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Friday's Report

9:30 AM

We're at the track; in fact we've been here for an hour already and took a quick look at the pro pits on the way to the media centre where we're set up and ready to operate from Castrol Raceway. The IHRA officials took care of us quickly and gave us room to work and even fed us some more breakfast. Looks like its all systems go, at least for us.

The track itself is another matter, as when we left last night, the concrete cutting and coring crews were hard at work cutting some channels in the racing surface on the top end, presumably to permit water percolating, or trying to percolate up through the track to drain off and not soak the track. It looked like a long night was in store for them and when we arrived this morning, the track crews were still busy prepping the surface and we've just been informed that there's a one-hour delay in starting the program for the day.

Weather is not an issue at the moment, as we're under bright sunny skies, with warm temperatures and a forecast of mostly the same for the weekend. The only wrinkle is that there are possible showers scheduled for late morning and late afternoon today. Hard to imagine at the moment, but as past experiences have shown all too often, the weather can change here very quickly. For better, or for worse.

Nothing racing-related to report at this early hour, so we'll get busy with photoshopping last night's photos, possibly uploading them, then making our rounds of the pits and doing a check on who's here and what their plans are for the event. There won't be any serious (blown and/or nitro) action on track until 6pm, so we've got lots of time to see what's what and who's who. Next report will be around noon.

2:30 PM

It took a while to get around the pits, several times in fact, as we wanted to do a careful inventory of the cars in the pro and sportsman pits. It looks like our intitial estimate for Pro Mod entries was a little on the high side with only 10 cars in evidence, and we're one (out of two) short in the nitro funny department. The numbers have shifted around in the dragster encampments too, with six Pro Fuel cars and five Top Fuel cars now.

The dragster changes were because Ed Verenka was moved down from Top to Pro because he does not meet all the requirments for Top Fuel Dragster. And the numbers in Pro Fuel increased to six because a late entrant in the form of Scott Murray (Winnipeg) pulled into the pits this morning.

In funny car news, Randy Bykowski isn't here, but Jason Duchene with his "Trial 'n Errot" nitro flopper looks set to make some solo passes. The Prostalgia bunch (nitro nostalgia funny cars) are one short of a full field, with no sign of Terry Capp and the "Bubble-Up" car yet following last weekend's disastrous (engine damaging) outing at Salt Lake City's Rocky Mountain Raceways. Even the (Top) alcohol funny car field is looking a little thin, with only six cars counted by this reporter.

Finally for the four-wheeled feature cars, the Rocky Mountain and International Blown Alcohol groups have combined to produce at least 12 entries, with possibly a few others lurking in the shadows and not immediately visible. With 16 spots up for grabs, the cars we've seen are almost certain to be in at least the first round. Not sure how many nitro harleys and pro mod bikes are in attendance, but I'm sure both 8-car fields are oversubscribed.

4:45 PM

A few more random notes, then it's on to the big news of the day. Okay, let's have the big story first: we're down until at least 7:30 pm because of water percolating up through the track on the top end. With the heat today the water table has been steadily rising and it's now pushing up through the pores (and cracks) in the surface of the asphalt. Obviously we can't race with this happening, so the decision has been made to wait until 7:30 to try to resume activities. And there's no guarantees that things will be much better then.

Last night's emergency work by the coring and cutting folks saw small sections of the track removed, drain pipes placed under the surface and then the asphalt replaced. It was assumed to be working until about two hours ago when the water started to come through the asphalt. While the track is down we're going to keep photoshopping and posting the balance of today's photos and if there's any news, we'll report it here asap. Or you can just go to the most reliable source in drag racing, Drag Race Central and read it firsthand.

In other pit news, we can report that Keith Falconer has put the name "The Phoenix" on his Pro Fuel dragster. Phoenix, as in rising from the ashes, could be an appropriate name for a car that has seen more than its share of misfortune at this track over the past few years. Falconer admits that he's still trying to get the car to the finish line and is really hoping he can do it this weekend. He's removed all the oddball stuff from the car, like the clutch management controls, the nitrous injection and anything but a basic 100% nitro Fontana engine. Good luck, Keith, you do deserve it for a change.

There's odd numbers of competitors in some categories, which will lead to a few bye runs in the fuel ranks. We're one short of a full field in Prostalgia (nitro) funny car, one short of a pair in regular nitro funny car, and have five cars in the Top Fuel field. We're still not sure about the numbers in some of the other fields too. It looks like we'll have to wait until the cars reach the staging lanes to find out for sure.

We've run into Mr. 240, Gordie Bonin, a few times today and he's still having fun on his latest tour of Alberta. Last week in Calgary and now in Edmonton, before retunring home to Spokane next week. He's here with "Fudd" Fjallman's injected nitro small-block Chev front-engine dragster like in Calgary last weekend and the plan is to fire it up on the manufacturer's midway on Saturday and Sunday. "It's just like the old days, but even more fun!" enthused Bonin. And he's getting some very positive feedback about his reworked t-shirts which are being modeled by comp dragster pilot Courtney Mageau to good effect.

Nothing else to say at the moment, so we'll close off for now and be back as soon as we have something... anything to write about.

6:40 PM

We're almost ready to go as the track temp has dropped below 100 F and the "weepers" have stopped weeping up onto the track surface. However, the expected thunder showers are closing in quickly and we may be stopped again by water coming down instead of coming up. They have called the (NOT) fat lady to sing the anthems so that's a very good sign, but hold on, we could be down as quickly as we're up.

We're signing off for now and heading for the starting line. Next update in a few minutes or a few hours. No idea which. Stay tuned.

Hold on just a dang minute. We barely got to the foot of the media centre stairs when the wind and cold sent us scurrying back into our cubbyhole in the tower. With the approaching weather front suddenly arriving with high winds and rain threatening to start belting down any minute now, everything is on hold once more. And if the rain does start falling, especially if it comes down as heavy as the weather radar is showing nearby, then we could well be done for the night.

The next update will be whenever we have something positive to report, even if that positive is a glowing review of a great meal at the Keg or the nearby Italian restaurant. Stay tuned.

8:30 PM

The update is that we're done for the night. The rain is still coming down and we're just too wet to get going again tonight. So it's off to dinner and the hotel and rest up for what promises to be a long day tomorrow. Good night from Edmonton.

That's it from Castrol Raceway for the first day of qualifying from the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals