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The Adventures of Lonnie and Ray (Drag Racing)

by Ray Alexander

Be advised, you should steer clear of this duo if possible.

Lonnie is a vendor on the Lx Forum and he posts under whitehemi. He has rebuilt at least twenty modern Hemis. He has 6.1 SRT cams reground to his specifications and that is the cam that I have. He recently rebuilt my engine, doing the R&R in my garage.

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This pair is heading to Irwindale Drag strip to try getting into the "Won and Done" TV series. I needed race fuel and nitrous, so on Wednesday morning I went to Paradise Motorsports to get nitrous. I knew that the owners and their son were on the east coast, drag racing. Would you believe that the owner and his son are the only two people that can fill a nitrous bottle? There are at least eight other employees at this business. They send me to an O'Reilley's.

O'Reilly's does have some good parts people, but I get one the more typical type; he can be outsmarted by a pencil. He confirms that they do fill nitrous bottles. I asked, "How much per pound?"

He replied, "Seven dollars."

I don't really remember what I replied, but it wasn't complimentary. I must have the stuff and don't want to waste time tomorrow looking for it. Another plus is avoiding an internet search. I agreed and got the bottles. I came back in and Mr. Pencil said, "Do you want to leave them, we don't have anyone that can fill them today."

The stuff wholesales for about one dollar per pound. That is 600% profit. If I were Mr. O'Reilley, I would have someone there during every business hour capable of filling nitrous bottles. It doesn't require a PhD.

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I go home and launch an internet search. The number of forum threads netted in the search is amazing. I can't trust that information, for all I know it could Mr. Pencil posting. I find a couple of businesses close to Tijuana, but they will not answer their phones. I am not driving that distance unless I know that they have nitrous and can fill a bottle. Late in the afternoon I find a place in Temecula, they charge $4.21 per pound.

The next day I picked up Lonnie at 11:00 am and left for Spankin Time to get Shell URT race fuel. We arrived and sort of like dogs, nothing can happen until the sniffing is finished. That's done. Adam owed Lonnie some money so he wrote him a check. The institution that Adam uses is just a couple of blocks away. Adam told Lonnie, "Don't let them rip you for $25," and told him where there is a sign advising the charge is only $5.

Lonnie went to cash the check while I stayed to get the fuel; I asked Adam how he makes the fuel pump keep running to empty the car's fuel tank. He sold me three switches that replace relays, so I should be able to dump the pump gas into cans when I get to the track and then run 100% race fuel. Another one of the switches should cause my fans to run with the key off, reducing cool down time between runs.

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Lonnie came back with the check; the institution has cleverly replaced the sign advising $5 with one reading $25. I don't understand, Adam's account is there, the money is there, and they charge $25 to cash his check.

We go to an In-N-Out. I thought the McDonald's on Camp Pendleton was busy, but you can't buy a parking spot here. We opted for the drive through. The water temperature began to creep up. Lonnie turned the A/C off, the temperature began to fall. I know something is not right because a few weeks back I sat for an hour with the A/C on and the air temperature was 15 degrees hotter.

We got back on the freeway heading to Irwindale with the A/C on. The water temperature returns to normal. We didn't finish the burgers before the low fuel alert comes on. Then another chime WTF? Lonnie says, "Battery light."

I told Lonnie the secret code for breaking into the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC). The voltage was reading mid to low 12s. A/C went off to conserve battery power.

I said, "Bad alternator."

Lonnie said, "Bad battery."

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We went to an Auto Zone. A young lady tested the battery/alternator and eventually decided we had a bad alternator. The store had an alternator and tools. We are still twenty miles from the track. Neither Lonnie nor the young lady think we can make it to the track with the bad alternator. If we could have made it to the track we might have found some shade and we have other things to do while the engine cools.

Oh yeah, the engine is hot. Lonnie ruined his favorite shirt, but we got it changed fairly quickly. Only two third degree burns each.

Back on the road, A/C on maximum, but two and a half miles from the track, we ran out of gas. We put the race fuel in and finally got to the track far later than planned. Doug and André were already there. The "Won and Done" guys were incredibly busy. André said that earlier in the day they were worried about having enough cars.

In our hurry mode I forget to install the race tune. Still, I got a personal best of 60' in 1.649, and 7.383 seconds for the eight mile. My trap speed was 94.30 mph. The ET equates to a 11.54 quarter mile.

This video is actually from a different race, but you get the idea... it's still Ray.

The air temperature is coming down, and this reduces the pressure inside the nitrous bottle. I turned the bottle heater on. The line I was in was moving, and I thought I would run very soon. When I get to about ten cars from the front a track official puts a red pole in front of me. More bad luck.

I forgot that I had turned the heater on. Someone got hurt, with the ambulance taking them to a hospital. All racing must cease until the ambulance returns. The ambulance returns and the noise and smoke begin again. I am convinced if something makes a lot of noise and stinks men, are attracted to it. Smoke is icing on the cake.

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The official removed the red pole, and I wasted no time getting to the front of the line. What lines are selected to pull cars from is a total mystery. Suddenly I remembered the heater, went to the car, and switched it off. The pressure was well into the red zone; the pressure prevented the purge solenoid from opening. We have to manually open the system to reduce pressure. During this panic driven exercise, the bottle was turned off, and I forgot to open the bottle valve before the run.

On the last run I was running very rich because I was still spraying the required amount of gas, but with no nitrous. The other car was a Mercedes sedan, and I beat him by 1.92 seconds. The car is boring without nitrous.

After the wheels were changed, everything was loaded and we were washed up. Lonnie discovered that the lower radiator hose is leaking. Not just an occasional drip, a steady stream. A lot of what we have loaded has to come back out to get to the few tools that I have. We borrowed a 3/8" ratchet from the lemonade stand and also got water from them. Todd, Lonnie's son, and his girlfriend showed up before I make the last pass and he helped with the radiator hose. Lonnie said, "That clamp is not on straight."

Todd replied very dryly, "and who put that clamp on last"?

We had barely got onto the freeway heading home and the guy two cars ahead of us stops in the slow lane. We later found out he lost a wheel. I guess he is having a bad day too.

Vehicles in all other lanes were running 70 to 80 mph. The SRT makes this merge a little easier.

I-15 is having night time repairs and we got into a fifteen-mile traffic jam. Thirteen hours of non-stop fun.

Isn't it ironic? The first time I had the ability to empty the fuel tank of pump gas there was no need to do it. I had brought an empty gas can for that purpose.

Editor's note: the video was shot at Barona, but you get the idea.

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