August 31 – Sept. 3, 2012
It was a jam-packed weekend at Indy as thousands of extreme motorsport fans lined up to see the biggest NHRA competition of the year—the US Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. As the track overflowed with die-hard fans, Bill Litton and team were ready for some of the biggest action of Litton’s young career as they prepared for the first of four qualifying runs. However, along with the fans, remnants of Hurricane Isaac were also present and hovering — threatening to turn hot and humid weather into a nasty rainfall. Fans and competitors alike were keeping their fingers crossed to keep the dark clouds at bay.
But that didn’t dampen the excitement all around. Even Litton’s car was spiffed up for the event. New graphics were added to the body which set the tone for the weekend: “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan” was added to the side of the car and “Get Your Assets in Gear” was pasted on the back wing. Litton’s pit crew team including Chief Anthony Dicero, and crewmembers Scott and Brayden had gone over the engine with the proverbial fine-tooth comb and were ready for action. Litton was nursing a gnarly cold but was psyched for the possibilities ahead.
Friday started with an unexpected gift. Tony Shumacher’s team gave Litton and crew new tires for each run to “scuff in” for Tony. This proved to be an advantage for both teams, since brand-new tires are not optimal on a top-fuel car like Tony’s but they’re no problem on an injected-nitro car. And who knows –the swap may also lead to some bonus driving tips for Litton from Shumacher!
The annoying Nitro valve problem could not be resolved for the second qualifying run, so Anthony made the adjustment at the engine a second time. The temporary fix worked again. Bill performed the burn out, and launched the car when the starting-tree light came down. The car was making a fast run down the track when Bill shut off short of the finish line with a 5.732 AT 240 mph. Litton backed off when he mistook the first yellow finish line marker, which is for Top Fuel, for the Injected Nitro finish line which was 320 feet farther down the track.Despite the faux pas, Anthony was happy with the run and the car’s performance this time around: “The second qualifier we decided it needed a drastic change in the tune-up. So we took four degrees more timing out and leaned the fuel system. However, we slowed it down too early and too much. Hopefully the third session will net a decent qualifying effort.”
But the third session was not to happen. But by now, heavy sprinkles were threatening the event, eventually giving way to heavy and persistent rainfall. Officials had no choice but to shut down the track and postpone the finale until this coming weekend.
So Bill and team are headed back one more time this weekend, hoping to thunder off the line on Saturday morning for Indy, Part Two.
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