Sunday, September 15, 2013

zMax Adventure

First race on the east coast tour was at Charlotte Motor Speedway zMax Dragway on 19th and 20th of April.  After the final race at Firebird International Raceway, we loaded up the rig with what we would need for this extended tour because once we left the cars were not coming home until late August.

Steve headed out on a relaxing first leg out to zMax and pulled into the track on Tuesday prior to the event. The rig was parked and now it was the rest of our turns to make the trek east. Craig, Tony, and Curt arrived Thursday into the Charlotte area, looking to meet up with our good friends Chris and Elaine.

Friday morning, we arrived at the track to the inspiring view that the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex is.  All I can say is WOW!

Larsen’s rigs and ours were in the NHRA Kids Fun Zone right at the front of the Nitro Midway.  What a great location!  Four jet dragster on display for the four wide event!  Miller “Power of Blue”, Embry Riddle Jet Dragster, Avenger Jet Dragster and the Invader all together were quite a sight to be seen.

The cars were all prepare for the run scheduled at the end of the night qualifying season, inspected by the head of NHRA Exhibition committee to ensure all the new safety systems were installed and operational.  After all four cars passed the inspection with flying colors, both teams set into the routine of greeting the fans, signing hero cards, posing for photos the smack talking began.

Being this was the first match up with Marisha Falk and the JET FX team, it was the friendly messing with to welcome her to the family. 

But racing was not to be on Friday.  The heavens opened up and let the rain pour in.  After a couple small sprinkles, the rivers started to flow and NHRA called it quits for the day.  The teams loaded the cars back into their dry trailers for the night, and were off to dinner.

After a good Mexican meal, it seemed to be Curt’s birthday as he was made to dance on a chair for some birthday treat.  As this exhibition of non-rhythm, somehow the treat had disappeared to Elaine and Marisha’s end of the table.

Saturday began without a cloud in the sky and stayed that way.  The cars were again unloaded and on display for everyone to come as see.

Throughout the day, many of the pro teams stopped by and looked over the vehicles asking questions on how they worked and why we would drive these beasts.

As the final qualifying season finished, the teams prepared and suited up for the four wide jet exhibition runs. Lane one was Craig Eierdam in the Avenger, lane two was Curt Eierdam in the Invader, lane three was Elaine Larsen in the Miller “Power of Blue” and finally in lane four Marisha Falk in the Embry Riddle car.

Track personnel gave us one last instruction on the staging procedures unique for the four wide track, and then we were off.  After start, Craig had an issue in the Avenger and for safety had to shut down, so it was up to Curt to battle the ladies for bragging rights.

With great weather and super corrected altitude, the Invader was set for a fast pass or so they hoped.  The conditions were so unlike the team was used to out west, so this was going to be a guess at the tune-up. 

Fire show and burner pops completed, the three remaining cars pulled in and staged.  All the smack talking must have worked, as Marisha red lit with Elaine right along with her.  Curt was able to chase them down running a 5.52 289 mph to Elaine’s 5.80 279 mph and Marisha 5.98 268 mph.

That ended the event for the day and the jet’s for the weekend as Sunday was the race day for the pro’s. JET FX came out, fixed the Avenger’s problem and watched a few rounds of eliminations on Sunday before heading out.  Steve and the rig headed to our Midwest base in Indiana, while Tony, Craig and Curt had some flights to catch.

Not a terrible start to the east coast tour but….

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Firebird International Raceway Finale

Thirty years of racing in the Phoenix desert Firebird International Raceway put on their final event.  March 30th brought it all to an exciting finale with everything that the fans have loved over the years.

Robosaurus, Monster Trucks, Trophy Trucks, and of course the Jets vs Funny Car match ups.

30 years ago, on the opening night of Firebird, the Invader was there.  She was a Westinghouse J-34 powered jet dragster piloted by Al Eierdam, built by Bill Mattio and Lee Austin, and was one of the quickest cars at the time.

Flash forward to 2013, and at the final event, the Invader is here still.  Now a Pratt & Whitney J-60 powered jet dragster piloted by Curt Eierdam, built by the Jet Shop at the hands of Tommy O’Brien, and is one of the quickest cars now.

