Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 112

SICK WEEK 2022 the Nova rotated like a helicopter across the centerline and into the wall . He ’ d managed to scrub speed with his foot to the floor while grabbing the ‘ chutes , but it still hit the wall at close to 140 mph after sliding through the traps with a 7.63 at 145.86 mph .

As soon as they ’ d gotten off the cause was clear : the coupler between the radiator and electric water pump had failed during the pass , a design fault that reared its head even after a handful of test passes in the week leading up to the event .
Thankfully , Rossi wasn ’ t hurt , and despite bald-spotting the tires and knocking the front clip around like a dislocated jawbone , the Nova wasn ’ t too worse for wear either . Since the coupler had left the planet , they towed it back to the pits and began to bodge the car back together in order to keep moving on .
A rain-soaked ignition box would strand them on the A1A bridge just a few miles short of the second day ’ s first checkpoint , and while they had faced down doubt after the crash , sourcing motorsports components along the Florida coast might be more difficult .
Here , Rossi was quick to note that even while it was his fault that the box had failed , it ’ s not spec ’ d to be weather-proofed , and mounting under the hood served it no favors , but still , the owner of FuelTech called around to local customers to help Rossi and the team find a donor box on short notice , and someone came through .
Rossi and Turner hopped into an Uber for an hour-and-a-half each way to Orlando to meet the guy who had pulled the ignition box off his car to serve the cause , and continued on to Gainesville . He wasn ’ t making the full-tilt passes he was initially planning for , but each day ’ s 10- or 11-second run was progress towards the end of the week .
“ The fact that we were able to finish – we weren ’ t just packing it in on the first day – it made it worth it ,” says co-driver Turner . “ We didn ’ t just turn around and drive back home 2,500 miles empty-handed .”
“ It makes all the hours , all the money spent , all the late nights worth it ,” says Rossi , who was awarded the “ Sickest of the Sick Award ” in recognition of his efforts . “ We ’ ve been saying that we want to do one of these , and we ’ re going to do it finally . We made a figment of imagination a reality .” – PHILLIP THOMAS DI


The challenging aspects of drag-and-drive events tested even the most experienced street / strip competitors during Sick Week , and the attrition issues all started on Day 1 . Dave Schroeder , who won HOT ROD Drag Week in 2021 with his new C7 Corvette Pro Mod , had to drop out on Monday after hurting his nitrous-fed 872ci Reher-Morrison engine .
Schroder attributed the unhappy engine to extensive idling during the 2021 trade show season , as he and his cousin and racing partner , John Ens , freshened the motor right before taking it to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in November and the PRI Show in Indianapolis in December .
“ I think we didn ’ t break the motor in ideally – a little too much idling ,” Schroeder said in the pits on Monday . “ Normally we would ’ ve liked to get it on a dyno or get it down the track .”
Schroeder and Ens are no strangers to pushing the limits of a big-inch nitrous motor . The engine in the C7 Corvette is the same engine that was used in the Schroeder-Ens ’ 66 Corvette when they won the Unlimited class at HOT ROD Drag Week in 2017 . Rods , bearings , springs and things like that are changed out , but the engine itself has around 5,000 miles on it , which is pretty unbelievable even for David Reher himself .
“ We ’ ve talked to Dave quite a bit over the years , at first for help , then


over the last few years he just giggles about what we ’ ve done with this stuff ,” Schroeder laughs . “ Most people push these things up to the starting line chilled . But you have to treat it like a normal car if you hope to finish one of these events .”
And treat it like a normal car he does . During the pre-race party at the Freedom Factory on Sunday night , Schroeder cruised around the half-mile oval track and through the grass infield before driving it back to the hotel for the night .
“ It gets normal after a little while ,” Schroeder says of driving what is essentially a nitrous Pro Mod on the street . “ You don ’ t worry about letting it sit there and idle .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
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