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"On the Road" with Luke Bogacki
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11-14 "On The Road" with Luke Bogacki - Part 2 On My List
11/16/2014
Carterville, IL
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luke and jessica bogackiCLICK HERE for PART 1

Confession time…  I’ve had writing this On the Road column on my “To-Do” list for months, and I’ve even sat down to start writing it on a few occasions.  Each time, I get a few paragraphs, or even a few pages in, and when I go back and reread my story I inevitably say “That sucks, no one wants to read this crap.”  Select All, Delete, Start Over.  Last night, I asked myself why this column is so hard to write.  On the Road has been a part of my racing career for 14 years, and I can’t ever remember struggling to write what I felt like was a representative and somewhat entertaining recount of my travels and tribulations.  Then it hit me.  I’m… Boring?!?!

I love my life, and I’m having more fun today than ever.  But it’s true!  I’m still the same knucklehead I was 12 years ago; but I’m happily married with an awesome 18-month-old; I don’t make as many questionable decisions!  I’m not as ambitious about my racing schedule.  Gone are the nights when I leave track A and decide it’d be cool to drive 400 miles overnight and show up at track B the next morning.  Those ideas, common as they were a few years ago, simply don’t cross my mind today!  In large part, my racing schedule consists of major, professionally operated events.  I don’t make a habit of attending the $400-to-win events at tracks that want to disqualify me for “Sand Bagging” (that’s a true story from a few years back in case you missed it)!  Plus, I’m blessed to have MUCH better equipment  - both on the track and off - than I did just a few years ago.  My wheel and tire hasn’t passed me on the interstate in years; and I haven’t pulled into the water box to realize that my steering wheel is on fire in quite a while! 

All of those changes make my life a lot easier to deal with, and quite frankly make things a lot more enjoyable on this end…  But they don’t make nearly as entertaining a story! 

I’ve said numerous times in these columns that commiserating disaster is a much easier read than celebrating success.  It’s more fun to read about all hell breaking loose, because we can all relate to that!  If I had a dollar for every time a reader and fellow racer has approached me at the track to say, “Man, I love reading your columns…  I thought stuff like that only happened to me!”, well let’s just say I’d have a lot more dollars!  Over the past two seasons, there has been a significant lack of drama to my racing, but rarely any lack of success.  Once again, that’s great for me (I’m not complaining!), but it sure adds a level of difficulty when it comes to writing a fun story!

2013 was an unforgettable year for me, both personally and professionally.  My wife and I welcomed our son into the world in April; nothing will ever top that moment.  On the race track, I was able to achieve my lifelong dream of winning the NHRA World Championship.  Pretty incredible- a dream season to say the least.  I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, and I realize that this amazing roller coaster has to come to a stop at some point, but it’s safe to say that 2014 felt like an extension of that dream.  This weekend my family and I will once again fly to California to accept a second NHRA World Championship, this time in Super Gas.  As I type that, sit back and reread it, I still can’t completely comprehend it.  Surreal seems like a fitting description.

In addition to my success on the NHRA tour, we also purposely scheduled a handful more bracket events in 2014 than we had in recent seasons.  That gave my wife, Jessica and I a few more opportunities to race together.  We built her a new American Race Cars dragster over the winter, and she’s taken to it quickly.  Between my NHRA racing, our bracket entries, Jessica’s racing, and life in general over the past six months, I’ve got a lot to cover.  In an effort to keep this column entertaining and succinct, I’m going to skip around to a handful of highlights throughout our 2014 season.

Super Gas:

Our Super Gas season in the RacingRV’s Corvette was unbelievable.  We kicked things off with a win at the first event that we entered, the Division 3 LODRS event in Indianapolis back in April.  That win established a pace that we essentially continued for several months.  I picked up two more Division 3 wins, and added a runner-up finish at the Division 2 event in Atlanta.  In addition, we claimed national event trophies in Topeka and Chicago.  The result was a massive 731 point score: the highest total in Super Gas history, and our second NHRA World Championship in as many years.