But also joining the Invader is another team car; the Avenger piloted by Craig Eierdam, built by LMS racing and brings the show full circle.

JET FX team was also joined by the Lucas Oil sponsored jet dragsters of Tony Franco, the Terminal Velocity and the MAV TV Missile in battling with the Nostalgia Fuel Funny Cars for the final bragging rights.

Invader faced up against John Hale in the Powers Steel funny car in the first round.  With the win light coming on in the Invader’s lane it was 1 to 0 in favor of the jets. Craig in the Avenger was paired up with Tim Boydchuck in the Troy Lee Designed entry.  As with the Invader, the Avenger scored another win for the jets. 

The MAV Missile driven by Tony Franco Jr gave a great effort but new safety system shut the car down late in the run giving the funny cars a win.  But Tom Bogner in the Terminal Velocity shut down the Mr. Explosive entry.

So with the first of two rounds over, jets were a head 3 to 1.

Second round was unfortunate as whatever funny cars were able to make it back were quickly dispatched, and the Terminal Velocity and the Invader both made single passes as their opponents were unable to return to make the second round.

With the Monster Trucks and Robosaurus closing out the show and bringing down the house, it left the jets the reigning champions and in particular the Invader as undefeated against funny cars in its career at Firebird International Raceway


2013 Season Kick Off IHRA Nitro Jam

Although the 2013 racing season kicked off at the IHRA Nitro Jam on March 23rd, the real season started way back in October, 

NHRA exhibition rules committee came out with a new set of rules for the jet vehicle class.  After a bit of back and forth changes, the rules were set and it was now on every team to figure out a way to make them work.

The jet vehicle categories are one of the most diverse classes out there.  With 30 plus cars out there, there is 30 plus ways of making things work.  Just for example there are four different approved engines in jet dragsters, Westinghouse J-34’s, General Electric J-85’s (CJ-610), Pratt & Whitney J-60’s (JT-12),and Rolls Royce Viper Mark 22.  Each one is different in how to control and shut down.  Along with that, there are different afterburner systems, manually operated or electric, which adds more variables to work with.

The major new rule change was the addition of a auto shut down safety system.  Now we could argue back and forth for pages upon pages for the need, implementation, hindrance, whatever, but at the end of the day the playground which we play has spoken and if we want to play there we must follow the rules.

So with that being said, we spent months, and I do mean months talking with electronic specialist, avionics technicians, turbine power plant mechanics, and plain old testing to develop a system to safely and transparent to operate in our cars.

After all this, it was time to install and like they say put our money where our mouth was.  Testing of the system worked exactly as we planned and we were ready for actual track testing or racing as we ran out of time.

Bringing us back to the beginning, Nitro Jam!  The first Nitro Jam of 2013 was at Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson Arizona.  Along with Nostalgia Funny Cars, Les Shockley with the twin engine J-34 powered Super Shockwave was running.

But the main event was the match up of Bruce Litton and his Top Fuel dragster against The Invader with Curt driving.  We had not only worked on the new auto shut off system, but installed a brand new designed afterburner from LMS racing and removable starter system to lighten the Invader up to hopefully increase the top end.

Talking with Bruce to get a game plan of how they operate and stage to what we do, the plan was to run with a lighter fuel load as to not leave Bruce on the clutch too long, which meant an abbreviated line show for the Invader. 

So with a normally smaller fuel load, Curt performed a shorter show and staged very quickly to not hang Bruce out.  Light flicker and both cars shot off the line, at around 900 feet the Invader died…  No fuel! The team gambled and lost out as they put too little fuel in!  Litton to an easy win on the first round!

But on a side note, the timer system worked perfectly as the Invader coasted through the lights, the auto shut off deployed the parachutes!  Right on time!

So with the second round fast approaching, afterburner adjustments made, fuel load recalculated, twice, parachutes packed and final checks made and the Invader was ready to give it a second shot at beating Bruce in the top fuel.

With the desert air cooling off quickly, we were definitely hoping for some traction issues for other lane!

Second and final round for the match up was on, and although the Invader was on a solid 280+ pass but was no match for Bruce’s acceleration.

Overall, JET FX and the Invader had a great opening weekend, car ran great no bugs other than a miscalculation on fuel.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Looking ahead....

