Bad Brad was in the House at the Gateway Showdown

Bad Brad

The X-DRL stands for…..well…..X-TREME Drag Racing, and that’s exactly what occurred at the Gateway Showdown at Madison, IL, the latest stop on the 2013 X-DRL Series. So, what made this race live up to the X-TREME drag action everyone has come to expect from the X-DRL? How about a Pro X-Treme class pro mod car blowing the drivers door off at full tilt going through the speed trap not once, but twice in the same day? Or maybe the thrash in the Pro X-Treme pits to perform an engine swap between rounds and the difficulties associated with working at a fevered pitch in a time consuming pressure cooker environment required to make the call for the next pass down that black ribbon of real estate everyone refers to as “the track”.

Haney Racing...XDRL...6-13-13 068Well race fans, that’s how it went down for the Mustang, Oklahoma based Lethal Acceleration Racing Team of Todd Martin and Brandon Pesz at Gateway Motorsports Park. With over fifty years of combined drag racing experience nothing much surprises theses two guys anymore. They seem to just take everything in stride and deal with issues as they arise. Well, problem one occurred during qualifying when the Kryptonite Kustomz 58 Corvette Brandon Pesz drives and tunes for team owner Todd Martin decided to launch the driver’s door into the stratosphere at over 200 mph. Okay, no big deal. Brandon and crew towed back to the pits to service the car for the next round of qualifying and start fabricating the new door they had in the hauler to fit and get the spare door on the car, no problem. The next pass Brandon set low qualifier for the Pro X-Treme class at 3.62 @ 208.91 mph and watched his spare driver’s side door on the car launch toward the outer reaches of the atmosphere like NASA used to blast a Saturn 5 rocket to the moon. Team owner Todd Martin had to be thinking, “Houston we have a problem,” because he knew they didn’t have another spare to replace the previous door that Easton Garrett and Mike Carver had worked so hard on. Everyone’s efforts kept the Vette in line for qualifying passes even though the car had already sent all of Easton, Mike and the crew’s hard work skyward to only come crashing back to earth in a totally unrepairable state.

So, what to do now? You can’t leave a #1 qualified Pro X-Treme pro mod car sitting in the pits on raceday because you don’t have a door on it can you? Nope, you can’t according to Todd and Brandon. Luckily for them Larry Jeffers of Jeffers races cars had an old fiberglass display door at his shop. Easton Livingston of Garrett Race Cars headed out with Larry Jeffers back to Jeffers shop around midnight, which was just a 50 minute drive away. It would take lots of work to make door #3 work on the car, but first they had to go pick it up and bring it back to the track post haste!

IMG_6611That’s where Kim Buff Pesz, Brandon’s wife, enters stage left into what is quickly becoming a story fit for its own made-for-TV mini series drama. It seems in Easton, Larry and Kim’s focus to make a cannonball run for the newly discovered replacement car door, Kim “failed” to obey the speed limit. What, speed limits for drag racers, you’ve got to be kidding and so close to the track too? Yep you guessed it, seems the popo had nothing better to do. Well, Johnny Law was fixing to find out soon enough that us drag racers are a very special breed of well, I don’t know what it is exactly, but if you’re a racer you know what I mean. LOL. As more bad luck would have it, when Kim got pulled over for merely bending the speed just a tiny little bit (about 20 mph over the posted limit) in her haste to retrieve yet another replacement door for the Pro X-Treme car she had failed to bring along her drivers license. We all know how much the popo likes it when we do that, NOT! But, Kim proceeded to explain her dilemma to the Deputy Sherriff who seemed quite amazed and perplexed by her story. However, she was able to verify her story in true drag racer fashion by having the officer shine his flash light on the old door off the Kryptonite Kustomz Pro X-Treme Corvette that was lying in the back seat of a rental car she was driving that wasn’t rented in her name, which brought up several other questions from the cop. The officer was also able to see Brandon’s name boldly emblazoned on the damaged car door window and decided her entire story, as crazy as it might sound, really did add up. So, after issuing a written warning for excessive speed, Kim politely thanked the kind officer and then as soon as he was out of sight, she matted it again because that’s just what we drag racers do.

IMG_6608IMG_6616Once back at the track the entire crew jumped in to get all the hardware and window mounted, so the #1 qualified Pro X-Treme drag machine was ready for racing action on Saturday and all the work was done by about 2:30 Saturday morning. A special thanks goes out to Easton Livingston from Garrett Race Cars and Mike Carver for shaping the replacement door in record time and also to Larry Jeffers for being so kind to find a 3rd door for the car. A shout out has to go to BBQ Wayne Bartles for throwing in a helping hand with the car when needed and also keeping the crews fed the entire weekend with lip smacking good pulled pork, chicken legs & breasts, and scrumptious pork chops.

