Auto Club Finals
Auto Club Raceway
November 8-11, 2012
A Tale of Two Attempts
It was the best of the times and the worst of times. Driver Bill Litton arrived on Wednesday – primed, pumped, and ready to go for the last NHRA competition of the season in Pomona. It was the last hurrah for Team Litton, their last chance to grab a victory run. As usual, Chief Anthony and crew had the car ready for action. The crew included Chief Anthony, Scott Darrow, and new crewmembers George Taylor, and Anthony’s father, Don Dicero. Don has vast experience in drag racing. George has experience working on several top fuel teams including the legendary team of Kenny Bernstein. Both were nice additions to the pit crew.
The first of 3 qualifying runs was scheduled for Thursday. Bill suited up and got into the pre-run focus zone. But a sprinkle or two led to steady rain, and the track was shut down due to sogginess. No runs to chalk up for the day.
The rain let up for Friday when the second and third qualifying runs were scheduled. On the first qualifying run, Anthony tuned the car with what he called a “wicked timing adjustment” – do or die style. It meant it was either going to be a great run or it was going to smoke the tires. Unfortunately, the adjustment was just a little too wicked. The car had a very quick 60-foot launch and just passed the 100-foot mark when it smoked the tires. A look at the computer recording showed the timing curve to be a little too aggressive. Anthony decided to slow it down for the next — and final — qualifying run.
The rain delay forced racing officials to reduce the number of qualifying runs from 3 to 2, so the pressure was on to perform in this one. He told Bill to do “whatever it takes to get to the finish line even if the motor eats itself up.” Bill was ready and willing to unleash the nitro beast up to and beyond its limitations if necessary.
However, even with decent early incremental numbers, the tires began to break traction shortly before the 330 cone. Bill backed off of the throttle to give the tires a chance to settle down then quickly whacked the throttle back to the firewall, “pedaling” the car trying to regain traction 4 separate times. But the elapsed time was too slow with the loss of traction… 6.503 ET at 197.22 mph. The car tagged the finish-line cone causing the run to be deemed a disqualification.