Where do we begin? Every time I try and start to update this blog, things change. Times it seems harder to put down the goings on, than it does to just live them.

2011 ended on a high note with the promises of big things for the JET FX team. After a busy year, I headed down to Orlando for the Performance Racing Industry show and the NJRA annual meeting. PRI show was great and attendance was up from 2010, had some great meetings with NJRA, NHRA, different jet teams and possible sponsors.

After wrapping up the show, we headed out for a much needed rest. The family and I had the best vacation ever on a Disney Cruise through the Caribbean. St Thomas, St Marten, and Castaway Cay let us have some great family time with no distractions. (No phone or internet!!)

Getting back to Arizona and we started prepping for 2012, but pretty much as New Years Day hit, so did the troubles. January 9th our father, Al Eierdam lost his battle with diabetes. The driving force of our jet car program crossed the finish line. With that loss, we tried to keep pushing ahead with 2012 plans in his honor. New crew uniforms, new vehicle wraps, new fire suits and new handouts all readied for a big year!

After seeing all the plans come together for his memorial, again we started to drive forward. Again troubles loomed. With the current state of the US Economy, JET FX began to feel its affect as one by one, race tracks could not afford to put on some of the planned shows and dates began to cancel.

The big drawback to living on the west coast is the limited number of tracks and the great distance between them.

At Firebird Raceway, we had Al’s memorial. I was able to give him his final wish, to get back in the car! All three runs, he rode with me in the Invader. I must have driven alright as he didn’t say a word.

With the abbreviated year, we as a team had to look deep within to search for the desire to move on with our program. What emerged was the revelation that Al would want the show to go on, but not the same old program but better.

So with that in mind, we decided to team up with another team with the same desires and outlook towards professionalism and showmanship. (or showwomanship….) Going into areas that the team has not gone to for years, we are extremely proud to announce our teaming up with Larsen Motorsports and their two awesome jet cars the Embry Riddle jet dragster and the Miller Welding jet dragster driven by veteran driver Elaine Larsen and rookie driver Marisha Falk. Four jet dragster trading burner pops and fireballs all over the country. JET FX will bring some of the western heat to the east coast .

See you all at the races…..



Monday, January 03, 2011

Back from the brink...

Well 2011 is here and it is time to work harder on updating the blog.

2010 started with the team with a huge undertaking, not only were we going to run the Invader at tracks all across the western United States, but we were going to completely update two more jet dragsters, test them, train new drivers, and if time permitted put together a fourth car.

A little hopeful eh...

Eierdam Racing teamed up with Sizzler racing to field and train Mike "Iceman" Sisler on how to successfully operate a jet car team. This had been a long time dream for Mike, and a number of years in the making.

The first item was to completely update the Pratt & Whitney J-60 dragster from the chassis to the tail pipe. At one time, the "Sizzler" was nothing but bare tubing. After a long long process the Sizzler was a masterpiece!

During the same time, the newest jet dragster in the Eierdam Racing stable came to light. The Strike Eagle is also a Pratt & Whitney J-60 dragster, like the tried and true Invader.

Once these two jet dragsters were complete and re certified, it was time for Curt to take them out and dial them in. As with just about any new car or one that had been take as far apart as these two were, some bugs were to be expected.

While the Strike Eagle seemed to come up to speed rather quickly, the Sizzler had her share of issues to work out.

While all of this was going on, Craig Eierdam spent many many many trips down the track, learning the ins and outs of piloting one of these land based missiles. By the fall, Craig not only proved himself to the team, he earned his license and was ready to face Curt for his first race.

Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson was where this match up was finally scheduled. The 2010 Jet Car Nationals was to be this event. The first match up against the brothers had Craig taking the win against Curt. But in the next round, Curt tied it up to one a piece with the tie breaker round getting cancelled.

December brought the brothers out to the Performance Racing Industry show in Orlando Florida for the Official announcement of the NJRA.


National Jet Racing Association. It is the governing body of the Festival of Fire series coming in 2011 to racetracks across the US. Check out their website for more information.

Not enough?? Complete revamp of the trailers, crew uniforms, promotion material.... the list keeps getting longer.