I don’t mean to belittle my accomplishment.  It’s incredible.  And I’ll take credit for it in a lot of areas.  I feel like I drove really well for most of the season.  My car was awesome, which is a tribute to Charlie Stewart Race Cars and every manufacturer that we depend on for the quality equipment that we bolt between those frame rails.  My strategic approach was excellent; and as a team we worked really hard to ensure success.  We tested, we tinkered, we found areas to improve all season. 

All of the above is true, and I take a lot of pride in it.  But what people don’t realize is that all of that stuff above should insure a competitive season in a category as competitive as the NHRA “Super” classes, but it doesn’t necessarily warrant the historic season that we had.  From the outside people look may look at our season as dominant, but there is a lot more good fortune involved than most people realize.  In Super Gas all season I got away with mistakes, and all of the coin-flip races that could go either way, well, they went my way. 

I could literally pick out any of the Super Gas races that we won, the story is remarkably similar, but I’ll focus on our LODRS victory at Chicago in early June.  The late rounds there were a microcosm of my entire Super Gas season.  On paper, it looks like I was a machine: in six non-bye-run rounds, I was between .005 and .014 on the tree, and seemingly made the right decision every round.  That’s perception.  Here is reality…

In round 4, I ran Kari Larson.  She’s really good.  And it’s a really important round: the winner advances  to the quarterfinals (where they will race for a bye run to the final), and even though it was early in the season it looked as though her brother Trevor and myself were title contenders – so there’s more riding on this round than meets the eye.  On paper, I’m .007, 9.917.  That’s a pretty solid run.  In reality, I was setting up behind her because I expected her to hit the brakes.  She held it to the floor, and as we hit the finish line, my heart sank: she outfoxed me.  My win light came on, because she ran 9.89.  That could just as easily been 9.90, like she figured; and I still would have been behind, waiting on the drop.

The next round I ran Richard Kurth, we’re racing for the bye to the final.  There, on paper, I’m .005, take .004 to run 9.918.  I look like a hero.  Here’s how that actually went down…  I leave and think “crushed it.”  He’s behind me on the stop, and as we kick off I start running away from him.  Keep in mind, I run about 167-168 mph in Super Gas trim; most opponents aren’t tracking me down.  Well, I immediately think, “He was late or he’s slow.”  I give it two good kicks of the throttle right at the 1/8th mile mark.  As I do, I hear the second stage of his throttle stop kick back open.  Uh oh.  Literally, for the next 640 feet, I was back on the floor, wishing that I had nitrous as I watched him creep up to me.  I never cracked the throttle again.  I didn’t take .004.  I got there first .004.  And I made a huge mistake that somehow didn’t cost me the race.  That was the whole season; it looked a lot more impressive on the time slip, or from the stands than it did from the driver’s seat!

That set up a pivotal final round with another title contender, TJ Coughlin.  In that matchup, I was .006 to TJ’s .014.  The weather was crazy, and we were both flying.  I ended up winning with a 9.879 to his 9.878.  Now, I could pat myself on the back for being .006 and taking .007; that was a good job.  But I could’ve just as easily been .007 and taken .008; and that wouldn’t have worked.  It all just fell my way, and that was the story of the season.

Jessica

Just a couple weeks after the win in Chicago that I described above, I got to join my wife for a night of racing at our home track, I-57 Dragstrip.  I didn’t have any success in the crazy little Vega, but Jess carried the torch for team TIBR by earning the Super Pro victory.  It was her first win in her new dragster, in just her sixth competition appearance with the car!  I know I’m a little biased, but she didn’t just win either; she kicked everyone’s tail!  Her worst light from round three on was .006, and she capped off her performance with a .001, take .001 lap in the final (to be dead-on with a 2)!  What a stud!  I’m telling you right now, I’ve had the good fortune to win some pretty big races over the course of the last 20 years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited than I was to see her win light come on in the final round!

A couple weeks later, we headed back to I-57 Dragstrip for their annual July 4th Mega Bucks event, which features a $5,000 winner’s purse in Super Pro.  For a while, I really liked our chances to claim that top prize.  With 15 cars remaining, I was still in with the Vega, and Jessica had the bye run in her dragster.  I won, so we were both down to 8.  On her bye run, her car didn’t sound too crisp, and she lit up the scoreboard with a 5.5-something on her 5.18 dial-in.  Uh oh!

