Winternats Friedrichshafen 2009

After last years record-setting pace the expectations for this years edition were of course huge.

Due to some last-minute absentees the fields were a bit smaller this time, but it was more then made up for by the performance standarts and some very tight racing in all categories.
Despite a few unexpected and surprising results and also a slew of new personal bests, on most occasions the pre-race favorites still found their way into the winners circle.

The results:

A .507 RT by Thomas led the field on Friday and stayed there for the rest of the weekend, despite Peter´s and Kurt Fink´s fine .509 efforts.

The well sized 29-car field included a few rookies like Björn, Fabio, Nicolas and Kurt Bilgeri, who held their own against the seasoned veterans.

The eliminations were held on Saturday afternoon, and several favorites were sent packing early on: Kescha´s feared Viagra Wheelstander got stuck in the glue and lost to Thomas, Claudia´s S16D Willys was too inconsistent against Marcel, which led to her rampage against her Boyfriend Dani´s Bel Air a few pairs later.
Roger was caught by surprise by Björn´s great RTs, followed by the even bigger surprise of title-holder and usual PR-winner Jürg´s losses to Peter and Alex.

Thomas then lost one of his two cars racing himself, while rookies Fabio and Nicolas marched on to be joined in the quarterfinals by both Kurts, Alex and Kescha.

Thomas and his very consistent Nova ended Nicolas´ fine run, Fabio beat his uncle Kurt Bilgeri, Alex was a tad better then the other Kurt, but a tad worse than Kescha and his quick and thus almost invisible (or is that invincible) Casper.

The semis first had Thomas caught asleep by Fabio, before he decided to wake up and reach the final round against Kescha´s White Ghost, which beat Alex for the second time in as many rounds.

Fabio had a perfect RT in his race for third place, but still lost to Alex in three close runs, before Thomas and Kescha met to decide the winner.

Thomas had the much slower car but still couldn´t concentrate on the tree and was almost comatose twice, but Kescha had problems of his own, although not with his RTs:
First he was ahead by a mile but took his hand off the throttle a bit too late, breaking out by 1/1000, then he decided to play it safe but started coasting too early, resulting in Thomas getting by him again by 1/1000 in the lights.

No further comment on this - a well-deserved win for Thomas after a runner up in 2008!

Thomas (0,966), Kescha (0,979), Peter (0,981) and Alex (0,984) were the expected early leaders, challenged on Saturday morning by the surprisingly quick Björn (0,981), Nicolas (0,992), Claudia (0,992) and Daniel (0,997).
Alex´ Pure Hell FC, Peter´s Brutus and Thomas´ ´38 Pro Mod had some unexpected problems and were way back on the qualifiying chart, Roger lent his good and proven cars to Nicolas leaving himself fighting new car bugs for the rest of the race.
The first 9 cars were all in the .9s, later joined by a few others as the race was underway.

The top qualifiers had a bye in rd. 1, Roger had to race Jürg twice, resulting in only one win, while Jürg established himself as a co-favorite with a 0,987.
Nicolas also ran a 0,987, surprising Peter, Kurt F. lost on a foul (despite running his first 0,9) to Fabio but still had his other car, Alex and Thomas both were back to form (and in rd. 2) after sorting out their earlier problems.

Things got really interesting in rd.2: Thomas set the first record with a 0,950 (on a .499 foul) against Roger and won in three, Alex repeated this with a 0,950 against Jürg. Björn (0,977), Kescha (0,973) and Thomas ´38 (0,973) also improved and raced into the quarterfinals.
Thomas´ Studebaker then had to be teched again after another new record (0,949), Dani´s very fast Chevy, Kurt, Björn as well as Thomas´ ´38 were all gone by the end of rd. 3, despite new personal bests for most of them.

SF 1: The battle of the two giants Thomas and Alex was decided by a perfect RT from Alex and also him again equalizing the track record (plus getting the speed record).
SF 2: Kescha´s Grremlin was not really slower then Alex´ Pure Hell, but the latter´s RTs were simply better, Kescha´s didn´t fare much better in the race for third, getting the worst of Thomas´ feelings about his semifinal loss to Alex and also being on the receiving end of yet another track record for the Swiss - 0,948.

Alex didn´t have to run the finals, but got the chance to go for the record (already having a back-up time) and used his first and only run to erase Thomas´ efforts from the record books - 0,946 is the new mark.