And where does that leave 2011??

Eierdam Racing operating three jet dragster in partnership with Sizzler Racing hitting the tracks all across the US (Not just the west coast), and if time permits finishing the fourth car.... and a little sleep ( and more blog updates I swear!!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

End of the Season......

Since the last update we have been very busy, I could have updated but I wanted to wait for everything to be ready for announcing.

So first things first, on August 12th the team headed out to do the Beat the Heat Event at Speedworld Dragstrip. Along with the Beat the Heat vehicles, they also had junior dragsters, a mustang wheel stander, and the Invader making passes. It was a Wednesday night show, so gates didn't even open until 5 pm. Warm weather was still backing the Phoenix area, but even that could not help as I was coming down with a cold.

As the night air cooled, we have the Invader all ready to go by our 9 pm scheduled run. Let me tell you, hot weather, -20 fire suit, tight belts, and flu like symptoms DO NOT mix!! It was all I could do not to get sick in my helmet!

But once the Invader lit and came to life all was good again. Big flames came belting out as we lit up the night and added some more "Heat" for them to beat!

Then on October 10th we headed out to Tucson's Southwestern International Raceway for the Jet Car Nationals.

We setup early on Saturday, and prepped the Invader to test fire her. Since the last events, we had done a few modifications to help with staging and wanted to perform a systems check. So out to the end of the track to the tie down area we went. A few minutes later and a few gallons of fuel lighter, we again had some big smiles on our faces.

As the crowds rolled in, we hung out with all the jet racers there. Eight cars were there to bring the season to an end. For the jet dragsters there was, Tony Franco with the Terminal Velocity, Al Arriaga's Blu-By-U (with Tony Franco pulling double driving duties), Jeff Atamian's The Beast, Mark Steven's Earthflight, Joe & Carol Douthit's California Smokey (with David driving), Dick Rosberg's Thriller (with Terry driving), and us with the Invader. The jet funny cars were Ken Marley in the Rocky Mountain Thunder and Derek Snelson in the Warhawk.

First round had Thriller paired up with Blu-By-U, Earthflight versus California Smokey, Invader versus Terminal Velocity, Warhawk against The Beast, and Rocky Mountain Thunder a single. The Blu-By-U blew by the Thriller, Earthflight edging out California Smokey, Warhawk bettering the Beast, and then it was the Invader battling Terminal Velocity.

As a side note, Southwestern International Raceway instructed all the jet vehicles to stay in the burnout box while doing the fire show, and not to light the burners if we rolled forward. I must say this really makes it difficult to do a proper fire show but they are the bosses.

So Tony & I light up our rides and start to do our fire show, after about 4 or 5 fireballs, we start to do burner pops, and that is all she wrote for me. The Invader slid up a few feet and I was signaled no more, so I proceded to roll into the staging beams, fully knowing that I had a lot of fuel to haul down the track. I lit the first bulb and then Tony came in and lit one. As I pulled into the second beam, the starter leans down and looks under the car like it may be leaking. He flashes thumbs up, and the light flashes and Tony is gone. I am off chasing him down and almost catch him at the lights. Tony runs a 5.80 @ 272 to our 5.68 @ 282. Overall it was a fun run!!

With the Blu-By-U being the quickest car in the first round and the Invader being the second we were paired up for round two. The Beast and the Thriller were also paired together, as to the others I can't remember. The weather continued to drop as the weather cooled, so we adjusted the tune up and headed to the lanes. Tony was in the Blu-By-U in the left lane, Invader in the right as we squared off again. Everything was goin according to plan until I started to bring the Invader up to the higher rpms. At the higher RPM's, the afterburner was having a difficult time firing off.

With nothing else to do but hope, we staged and took off! Tony was off in a flash, as I kept hitting the afterburner all the way down the track, hoping at some point that it would light. But it was not meant to be. I did the longest John Force burnout all the way down the track!! It looked kinda cool from the video I have seen.

So after the run as the crew prepared the Invader for the last run, we went over all the data and the systems to figure out what had happened. With a vehicle that engine has rotating parts that spin in the area of 19000 rpm, things can be a little complicated. Then again sometimes not. After checking the entire system and even replacing the switch we could not get the system to even falter once, so after taking a deep breath and looking at the photos of the run, it hit us in the head! The weather had dropped so much that the tune changed drastically too lean. When we increased the rpm, it leaned out the system even more so that it would not sustain the afterburner!

