For the most part, the offseason has come and gone. And while I don’t have any on-track action to update you on since my last On the Road column, there is still plenty happening here at camp Bogacki to get you up to date on.
Our 2017 season will kick off in late March, at the first DragRaceResults.com Ultimate Series event of the season at Huntsville Dragway. From there, we’ll head directly west, to Las Vegas for the NHRA national event, and ultimately the K&N Spring Fling Million. At least initially, our 2017 fleet will look a lot like our 2016 program. I’ll be in the same K&N Filters backed, American Race Cars built dragster, and the same Racing RV’s backed, Charlie Stewart Race Cars built Corvette that I drove much of last season. We’ve got a brand new American Race Cars machine in the works for my wife Jessica, but it will probably be May before I have it ready to hit the race track. In the meantime, she’ll start the season in the same American Race Cars machine that she and I both drove at times last season.
As I mentioned in my last column, my faithful Vega has earned the season off; it’s getting a complete restoration of sorts. Currently, it’s stripped down to nothing (literally everything that bolts on is no longer bolted on). It’s headed to Purple Hayes Performance for some chassis and tin work updates, before it goes to 2 Boyz Blasting for powder coat, and then eventually to the (gasp) paint shop. I’m doing my best to document the entire build in this Vega Resurrection blog: http://thisisbracketracing.com/blog.cfm
It’s true, the next time you see the Las Vega in person it’s going to be… Wait for it… Presentable!
I’m happy to announce that not only have K&N Filters and Racing RV’s agreed to continue with our team as major marketing partners in 2017, but also that every one of our associate partners is back for the upcoming season. That includes American Race Cars, the builder of both of our Super Comp and bracket entries. I’ll continue to serve as an at-track representative for American Race Cars. My job isn’t to sell new American Race Cars chassis as much as it is to help those of you who own one. From 4-link setup to shock settings, shift points to tire pressure. If you own an American car, my goal is to make sure that you’re happy with it and that it’s performing up to its potential! In addition, we welcome back APD Carburetors, Bill Taylor Enterprises, and Product Development Group (makers of AirTek tire gauges and Flo-Fast pumps). With APD, BTE, and PDG, we not only depend on their quality products in our own cars, we’re also an authorized dealer (just like we are for K&N, and a handful of our product marketing partners). So if you’re looking for quality products from great manufacturers, as well as insight from someone (me) who uses the same products successfully, give me a shout!
Watts Auto Diesel and Ellis Trucking are back in the fold as Associate partners in 2017, as is Accelerated Graphics. Chase and Rick Huffman at Accelerated Graphics handle all of our vinyl graphic needs, in addition to basically any promotional material you can dream of (Accelerated Graphics handles our team shirts, photo handout cards, pit flags, renderings, and much, much more). Rounding out our all-star roster of associate marketing partners is JEGS (the aftermarket mail order leader), as well as Mickey Thompson Tires (the tire that has powered every win I’ve had for 15+ years), Renegade Racing Fuels (we run the Renegade 116+ fuel in our cars; have for years), and Todd’s Extreme Paint (Todd gets credit for the amazing paint schemes and attention to detail on my K&N Filters dragster… If you like it, wait until you see Jessica’s new ride!). Rounding out our team is RacerSwag. RacerSwag houses a ton of quality unique apparel that is all geared toward sportsman drag racing. RacerSwag is the exclusive source for our own Luke Bogacki Motorsports team shirts and related gear; so be sure to check them out and sport your own LBM team shirt with pride!