I figured she either broke a rocker arm or a rocker stud, so I had a spare of each and my valve train box ready as she pulled up to the trailer.  Her father and I found the problem (of course, we pulled the wrong valve cover first), and we had the new stud and rocker installed in short order.  All we lacked was bolting the valve cover back on as they ran the first pair of quarterfinal round.  I told Jack to finish it up, and I hopped into the Vega and made a beeline for the staging lanes.  Luckily, they had pulled a potential bye run out, so Jessica and I weren’t the last two cars in line.  I told the track crew that Jessica was coming; not to start her 2-minute timer until my pair ran; and I strapped my helmet on.  I got cracked that round, but she got the win light in her freshly repaired whip to advance to the semi-finals.  Unfortunately, her night ended there, and we went home fairly empty-handed.  As you might imagine, she was disappointed, but in the big picture she had won her first race in the dragster and advanced to the 7th round of a big bucks event in back-to-back weeks.  That’s nothing to hang your head about!

The rest of the season, between traveling to a lot of races with me and her own busy social schedule, Jessica raced a handful of times with limited success.  As the season drew to a close, we decided she was ready to step up the program: out came the steel block 468, and in went one of our BRODIX aluminum block 582 cubic inch bullets.  To that point, I think the fastest Jessica had been was 5.11.  Of course, I dropped that motor in and got everything ready to go in time for one of my weekends away from the NHRA tour; I wanted to be there with her when she went fast(er).  That plan failed when every race track within a four hour two of Carterville, IL was rained out.

So I headed to Reynolds, GA for my final points meet of the season, and basically gave Jess the thumbs up and said “Good luck!”  On her first run that weekend at Beacon Dragway in Paducah, she bypassed the 5.0’s…  And the 4.9’s… And the 4.8’s…  She rattled off a 4.79 lap!  Nice!  Between that event and the Million Dollar Race, she got some seat time going quicker.  The good news is that she likes going fast, and that her car seems a little happier with the added power.  The bad news is that I don’t see her turning back.  I think that 468 just became an overpriced boat anchor in the scheme of our racing operation!

Bracket Racing:

Like I mentioned earlier, we cut a few national events out of the 2014 schedule to allow a few more big buck bracket events.  The reasoning behind that decision was twofold.  First and foremost, I need the practice.  I just don’t get to race as much as I used to, and I’m admittedly not as sharp behind the wheel as a result.  Big buck bracket events afford me the opportunity to compete against the toughest competition out there, multiple times in one weekend.  It also minimizes the strengths that I try to capitalize on in NHRA competition: quality equipment, experience, and strategy.  Bracket racing at that level is all about execution, and there is little margin for error.  As we all know, that can be extremely frustrating, but it’s hard to argue that it makes me a better racer.

I went to the K&N Spring Fling in Bristol.  I got my butt kicked.  But the experience made me a better racer.  Look, I think that statement is true, and if it isn’t don’t tell me so – I convinced myself of it and it made the weekend a lot easier to deal with!  The same is true of the BTE World Footbrake Challenge.  I don’t get to bottom bulb race as often or as competitively as I used to, and it showed at the WFC.  But that race definitely made me better.  The best part about racing against that level of competition, particularly in an arena where I’m not as proficient, confident, or comfortable, is that it forces me to be aggressive.  To win, I have to try to do things on the race track that I’m not completely certain that I’m capable of.  It pushes my limits and forces me to get better.  I love that.  And once again, I got my butt kicked at the WFC!

