Why we were there - but not our Blackout SS
Gone with the Wind
Like the old movie "Gone with the Wind" this adventure is also related to the Atlanta area.
However, the containership Maersk Narvik carrying our beloved Blackout SS Impala, chose to avoid a
head-on clash at destination Miami with the extremely angry hurricane Wilma and instead went on a
cruise to Panama (!) and back to Miami when it was over!
Wilma which had speeds of 175 MPH / 280 Kmh blacked out the Miami area including the harbour
Miami Terminal meaning No electricity, No fuels, No phones, No connections - No service.
Our transport agent's office was even gone including paperwork and such. It was a war zone.
Of course this destroyed our plan to go racing at the SSHS #5 in Atlanta, but it didn't stop us in person.
And we were very glad that we made it to the infamous heavyweight race! See for yourself.
Good SS Brother Gene "Boilermaker" Zebley wanted to help us in any way he could. When driving the
Interstate 75 from Florida northbound we passed his hometown Moultrie in Georgia. He escorted us from
there in his Twin Turbo 96 SS through the traffic intense Atlanta area on our way to Commerce.
Gene bought his SS in 2003 and got the flu big time and is already heavily engaged in DeepSouthSS and
is the sitting Board of Director to ISSCA - Impala SS Club of America. At this short brake at a gas station
another Impala SS showed up with a curious driver. In a couple of minutes Gene sold him DeepSouthSS
and its activities like it was the Salvation. Which - of course - it is!
The racers came from almost all of USA to Atlanta Dragway. Most drove their machines but
Chris "Rustic" Nickel from Pleasant Plaines in Illinois has a nice trailer for his 96 Impala SS.
Good morning American Heavyweights! Lincolns, Mercury Marauders, Impalas, Caprices, Cadillacs...
This is the early morning line up for the inspection. This year's special attention was on the electric
cut-off's for those who hade their batteries mounted in the trunk. - Make it work!
Axel had a lot of work in lining up everybody, but loved it. Karl Ellwein (and partner Nabil Guffey) showed
their Black Wolf empty (3700 lbs with driver) and got the OK. Back in the pit they loaded it with sand bags
to pass the minimum weight 3800 lbs (car only) which was not at all checked at inspection - only at the
scales after each run in Qualifying and Elimination. There were a couple of "sand baggers" at the race
following the same procedure and everyone lived happily ever after.
El Clicko! See the pit strategy of this war. (Under construction)
Races all day, pair after pair of heavyweights on a prepared NHRA track! We were in heaven! But where
the **** is OUR car?!?! Tony and I spat and cursed when nobody could see or hear. Even Agneta did,
cursed anyway. When it was getting too tough for us we just grabbed some tools and worked on a
nearby car. Here Karl and Stumpy needed some help with the nitrous bottle in Snowflake, we thought.
Tough image of a tough ex-police car! Norm Campli in his scooped 9C1 with Big Block. I have no idea
why he didn't show up in Big Dog Elimination?
Mike "SSmitty" Smith broke his ordinary stroker 383 engine just before SSHS#5 and had to throw in his
"old 350 stock block" to be able to come racing in his "Cherry Bomb" from Charleston, South Carolina.
He added nitrous and went quicker than he ever have done with the stroker! 10.95 @ 122 MPH!
Good friend and great enthusiast Glen "Stumpy" Koenig out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, didn't get his
own Impala SS ready so Bryan Herter lent his mid 10's sand bagging Snowflake 9C1 to Stumpy
who qualified 5th in Big Dog with 10.99 @ 122 MPH. Raced both in Big Dog and in Bracket.
Gary Meier drove all the way from N.Y. in his 95 9C1. He has swapped the LT1 and 4L60E to an LS1
and 6-speed from a 2002 Z28 Camaro. Gary is a professional in his own shop so he did it in just a
couple of weeks, said there were no big issues. Ran a best of 13.09 @ 106.79 for a 3rd Place
B-Class Finish. Click LS1 for a closer look.
Another New Yorker was Dave Wilson in his 95 Caprice. It's always fun to burn rubber. Made the bump
spot in Big Dog with a 14.01 which I guess is not the quickest Bump Spot in the 5 year history of SSHS?
Lost first round with a fine 13.88 to Brian Sipe in a Mercury Marauder.
Chris "Rustic" Nickel 1996 Impala SS vs. Brian Sipe 2003 Mercury Marauder in a Qualifying round. The
Marauder has been manufactured during three periods. 2003-04 was the last one and then only 11.000
cars. Marauder was not that big of a hit as the Impala SS, but it still feels like a distant and
younger cousin which also has had problems with its parents...
Black Wolf had an interesting solution for a roll cage. It was placed so far back in the car so it didn't need
to go through the dashboard (which I have as a coming dreadful operation). Nothing but business in here,
car is built out of three 9C1's by Nabil Guffey and Karl Ellwein. Karl is also the builder of its 383 stroker.
This 81' Colony Park Wagon from Bradenton in Florida, entered by Roberta Moss, must have had the best
budget of all? Everybody is welcome as long as you keep the weight of the car above 3800 pounds.
