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Paulie Harraka Finishes Third at All-American Speedway
Jun 4, 2007 - updated Jun 4th, 2007 5:09pm
Web posted by

California --

This weekend was the best weekend yet for myself and the #16 Briggs and Stratton Drive for Diversity Late Model for Bill McAnally Racing. The week began when we arrived in California on Monday evening, and concluded with a 3 rd place finish in the 75 lap main event at All American Speedway in Roseville, CA, despite being plagued with engine problems all night.

Due to the frustration that our team has felt with an ongoing "push" (the front of the car does not turn enough when I turn the steering wheel), along with some other chassis issues, we decided that it would be best if we went back to square one with our setup. That meant flying out to California on Memorial Day. Before I go any further, I want to thank all of our troops, past and present, for all that they do for our nation. We wouldn't have the freedoms that we have today without their courage, dedication, and willpower. Thank you.

Arriving at Bill McAnally Racing's race shop on Tuesday morning, we spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday going through the entire racecar. We were able to find a number of things that we felt were causing many of our handling problems. Luckily, BMR has a fully equipped race shop. From the team's 4 surface plates, to the wealth of available knowledge around the shop, to the countless welders and parts, we had everything we could ever need. Everyone on the team helped us with whatever we asked of them. BMR team members Justin Bologna, Duane Knorr, Gary Graves, and Chris Nelle where each instrumental in the completion of the car and the subsequent success.

We spent Thursday morning doing our final preparations and headed to the track on Thursday afternoon for a 3 hour test session. Thanks to AiM Sportsystems and My-Chron Data Acquisition, we were able to collect data from our test. This data measured all different aspects of the racecar, allowing us to understand more about what the car was doing and when it was doing it. The test was very successful, and we were able to take all of the information back to the shop with us on Friday for implementation on the racecar.

There was one thing that bewildered us when we left the shop on Friday night: Where was Kenny Winters, our crew chief? Kenny had stopped by the shop on Wednesday evening for a few hours, but was not able to attend the test on Thursday. He had called me on Friday morning, but he never showed up at the shop. Unfortunately, as I later found out, Kenny was involved in a bicycle accident and had broken his collar bone on Friday afternoon. Luckily, Kenny was able to get proper medical care at a local hospital and, although he is still in pain, will eventually heal completely. This meant that the entire crew had to step up on race day, just as they had at the test. With some input from my father, the crew and I collectively decided on our chassis changes, with a good deal of success.

In pre-race practice on Saturday morning, we were happy with our racecar's handling, but faced an engine stutter at the beginning of both straightaways. This was our first day with a new carburetor, and thus felt that that was most likely the cause of our problem. We made a few changes to the carburetor, as per the builder's suggestion, before our qualifying run. Although the carburetor acted slightly differently in qualifying than it had in practice, we still faced a low-RPM engine stumble, resulting in a 6 th place qualifying run. Further changes were made, in hopes that the problem would be cured for the main event.

When the green flag flew, we immediately began moving forward. The engine stumble was still present, but it was bearable. We were able to get up to second position before the first caution flag fell, and I was absolutely thrilled with the handling of the racecar. This was undoubtedly the best handling racecar I had driven all year, and I strongly felt that we could move into the lead within the next 15 laps. Unfortunately, when the race went green again, the engine stumbled worsened. We fell back to third, and I decided to try and control the stumbled as much as I could.

I was able to learn a few tricks about avoiding the stumble. With certain throttle modulation patterns, I could almost eliminate the stumble. The problem was that those same patterns, although they satisfied the engine, did not satisfy the chassis. The handling worsened by driving this way, but overall I was still going faster. We were able to get back into position to move into second, but ran out of time. The last 20 laps of the race were caution plagued, which hurt us because our car was better on longer runs. Overall, to come away with a 3 rd place finish was extremely satisfying, even though we had a racecar that handled good enough to contend for a victory.

I know that when we get our engine problems fixed, we will be able to contend for victories on a consistent basis. Our next race is June 16, which gives us two full weeks to fix those problems. During that time, we will not change anything on the chassis at all. Hopefully, we will finally show what we are capable of!


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