17 cars were one more then allowed to compete in eliminations, resulting in Dominik ending Fabio´s day early with a last-ditch effort.
We also had a new performance leader in the house, Kescha replaceing Alex as the pre-race favorite with a 0,892 from his Slingshot dragster and also a 2nd place with the Porsche, Alex was third, followed by a surprisingly strong effort from Dani, and Peter.
Alex struggled with his other car, ending up in the #8 slot and a possible early (2nd round) date with the low qualifier.
He proved that he was up for this, though, improving to a 0,897 against Thomas in rd. 1, and was soon joined by the other favorites in the next round.

The potential all-0.8 race of Alex and Kescha looked promising on paper, but Alex´ Firebird slowed from its earlier pace, while the Slingshot redefined the track record with back-to-back 0,888 and 0,885 runs.

Dani Singer already showed fine form with a 0,925 in rd. 1 and repeated this against Peter´s Nissan, Alex´ Camaro and Kescha´s slightly improving Porsche followed him into the semis.

What looked like a walk in the park for the new record holder on paper, was actually a continuing struggle due to his cars not-so-good brakes and the resulting repairs after almost every run.

Slightly shaken by the adrenaline rush from running back and forth between the soldering station, track and the office of the race director, Kescha found his Slingshot on the losing end of a great race with Dani´s similar car, and just barely managed to avoid the same experience in his second semifinal with Alex, who gave it away with a couple of fouls.

Alex got his revenge (and third place) with some improved RTs, followed by Dani´s somewhat surprising, but deserved win over Kescha with a new personal best of 0,912 (Kescha´s .499 start didn´t help his cause, either).

Drama was avoided due to a 16-car field, Kescha, Thomas, Peter and Alex were on top as expected.
Only Alex´ and Thomas´ slight troubles with their second cars were a bit of a surprise, resulting in early losses for both in eliminations, Peter caused the upset of the race, though, alternating between coma-like RTs and blatant red lights to lose to Kurt Bilgeri´s much slower car.

Kescha tried to save parts whenever possible, advancing both cars to the semifinals, joined by Alex and Thomas.

The first SF brought an abrupt end to Kescha´s smooth sailing, when he was really tested and finally beaten by Alex, despite being quicker in the deciding run - a slight wobble on the top end was enough to record no time, the other semi brought a similar result due to a foul start when it counted most.

No race for third necessary - and (almost) neither for first, as Thomas suddenly found out that his car was failing him and threw in the towel after one run.

Alex finally got his Gp12 win, Thomas 2nd, Kescha 3rd.

Top Fuel:
High expectations abound for this category - a few new cars and no clear-cut favorite here, despite Kescha´s 1-2 finish in 2008.
Peter lived up to his new car´s name (Superman) with a great new personal best of 0,774, Alex and Thomas were not quite happy with their runs but willing and ready to improve.
Kescha was not to be bothered, lowering his track record from the previous year to 0,765 on his first run and backing it up with a 0,768 and a track speed record of 54,80mph on the next.

Motivated (or pushed) to their limits, almost everyone improved in rd. 1, Alex had a new pb of 0,804, Thomas with his new Pennzoil digger and a 0,798 too, and Roger´s 53mph top end charge showed that he was dangerous as well.

Kescha´s record car had a bye in rd. 1, leaving him with too much time on his hands, resulting in a last-minute motor change for his 2nd car between the first two rounds (the actual reason was that the car´s speed was deemed too low by it´s owner and crew chief).

Dani improved, but still had no answer to Kescha´s #1 car, Alex had to choose between his 2 dragsters and went for the beer (Miller), Kescha´s motor change brought no improvement, but a win over Thomas by less then 1/1000, and Peter simply had more luck with the glue then Roger.

Alex had to improve by a bunch to stand a chance against Kescha´s orange monster, and did just that - 0,804/0,785/0,796 should win him just about any other race, but not this one, as Kescha´s 0,783/0,792/0,787 were just a bit better.

Whether the motor change had anything to do with it is debateable, 0,81 - 0,82 ETs were enough to beat Peter´s Superman and repeat last year´s 1-2 finish for Kescha - much to Alex´ disappointment over the "slow" runs by both racers.

Whether he was spurned on by this or not is not known, but Peter showed us the real Superman in his race for third against Alex, 0,785/0,832/0,784 beating his opponent´s 0,789/0,796/0,793 and including a 1/1000 margin of victory in the decider.

This looks great already for next year, new cars being planned and built everywhere, 0.7-runs abound, and new personal bests almost every round.

Not too many surprises in qualifying - Kescha´s 0,776 and 0,783 leading the pack, followed by Peter´s new pb of 0,783 and 0,802, then Roger´s Ian Hill built Corvette,
Alex still trying to figure out his new cars ending ending up 6th and 8th.