A quick review of the weather and consulting the tune up, we made a couple of adjustments, and we were back in the staging lanes.

At both of our requests, Terry and I were paired up. Terry is currently the driver of the Thriller J-85 jet dragster based out of the east coast. Terry and his dad, Dick, have been running jets almost as long as our family and this is the first time the sons got to pair up and race.

What can I say; Terry was quick on the lights, but not quick enough as I caught him and took my only win for the night. The Invader ran a 5.86 @ 283, like a bracket car!! So with the final run of the season we packed her up and headed for home.

But the story does not end here....

For most of the year, the Invader Team has been working with Larsen Motorsports on a new jet dragster. So after the race, Craig jumped on a plane and headed to Florida to bring the chassis back. Over the winter we will be assembling the new car with a projected testing date of early April.
The new car will also be a Pratt & Whitney J-60 powered car with the latest designs and safety features.

Check back often for updates and photos as we progress.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hollywood or Bust

After we returned home from our 4th of July fun in El Paso with our new buddy Gary Fore, it was a time for some R& R.

So as we were kickin it by the pool in the sweltering Arizona heat, the batphone rings. Would the Invader Team be interested in doing a television show? With a quick look at the thermometer hovering around 112* and a gaise at my quickly emptying glass of ice tea, I could not say where and when fast enough.

Ok, not really.

A few phone calls, emails, and faxes back and forth to work out all the details and legal wording and a contract was signed and a date set.

But before the date of the shoot came, I was off to the terrible weather of Orlando to hangout with some friends for a couple of days. Some of you may have heard that there is some "girl" jet jockey out on the east coast. Well in fact there are two, and one of them is my buddy Elaine.

Elaine and her talent jet fabricator husband Chris, (I know it sounds like I am sucking up, but hey the truth sometime hurts!) invited me to come out and check out their brand new baby. No Andrew does not have a little brother or sister, and Nitro is one of a kind, but the brand new Embry Riddle J-85 Powered Jet Dragster.

Now I won't go into all the cool things about it, but this Worthy built jet dragster is sooooo nice and perfect, it makes me want a second car. Hmmm now there is an idea. I better not say anything more right now as my lovely wife does read this now and then, and I don't want to get into trouble with her until it is too late.

So between us, I did not say anything about a second car, or the parts that my buddies down in Florida are gonna help me find, ok?

With the quick trip over, we packed up and headed out west, well farther west anyway. Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped into see Joe and Darlene of DJ Safety. Had a quick tour of the shop, and talked about safety equipment, and of course how we all missed Jim.

When we finally pulled into the hotel for the night, or should I say early morning in the Mojave Desert, we were all pretty tired.

But the dawn and call times were early for the production, so we were up and a fast breakfest and we were ready for the caravan to the location.

The location was at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave California. It is just north of the Famous Edwards Air Force Base, where the great avaition test pilots flew and the X-Planes came from. Mojave Air and Space Port is where the civilian x-planes come from now. Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites (Home of SpaceShipOne, the only civilian plane to reach space resides) as well as the National Test Pilot School and Flight Research is located.

Television has a great legacy there as well. Many television shows such as JAG, Mythbusters, and 24 were film here. Movies too. The films used this location Die Hard2, Speed, Flags of Our Fathers, and yes even WaterWorld were filmed there.

So as we caravaned around the airfield with our escort, we drove to the location located around the aircraft storage area. Or what I would call the aircraft graveyard. Old 707's, L-1011's, 737's 747's and even some old navy warplanes and a F-100!

Our first location was set-up and went over the scene and what the director and producer wanted from us. So we went about getting ready, and the film crew was filming EVERYTHING.

In addition of getting ready, we had to make sure that we did not scratch any sensitive areas, or say any bad words or look at the camera. The last one is the hardest of them all, especially when they are all walking around you and you are trying to get somewhere!

