KRP Sand Drags Article - May 19th, 2013
Written by Chris Messer Tuesday, 21 May 2013 15:12
Photos: Nick Latulip
The weather is blowing in from the West and the temperature cooling even though it’s still early in the afternoon here at Kalaeloa Raceway Park. Kalaeloa is often one of the warmer parts of the island on most days and today’s humidity is making it a little uncomfortable if you’re not in the shade. Then again I am a Haole! The clouds are starting to darken from their normal fluffy white and, as I write this, we are going through hot and cool spells at the track as some clouds pass while others gather. I’m almost certain it will rain at some point, but time trials went smoothly and maybe if we’re lucky we will squeeze the racing in before the heavens open.
Time trials earlier on in the day were relatively uneventful except for the drivers adjusting to the lengthening of the track which has been extended to 300 feet. Tinker Toy had a scary little spin in the shut down area on his first run which got everyone’s attention. And I learned later that he had had a stuck throttle and had needed to hit the kill switch in order to avoid disaster.
We always start with the “Unlimited’ class in Bracket 1. We do this so that the fastest cars get a smooth track with ample depth of sand at the starting line which makes for safer racing. The track naturally gets rutted and pits develop at the starting line in each lane where big paddle tires throw the sand back in huge rooster tails as the cars launch off the starting line. The Unlimited class is comprised of tube chassis cars with custom bodies and great power to weight ratios. Rails; both blown and naturally aspirated, four and eight cylinder pipe buggies, some with turbos or nitrous, and full bodied sedans, custom fabrications and roadster are examples of the types of vehicles that make up this class. The class is intended for cars faster than a 5.00 elapsed time (ET).
Bracket 1, Round 1 is announced by a loud VROOM as Koa Grace starts up his rail #1122. The crowd scurries back to the stands and up to the safety barrier as track workers make their way to their correct positions. Koa is dialed in at a 3.89 up against car #8164 driven by Iwalani Medeiros, a relative newcomer although I remember seeing the car at a few events last year and that it had been improving steadily. The car must be running well since here they are dialed in at 5.00. Both drivers react well at the light and pulled strong, but we hear them announced it was Koa Grace with the win.
Next up is the brand new #3 Wicked. It’s the Volkswagen powered pipe buggy of Junior Alimoot and he gets a bye-run this round. He pulls up to the line, but the light doesn’t work so he’s asked to beck up and re-stage. Now everything is set and the revs come up to 8500 RPM at the line, a great launch and a nice low wheelie, smooth through the gears and the sweet smell of exhaust in the air. Today the spectators may not be able to smell the racing gas since the wind is at the racer’s back, but we’re getting a lungful at the starting line.
The white full bodied Camaro of Gerald Ing is driven by his son Tim and they are regulars who’ve been gaining experience at every race. Today they are sporting the front clip and Gerald says it’s added a little weight to the car. The #726 Chevrolet (who’s dialed in at a 4.90) get’s a tough first draw against the blown rail of Tom Brown #7902 who is dialed in at 3.98. Tom is arguably one of the fastest racers at the track and the one second difference in times will be a factor. Tom lines up in the tower lane, the lights drop and Tim’s off, but once Tom moved all I could see was his huge rooster tail that obliterated my view of either car. Once the dust settled it became evident that Tim Ing had broken out thus passing on the win to Tom.
Next up to the line we see Turbo Ferreira behind the wheel of the #50 sedan “Tinker Toy”. Tinker Toy is one of those custom Unlimited designs with a short wheelbase that really moves and today he’s dialed a 4.67. He’s up against the rail #556 of Paul Giovanetti who’s dialed in at 4.19. It’s a good launch and run for both cars, but to the finish first was Tinker Toy. Meanwhile, Paul I feel, may have cut a red light.
The next group is Bracket 2 and they need to run between 5.01 and 6.0 seconds down the three hundred foot sand track. There are still some tube framed cars like the buggies in this class, but you find many more trucks, jeeps, and sedans in this class. Most of the vehicles are highly modified and use paddle tire or off road tires for traction and I don’t think any of them are driven to the raceway park.
