Kalitta experience puts Read on right path

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Nitro crew chief Bruce Read’s experience in the USA could be the advantage his brother Phil Read needs when he competes at the Nitro Champs on May 4-6 at Sydney Dragway.

Bruce spent months in the USA last year with the Kalitta Motorsport outfit, specifically helping with getting their new Tequila Patron Funny Car driven by Alexis DeJoria up and running.

“I was brought in to oversee the team, nothing to do with tuning, moreso making sure everyone was in the right positions,” he said. “It was a sweet deal where we all clicked. I’ve never been part of something that felt so natural, apart from our own teams.

“I’ve had offers to look after other cars but unless my brother is driving the desire is not there. But going home was still difficult.”

The time away has resulted in a renewed view for Bruce on where tuning for three-times champion Phil and the Jim Read Racing (JRR) dragster needs to go. Nitro methane fuel is harsh on newcomers and veterans alike and Bruce said that backing the car down too far actually caused more damage.

“We were just too soft. The last one and a half seasons have been catastrophic in reliability and engine damage,” he said. “We got so gun shy with the tune up and backed it off that far that we turned our V8 into a four cylinder.

“When you back them down too far they hurt themselves worse. It went from a 4.50sec regular monster to an aluminium smelter. Connie (Kalitta) told me to back myself, get out there and don’t be scared of it. ”

The input of the Kalitta team was rated highly by Read. He said that access to their data has been vital in keeping JRR on the right path.

“The Kalittas treat JRR like an extension of their race team. We’re tapping into 50 years of nitro knowledge,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never be able to repay the Kalittas for, apart from through friendship.

“Being able to go over there and get unlimited access to computers and data is great. They want to see us get back to where we were.

“We still have to make the calls on race day but they underestimate their input into our success.”

JRR rolled out a new race car in the weeks before the Australian Nationals in September 2011. It was not an auspicious debut as the team failed to qualify despite a 4.94sec run. Read thinks they were too quick to bring it out in competition.

“We tested the car the weekend before the Nationals and the test session went okay,” he said. “When we pulled it out at the Nationals it was like it was a different car, it wouldn’t respond. The test session lulled us into a false sense of security.”

Now there are just days to go until the team gets to try their luck again at the Nitro Champs. A test session tomorrow will allow Read to gain some data to steer his brother on the right tune up track and see if they have solved nagging head gasket issues.

“If we guessed right and our thoughts on the tune up are correct I am excited. We will be doing a 300 feet launch to make sure all the systems are working and then maybe a 1000 feet run,” he said. “Drag racing is completed in stages. If you don’t get the start line right the rest won’t be correct.”

The Nitro Champs take place at Sydney Dragway on May 4-6 and feature the full ANDRA drag racing experience including Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, Top Alcohol, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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