Recently, I had a young racer ask me: “So man, what do you do when you’re not racing?” I laughed. It’s safe to say that I’m every bit as busy from November through February as I am during race season. Just making sure that our marketing partners are benefiting from their involvement in our program is a job in itself. Beyond that, I’m involved in a number of racing related projects that demand a lot of my time (specifically in the offseason):
- ThisIsBracketRacing & ThisIsBracketRacing ELITE: My website, ThisIsBracketRacing.com has been around for nearly a decade. Over that time, we’ve literally helped thousands of racers in their pursuit of on-track improvement with a bevy of written and video trainings. More recently, we launched ThisIsBracketRacing ELITE; an exclusive membership community geared toward racers just like you (and me) who desire individualized training and instruction (direct from me) in a controlled environment, with the support (and accountability) of a tight knit community of similarly motivated racers. To learn more, check out http://thisisbracketracing.com/home.cfm
- The JEGS Summer Door Car Shootout: For the 7th consecutive year, my wife and I are proud to partner with Scott and Leigh Anne Bailey at I-57 Dragstrip to present the JEGS Summer Door Car Shootout, July 14-16. It’s for door cars only. It’s big time purses with a small track feel. It’s “The Biggest Little Doorcar Race in the Midwest.”
- The Racing RV’s Exclusive 150: Last season, we hosted our first Exclusive 150 at the same facility, I-57 Dragstrip in Benton, IL. That race is also back for 2017. It’s unique in that we only accept 150 entries (it’s not a marathon race: we’re done early each day). We also don’t allow any double entries of any kind (150 individual drivers in 150 separate cars). And the purse is big – the largest in the history of our little facility - $10K-to-win Friday and Sunday, and $25,000-to-win the Saturday main event.
- For the second consecutive season, I hosted the ThisIsBracketRacing Offseason Practice Tree Challenge on Facebook. This is a free group, within which I describe my own personal practice routines, exercises and drills – the one’s that I perform multiple times each week in my shop with my PortaTree NextGen practice tree and PortaTree Mini Table Top tree. In the challenge, I not only detail the exercises, but I perform them; and urge members to perform them at the same time. We all post results in the group for incredibly accountability, feedback, and education. It’s pretty awesome. And it’s free. The challenge is over for 2017, but all of the videos detailing each of the exercises are still up. Join the group for free to check them out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639204593011445/
- As part of the Practice Tree Challenge mentioned above, we rolled out a new product from ThisIsBracketRacing. We call it the 30-minute guide to better reaction times. The package is brief, educational, and hopefully helpful. Best of all, it’s FREE! To take advantage, just click this link: https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/147950?v=6
With that, in addition to the typical upkeep and maintenance on the race cars and rig, I’ve kept plenty busy. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had a lot of fun over the offseason. My wife and I work hard, but we play pretty hard too! When we’re not on the road or at the race track, we’ve got plenty of other interests to keep things exciting. In early December, we made a voyage to Playa Del Carman for a week away – just my wife and I. It was awesome!
To say Mexico was a welcome getaway would be a bit of an understatement!
For Christmas, my wife got us tickets to the Kansas-Iowa State game at Allen Fieldhouse (yes, the one in which Kansas’s 53-game home winning streak was snapped in OT). Seeing a game at the Phog was on my bucket list, and it didn’t disappoint; the atmosphere is unbelievable and it made for a really fun weekend!
Enjoying an unforgettable day with my beautiful bride at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, KS!
I also got to make a golf trip with the boys. In what I think will become an annual get together, we drove south until we saw water; and ended up playing 36 holes in Gulfport, MS. We all suck at golf, but the drive (and detour) alone was worth the price of admission. Can’t wait to do it again!
Me and my hooligan buddies in lower Mississippi…
We also traveled as a family down to Alabama to spend a weekend with my buddy Adam Davis, his wife Heather, and their son Dawson (this was just a few short weeks before their daughter Alivia came along). While in town, we got to catch up with a bunch of our Alabama buddies. I even played in a live pickup game with a bunch of racing buddies (as I write this, the game is three weeks in the rearview and I’m still sore).
Gary had a ball with his Alabama buddies!
Jessica, Gary and myself are also proud supporters of Saluki Atheletics and season-ticket holders for SIU basketball. We try not to miss a home game. Our boys aren’t going to the NCAA tournament, but they exceeded expectations this season, finishing tied for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference!
