Sharks at the 'Strip

Sharks at the 'Strip

This morning, the below listed individuals decended upon Seattle International Raceway to participate in the Hi-Tech Import vs. American Muscle drags, in the first annual Pac NW Shark Drags event. Individually, these pilots came from far and wide, some driving long distances (thanks Chris, Terry, and Louie) to join together as the "Stuttgart Airforce" 928 Drag Racing Team.

Originally slated for 16 sharks to participate, we lost half our numbers due to last minute mechanical problems and schedule conflicts. The Stuttgart Airforce is as follows:

Louie "The Professor" Ott -90 GT
Terry "The Enforcer" Redinger - 89 S4 A/T
Ray "The Scalpel" Henson - '88 S4 A/T
Rob "Dolby" Fossett - 85 S A/T
Phil "Gorilla" Wilson - 88(?) 5 spd
Chris "Concorde" Ford - 91 S4 A/T
Tom "Midlman" Middleton - 87 S4 A/T
Pat "Predator" Edwards - 85 S 5 spd

Jim Viglietta and Paul Wilhem were also kind enough to come by and support the team.

We all met outside the gates of SIR at around 7:30am. Nice to see everyone once again, and we all chatted for about an hour before deciding to enter the track for tech inspection. Some new faces appeared as well. Pat Edwards was driving his freshly painted 85S with an S4 nose, revised front air dam, and 18" wheels. Phil Wilson pulled up in his Venetian Blue S4 5 speed. Sorry Phil, I can't remember your model year, is it an '88?

Before the first dial in run, the general consensus seemed to be that the S4's would be pulling in low 15's, Louie thought he might squeeze a 14 flat out of his GT.

The very first shark that I saw run was Ray Henson's '88 S4 A/T. Ray runs chips, a K&N, and RMB (if I remember correctly). The tree lit up and Ray was off. He pulled a 14.342! I couldn't believe it. That first run merely set the pace for the rest of the day as everyone thoroughly trounced the stock quartermile specs for their respective MY. It was awesome.

Chris Ford was kind enough to offer me (as did others, but Chris wouldn't take "no" for an answer) his '91S4 A/T for a run since my shark is currently awaiting a torque tube replacement. WHAT A RUSH!

I pulled into the staging lanes, and was fortunate enough to line up next to Louie's '90 GT. As we started moving closer to the start I really became nervous. My heart started racing, hands became jittery, and then I got waved forward by the line man. You pull up behind the car that is already staged at the tree in your lane, and then back up slightly toward the burnout pit. The car ahead of you then gets it's tree and takes off. Pretty wild seeing a car smoke 'em off 20' off your front bumper and take off down the strip. My turn now. I slowly crept forward until the top "pre-stage" light turned on. I waited for Louie to pre-stage and then crept forward again until the second "staged" light turned on. Ready to Rock 'n Roll. Gear selector is in "2", left foot on the brake, right foot ready to bury the pedal.

From here, everything went into slow motion mode. The three amber lights light up sequentially from top to bottom. It seemed to take an eternity between each light, although its only half a second. The rule seems to be that if you initiate your launch on the last amber, it will take the car a half a second to respond and you will be moving by the time the green light turns on. It didn't seem possible that it would take the car that long to respond. The third amber came on and I hesitated for just a bit and floored it. Pedal to the floor, RMB howls, then I hear Louie's GT roar like wounded lion and launch out of the gate. The S4 launches and we're door to door to red line in first gear. Then Louie's shark starts to breath and leaves me behind as I shift into "3". I managed a 14.456 @ 99.09mph. Not bad for a stock S4 A/T with an RMB, actually pretty awesome. You've got a nice ride Chris, thanks for letting me take it for the funnest 14 seconds of my life.

Four trophies were awarded for the day.

"King Shark" trophy went to Phil "Gorilla" Wilson and his 5 speed S4 for getting the deepest into the ladder before getting eliminated. Phil laid waste to some fast machinery, including a pair of Pro-Street 'stangs before getting eliminated in the quarter finals(!) due to a miscue at the tree. It was quite a contrast in his final round to see Phil's S4 lined up against a fully tubbed and snorkel scooped camaro. His third run was very exciting to watch. He launched first, then the 'Stang shot out like a bullet and passed him. By the end of the quartermile, the shark started to breath and took the win. As Phil says "these things (928's) got legs!" As it turns out, Phil's shark was the last "import" to get eliminated. Japan's finest were getting shut down left and right while Phil and his shark persisted.

"Quick Draw" trophy went to Ray "The Scalpel" Henson ('88 S4 A/T) for having the fastest reaction time after dial in with a lightening quick .579.

"Top Gun" trophy went to Louie Ott for having the quickest e.t. after dial in with a 13.922. Louie's best run was a 13.546/102.73mph respectively.

"Eliminator" trophy went to Pat Edwards for consistency in nailing 14.6 three times before he broke out with a 14.52 in his first heat.

Also, Phil won the Shark Drag Poker prize by coming closest to his projected reaction time, elapsed time, and top speed. The prize, a copy of Need for Speed - Porsche Unleashed and a steering wheel computer controller complete with shifter and pedals. We'll have to find you a foot controller with a clutch pedal to help with starts for next year, eh Phil? :)

Luckily, no broken half shafts or other major incidents. Tom Middleton's '87 S4 suffered a heater control valve failure during his first heat. Tom won the round as his opponent broke out, but was not able to get the leaking control valve by-passed in time for his second heat race. We'll get 'em next year for sure Tom!

It was a real blast to see our sharks out there. We were a force for sure. Phil's tremendous feat of getting into the quarter finals gave us all a deep sense of pride for our machines and our team.

It appears there is enough interest to make this an annual event. So, next year the Stuttgart Airforce willl once again touch down at Seattle International Raceway.

Fly safe!
-Adam Birnbaum
'88 S4 A/T

Below you will find the best e.t./top speeds of all participants in the shark drags. I've tried to list any mods to the best of my recollection.

Louie "The Professor" Ott - 90 5spd-ex., chips, Das Tek 13.546/102.73mph
Terry "The Enforcer" Redinger - 89 A/T RMB 14.384/98.5mph
Ray "The Scalpel" Henson - '88 A/T chips/RMB 14.342/100.12mph
Rob "Dolby" Fossett - '85A/T 14.68/96.45mph
Phil "Gorilla" Wilson - '88 5spd chips 14.619/101.31mph
Chris " Concorde" Ford - 91 A/T 14.335/100.03mph
Tom "Midlman" Middleton - 87 A/T chips, RMB, afr, 14.245/97.58 mph
Pat "Predator" Edwards - 85 spd 14.52/99.37

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