Canada’s own Paton Racing continues their progression forward. Here is the latest blog from within from “Nitro Girl”…
The past few months since the Finals in Pomona have flown by! It’s been a blur of late nights at the shop, meetings and more work in the shop to get the Paton family top fuel dragster ready for race season again…
As we do over the winter, the car was completely stripped and every component serviced. We tool blackened the chassis along with a few other cosmetic upgrades then completely re-wired the Racepak computer and air system. It was a lot of work but in taking everything apart you really see how it all works together.
There is so much to learn about a nitro car, and those nights at the shop are the most valuable times to soak it all in. I’ve been up to my elbows in grease and had people ask “how did you learn how to do all of this?”. The answer is honestly just by doing it. Anyone can achieve anything they dream of, you just have to put in the time. After all – working for something you love is not work, it’s passion.
In the first blog post here on DragRaceCanada I mentioned pre-season testing in Phoenix, but we decided Gainesville in March would the first outing for the 2016 season. The boys headed out a few days early to Valdosta, Florida and made passes with Todd Paton in the seat before the Gatornationals. Shaking the dust off by testing first was a major factor in the success our team had in Gainesville the following weekend.
This year it’s out with the old and in with the new, with a completely updated rod and piston program and back to the basics in clutch management. Another factor in our early success this year has been the advice of Dom and Bobby Lagana and their tuner John Stewart to lead everything in the right direction. ‘Stewie’ as he is known has been a great mentor and we were glad to have him along in Gainesville.
After working in the rain all day Thursday and Friday morning, I wasn’t sure if qualifying was even going to happen but thankfully the weather held up and we ran a clean 3.93 to end Friday night in the 9th spot! This was a personal best not only for the team but for driver Ike Maier. To see everyone so elated on the starting line made all of those late nights worth it.
We then ran a 3.92 in first round eliminations losing to Clay Millican, but it was still a winning weekend overall. It proves that changes in the off-season have made the car consistent and efficient, not hurting more than two pistons all weekend. Our NHRA schedule at the moment is dependent on driver sponsorship, but I am very excited to see what else this Paton Racing top fuel dragster can do!
In December Mark and I took our yearly trip to Brownsburg, Indiana to the shops of Torrence Racing, Lucas Oil and Don Schumacher Racing. Walking into the homes of these famous drag racing empires is still very surreal sometimes, but they are nothing but hospitable to our team in turn. It was a quick shopping trip – we picked up some parts and had lunch with the Torrence Racing crew (Leah Pritchett stopped by as well!) then drove back home through the night. I must say work the next morning was tiring, but it’s road trips and experiences like this I would never miss out on.
I feel so blessed to have met a few of my idols including Leah Pritchett. Leah is everything I strive to be one day as a driver; well-rounded, fearless and humble. She is great with her fans and means business at the wheel of any kind of race car. I can’t wait to see her rack up some more Wallys!
Our next race date is tentatively Epping, New Hampshire in June, one of my personal favorites on the NHRA circuit. But even now with a month off, we are still in the shop every night servicing the top fuel car and taking some time to work on the many other projects on the go. Although the motor still needs a few parts, we took my dragster to the Dragstrip Memories car show in Hamilton earlier in April. This event is very important to me – not only is it organized by my Dad, but it was where I met Mark and the Paton team four years ago. With this being the fifth and final show it was even more special to be there with my first race car and I felt so much support from friends, family and everyone in our local racing community.
It is shaping up to be a busy summer of racing for our team, but I am so excited to start making passes towards my Super Comp license hopefully very soon as well. And since it has finally stopped snowing, that only means one thing for us Canadians – it’s time to go drag racing!