the package would have been, but in 1980, only a few of the most diligent racers knew of that process.  (I never did compute the package for any of my rounds.)

Steve’ Kelly’s victory in 2008 is a prime example of what I am saying.  With three time trial rounds on Saturday, Steve pulled to the line for his first round of competition on Sunday.  His faced off against  Joe Lee, a Division 3 racer who had run 11.51, 11.48, and 11.51 on Saturday.  Steve selects 10.34 for his dial in but broke out with a 10.332.  Joe selected 11.51 but broke out with a 11.496. Steve’s (.014 to .031) reaction time advantage was key to his first round victory.  He would move on to round number two.

In round two, Kelly faced Division 4 racer, Dennis Cameron.  Cameron had run 9.07, 8.99, and 9.00 on Saturday and won his first round with a .047 R/T and a 9.02 ET.  Cameron dialed 9.00 to Steve’s 10.29.  Kelly launches with a .046 reaction to Cameron’s .045.  You knew this round was going to be close.  Cameron runs 9.002 to Kelly’s perfect 10.290.  Kelly’s .046 package was .001 better than Cameron’s .047 and Steve won that round by .0013 which (the computer says) is about 3 inches.  Next will be the most important round in Steve Kelly’s racing career to this point in his life.

In the finals, Steve would face Division 1 racer, Brock Mosher.  On Saturday, Brock had run 9.17, 9.16, and 9.19.  Mosher had run 9.18 on his first round single, and 9.20 with a .02 RT for the victory in round two.  Being hot-lapped into the finals, Mosher dials 9.18 and runs 9.191 with a .077 reaction time.  Kelly, however, dials 10.27 and is victorious with a 10.274 and .054 reaction time to win the round and earn the title.

The question is often asked, “What is a good reaction time?” with the answer being “Anything better than your opponent.”  The same answer would apply to the question “What is a good package?”  Kelly won the first and third rounds with a better reaction time and the second round with a better package.  We are all pulling for Nicholas to show that same expertise.  I am sure that he will be prepared.  We all wish him the best in his three rounds on November 16, 2014.

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.


Elvon Kauffman

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