In part two of the “Friends That Make Us Fast” series we highlight Donald Trump. Just kidding but hoping we can pickup a reader or two from folks searching Donald Trump. All joking aside this one is about a real grassroots racer I’ve known for years and a Technical Salesman at Wiseco. Not only is Vic one knowledgeable guy when it comes to race engines, he’s one heck of a racer. In fact he’s the 2016 IHRA No Box World Champion!
“I ran at Thompson Raceway all year trying to finish high enough in points to go to Memphis and chase a World Title. I finished 8th in points and was geared up for the Bracket Finals. At the Bracket Finals in Pittsburgh I was adding a bottle of water a round to the radiator figuring I had a cracked cylinder somewhere but the Mopar was trying to soldier on. I ended up winning the Division Three No Box title on not much more than hopes and prayers. The next week I was trying to test the car out at Norwalk’s Halloween Classic and even with the block sealer I tossed into it she still wasn’t having anything to do with it so red lighting in the opening round wasn’t too much of a disappointment. On the way home I called Mark Cook and he already had three motors in the shop to go through.” Said Ellinger. In the following week he flew to Lubbock, TX then to Arlington, TX for meetings with Scoggin Dickey and Reher & Morrison. What a life! When he flew back he slammed a fresh Big Block Mopar in the tube chassis Volvo (yes Volvo) just in time to leave for Memphis on Wednesday to jump in for a $50 rain soaked time run. And after the barometer went from -400ft to +1,600ft between that run and 1st round with only one run on the engine he was ready…ish.
After rolling through the first few rounds of competition the race hit the pivot point we’re all familiar with where it changed from night to day and the weather makes that final swing into steady cool conditions. “I saw that there was rain rolling in once I got there and decided to jet the carb up four sizes in anticipation of the conditions.” It was in that move right there that Vic Ellinger won that round which featured some of the saltiest bottom bulb crushing action I’ve heard about in a while. “I just kept telling myself ‘drill the bolt’. I told this to Mark Brewer as a little motivation for his championships to help him slow the moment down. Whenever you snap off a bolt head you have to drill it out, you don’t get two shots at it and if you miss by a few ten thousandths of an inch you can ruin a block or transmission or whatever you’re working on. I tried to stay focused and keep myself in the moment. Just drill the bolt like I have a million times before.” Just before the final Vic called one of the best in the business, Matt Dadas, for some advice. “I was talking to Matt before the final cause I was drilling the tree in my spot every time, only problem was that my spot was keeping me in the .020’s. We decided to add 6 lbs of air to the front tires and throw in a shim on the button to step it up. The result is a solid twenty pack that forced his opponent to drop above his dial and Vic Ellinger took him the big Ironman. “I chopped the throttle a few times and he dropped and when I crossed I saw the winlight and it was cool, but it didn’t hit me until I was on the return road. And then being on the starting line with folks from so many great companies and racers. It was just overwhelming.”
Now Vic is back to work and on the phone. When I asked how he got in at Wiseco he said “I walked in for my interview with pictures in my hands of race cars I’ve driven and luckily for me the guy interviewing me was a Mopar guy so we sat and shot the breeze for a while and I had the job!” I asked him what he does at Wiseco and he responded with “I get to help design pistons, and talk with some of the great minds in engine building. These guys are always trying something new and exciting which makes my job exciting. I mean for instance I got to work with Grumpy Jenkins on his last ever project. That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”
To wrap this all up and put a pretty little bow on top Vic is one of those guys that enjoys this sport as much as any of us. He has a tremendous amount of respect for his competitors both on and off the track. He’s one of the minds I can rely on about engine questions and almost anything else racing related. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and in case you missed it you can find the first installment of “Friends That Make Us Fast” featuring Jerron Settles. Coming up next is one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever encountered in motorsports. The name? Well you’ll have to stay tuned as we have well over a dozen more friends lined up.
‘Till next time, keep it shiny side up!