Suspension Struggles for Bell
at PDRA Rockingham Season Opener
A SPECIAL WORD FROM JIM BELL: Although this JBR press release
is interesting to read, in the grand scheme of things it is of little
importance given the fact that Ronnie The King Davis,
arguably the all time most well-known name in Top Sportsman racing,
lost his life as a result of a horrific top-end crash during the PDRA
race at Rockingham, NC. Bell, his team, and the drag racing community
mourns Ronnies passing and extends kind wishes and condolences
to Ronnies daughters, Michelle Seger and Bridgett Medina, and
his long time partner in life, Micki Dearing. Additionally, Ian Tocher,
senior editor of Drag Illustrated, sustained severe injuries when
he was hit by debris from Davis car. Please get well as soon
as you can, Ian. We are all pulling for your recovery!
JIM BELL RACING (JBR) driver Jim Bell tried his best to put in a good
show at the PDRA Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham,
North Carolina on April 7-9, 2016, but rear suspension problems made
it a tough challenge.
Bell, along with crew chief Brad Personett and crew man/head mechanic
Chad McGregor, had tested at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia,
the Monday and Tuesday prior to the PDRA race. Bell had a promising
hit of 3.96 at 182 mph with an early shut off, but shortly after,
the struggles began. Eleven hits later and there was little progress
as the track prep simply would not hold the power the Pro Mods on
site were making and tire shake was prevalent for all drivers who
attended the test session. It was a disappointing outing, but the
team used the situation as a learning opportunity.
After reviewing the RacePak data, Personett discovered that Bells
twin turbo, Pro Line Racing Hemi-powered 1969 Chevy Camaro was only
squatting .200-thousandths on the start, instead of its usual squat
of .650-.700 which explained some of the problems they were having
in testing. Upon arriving at Rockingham, Personett was fairly confident
he had located the trouble and worked to resolve the issue. Bell made
his first session qualifying hit but the car smoked the tires at the
hit and Bell and aborted the pass. His 6.839 at 86.73 mph eighth-mile
run was not what the team had hoped for, and it was back to the drawing
board for more troubleshooting.
The crew made adjustments to try and fix where the car was binding
up and not allowing the suspension to travel. They made a change to
the four-link, and then Bell went back out for the second qualifier.
The car launched, and after about twenty feet, it went into severe
tire shake and headed towards the centerline. The scoreboards showed
Bells performance of 7.376 at 83.50 mph had not improved as
intended, and he dropped into nineteenth in the qualifying order.
Determined to remedy the issue, Bell asked Rick and Rickie Jones from
RJ Race Cars if they had any ideas. The four-link bars had been taken
off to ensure none of the heim joints were binding, and many other
components were inspected as well. The Jones men agreed that all the
bases had been covered, but the car still wouldnt squat. Further
scrutiny revealed a golf kart push bar mount was hitting the wheelie
bar and had been causing the squat/suspension issue all along
it had been hiding in plain sight!
Confidence was high as Bell returned to the lanes for his third qualifying
attempt. Bell left the line and soon realized that his Camaro had
no power and knew the boost controller was turned on. He coasted through
the traps and clocked a 5.387 at 133.03 mph pass, but it wasnt
enough to get in the show. At the top end, Bell discovered that a
crew member had neglected to turn on the CO2 bottle after the burnout
and the Camaro only had 3 pounds of boost when it should have been
Im disappointed that we did not do well, but were
certain now that we have our suspension problems figured out. We just
need to go out and prove it. And we will! said Bell with his
trademark enthusiasm. We will test before the next NHRA event
at Houston to make sure we are clear of these issues.
Bell will run at each of the ten NHRA Pro Mod races for 2016 and will
continue his season at the 29th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals
event in Baytown, Texas on April 29-May 1 at Royal Purple Raceway.