Small town college basketball: After our games, they open up the floor for kids. Gary isn’t quite up to the 10’ rims, but it doesn’t stop him from giving it his all!
Like I mentioned earlier, our season will kick off in late March at the Huntsville Dragway for the DragRaceResults.com Ultimate Series, then we’ll head west to Las Vegas for a three weekend swing that will include the NHRA national event as well as the K&N Spring Fling Million. While I intend to compete in 6 NHRA national events this season, I don’t have any intentions of chasing the 2017 NHRA Lucas Oil Series Championship in Super Comp or Super Gas. In fact, we may not attend a single divisional event. Instead, we’ll focus on the national events and most of the biggest bracket races in the country. We’ll be at the Spring Fling Million in Las Vegas and the Million Dollar Race in Montgomery. We’ll be at all of the DragRaceResults.com Ultimate Series events in Huntsville. We’ll be at the Great American Bracket Race in Memphis, where I’m honored to represent team Illinois, along with my wife Jessica, Nick and Brian Folk, Andrew DiPiazza, Brett Williamson, and Chad Isley in the inaugural All-State Race. We’ll also run the Spring Fling Bristol, the World Series of Bracket Racing, and a handful of other major bracket events. My goal is to spend more time at home than ever; to concentrate on business and family; but I hope to make it count when I am able to get to the track. We’ll see how it goes, and of course, I’ll do my best to keep you updated here, On the Road, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages – so be sure to follow me there.
Our race cars are fairly unchanged from 2016, and they’re badass. I want to take just a moment to recognize the manufacturers of the products that go into our combinations. These are products that we depend on, and products that you can feel comfortable depending on within your own operation as well. Those quality manufacturers include: Porta Tree, 2 Boyz Blasting, Alliance Racewear, Auto Meter, Dedenbear, ISC Racer’s Tape, Clark Gaskets, Moser Engineering, Charlie Stewart Race Cars, Huntsville Engine & Performance, Ohlins Shocks, Dixie Racing Products, Nitrous Express, Hedman Hedders, California Car Cover, Collector Tethers, DragRaceResults.com, Milodon, J&J Engine Diapers, Wiseco, Racer Tees, Goethe Enterprises, Fastronix, BRODIX Cylinder Heads, K&R Performance Engineering, Jesel, Earl’s and Manley Performance.
This offseason, really for the first time, I’ve truly enjoyed and taken advantage of the unique opportunity to speak my mind; to use the platform that I have as a recognized and (fairly) reputable racer in an effort to genuinely make a positive impact on our sport and some of the people within it. Jared Pennington and I launched the Sportsman Drag Racing Podcast back in December, and the feedback has been pretty incredible. We record and release a show each week, and it gives us an opportunity to discuss some of the issues in our sport: good and bad, and present our opinions. Our opinions might not be yours; sometimes they’re not even popular. But they’re genuine, and they’re developed through years of experience in various facets of our sport and the industry that surrounds it. Finding that voice, and being able to shine the spotlight on some of the movers and shakers within our sport (that all too often don’t get that opportunity) has been really neat. I hope we’re able to continue it for a long time. If you haven’t listened yet, check us out on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/sportsman-drag-racing-podcast/id1180988317
Along those same lines, I also recently seized the opportunity to present a weekly e-mail. Within it, I tease each week’s podcast with a paragraph about what we’re talking about and why. I also mention where we’ll be racing next, and provide links to updates within the race team. But beyond that, I share some non-racing related stuff: quotes that move me, books or online references that I’m reading (and my thoughts on them), and occasionally big announcements within racing. It’s a brief e-mail; I call it the Eighth Mile E-mail (because it’s meant to digest quickly; it’s just a handful of bullet points each week). To subscribe, just click the image:
That’s all for now. Next time we touch base, I’ll have some real on track action to report on. Until then, here’s wishing you good luck and win lights; I’ll see many of you On the Road!