So ok, I am NOT go to talk specifics about the scenes as you all will have to wait and watch the show, but let me say, from all the cameras and direction and different scenes they were outlining and talking about it is going to be cool. The final sequence was sooooo cool, I could not even believe it and was so glad we where there to witness it!

What is the name of this show already you are saying right? It is called WX Proof, and it is produced by NBC for the Weather Channel. They have things that are supposed to be Weather Proof and are put to the test. We were called in to be a destructive force to test an item, and let me just say, they really put us to the test.

After we were finished shooting, we headed back to the warm Arizona desert to get back to our daily grind, until next time.

After down loading the photos from the set, I started emailing them out and checking my email inbox and what did I see????

A link to the Ford Commercial we had shot, "Sound Check". (see previous blog.) All I can say is WOW!

But you can make up your own mind. Click here

Post a comment and let me know what you think.

Be safe and Have Fun!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


April brought the team home for the annual Firebird Summer Spectacular event. It was the Monster Truck /Lakefest event.

Along with two days of fun in the sun, they had the Top Fuel Hydro boats, Unlimited boats, Monster Trucks, and of course the jet cars.

The Invader Jet Dragster was paired up with Al Arriaga’s Blu-By-U driven by his son, Scott. Paul Stender also brought three of his jet powered vehicles, a jet powered Jeep, a jet powered Dodge Ram, and yes a jet powered outhouse.

Saturday, we had one run scheduled with Scott, Paul in his Jet Dodge Ram ran as we were getting ready. With dusk setting, we fired up the beasts and proceeded to heat up the desert air a little more. With the two dragsters ready and eager to launch, the tree flashed and so did the jets. Scott left quicker that the Invader but they held pace for the first 500 feet, then it seemed as I missed the tune up as Scott just pulled hard.

After reviewing the timing slip, we figured out the problem.

It was not us, it was Scott! We ran a 5.56 to Scott’s 5.35 @ 301 mph.

With Sunday, it was a repeat schedule but during the day. Hotter day but brought out the crowed anyway! With a repeat of the night before except that Scott cut the light a little too much, as the red light glowed bright in the afternoon sun.

So not too bad, Scott 1, Curt 1. As they say, a win is a win.

June 13 we headed out to California, to shoot a commercial for Ford Motors. After driving across the Arizona / California desert, we finally reached our destination in Lebec, California. Lebec is located on the north side of the Grapevine, just about 40 miles from Bakersfield. This area has been used in various movies and commercials over the years, recently in Fast and the Furious.
The temperatures were in the mid 60’s when we arrived, compared to the low 100’s when we left Arizona. We checked into our hotel and went out to a Mexican restaurant.

We had a good meal, even if it was a little spicy for my dad, as he had to order a large glass of leche to cool his mouth. After twenty plus years in the southwest, you would think he can handle a little heat.

Sunday we headed out to the location. We arrived at the staging area; it was like a small city out in the middle of nowhere. Trucks, trailers, tents, air conditioned restrooms, and a fancy restaurant on the side of the road.

We met with the director and the production assistant to go over the concept of the segment. Then the crew started to go to work. Measurements and photographs were taken and they were off to various areas of the location to make things happen.

For our little team, it was polish and touch ups, and the regular routine of prep for the Invader. Fueling and chute packing and so on and so on before the production assistant came and drove us down the road to the shooting location. They had a couple of cars set up near a small building and showed our mark.

We were scheduled to shoot after lunch, but typically someone missed their time slot and we were asked to jump ahead. One final check out and we were off….. But we had no power!!

Panels were flying off, wires and connections checked, battery voltage checked but no power. We found that the igniter batteries had shorted internally, while they charged and checked good, once a load was applied almost no voltage showed.

Did I say we were in the middle of nowhere?? As a quick scramble on location for a suitable battery, with all the cameras, sound equipment, portable electronics, and so forth not a battery to be found, I quick search on the blackberry showed a motorcycle shop ten miles away on the top of the Grapevine. So a quick trip to the shop and we found a suitable replacement that would work with a slight rewire and we were back in business.

So we were of towing down to the set, with a caravan of vehicles, cameras, and equipment. The Invader was positioned on its mark, along with the other vehicles, and the director went over again what he was looking for. He had expressed concerns with the location of this small building off to the side of the Invader. It was around 20 – 30 feet off to one side of the Invader, and looked fine. I had told him that it was no problem as we have stuff similar between to cars on the starting line and it should be fine.

