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The long and winding road.....

We set out for Albuquerque National Dragway on Friday May 23, with the rest of the country and their plans for the holiday weekend. After a later than plan start, we found our selves in the middle of the holiday rush and nature’s freak climate changes in the Arizona desert.

Earlier in the week we had hit record 110* weather, and as we were leaving the cloudy, rainy weather only reached into the low 70’s. After the initial bumper to bumper rage fest, at the two hour mark found us only 66 miles from home. Pulling through the Flagstaff area, we were shocked to actually see snow on the side of the road!!

We should have seen this as a sign of things to come!

We finally reached the Albuquerque city limits; we stopped for fuel needed for the Invader and the generator. We also contacted the track to ensure we could drop the trailer off before going to the hotel. They said they would still be there and not to mind the road.

Mind the road? What was that all about? When reaching the road, we found a light cart and a security guard waving us through. There were cars, motorcycles, buses, and even a semi truck scattered all over looking like a war scene had just gone off.

After parking the trailer, we found out that they are shooting the Terminator 4 movie around here and that is a set they are using!

After a quite night at the hotel, we gathered our stuff and head out to the truck to go to the race track. But what surprises were in store for us?? Someone had broken into the truck and stole some stuff!

After a brief call, with no law enforcement coming out, and a review of the items missing, we also noticed the inside rear tire was flat! A quick trip to Discount Tire, who in record time, inspected and installed a new tire and sent us on our way. Thanks guys!

At the track the weather was cool and very breezy, most of the day. We prepped the car, and caught up with Joe Zaccaro & “Fearless” Davy Gonzales. Joe currently has a few different jet cars, but he had brought with him, the Thunderbolt and the White Lightning. The White Lightning used to be the Final Option Jet Dragster of Jimmy Gonzales, who was Davy’s brother. Until recently the car was called Too Much and was owned by Greg Nickleski.

Some maintenance was performed on the White Lightning, so they took it out to the top end for a test fire. All was good until just at shutdown, and the main burner line split and sprayed fuel down. What a mess! They brought her back a made brand new lines and replaced the defective ones to ensure a good safe show.

As the sun went down, and the moon came up, the winds died down, it was time for the jets. First up was “Fearless” Davy against Curt in the Invader. At the signal both cars went for start and the Invader just sat there. She would not light…A scramble check….Power yes….Igniters yes…air pressure yes…. Starter yes…. Just no start.

Davy had a single as the Invader was pushed back to the pits. Joe Zaccaro then performed a single pass also to end first round.

Back in the pits, the body panels were flying!! Craig was checking all the electrical, while Curt was checking the fuel system. A small leak was detected on the fuel control in a vital area, so the car was lifted and the two guys were flying around working on the problem. Just as they were wrapping up the repair (which should have taken 4 hours with a removal of the control from the engine) the lights on the trailer flickered then went out!

An electrical smell could be found inside, and was traced down to the shore power switchbox. That was quickly disassembled and bypass in the dark, and we were back in action. The repair on the Invader was completed and pressure checked good. Within five minutes of setting the car back down they called for us to race.

Again the Invader was paired with the White Lightning for a little payback for the embarrassment of the first round. Both cars again went for start, and this time both did! Fire shows battled back and forth, with the Invader prestaging first. Both in the lights, flash of yellow, and a flash down the track as the Invader rocketed down the track to take the win with a 5.88 at 265 MPH. Not too shabby for 7200 feet corrected altitude!

Joe in the Thunderbolt closed off the night, barely missing the Invader’s ET, leaving Curt and the Invader as Low ET of the night.

Sunday morning, brought a new day and sunshine to the track and the team. The weather was a little warmer, a little winder, but the same fun!

As the time for the show approached, it was decided to have Davy run the Thunderbolt against the Invader. With the wind still blowing on and off, it was going to be fun to stop these beasts at the finish line.

Dusk approached, so “Fearless” and Curt suited up and strapped into their dragsters to come to battle over bragging rights in the desert. Hometown hero vs. the Invader!

Once the vehicles were brought to life, the fire battle began. Each driver trying to outperform the other, and letting the crowd decide. Both slowly snaked into the staging beams, and with a glint of yellow, they were out of the gate screaming down the track. At the end of the run, the winner was… The Invader!

The Thunderbolt and The Invader were brought back to the pits and turned for the next and last pass of the night. After a quick refuel, chute repack, a quick once over the cars were ready, but the drivers were not! They were too busy eating some of the wonderful food that Davy’s family had brought out to the track. (Maybe if Curt was too stuffed, he would be slower on the tree?? Maybe need a little siesta?)

Darkness had fallen, the lights dimmed, and the earth shakers were brought back to life! Again a repeat of the fierce fire dual commenced, with both cars carefully sliding into the beams. With a flash Davy was off and the Invader was right behind him, maybe the food did work? But at the end of the run, the Invader was again victorious.

The pits were crowded with fans who had loved the show the two drivers put on. They were already talking about a rematch were the local boy would slay the Invader.

The Team then loaded up, and before heading out across the desert home took a minute and could hear the sounds of Iron Maiden rockin across from the concert pavilion! With “The Trooper” stuck in their head, they rushed home to spend the rest of the holiday with their family.

Til next time….

Be Safe & Have Fun.

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