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We went racing in Phoenix for the first weekend of March but it feels like ten years ago. We were pitted next to the lake at Firebird International Raceway, enjoying weather that was absolutely perfect for human existence.
After a heart-breaking "first round runner up" at the National event, we had a great showing at the Divisional one week later. My crew chief, Mike Brenno (aka Dr. Big Block), had the wagon running like a top and my driving was as good as it's ever been. I was able to get all the way to the third round before an electrical malady ended my day. The switch for the electric water pump fried, the water pump shut off, and the car overheated. No harm was done but I slowed down by over a tenth and wasted an outstanding .006 light.
"That's drag racing!" It's a catch-all statement of good sportsmanship that you frequently hear at the track. There are thousands of ways to lose a drag race and good sportsmanship is critical. Over the course of the fifteen years I've been racing I've taught myself to try not to agonize about losses, but I don't accept them without learning something. The goal is to not keep losing the same way over and over again.
In this case, the problem was that I had all the power to the water pump running through a cheap hardware store switch. To fix this problem we needed to install a relay in the line. A relay is basically a heavier duty switch that is activated by the regular switch. It sounds silly; that's why it never even occurred to me to install one until it ended my day of racing. That's what I call learning a lesson the hard way.
When we got home I bought some new switches and three relays for a grand total of sixty bucks. In addition to fixing the water pump problem I upgraded the fuel pump and the electric fan. I'm not going to lose that way again!
After replacing all that electrical stuff we decided it would be prudent to take the wagon out for a test and tune session to see if everything was working properly before we travelled north to Canada for the NHRA Divisional event at Mission Raceway.