A huge surprise then in rd. 1: Kurt Fink had finally found the recepy for Kescha´s (actually Silvano´s) loaner car after struggling in qualifying and went from zero to hero on a 0,814 run against Roger, immediately followed by a two-car crash into the bag resulting in a trip to the plastic surgeon for both.
Despite the battle scars, both cars were back on the track 2 minutes later and actually improved, Kurt with his 0,792 and Roger with a nice top-end charge (and another visit to the bag).

Kescha started his title-defense in rd.2, and was suddenly threatened by Alex´ Corvette, which surprised even its owner with a 0.7 ET.

Peter beat Kurt in a close race thanks to his better RTs, and then Alex thanks to Alex´ red lights (and a new pb of 0,780) - Alex´ 0,786 was for naught.

Kescha´s War Eagle was too much for Jürg and he also had both cars in the semis.

His braking problems continued, though, making things interesting, especially when after losing the first semi, the second car (War Eagle Firebird) ran into the bag hard smashing the Chassis in two.
The resulting repair took up all of the next 2 minutes and also a good part of the staging time, but proved worthwhile as the car sped on to the final round.

Race for third: One foul each, then a win for Kescha and the Camaro FC.
Final rd.: One foul for Kescha and none for Peter plus a slightly more consistent car net the win for Peter´s Mercury - the Firebird´s wheelie bars and chassis setup were a bit upset by the earlier crash.

Only 8 cars showed up for the race, due to the absences of some racers from Germany, Switzerland (Jürg, for example, didn´t bring his car this time), Malta, etc.

Also absent seemed the usual traction problems in qualifying, almost all of the cars made good clean runs, without challenging any records, though.

Peter was #1 with a new pb of 0,484, followed by Kescha, Alex and Thomas with some low 0.5s.

The race was run only a few minutes after qualifying on Saturday, and here some racers suddenly were plagued by traction problems.
Alex was perplexed to see both of his cars lose in rd. 1, first to Thomas and then to Peter, Thomas had no such problems and was quite happy (to say the least) about the win and a new pb of 0,469, Kescha had a day (or at least a round) off, drawing his other car.
The semis brought similar results, this time it was Peter, who unexpectedly lost traction and both races (but won 3rd place for his efforts), while Thomas and Kescha ran fairly consistent and problemless high 0.4s and low 0.5s.

More of the same in the final round, though, as Thomas suddenly spun the tires hard on both runs, and Kescha slowed just a little bit to two still consistent, but slightly braid-burning low 0.5s.

Another Gp7/AA/FC win for Kescha, Thomas is still overjoyed with the new best and the runner-up, Alex is left out scratching his head.

Next year should again be pretty interesting, some new cars are already here and waiting to be run, plus (hopefully) a couple or so more racers attending, as well.

Notes from the race:
- the preparation of the track was as good as ever, both lanes were equally quick throughout
- the race has never been as smooth and on-time as this year - we´ll stick to this schedule for the future
- several new favorites have emerged, but the old ones are still fighting back
- the favorites can never be too sure, regardless of whom they have to face
- the new staging clock/timer, sponsored by Alex, has been a great investment and was received very well by all
- Claudia has really proven herself as a great chief starter and will be pressed into the job again next time
- despite the really tough competition for best hardbodied and Lexan cars, some people seem to win the awards time and time again - not because of any preferance by the judges, but purely on merit
- Dani showed that his car really was the best engineered by winning the SS eliminations with it
- good preparation and dedication leads to good results - Thomas, Peter and Dani are the living proof
- the new hall was great despite earler doubts
- the pyromaniacs from Cologne were again a great show and keep coming up with new cars and ideas every year
- some cars like to surprise their owners/drivers both positively and negatively - just ask Alex
- it doesn´t do you any good to set new records when your brakes fail - just ask Kescha
- it´s still possible to compete for the win in your first race - just ask Fabio, Nicolas and Björn
- losing and winning can be closer together, then the timing system can actually show - ask Thomas and Kescha
- we are looking to add the following staff next year:
1. a secretary for Kescha to replace him on the PC and give him more time to repair his cars (Silvano, we need you!)
2. Somebody to film the event full-time, or race Jürg´s cars, so he can concentrate on the filming
3. Somebody to replace Alex as the chief starter,... wait, we already found the right person for this job!

Thanks again to all who came to race with us and of course to the very supportive sponsors,

Kescha, Alex & co