Luke Bogacki Vega

Toward the end of the year, I had more success on the 1/8th mile bracket scene.  At the Moser Engineering Great American Bracket Race in Memphis, I advanced to the semi-finals of the $50,000-to-win main event.  I drove really well all weekend and made great runs.  In the semi’s, I was .009, take .006.  My opponent was .014 and broke out.  Those of you who are pretty sharp with math can conclude that I broke out by .001 more.  That’s just a good race, one that could have gone either way.  And I did a good job: .00, take .00 is nothing to hang my head about.  And after the split, the loser of that round got over $8,000.  That’s a good pay day.  But the finalists were racing for $45,000.  And that…  Sucks.  I took the loss harder than I typically do (at this point in my career I’ve gotten fairly accustomed to losing), not just because of the money, but because I’ve yet to win a 50.  I’ve been runner-up on three occasions (once in the WFC, once at the Ultimate 64, and once at the GABR), and I’ve been knocked out in the semi-finals a few times as well.  In event in particular was the 6th edition of the GABR.  In year one I had two cars in at 10, none at 5.  2010 was the kicker.  With five cars remaining the field included: Me in one of my dragsters, Me in Jason Lynch’s dragster, and Jason Lynch in my other dragster.  We had three of the last five entries.  We didn’t win.  I went red in both quarterfinal matchups, and then Jason lost to Todd Ewing in the final.  In 2011 I got to 8 cars in Mitch Clary’s dragster.  In 2012 I was runner-up in my Vega to Gary Williams.  Last year, I lost with 10 cars remaining.  So in six years of the GABR $50k, I’ve been close six times…  But I’ve never held the big check at the end of the day.  On one hand, that’s awesome.  On the other, it’s pretty frustrating just because you’d think that if I keep knocking on the door it would eventually break down for me.  It just hasn’t happened yet.

luke bogacki drag racer

A couple weeks later, Jessica went to a concert in St. Louis with some friends, so I loaded up her car and went to I-57 for a $5,000-to-win race.  I managed to stage up for the final round before settling for the runner-up finish.  In early October, we made our way to Accelaquarter Raceway in Harrisburg, IL for a $7,000-to-win event.  Once again, I took runner-up honors, this time in my K&N Filters dragster.  Mix in a couple of runner-up finishes in the Vega, and I’d say that we had a pretty good season on the bracket trail (in between getting my butt kicked).

JEGS Summer Door Car Shootout:

Our 4th annual Door Car-only event at I-57 Dragstrip was the biggest and best yet.  Over 220 of the best and baddest door car competitors in the region crammed into I-57 for the “biggest little door car race in the Midwest.”  When I say crammed, I’m not exaggerating.  Those of you who were in attendance know that our little home track was filled to capacity.  In a lot of cases, that atmosphere could sour the enthusiasm of the racers – and maybe in some cases it did.  But the overwhelming number of SDCS competitors had a smile on their face all weekend. 

jegs summer doorcar shootout

As race promoters, I’d like to think we do our part.  We don’t have a mega facility by any means, but it’s clean and well kept.  Our staff works very hard and I think we make it clear that we’re here for the racers.  We guarantee a great purse and we have an organized, fair event structure.  We also have a great deal of involvement from the high performance industry: the SDCS provides over $30,000 in prizes in addition to the guaranteed cash purse.  We’ve done our best to create an atmosphere of fun, fair, tough competition.  But the camaraderie, the fellowship, and the sportsmanship that is on display at the SDCS is something that we can’t control; and it’s off the charts every year.  It blows me away.  Maybe it’s because racers are parked so close to their neighbors that they can’t help but get to know them!  Whatever the reason, the spirit of small track bracket racing is alive and well at the SDCS.  It reminds me of the big buck races I used to go to with my father, before I was old enough to drive.  It’s just an incredible atmosphere, and that’s a testament to our racers.  SDCS competitors: you guys and gals are awesome!

We’re in the process of restructuring the SDCS slightly for 2015 and beyond.  Rest assured, the event will return to I-57 Dragstrip, it will be for door cars only, and it will feature a large guaranteed purse as well as all of the lucrative awards and “Door” prizes that the event has become known for.  Look for complete details soon!