After The Star Spangled Banner was played over the PA it was time for The Eliminations for the Qualified
gang. And they still had open lines for all others to continue their heavyweight driving against the clocks.
Always qualified in the Big Dog class, King Kenny Canniff (not to be mistaken with King Karl seen
elsewhere) drove from Tampa, Florida with his multipurpose SS which he also competes in Auto Cross
with, often as a winner! This time 10th qualifier at SSHS with a 12.624. However, meeting
2nd qualifier Nabil Guffey (10.797) in a heads up class can shorten your racing day at once...
Kenny 12.78 @ 110 to winning and easy going Nabil 12.07 @ 113.
Walking around at Atlanta Dragway in the middle of the SSHS was a treat (even if I missed my car more
than ever). It was great to put cars and faces to all the ImpalaSSforum nicknames, and to take pictures
and film them. Mike "CaSSino" from New Jersey stages after a burnout in the left picture. Glen "Stumpy"
Koenig doing a Funny Car burnout out of the right picture. Great cars with great owners.
Maybe the greatest of them all, my oldest SS-idol and target, John "Big Daddy" Rafteseth from
Lawrenceville GA was fun to meet in person. In 2001 when I decided to seriously go racing with
Blackout SS and ordered the 396 stroker "Jeezus" from Autoshop, I was of course aiming at John who
was the quickest of them all at that time - 10.82. Today he has a 10.2 car looking into the 9's.
Saved his 419 ci LT1 engine as much as possible during qualifying but hit it in Round 2 meeting the
Keiler Lincoln who ran a 10.44 in Round 1. Now John would've needed his old 10.29 or better because
his 10.52 @ 130 couldn't match Keilers 10.12 @ 137 which eventually became the best run at the
whole Southern Super Heavy Shootout this year.
Nabil in Black Wolf met the world's quickest and fastest Mercury Marauder in Round 2, Martin Ochs
who has 11.08 and is aiming for the 10's. This time Martin lit the red light.
Driving all the way from Tampa on Drag Radials to become Big Dog No 1 qualifier with 10.78 @ 130,
Chett LaVay could only nurse his babies in the trunk waiting for the Lincoln nightmare in Round 3.
A slight advantage in R-time for Chett didn't compensate for the 10.28 @ 136 Bill Keiler put down.
Chett lost with a 10.81 @ 128 but seemed to be a happy man anyway, he's the owner of the Impala SS.
Next on the nightmare's list were the Black Wolf team Karl Ellwein and driver Nabil Guffey. They did
every small thing they possible could before The Final including cooling the engine with dry ice they got
from Pat Gish. The ice molded just fine to the intake so they even drove the final round with it.
Find out more about this car and this 383 stroker at the engine builder's very informative site:
www.Karl Ellwein - The Heavy Eliminator
Nab did a .257 start on Bill's .347 but the Lincoln showed its backwindow sticker in a 10.270 @ 138.54
to Nab's today's best firstname.lastname@example.org. Karl and Nab were aiming for a 10,5 but had problems with a
broken differential and left the alternator belt on the starting line. Black Wolf has a personal best of
10.301 @ 132.39. Well, some you win some you lose, this time a Lincoln took the Big Dog Title!
SSHS5 Big Dog / Round by Round ladder
Karl and Nab honored me with the "The 11th Jacket" of ECIRS! They only have 10 official racing jackets
which are earned by the 10 best point hunters over the whole season. So it's a very exclusive jacket!
I thank you guys for this gift and I will wear it with pride!
My first drag race in the USA! Could have ended in the concrete! Stumpy offered me all day to take a test
run in Bryan Herter's Snowflake. Of course he did this because he's a good friend and didn't want me to
go home without some action. For this event he even called the car Whiteout. But I said no, I thought it
was enough that our team could join him and his girlfriend Celeste. I was also convinced that me and my
bad luck curse would make something bad happen to an already borrowed car, which I told Stumpy and
Celeste over and over again! "Nah, nothing will happen", they said both of them.
But when Stumpy was out of Big Dog and after he had his Runner Up run in the Bracket final, and the
open lanes still were open, and I just had recieved the 11th Racing Jacket...well, then I put on the helmet
and strapped myself into the drivers seat. A minute long driving instruction in line up from a shouting
Stumpy while the engine was running and with the helmet on didn't help to slow my heart beat! Unlike my
car this one had trans brake and manual shifter. And all the instruments in other positions than in mine.
Well, I did a burnout in some gear and I staged and I (for the first time in my life) pressed the trans brake
button and revved up and I left on green. Felt just fine. When high gear hit I got a spin and slid so I had
to let off the accelerator and steer! Checked rear view mirror but no oil! Phew! Hit the accelerator again
and got another spin and slide at the top end!!! I checked the instruments, behind my right arm a red lamp
was lit!!! I let off the accelerator and tried to locate the oil pressure instrument and after a couple of years
I found it and oil pressure seemed fine but what about this ****ing red lamp!?!?! When turned off the strip
at last, it just blew steam somewhere in front! Water? Hm? I quickly recalled that Stumpy was bothered
and wondering about small greenish water spills inside the engine compartment after every run. Yes, it
was embarrassing to witness the NHRA Safety Safari having to go work because of me! But as I said "It's
a Blackout Thing!" The red lamp was for water temp and the leakage was because trans oil was cooled
through the radiator and when trans brake is activated it is heated very quickly! Stumpy said I trans
braked too long, hey, it felt like a second, maybe two! It started to leak already in stage as you can see
on the picture! You can also see that this car has a supreme chassis reaction!
