~ by Chris “#16” Demaras ~
Daniel and I had visited Cayuga before, when he was just a kid. We made trips to the track to watch NHRA events, and especially the jet-dragsters. Drag racing has never been our favourite form of motorsports, but some of it is so bizarre…you just have to watch!
Driving to the track on Wednesday morning, I asked Daniel what he thought of drag racing now, and if he would ever try it. The answer he gave was exactly what you’d expect from a road racer. That drag racing seemed very simple; more an engineering contest where the driver just holds on and points it straight down the track. No late braking or early apexes here.
After the F2000 Experience, I hadn’t planned anything else for our day at the track. But when I stopped into the main building at TMP to say bye to Cindy, I made the snap decision that Daniel and I would join the Drag Racing Experience…right now!
The event had started a few minutes earlier, so track officials slotted in a Daniel ‘vs’ Chris round immediately, then had us switch cars and race again. Talk about trial by fire!
On the first run, Daniel had me beat. His reaction time was so much better in the Mercedes AMG that the power of the Chrysler Hemi-powered SRT8 couldn’t make up for my shortcoming.
As I approached the end of the quarter mile, thoughts started creeping into my head. Why am I doing 175 km/h in a strange car, racing against my teenage son? Why does this car feel like it’s floating at this speed? Are the brakes good enough to stop this thing before I reach the catch fence?
No time to over-think it. One our practice runs were complete, Daniel and I were seeded into a 14 man tournament. Everyone would be sharing the cars, which were very evenly matched. It would come down to reaction time, and driver skill at feathering the throttle to eliminate wheel spin.
TMP staffers Christine and Dov gave us plenty of advice. After telling me I was sleeping at the tree, they explained that I had to anticipate when the light would turn green, not react to it. Daniel added in; go on yellow!
Both Daniel and I advanced through the first round. Since 7 competitors advanced, I was given a “bye-run” in the second round, where I would race against…nobody. All I had to do was set a time. But Daniel went up against the most feared woman at the track; Linda.
Daniel put up a real fight in his round, but was edged out by 0.07 seconds at the line. His day was done. Now I would have to carry the Demaras family name into battle in the third round. I was seeded against…you guessed it…Linda!
A perfect start in drag racing is a triple zero, meaning the car accelerates off the line 0.000 seconds after the light turns green. It’s very rare to see, even in professional levels…but just like Daniel San catching the fly with chopsticks, I set a reaction time of 0.001 seconds in my final run.
Daniel and the track staff cheered as I laid down an incredible start time. Yes, I then spun the tires and lost to Linda, but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. She beat me and Daniel both straight up, then went on to defeat her husband in the Final Round! I didn’t feel so bad long to the champ.
I don’t see Daniel giving up karting to run a dragster anytime soon, but the experience was still amazing. Totally outside of our comfort zone. I can see how people get hooked on the speed and adrenaline of the quarter mile.