By now the Unlimited cars have made some pretty good ruts in the sand track, but the destruction isn’t over with yet. There have been occasions where the sand is removed all the way down to the gravel basecourse, but today it is moist and heavy due to all of the previous day’s rain so the damage caused by the huge spinning paddle tires isn’t as bad.
First up is a bit of a surprise as it’s the unlimited V8 powered “overgrown” buggy # 502 driven by Chaelani Harris. She’s lined up against a recently improved Volkswagen powered pipe buggy # 55 of Brant Kam, but this appears a bit of a miss-match at first. There’s a nice launch and wheelie from the 55 but he gets loose in second gear veering dangerously towards the tower side wall causing him to slow. The big V8 buggy gets what looks like an easy win even though coming from behind. But, at this time #502 does not appear to advance on to round two so I figured she must have either red-lighted or broke out.
Note; I was later informed that a pretty sensible decision had been made due to the circumstances and the fact that we had a rather small field this day. Since the track had been lengthened and Chaelani hadn’t had a chance to run during the morning’s time trials she had planned on running in Bracket 2 guessing, at that time, that the added length to the track would make her slower that five seconds. In fact she cut the fastest reaction time in her class (0.014737) and ran under five seconds in her race against the 55 so it was determined that, if Junior would agree, she would race round 1 against the Unlimited car 3 had a bye-run. Of course Junior agreed.
Now it’s the 12M Tonka Toy by himself coming to the line. Again it’s a long stage for Manuel Molisa Jr. and the second staging light won’t come on. He’s asked to back up and restage then as I’m looking down for a second there’s a huge scream of power as he nails it down the track. His exhaust note reverberating off the grandstands and me scratching my ear. That was loud!
We’re back to finish off Round 1 and Chaelani in the 502 now pulls up and Junior takes his position. There’s a .20 delay at the start for Junior which he makes up within the first hundred feet and he runs flawlessly again, this time putting Chaelani on the trailer.
Bracket 3 is formed of all cars 6.01 seconds and up. Now you find a smattering of racecars/trucks mixed with street legal sedans, jeeps and trucks. These are really fast vehicles still and it is one of the hardest brackets to win in due to all of the diversity and competition. Two Subaru all-wheel drives and a recently built Chevy S-10 with a rompy-sounding V8 caught my attention during time trials and I’m curious as to how they’ll perform.
Bracket 3, Round 1: First up is the new entry driven by Nathan Cadiz. It’s the #283 White Chevy S-10 running a 8.00 against the# 57 Toyota Tacoma of The Huntress “Holly Almeida” who doesn’t think she’ll run faster than a 7.20. Holly misses a shift into second seeming to lose at first, but it’s the S-10 that breaks out after what looks like his best run of the day. Nathan is driving a new truck that had previously spun the wheels in every run, but this time hooked up.
There’s a short break while they groom the track and line up the next pairs of vehicles.
Today, Jaren Fletcher has brought out his black all wheel drive 93 Subaru and he’s figured a dial in of 7.95 is right. He’s up against the #575 black buggy driven by Holly’s Almeida’s Dad, Chuck. You know it sure looked like the buggy won at first, but I heard someone say something about a breakout and, sure enough, it’s confirmed. We’ll see Chuck back for the second round. Jaren will learn that the track often speeds up during the day and that it’s easy to improve over your previous runs so he’ll need to remember to race the track not the other drivers.
Candi Smith is the proud driver of the quick, nitrous power added, four banging Suzuki Jeep #000 (6.03) and she draws up against Buddy Kupau driver of the blue #80 Jeep (7.20). Although it was a close race Buddy appeared to win and ends up moving on.
Next it’s the Hulacross Jeep Cherokee #213 which today is piloted at the Sand Drags by Tatum Bautista. He’s dialed in at a 7.50 and now up against the 196 (looks like it’s straight off the showroom floor) Subaru wagon of Darren Kubo (7.75). Tatum really launches well and the four wheel drive pulls him to the win. Both the Subaru’s are out in the first round, but I heard the drivers talking and it sounds as though they’ll be back next time.