Thanks Stumpy, Celeste, Bryan Herter and Atlanta Dragway for this run. It sure gave me some action,
and the Safety Safari as well. ET? Well 11.3 something and some MPH. Actually the quickest I have
run in a year!
No we're not giving up yet, this race at least gave us more taste for it! And it was fun to meet and work
with master photographer Anders "Al Benson" Albinsson again! We worked together at Bilsport
Magazine in the 80's. Since then a lot has happened. He eventually stopped working with cars and
became the Editor of Ljud & Bild, the leading electronics magazine in Sweden, so he went inside
the camera so to speak. We were glad that both the publisher Stig L Sjöberg and Anders liked my
crazy idea to bring this photographer into the rubbersmoke again! Thank you both!
SSHS5 - Picture Of The Year
Drag Racing basic, captured by Anders Albinsson in the exact right moment. El Clicko!
SSHS5 - Picture Of The Year
Sean Alford and his family went to Atlanta to watch the Battle of the Heavyweights. Wife Kim is a
professional photographer and in this moment their sweet 8 year old daughter Sydney just turns
around to say something when an Impala SS nails a Mercury Marauder.
Norm Campli votes YES for GASSIT to organize the SSHS again next year. This was the fourth SSHS
this organization has had of the total 5. The first SSHS was in Florida. GASSIT said it was the last time
in 2004 because of the imbalance between work input and money income. But they changed their minds
when so many racers pre-entered, and this year they looked happy and confident. Just like Norm!
The tail gate partying outside Hampton Inn in Commerce on the nights before and after the race is
actually half the fun! The highlight is of course the awards ceremony and here Bill Keiler from Ft
Lauderdale, FL shows maybe the most prestigious award The Big Dog Winner. Bill's Lincoln
became the leader of the pack and will be The Target for a whole year. Congratulations!
Pat Gish and Glen "Stumpy" Koenig (SSmitty in background). Last year there was a big fight between
Pat and Glen in the "HOBO"-class - Heads Up Bolt On. Only a couple of hundreds of a second apart.
Stumpy won the Final. Check this pic from Blackout Fashion Group page! This year Pat won the Final
and Stumpy wasn't even in that class anymore. Stumpy went out in Big Dog but came out with the
Runner Up trophy in the Bracket class which he also ran with the Snowflake/Whiteout. Stumpy and
Celeste had a special hot dog bar-b-que in the parking and it didn't take long until Axel volunteered
as the grill master. He usually does. Mmmm...good! Thank you good folks!
Americanos are so welcoming and encouraging so we were given a lot of nice gifts because we made
the trip (even without the Blackout SS). We got the Long Distance award despite that the car was on
a cruise in a container. And personal B-body T-shirts are always appreciated! Sorry, I wish I knew the
name of the sweet GASSIT Awards Presenting Queen.
Rick "LoveSS" Graves from St. Louis Missouri (to the far right) had it all planned beforehand. Not only
did he and his wife Irene think about Axel and gave him an Impala SS kit signed by SS-creator Jon
Moss! Rick had Stumpy to present a beautiful framed art based on a former Impala SS-ad which his
mother club GRAIL - Gateway Regional Area Impala SS Lovers - has printed in a limited series.
I promise to show it here as soon as I've put it up in a proper place in our The Best Damn Garage
in Town. And If you visit the interesting and entertaining LoveSS site you'll learn that Rick has
"The Smallest Damn Garage in Town" =) Thanks Rick and Irene!
Oh yea, Rick did take 2nd place in Class A bracket, the forgotten "little dogs" - "The PuppieSS"!
No one wanted to be the first to go to bed, so everybody was up. Meeting, talking, listening, showing,
laughing, drinking...socializing in the best way there is. The Magic Parking. We met Paul T Casey and
wife who might have been the "real" long distance winners as they drove from Misquamicut, Rhode Island.
He showed his bag-o-timeslips which he's collected during three years racing in his 2003 Marauder.
John Budan is a respected dent remover and was booked by GASSIT for this weekend. He worked
almost around the clock, both on the track and in the Magic Parking. When I saw him working I once
again damned Wilma the hurricane, because my SS really needed him. Chris "Rustic" Nickel in line
with Doug Wood's daughter Allison.She was busy all night serving Apple martinis and Kamikazees
out of the back of their Chevy SurBARban. It was really great to meet everyone!
Sunday morning bye-bye's.
It was fun to finally meet you Boilermaker! See you soon again!
Thanks all of you!
8 weeks after the containership left Gothenburg, Sweden, the
container with Blackout SS was unloaded at final destination Autoshop
in Orlando were it will wait for further adventures in February of 2006.