It was back in 1993 when I brought my Mustang to Race City, not for drag-racing, but for "Dream Car Days". It was a beautiful sunny day, and there were about 100 cars parked all around the oval track. It was a two day affair, so like others, I left the car at the track overnight rather than drive it back home. Part of the admission for the show participants included a subsidized afternoon of drag-racing for an extra $20.00. I was in my mid-forties at the time and thought maybe I was a little old to drag-race, despite the fact that I'd take on all comers on the street! I'd never raced legally and was more worried about the humiliation of not being able to "perform" and looking like an idiot, than I was of doing anything to the car or getting hurt.
The racing was on Sunday, and just in case I decided to hit the track for the first time, I brought a helmet with me. Not knowing if I would embark on a new hobby or not, I didn't invest much in a helmet, this particular one was a yellow Ski-Doo helmet I bought for $5.00 at a garage sale! When the track officials came by to ask who wanted to run up and down the strip, I made the quick decision to try it out. What the hell, maybe the novelty of being old would win me some points with the crowd! After I said yes, and paid the twenty dollars, I began to panic about the stupid thing I had done. There were people out there in the stands! I'd never been on the strip. Where do I go? When do I stop? Where's the return road? How do I stage? I should have read a little bit about it beforehand, but now it was too late. I was hooked, only because I was too cheap to just leave and lose the twenty I gave the guy. By this time, my significant other was indicating how "brave" I was, making me realize there was no going back. Damn! Ego does it every time!
I heard the announcement to drive off the oval and get into the staging lanes. Fortunately there were a few other cars going in the same direction, so I just followed them. My car had been pre-teched on the oval where I was told I had to race with the convertible top up, and I was glad to oblige: less people to see me that way. I filled out the tech card as best I could, making some mistakes that were caught by the inspector. He warned me about my helmet. There was no backing out now. I was in a staging lane with cars on both sides, behind and in front. I watched intently at what others were doing, where they turned, how they chose a lane, and whether they did burnouts or not. I had stock tires on the car but wanted to make some smoke too, so I stopped in the water box and spun my tires. What a dummy! As I lurched to the lights, I realized I should be crawling instead, so slammed on the brakes and turned the pre-stage light on just as I came to a complete stop! What a fluke! I had no idea where the staging lights were because the lines were pretty worn, and I wasn't sure what those white boxes were for.
Waiting at the light, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The starter is motioning for me to roll my window up. I do this, then realize my opponent has completely staged. I crawl to the next beam and complete the process. The race is on! I leave on the last yellow, yes the yellow, not the green. I had obtained that little bit of advice when I was parked beside someone who drag-raced before. I actually beat the other guy off the line without red-lighting, so I was already pleased with my result. Spinning like crazy in first, and over-revving it in the next two gears, I managed to make it to the end of the track ahead of my opponent. Yee-haw! This is great! Since I was ahead, I didn't know what road to take back, so ended up doing the road-course. I was too far away to hear the crowd laughing, which they must have done.
The reward for my "first time" was a time-slip showing a 15.45 ET at 84 mph. C'mon it was a stock Mustang convertible; cut me some slack, readers! Where have I gone since then? Well that time was too embarrassing to talk much about, so over the last few years I've made car mods that have me running a best 12.3 at 113 mph. I won a trophy at Spokane Raceway for my efforts. And yes the helmet has been replaced with a Snell rated one. Where am I going? To the tens, ladies and gentlemen, to the tens.
Author Note: I did make it to the tens, but not with this car.
I did it with my 1982 Mustang., 10.0 @135 mph.