Bracket 4, Round 1 and it’s the bike class now and here you find huge diversity in vehicles. There are what appear to be stock motocross bikes from 125cc to 450cc with and without paddle tires. There are also quads in all varieties from the tricked out stretched chassis to the “off the showroom floor” type. The bikes are very fast the competition is always close.
FIrst up it’s the black stretched quad 7Q of Chad Wilderman dialed in at 4.95 against the modified 888 ridden by Romeo Peralta (5.10) and it’s very close for first pair both scream straight down their lanes, however Chad (with a fast reaction time of 0.06876) takes the win and moves on.
Next a black stretched quad pulls up in Ranch lane. It’s number 27 a fierce competitor. The rider, Peter Wong, figures a dial in of 4.80 should do it. He’s up against the 72 of Isaac Hodson who’ picked 5.49 as his mark to meet. Isaac pulls up in the tower lane and at the start Peter veers off to the right and is all over the place flying, but still beats the 72.
Now a few bikes come up, first the 629 (6.30) of Henry Maile Jr. and he takes the ranch lane, then Brant Kam on the 5 (5.75) the tower. Brant appears to stutter at the start and never catches up.
Alvin Domingo has brought out the 4447 bike to the tower lane and plans on not breaking his 6.00 time while the rookie, Kamakana Perkins, brings his bike up to the line in the ranch lane. Perkins almost throws himself from the seat at the start and has to regain control while Alvin misses the shift to second and never catches up.
Finally it’s the motorbike 17 against 555...quad vs. bike. The 17 is ridden by Scott McCully and dialed in at 5.70 while the 555, ridden by Fred Medeiros is in at a 6.00. Scott, on the bike, takes a “come from behind” victory.
That completes Round 1 and now the track’s a mess. Grooming usually takes about 20 minutes whereby the back-hoe and grader take turns spreading and consolidating and finally leveling the sand (about a foot thick) to give the drivers a somewhat consistent surface to the track. Density and moisture of the track changes throughout the day and drivers accommodate these variables, adjusting their dial in times if necessary.
I hear a healthy rumpidy rump which signals the unlimiteds starting to make their way to the line. No Jr. dragsters today so far which, I reflect, is a bit disappointing and the water truck now passes by so I’m guessing they are likely to water the shut down area a little where it was reported to be a bit dry and loose.
Bracket 1, Round 2 eliminations start accompanied by a loud romp as Tinker Toy starts up. His crew scurries forward to guide him up to the line. He’s in the Ranch lane up against Wicked, aka the number 3 pipe buggy. Junior gets another near perfect start and peddles the little buggy at the end so as to not break out and he gets the win.
Now it’s Koa Grace against Tom Brown; two very fast rails. Here’s a real rivalry and two very close dial in times. At the launch the 7902 seems to bounce a bit as he leaves the line and doesn’t look like he hooked up. 1122 takes the win.
Bracket 2, Round 2 pits the 55 with a potent new motor against M12 Tonka (ouch my ears) Toy. Due to the circumstances of (what appeared to be) a loss, at first, for Brant Kam in his race against Chaelani Harris he’s give a second life and comes up against Tonka Toy 12M. Tonka Toy is in the right lane and his modified Jeep (I think) drowns out the 55 and with all the noise, sand flying and speed it’s hard to make anything out at the finish. The results showed 12M taking the win with a class fast reaction time of 0.10915.
Bracket 3, Round 2 lines up Holly “The Huntress” Almeida and her dad, Chuck in the 575. The little truck really goes, Holly drove her perfect while Chuck sputters somewhat about half track. We find out later that the buggy had a problem with one of the carburetors which was the cause of his slowing.