I Still Kinda Suck:

The casual observer sees my record over the past few years: two World Championships.  A handful of national event victories.  Bracket Wins.  .00 lights, .00 margins of victories.  At times, some of you may think I’ve got this figured out.  Just a few quick notes to let you know that I screw up just as often as you do…

First round of Super Gas at the Bowling Green divisional event…  This was my seventh divisional event of the season, and up to that point I had won three races, was runner-up in a fourth, and had advanced to fourth round in every race that I attended.  I’m the man, right?  My opponent laid down a nice, conservative .161 package: he was .061 on the tree and ran 10.000.  His win light came on.  I didn’t red light.  I killed over 45 miles per hour to run 10.04, and failed to cross the finish line first.  I’m the man!

On a regular Saturday night bracket race at I-57 back in June (the night Jessica won), I entered the Vega, as I typically do, in all three bracket categories: Super Pro (Box), Pro (No Box), and Footbrake.  In round two of Footbrake, I was .498 red.  A few minutes later, I turned it .499 in the second round of Super Pro.  In Pro, you guessed it: .498.  Three red lights, by a combined total of .005, in under an hour!  Nice!  Believe it or not, I typically don’t let myself get too upset about losses like that.  I told people that night, “The good news is: I don’t back off.  The bad news is: I don’t back off!”  If you’ve read my columns here or on TIBR you know that I look at red lights as mistakes of aggression.  I think aggression is a key ingredient to success, so I’ll accept those losses.

In that $5,000 final at I-57 in Jessica’s car, I lost to Phil Bryant, who made a great run (I think he was .501 and .01 above).  I, on the other hand was .030 after a couple of bump downs.  I was so disgusted with myself going down the track that I just crammed the brakes as soon as he caught me: to run .04 above.  He might have been going under, but we’ll never know because I hit the brakes so early that he was easily able to kill some ET and cross first comfortably.  Hey, I knew I was late.  The last thing I wanted to do was screw up, and you know, win.  Awesome.

Even my victory in Jessica’s car was a train wreck.  We were struggling with consistency in her car in the summer months, so I told her I wanted to drive it to see what was going on.  We were struggling with down track traction, and on a hot Summer night so was just about everyone else.  I decided the way to win the race was to hold – something that I don’t do a whole lot of in 1/8th mile competition anymore.  I know how to do it, obviously, but let’s just say that I’m a little rusty in execution!  So, on the runs where the mental progression is supposed to go: There’s not enough room…  Drive to your spot… Hit the brakes…  Instead, my progression went like this: There’s not enough room, hit the brakes!  To .05 above.  Not once, but twice.  And both times I got away with it!  In the final, I was .010, take .050… To be dead-on!  Brilliant!

At the national event in Dallas I lost first round of Super Gas to Kayla McClain, and in the quarterfinals of Super Comp to Christopher Dodd.  They both made awesome runs, and although I can certainly critique both of my performances, I just have to tip my cap to each of them: they beat me.  That’s not bad on me.  But if you add up Kayla’s age and Christopher’s age, together that total isn’t much older than me.  I started competing in the “big car” classes at 14.  I’ve always been the “kid.”  I’m not the kid anymore.  I’m getting… Old?!

Finally I’ll end the humbling section of this column with a quick review of our Super Comp season.  Believe me, it doesn’t include enough rounds to be anything but quick!  We debuted the flashy new K&N Filters colors on our dragster, and donned the number 1 on the scoop back in April.  In 2014, I failed to stage in a Super Comp final round.  It’s the first time I haven’t won a Super Comp race since 2008, much less made a final!  I want to say the car was awful, or I drove bad, or I’m just embarrassed by our performance.  But none of those are true.  That’s the crazy part.  My K&N dragster was just as good as my RacingRV’s Corvette all season.  And I drove both cars in much the same way, or at least I tried to.  But all of those .001’s that fell my way in Super Gas?  None of them fell my way in Super Comp.  I heard an analogy on sports radio the other day.  The host said that winning close games is not a skill.

luke bogacki super comp dragster

In racing I think that theory holds true.  Sure, crossing the finish line first by .005 is something that good drivers can see and can do on purpose – that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about those races where if you take .003 you win, but if you take .004 you lose.  Or the races where you win a double breakout by <.001.  Or the races where I get dropped, take .025, and come up .900 (or .899).  Or the .000 lights that do or don’t turn -.001.  Those are results that aren’t really a reflection of ability or skill; they’re coin flip rounds that could go either way.  In 2014, it seemed like I won every coin flip in Super Gas, and that I lost every coin flip in Super Comp.  As I try to put our season in perspective, I think it’s fair  to assess that I’m not as good as my Super Gas record would suggest; and at the same time that I’m not as bad as my Super Comp record would indicate.