IMG_6641The Lethal Acceleration Team got some much needed rest and began getting both cars prepped on Saturday morning for their final qualifying run and then elimination action. So, drama over, all problems solved right? Nope, WRONG! On the final qualifying pass on Saturday morning team owner Todd Martin’s blower motor in his 68 Mustang decided it was time for a parts failure. It seems the splined gear on the crank that drives the cam shaft felt it just wasn’t in the cards to hang together for another pass at Gateway and fell apart, but not without spewing copious amounts of metal throughout the entire engine and crank case. You guessed it, engine swap between rounds. Ladies and gentlemen, let the thrash begin. Round two of Lethal Acceleration’s new TV mini series drama was about to get underway and was going to be played out in front of a live audience of fans and crews alike in the pits at the X-DRL’s X-Treme Gateway Showdown. The Lethal Acceleration’s crew including Snake, Big Matt and first time crew member Kyle Smith were up to the task along with help from many other race teams including Mike Recchia’s Agro Fresh crew, which was slated to race Todd in the first round of eliminations. Terry Leggett threw in a helping hand along with the Keith Haney Racing team. The thrash was on and it got done in record time with fans witnessing the action in the pits with their very own eyes. Even though none of these race teams had ever worked together before, the engine swap went off better than a production engine install in a new model being built in Detroit. And yes, Todd Martin and his Pro X-Treme 68 Mustang were going to be able to make the first round call for eliminations, thanks to a lot of help from his crew, first round competitors and also other racing teams and friends because that’s just the way we roll in the X-DRL Series. It’s a big traveling circus of drag racing addicted friends who will try to beat each other’s brains out on the track, but will cover each other’s backs through thick and thin anywhere, anytime.



Engine swap done. Check! Todd makes it to the staging lanes with a freshly swapped engine for E1, he makes the pass, wins the race, and the story ends with him riding off into the sunset, securing the event victory, getting the big trophy, the oversized check, and living happily ever after. Well, not exactly. During the thrash, hundreds of things had to be done completely spot on or Todd’s Stang might not fire or make the E1 run and sometimes the most basic maintenance needs can easily be overlooked in a thrash. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to the Lethal Acceleration Team. Something as simple as making sure the starter batteries were fully charged to fire up Todd’s methanol gulping machine was overlooked and when it came to fire it up, nothing happened and there wasn’t another team anywhere close that had a starter they could borrow to do the job for them. Talk about the agony of defeat. This team busted its hump to get a new bullet into Todd’s Mustang to no avail. Hey, I know it’s cliché, but sometimes drag racing can REALY be a DRAG, just ask the guys on Todd Martin’s team. Talk about gut wrenching agony. The look on Todd’s crew member’s face, know only as Snake, could have almost brought a tear to the most hardened drag racers eye when he realized they weren’t going to make that E1 pass.

So, with Todd’s bad luck in the rear view mirror, the Lethal Acceleration Team still had a horse in this race and they weren’t about to throw in the towel just yet. Brandon’s Vette began marching through the field like a hot knife through butter and just for good measure in between E2 and E3 the team threw a birthday party for team owner Todd Martin’s wife Shari. Lethal Acceleration super fans Melvin and Stephanie from Dallas brought the cake and a full blown official birthday party was held to celebrate Shari’s special day in the midst of a crazy weekend for Todd, Brandon and their teams. We heard that Shari’s party was a complete and rousing success ending with a cake fight, which would seem rather typical for this team.

Okay, so Shari’s birthday party now has the completed and passed check mark next to it too, so it’s time to go racing and that’s just what the team did. Brandon made it all the way to the finals in the Kryptonite Kustomz 58 Corvette, despite the car’s desire to remain driver side doorless. The Vette made it all the way to the finals with Brandon at the wheel until Mother Nature said, “Okay racers, you’ve had enough fun for one weekend,” and she rained the Pro X-Treme finals out. Not to worry, the finals for this race will be run at the X-DRL’s next event, MAYHEM at the Creek, July 26-27 in Mechanicsville Maryland. So, the final chapter of this saga is still yet to be written.

There you have it race fans. That’s the good, the bad and the ugly of team Lethal Acceleration’s weekend at the X-DRL Gateway Showdown at Madison, IL. And, as anyone that has spent any time at all chasing the dream of being a drag racer either as a professional or weekend foot braker knows, drag racers are one tough brethren of men and women tested by fire and baptized in their fuel of desire. No matter what they never ever give up. Sometimes chasing the dream for speed can rip your guts out. But, making that one perfect pass cleanses everything evil. I can’t speak for everyone that drag races, but for me and hundreds of others I know that are inflicted with a need for speed, the passion we have for all things cool, fast and loud, will keep us keeping on because we’re just “Living the Dream”.

See you at the drags – Bad Brad


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