Tatum Bautista pulls the 213 to the line and is soon joined by Buddy in the 80. The 80 gets the win which means Tatum must have either red lighted or broke out because he had a big lead at the end of the 300 foot track
Bracket 4, Round 2 pairs up the two modified quads of the #27 in the ranch lane and the #7Q in the tower. Dial in times are close and these guys are always racing each other it seems. The race is loud, fast and too close to see the victor, but I later find out it was #27, Peter Wong, with the win.
The 310 & 629 bikes are next. 629 red lights and 310 and falters slightly, gets back on it gets an easy win. That’s an easy second red light win for the rookie. Dad said his son must have stepped on something and he had better get back to tell his boy how lucky he was to win.
Next; bike number 17 has a bye-run and that’s the end of round 2.
Bracket 1, Round 3 puts the Wicked Racing car #3 (4.50) in the tower lane and Koa Grace in car 1122 in the tower lane at a 3.89. This race is for 1st and 2nd and it was very close, but Koa gets the win after Wicked broke out with a 4.495. Junior later saying; he was “happy with the cars performance and his driving” after breaking out by a mere five thousandths of a second.
Bracket 2, Round 3 again lines up the Modified 12M Tonka Toy Jeep at a 5.20 in the Ranch lane against 55 who’s raised his dial in to a 5.40. The 55 is showing some smoke while sitting at the line and checking it. At the start there’s a red light for the buggy as he jumped obviously early, tried to catch it, but was too late.
Bracket 3, Round 3: Ranch lane sees Buddy Kupau’s #80, the blue jeep, against The Huntress # 57 both dialed in at 7.20 to make this essentially a heads-up race for 1st and 2nd. It’s super close, but even the fast reaction time of the bracket a 0.10108 isn’t enough and The Huntress squeezes off the win. Lots of cheers in the stands for that win.
Bracket 4, Round 3 has a bi-run for quad number 27 the black and white stretched chassis.
Next it’s the number 17 bike against the 310. The rider of the 310, Kamakana Perkins, finally meets a foe who doesn’t red light. It’s good experience for the rider of 310 in his first competition and a great 3rd place finish, but the win goes to Scott McCully who will move on to the final.
Bracket 4, Round 4:The track is lightly groomed and the bikes are running first since they are ready and the cars are not. First up is the quad #27 of Peter Wong in the final against Scott McCully on the 17. It was pretty close although McCully may have red-lighted as we see him glance back across his shoulder to check the lights as he sped down the track. Peter gets the 1st place victory.
Bracket 1, Round 4: Next it’s Tinker Toy car #50 at a 4.47 against Tom Browns rail for 3rd place. Tinker Toy lowers his dial in time slightly to a 4.45 while Tom keeps his the same. There’s a half second delay in the lights for Tom, Tinker Toy gets a good start and Tom is unable to make up the distance.
Bracket 2, Round 4: 12M 5.20 against 55 running a 5.40 and this looks somewhat like a rematch, but due to the class size these cars actually ran a “best of three” series to fill out the field a little. Buggy against noise is what I called this round and the noise won!
Bracket 3, Round 4 puts the 575 of Chuck Almeida against the 213 of Tatum Bautista for 3rd place and Tatum wins it handily.
The final competition for the afternoon is a Trophy dash between the 1st and 2nd place finishers and the trophies will be handed out at the next event.
Bracket 1, Trophy Dash is between Koa Grace’s 1122 3.89 against 3 at a 4.50. The buggy broke out last time, but this time red lights. The win and congratulations go to Koa Grace.
Bracket 2, Trophy Dash pits the 55 in the far lane against 12M in the tower lane. The noisy car wins again, but a spirited effort by the buggy had me waiting for the lights to see who’d won.
Bracket 3, Trophy Dash has Holly Almeida against Buddy Kupau and again Holly comes through. It’s a true clean sweep for The Huntress that everyone was celebrating.
Bracket 4, Trophy Dash puts bike against quad again, but this time Scott comes through for the victory over Peter.
And that sums up Sand Drags for our May 19th event. We look forward to seeing all of you at our next Sand Drags on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013, only at Kalaeloa Raceway Park!
See following points standings for additional information.