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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.

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