Let it never be said that the IsuzuWeb is all show and no go, because many of our members are avid and competitive racers. But, if you think getting a group of Isuzu cars together for a show is challenging, it's even more challenging to get a group of Isuzu cars together for a race. Needless to say, when one of these rare occasions does happen, it is very special indeed.
Several IsuzuWeb members brought up the need for more gatherings at shows and races
in the Midwest and elsewhere, and the "Summit Sport Compact Nationals" was suggested as
a good show to gather at. It was right smack, dab in the middle of the summer, located
in Norwalk Ohio, and offered the interesting combination of the growingly popular
"show and race" (drag racing event with a show field in the pit area). Some of our
members said they had attended this event in the past several years and enjoyed it very
much. offering an excellent car show with the added excitement of drag racing.
The show and race has been the traditional end day of the "Diamond Star Shootout", a weekend long competition for Mitsubishi enthusiasts including drag racing as well as autocross, attracting the big names in the Mitsubishi, Plymouth, and Eagle community, including Buscher Racing among others.
For 2001, Summit Racing sort of broke away from the Sport Compact Nationals, and established their own show and race series, as is common for the larger mailorder parts retailers in the US.
So it was decided that the Norwalk Sport Compact Nationals would be a IsuzuWeb gathering and members pencilled in that event on their calendars.
It was agreed that we would gather at the motel in Norwalk on the Saturday afternoon
and evenning before the show. Michael Gainey became our guide as he had been attending
the show for several years with his Mitsubishi enthusiast friends, and he would be
attending the attending the Shootout this year as well.
The plan was to meet around 3 PM, eat dinner together, and then, in true Carlisle fashion, see who was the best driver at the local go-cart track. It seems that the Mitsubishi enthusiasts picked up on the same tradition the Isuzu enthusiasts had, to seek out the best local amusement center and then spend the night before the weekend's event in wheel to wheel competition, trading paint and jockeying for racing position with their fellow car enthusiasts. One interesting thing about Norwalk, there is not one but two amusement centers right up the street from the motel in Sandusky, Ohio, Sports City Family Fun Center and Goofy Golf Carts. Both offer three or more outdoor tracks and inexpensive unlimited ride tickets for an evenning of as much racing as a person could handle.
There was only one catch for 2001, the weather. It rained Saturday afternoon and forced the amusement centers to close their go-cart tracks.
Not letting the weather ruin a perfectly good evenning, several of the Mitsubishi crowd
located a Bowling Alley in Norwalk, and it was quickly decided that a bowling we would go.
Now, this may not sound very exciting, but get together a group of car nuts, a couple pitchers of beer, a couple bowling lanes, and a lot of flashing lights and tacky music, and though it may not be obvious at first, these are the makings of a very enjoyable evenning of trading racing stories, planning drastic and radical engine modifications, and a lot of fun. And it was surprising how well we all did at bowling, even though most of us hadn't been inside a bowling alley for ten or more years.
Early rising is the secret to getting a jump on a race and show day, and everyone got ready to go to Norwalk Raceway early to arrive before the crowd.
Norwalk Raceway is a International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) track, actually, Norwalk
is the flagship IHRA track, and upon arriving at the raceway, it was very clear that these
people have their act together as far as running a drag racing facility. Technical
inspection was drive through, meaning drive through, no long wait like at a National Hot
Rod Association (NHRA) track. The days events included test and tune from 9 Am to Noon,
which ran smoothly and racers got six or more runs without as much waiting in line in the
lanes as at a NHRA track. The main features were heads up racing competition in Quick 8,
Street 8, and Outlaw 8, and bracket racing competition in three different classes.
Meanwhile, and woven in to the drag racing schedule, were the show car competition,
burnout contest, and bikini contest, a manufacturer's midway, and a very professional
announcer kept a constant dialog going all day to keep the crowd informed of what was
happenning where at the raceway, what the driver's names were who were lining up on the
track, and what cars they were driving. Rather an impressive feat starting at 9 AM and
ending at 5 PM.
Meanwhile, the facility itself offered a lot of amenities not found at typical drag racing tracks, a full memorabilia and apparel shop, six or eight different food vendor shops, and catered bar-b-que lunch for race and show participants.
Michael Gainey raced his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS and though Bill Luton attended in his Father's red 1991 Isuzu Stylus XS, having driven his Father's Stylus because he had ripped the front motor/transmission mounting bracket off his own Stylus the week before while practicing for drag racing competition at Norwalk, Bill would not be racing his Father's Stylus at Norwalk.
A surprise was the attendance of Adam Reck in his red 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS. Adam was experiencing some engine problems and left te event early.
While they launched side by side, Michael Gainey's red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS soon pulled ahead of the black Dodge Neon.
Michael Gainey's red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS catches a good light and out reacts the driver of a mundane, common model silver and white car.
Adam Reck launches his red 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS which squats a little and shoots forward, while his opponent in a mundane, common model blue car sits spinning his tire.
Michael Gainey's red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS pulls away from a mundane, common model yellow car.
Adam Reck's red 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS hooks third gear while passing the 330 foot mark.
Michael Gainey warms the tires of his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS in the water box.
Michael Gainey spins his tires just past the water box to clean any excess water off the tires of his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS.
Michael Gainey catches a good clean green light in his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS.
Michael Gainey outpaces a white Ford Probe in his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS for the win.
Michael Gainey stages his red 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS prepared for his first competition run.
Michael Gainey catches a good, clean launch in 1989 Isuzu I-Mark RS with a dial in of 16.7 seconds, but, unfortunately, ran his best time of the day, with a 16.4, breaking out and ending his day of racing.
As always, everyone attending had about as much fun as a person could handle in an afternoon of racing, and this looks to become the new mid season event for the IsuzuWeb.
We may not have gone away with any trophies, but Michael Gainey captured the day in words the best when he stated "I may have broken out in the first round, but I crossed the 1320 foot mark in front of every honda that lined up next to me, which is more important in the end, anyway.".
If you are within striking distance of Norwalk, Ohio, mark your calendar early for next July's Sport Compact Nationals, and join the IsuzuWeb for another great event.