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Texas Tour

The Texas Tour 2008 was back to back races in Lubbock, Texas and then a week later in Abilene, Texas. We started off on this journey on the 27th of June, headed out to Lubbock. Trying to beat the Arizona heat, we left at 4:30 in the morning. A stop for fuel along the way, and we were rolling along.

After an unexpected stop for a few hours, we finally pulled into Lubbock at almost midnight local time. With the last 140 miles of it being rain and an enormous lightning storm. Reaching the hotel, everyone was completely exhausted.

The weather had brought cooler temperature to the area, but required us to rewash the entire rig. So we were off on a hunt for a car wash to clean everything up. With a quick detail, a run for ice and we were off to the track.

We reached the track and set up for the nights events. Ken Marley and his Rocky Mountain Thunder jet funny car were already there. We slowly prepared the car for the night’s events, while still in the trailer. The weather report was not very good, a 60% change of rain!

When the gates opened at 4pm, with the rain drizzling and wind picking up, it was totally questionable as to the event going on as scheduled. As we all sat in the rigs with our fingers crossed, the weather would clear, and then rain, clear, then rain, then finally cleared up.

It had cleared enough for the event to go on, but would a crowd show? As it slowly crept up to the scheduled time for the jets to run, people started to drizzle in. The only real problem is that now the track was dried but too cool to really prep it to run the full length.

After a driver meeting with all of the participants, it was decided to go on and race but only to 1/8 mile.

First round was finally set and weather cleared, and Ken and the Rocky Mountain Thunder jet were in the right lane, while the Invader was in the left lane. Since it was not going to be a full run, they both decided to put on a larger than normal line show. By the time both cars were fully staged, the starting line was now fully dry!

Ken was off first, with Curt in the Invader rapidly chasing him down. At the stripe, it was the Invader by a nose!

Both cars were brought back to the pits to be readied for the next match up later in the evening. Within a short time both cars were back in the armed position, as the fans came for handouts, t-shirts, and autographs were given out.

The jets were brought back out for the final runs of the night. Again it was only 1/8 mile runs so it was the face of the sun fire show. The rainy cool weather was dried up rapidly as they both traded blasts from the afterburner.

As both cars staged, staging bulbs lit, and oops Ken slid through and launched! Curt hesitated for only a moment before screaming down after the Rocky Mountain Thunder again! With no tree activation, the Invader had the automatic win, making the first event of the Texas tour 2-0 for the Invader.

As the event rapped up, the Invader was loaded up and the team headed out to Midland. Craig had a flight to catch in the morning to go home.

As the sun came up, Craig was dropped off, and the rest of the team started out towards Abilene. An easy drive from Midland of only 160 miles, mostly flat with some small rolling hills, no problem! RIGHT! A measly 10 miles from the track, Curt looks out the window at the trailer, and what is that!

It looks like a fin sticking out of the trailer! Pulling off the highway, the team gets out and inspects the trailer. Oh, an easy find. Only a missing center wheel and tire assembly. The whole tire, wheel, and hub are just plain gone!

After inspecting the rest of the trailer, we carefully limped in to the track. Making some calls, and deciding that it will have to wait until Monday, we dropped the trailer and heading to Dyess Air Force Base.

We had reserved a room at Dyess Inn lodging, using Curt’s military benefits for once.
Monday morning we went and drove the trailer over to Western Trailer. They inspected everything and determined that a new axle was the correct was to fix the problem. A few phone calls later, and a new axle was on the way from Dallas. The other axles were all checked and serviced while the new axle was installed. All was completed by Wednesday afternoon.

While all this was happening, the team took a much needed break and saw the sights of Abilene. We toured the static displays at Dyess Air Force Base, looked around some of the salvage yards, and even hit a movie or two.

After picking up the trailer, we went and washed the truck and trailer, and then set up the trailer in the pits ready for the 5th of July race.

On the 4th, we headed out to the track to meet Craig, who flew into Midland and rented a car to get to Abilene, and watch the races. As the truck started, a load bang and smoke came out from under the hood of the truck! Our 4th of July fireworks started early! The air conditioning unit let loose.

What a wonderful thing to happen on the 4th of July, in the middle of Texas, in the heat! SUPER!

Out at the track, with tools in hand, half of us ripped the truck apart, and while the rest made calls trying to locate the needed parts before everything totally shut down. Believe it or not, they did just that! A very quick run to the parts store, netted the team everything needed to repair the system.

All that was needed was a quick evacuation and recharge, and all was blowing cold.
Abilene’s crowd for the show on the 5th was huge! The Southwest Superchargers were running as well as the Invader and Rocky Mountain Thunder.

At just about dusk, the first passes were made. Ken in the Rocky Mountain Thunder was first up on a single run. He belted out the fire and heat before blasting down the track for low e.t. of the meet. So far.

Curt in the Invader was up next. Last time the Invader was here, they were just off the pace for Ancel Horton’s track record, and Curt could taste it! This first run was a tune run for what would come later. The July heat had not cooled off as much as they had hoped but still ran a respectable time.

Both cars could hardly make it back to the pits, with all the fans waving and stopping them on their return. Once back the routine of turning the cars was in full motion. The vehicles were readied and a quick look at the weather, and a quick final tune was made.

Everything was readied for the record attempt as both cars pulled to the line. The Rocky Mountain Thunder and Invader blasted the night air for the second time of the night. The Invader slowly pulled into the beams, brought the engine rpms as much as the track could hold, and waited a split second for Ken to leave before lighting the afterburner and screeching down the track.

Through the finish line, chutes out, barely slowing hit the reserve chutes rapidly slowed the Invader but not enough. A quick pump or three on the rear brakes, and the Invader came to a stop inches from the sand trap.

Across the desert night, the crackle and creaking of hot metal was all that could be heard. As the crew came up, they shook their head no. We missed it by two tenths!

Better luck next time!

Once again in the dead of the night the team loaded up and headed for home.

At the 740 mile mark of an 860 mile trip, boom! Middle tire on the trailer blew! Will this trip never end? Quick tire swap and we were off limping for home.

We finally made it home with no more problems, but the season is not totally over for us. We do have a small gap do to everyone’s work requirement but we will be back in the fall.

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