Season’s End:

As successful as it was, I’ll be the first to admit that 2014 seemed like a whirlwind.  I guess that happens when you always stay busy.  Weeks, weekends, and races all kind of run together.  Honestly, writing this column is a great way for me to sit back and digest it all.  A month or so before our season ended, I took a deposit on our Charlie Stewart Race Cars Corvette.  The last event at which I would compete in it would be the Division 2 finale at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, GA.  Although people had been congratulating me on the championship for over a month, the title was not yet clinched.  Tom Stalba and a few other racers still had a mathematical shot to catch me.  Their odds were long: they all had to win multiple races on command.  And I still controlled my own destiny: with a fourth round win I would lock it up regardless of what anyone else did.

In Super Comp, I figured I need to make the final round in order to salvage a top ten finish from my extremely mediocre season.  That hope came to an end in round one when I probably made my worst run of the season alongside Brad Plourd.  The weather conditions were a little tricky, and I missed badly.  That was frustrating, but a fitting end to a rough year in that category. 

In Super Gas, Tom Stalba was my last racer competitor for the title coming into round 3.  He was paired with Ray Miller III in the second to last pair of the round.  I would run George Caheely in the final pair.  I sat in the water box and watched Ray Ray’s win light come one (by .001 – there’s that .001 in my favor again), and I knew that it was over.  Seconds later, I went -.001 red (same .001).  I never like to lose, but the emotions were bittersweet – we had clinched a second title.

After taking a few moments to soak that in, the work began!  Justin Bromley had purchased my Corvette less motor and transmission; so I began to disassemble the car before loading it up and driving most of the night, over to Montgomery, up to Birmingham, and across to Memphis, TN.  There, Justin and his crew met me the next morning and we finished pulling the motor out, loaded it into their trailer, said our goodbyes and I pushed on Northbound to Illinois.  On Sunday I clinched the Super Gas championship.  On Monday, I no longer owned a Super Gas car!

I arrived home Monday evening, picked up Jessica, Gary, and my father-in-law Jack, loaded up her dragster, and was back on the road Wednesday morning.  Nine hours later, we arrived at the same exit that I passed on Sunday night; for Montgomery Motorsports Park and the C.A.R.S. Million.

To put it bluntly, our million was a dumpster fire.  In the first round of Friday’s $20,000 event, I broke a lifter in the K&N dragster en route to victory.  The link bar broke, the lifter turned, and it wiped out the camshaft.  There was no fixing it for the weekend.  The rules at that event allowed me to switch cars in eliminations, so I hopped in Jessica’s car and advanced to round five before I lost.  Her car was really good, and I felt comfortable in it.  So, rather than throw the motor out of the Corvette into my K&N car, I decided to just pull the motor out of it and call it a season; I would run Jessica’s car in the million.

Saturday morning, I made my opening time trial for the Million Dollar Race: 4.88, just what I figured it would run.  As I neared my pit area, I noticed that it didn’t have any oil pressure.  Now, as part of my routine, I check the oil pressure before staging: and I know it had oil pressure.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember looking at it again until I made the turn near our trailer in the pits.  The oil pump pickup broke off (of course – that’s the only motor that I have without a billet pump).  The issue was that I didn’t know WHERE it broke off.  Did I make a full run without oil pressure?  With over $250,000 on the line, that wasn’t the day to find out!

luke bogacki huntsville engine cars million

Thanks to the help of my father-in-law, and essentially the entire Huntsville Engine staff (thanks Bones, Andy, Dennis, and everyone else who pitched in), we swapped engines in record time and I made the final time trial session.  After a season void of ANY major mechanical issues in four race cars, I had changed two motors in the span of about 18 hours, at the biggest race of the year!  First round of Friday’s $20k, I was dialed 4.56.  Second round I was dialed 4.93.  First round of the Million: 4.78.  That’s what I’m talking about!

