The BME Bulletin

Bill Miller Engineering's Top Fuel Blog
by Rick Vogelin

 #7 High Drama at Indy

          The 50th anniversary edition of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park was a milestone for NHRA championship drag racing and a landmark event for the Bill Miller Engineering Top Fuel team. The independent BME team more than held its own against the big dogs on the Powerade Drag Racing Series circuit.

          Driver Brady Kalivoda was the No. 9 qualifier after the first session and the No. 11 qualifier after the final session with a 4.686-second elapsed time at 316.75 mph. That was Kalivoda's quickest and fastest run since the NHRA-mandated change to a maximum of 85 percent nitromethane.

          "It was high drama in the staging lanes on Sunday," said Kalivoda. "We went into the fifth qualifying session in 15th, and there were some very strong cars behind us. They took their best shots, but by the time we ran, we knew we'd be in the show."

          The four days of Indy ended for the BME team when Kalivoda lost to Brandon Bernstein in a battle of second-generation Top Fuel drivers in Monday's final eliminations. Bernstein ran 4.676/317.57 mph to Kalivoda's tire-smoking 9.022-second e.t. at 83.22 mph.

          "Once again the 10 cars ahead of us on the qualifying sheet were all full-time professional teams," noted car owner Bill Miller. "And there were several full-time teams that didn't make the cut. There were 26 Top Fuel cars at the U.S. Nationals, and we ended up 11th. All things considered, that was a good weekend. Best of all, the engine looked perfect after every pass.

          "On race day morning, the track temperature was 110 degrees, the same temperature as when we ran 4.68," Miller recalled. "I didn't change the tune-up, but half a second into the run, there was a puff of smoke from the tires and then a cloud. I couldn't believe it! I'd rather run 4.80 and lose then smoke the tires.

          "We have to be more aware of just how close this car is to the edge," he conceded. "We can get away with an aggressive approach in good conditions, but when the traction gets marginal, we're over the edge - and it's a very fine edge at that."

The Big One

          Indianapolis is the Mecca of American motorsports and the U.S. Nationals is the crown jewel of drag racing. Kalivoda appreciated the significance of making his first Indy appearance in the event's golden anniversary.

          "It was Indy, it was the 50th, and for me to be there competing in the show was outstanding," Kalivoda said. "It was a really good weekend when you look at the whole picture. Everyone on the team feels we're very close to turning the corner.

          "Indy was certainly our best outing of the season when you look at the event as a whole. We made four outstanding qualifying runs under varying conditions. Bill and the team were able to adjust as the conditions changed throughout the weekend - night runs, day runs, afternoon runs. Our notebook still isn't very thick, but we're learning fast. It was just a shame we couldn't have made a race out of it against Bernstein on Monday.

Showtime in Chicago

          Tuesday morning the team unloaded the BME dragster at Chicago's McCormack Place, the site of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). The black-and-yellow race car is featured in the Okuma display alongside Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Monte Carlo driven by Kevin Harvick. Okuma Corporation, a world leader in CNC (Computer Numeric Controls) and machining technology, is a technical partner with the BME and RCR racing teams.

          "The IMTS is attended by 85,000 visitors, and it's the largest trade show of its kind in North America," Kalivoda noted. "To give you an idea of the size of show, the Okuma exhibit alone is 17,000 square feet. I'll be there to meet and greet Okuma customers, sign autographs, and talk about NHRA drag racing. Okuma's excited to have us there, and we're excited to be there and show off our partnership."

          The BME Top Fuel team's next event will be the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on October 1-3.

          "Route 66 Raceway is a showplace facility for our sport, and I hope that we won't have to contend with the rain that we had in the spring race," Kalivoda said. "Chicago is home for several of our crew guys, so it's fun to race there."

BME Race Results

Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis, September 6 Qualified: No. 11 at 4.686/316.75 mph

First Round: Brandon Bernstein (4.676/317.57) defeated Brady Kalivoda (9.022/83.22)

Next Race

Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Joliet, Ill., Oct. 1-3, 2004

TV Schedule:

10/2/04 Qualifying 4 - 6 p.m. (ET) ESPN2

10/3/04 Eliminations 8 - 10 p.m. (ET) ESPN 10/5/04 Repeat eliminations 3 - 5 p.m. (ET) ESPN2 10/8/04 Repeat eliminations 3 - 5 p.m. (ET) ESPN2

The BME Bulletin  Archive

Number 1
BME Team Beats the Odds in Las Vegas
Number 2
Heads Held High in Houston
Number 3
The Bristol Bash:
Number 4
Midwest Swing no Spring Fling
.Number 5
The Left Coast Swing
Number 6
The Point of no Return
Number 7
High Drama at Indy
Number 8
Hot Times in Chilly Chicago
Number 9
Snake Eyes
in Las Vegas
  Number 10
BME Team Concludes 2004 Tour with Season-Best Performance


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