I never even gave it a second thought. They wired me up with the hopes that I might be able to hear the director while I was doing the fire show and I was strapped in. Cameras were positioned and they called for action. The Invader was brought to life, and guess what, radios did not work. So I proceeded to watch for directions as I belched out the flames. After a minute or two, I was supposed to stop and go to idle as they reset their cameras and then continue with more fire. But the best laid plans, so they say…

A look of panic on the director’s face, and the frantic waving arms of the production assistant gave me a clue to shut down. As I jumped out of the car, I felt a little sick, as a large section of the building seemed to melt off the building. They called a break for lunch as we towed back to refuel the Invader.

Someone forgot to tell me that this was movie magic, and that the building was not brick like it seemed but very malleable plastic that can be formed with a hair dryer. Here I am the world’s biggest hair dryer blasting away near it. I figured we were done on the set, but everyone for the most part was in good spirits about it.

After a lunch of stuffed crab and a filet of beef, we were back on the set and ready for take two. This time all was good, the building was moved a bit farther back, but all went well. Then they had me in the car for the still shot segments. After an hour in the hot sun, fully suited up and strapped in, we were again on the way back for fuel.

Fuel and a quick charge on the batteries we were back for the last take. More fire and more noise were in the script, and then they asked if we could do a quick launch at the end. So after the fire, while I idled for a few moments, they pulled all the cars out of the shot and I brought the power up and launched a couple hundred feet.

Everyone loved it and we excited that all went well.

We loaded everything up and said our goodbyes and headed home. With an uneventful return journey we were ready for a small break.

Our break lasted until the 3rd of July when we headed out to the new El Paso Motorplex located just outside of El Paso in Clint Texas. This is a new track with all concrete strip and state of the art wireless timing system. It is not finished yet, but is well on its way to being an excellent track.

We pulled in on Friday night, and hung out with Donny Huerra and his Mexican Jumping Bean wheel stander and our competition, Gary Fore and the Super Cobra jet funny car.

Gary is a nice guy and really down to earth, we played the “Do you know…” game as we have never met before. So as the weather cooled off, we headed to our hotel for the evening.

Bright and early on the 4th proved it was going to be a hot day early on. We were scheduled to run starting at 8 pm, but we were there when the gates opened. Slowly towards the afternoon, the crowd started to pour in ready to celebrate the holiday.

Around the eight o’clock hour we were in the lanes ready to get the show started. We pulled in and strapped in, and kick the tires and lit the fires. Gary and I traded fireballs for a bit, and then brought up the power for the burner pops. Once I did this, the Invader started to slide, as the track being so new there was not much traction for me to grab on to. So I had to lay of the pops, as I slid into the lights as not to red light. Gary pulled in and the lights flashed and he was off. I followed in pursuit of Gary, and as I went by I shut off the Invader. This was a safety run as there are not many lights in the shutdown area, and I wanted to get a feel for the track. It felt fine! Gary shot by me and took the first win of the night.

Round two came and we had to do something about the traction, so just before we ran we loaded up the tires with some traction compound and crossed our fingers.

She seemed to like that, after we started they gave me the signal to start the show, so I hit the first fireball and wait for Gary’s response. And waited. So I did it again and waited… and waited… Gary was having a problem starting, so after a couple minutes they gave me the signal for a single. A couple fireballs and burner pops later, to give a show but not shake Gary too much, I pulled into the staging lights. Then I saw a flash reflecting from behind me. Gary got her started, so I waited as he did a few pops and fireballs to lighten the load before pulling into the beams.

Both of us staged, we waited for the tree forever it seemed, the Gary just left and I followed behind. Again I squeaked past Gary but at about 800 feet the Invader ran out of fuel, but I held him off enough for the win.With one win a piece, the final round was an all out battle. Blasts were traded back and forth until we slid into the beams. Tree was activated and we were off and running. A word to anyone running at the new track, a little piece of advice I learned, the ET boards are not the finish line! I clicked it off at the boards, and barely held of Gary for the final win of the night!!!