I wish this story had a happy ending, but I got cracked in round 2 of the Million, and lost first round on Sunday.  Jess carried the flag for a little while, but she got beat in round 3 of the final $20,000 race and we headed north.  After a pit stop at the Ewing household for a great dinner and to pull out the last motor and leave everything for fixing and freshening at Huntsville Engine, we drove everything home and called it a season!

Plans for 2015:

Our plans for next season are for more of the same, hopefully we can ride this incredible wave of momentum to another fantastic season.  Charlie and his staff at Charlie Stewart Race Cars is hard at work on our new RacingRV’s Super Gas entry; I should take delivery of it shortly after we turn the calendar to 2015.  Once it’s here, I’ll wire, plumb and assemble everything and hopefully get some testing in before our first NHRA event in late April.

Earlier this week, I drove the whole rig: truck and trailer to the RacingRV’s lot in Indiana.  The RV that we used all season is headed to new home, and I sold our ATC stacker to a friend in Texas who also purchased a new RV from Joe and Michael.  Late last week, I picked up a Gold Rush stacker from the Collier Racing team, and took it to Jim Henderson for some updates and renovations.  We’ll have a new look in 2015, but our schedule and make up will be very much the same: we’ll pursue the NHRA Lucas Oil Series Championship in Super Comp and Super Gas, and we’ll also bracket race as much as possible with Jessica’s whip and the old trusty Vega!  Marketing negotiations are underway for 2015, but I’m fairly confident in saying that every one of the key ingredients to our recent success will be returning for next season, and we hope to make some announcements about additional partners coming on very soon.  I’ll have the details in my next column.

luke bogacki trailer

I want to close by offering a very sincere thank you to the folks whose support makes our continued success possible.  First off, thanks to K&N Filters and RacingRV’s; two companies that not only offer quality products but also embody the values that I stand for individually.  It’s such a huge honor to represent each of them!

Also, thank you to our associate partners for all that they do: Advanced Product Design, makers of the Max Speed carburetors that powered both the Super Comp and Super Gas 2014 world champions; C.A.R.S. Protection Plus and the Tedesco family; PCD Wraps, who handle every aspect of physically branding our team, from crew shirts to handout cards, to sponsorship renderings, to vehicle wraps and vinyl graphics; Product Development Group, makers of AirTek tire gauges and Flo-Fast pumps; Watt’s Auto Diesel and the Watt’s family, not only for their partnership but for their example and inspiration; JEGS and the Coughlin family – what more can I say about the company that does more for sportsman racing and racers than any other?;  Mickey Thompson Tires for supporting my team for over 15 years; and Bill Taylor Enterprises for manufacturing the best transmissions and torque converters in the business.

And finally, I want to recognize the manufacturers that we depend on for quality, dependable equipment.  They’ve combined to create two of the best working cars on the planet, and two world championships.  I think a lot of my fellow racers are under the misconception that we run these products because we can buy them on a “deal.”  In many cases we do get pricing consideration, but that’s not the deciding factor.  I run these products because I think they’re the best available.  The manufacturers that we depend on include: Auto Meter, Lucas Oil Products, Moser Engineering, BRODIX Cylinder Heads, Charlie Stewart Race Cars, Huntsville Engine & Performance, Ohlins Shocks, American Race Cars, Dixie Racing Products, Dedenbear, Renegade Race Fuels, ISC Racer’s Tape, Nitrous Express, Hedman Hedders, K&R Performance Engineering, Nitroplate, California Car Cover, CollectorTethers.com, Todd’s Extreme Paint, Milodon, DragRaceResults.com, J&J Performance, Wiseco, Jesel, B&M, Earl’s Performance Plumbing, Crane Cams, RacerTees, Sharp Stuff Products, and Goethe Racing Enterprises.

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