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Plenty of Horsepower at Edgewater
J. C. Tilton

How can a AMC Hornet beat a Ford Mustang? Well when they bracket race, it can and did happen at the Edgewater Motor Sports quarter mile drag strip. Everyone has heard of drag racing - where you line up two cars side by side and they race to see who finishes first. But bracket racing is still the same race, only you are also concerned with the clock. It is a concept to make all cars of a certain class competitive with one another. At Edgewater on the night we visited they had the Sweet 16 - the fastest 16 cars in an elite bracket, then bracket 1 - still mostly alcohol/nitrous oxide burners with high performance engines, then finally bracket 2 - modified engines but closer to what you might see on the street. Oh, and there was even a bracket race for mini-dragsters. These machines are for young racers from age 10 on up and are powered by a one cylinder Briggs and Stratton Engines. They race in 1/8 mile instead of a 1/4 mile, but still go over 80mph. There was plenty of wheel stands and rubber burning on the track in all of the classes.

Here is how bracket racing works. The drivers make test runs and establish what they feel is an average run time in the quarter mile. Lets say the Mustang runs the track in 14 seconds and the Hornet runs it in 16 seconds. If these two cars run side by side, the Mustang wins every time. But the green light is computer controlled. The Hornet will get a 2 second faster green light than the mustang. So he has a two second head start. Theoretically the two cars should be dead even at the finish. What's to stop a racer from sandbagging - dialing in a time of 14 seconds, then running a faster 13 seconds to beat the other racer. If you go faster than your dial in time, then you “break out” and the other guy wins by default. So you want to be fast, but you also want to be consistent.

As a follow up the Pearson Racing Engine story we spoke with a couple of racers who used Pearson Racing engines in their drag bikes. Keith McQuinn of Middletown has been racing at Edgewater for over 7 years. When asked why he liked racing motorcycles he replied, “I saw it and had to do it.” And Keith has had the racing bug ever since. He has a new motorcycle called “The Punisher” that he is breaking in at Edgewater. It has only been raced a handful of times and he is still working out the kinks. Still the bike has ran around 155 mph and has times in the 1/4 mile around 8.4 seconds. He won his first round race, but in the later rounds a coil wire came loose and he lost the race.

Jeff Davidson of Englewood has over 20 years under his belt. He is driving a bike owned by Scott Pence of New Lebanon. I also asked him what prompted his interest in the sport - “Well I got a ticket for drag racing on the street, so I started going to race tracks in the 1980's.” He has traveled across the country and has been ranked as high as 11th with the International Drag Bike Association. Now he doesn't travel as much and bracket races locally for fun. We had to leave around 11pm before the finals - but Jeff was still winning when we left.

Edgewater was a good time. The pit area is open and the drivers and crews were easy to approach and talk with. We discovered that there is a lot to bracket racing. Some of the motorcycles had air shifters and air clutches. Many of cars and motorcycles were computer controlled - fuel, nitrous oxide, shifting range, and air were all monitored and adjusted automatically. Keith McQuinn demonstrated a handheld computer than monitored temperature, barometric pressure, height above sea level, etc. This computer gave a readout showing the expected speed of his motorcycle taking into account all of these variables. When 2 or 3 thousandths of a second can mean victory or defeat, a 10 degree temperature swing can make a big difference. If you like motor sports, a visit to Edgewater speedway is well worth the trip. Comments:

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