Using mineshaft-like weather conditions to his favor, veteran Northeast doorslammer racer Ed Burnley drove his “Ironman” 1967 Chevrolet Camaro into the record books at Maryland’s Capitol Raceway on Saturday evening, as he recorded the quickest quarter-mile elapsed time in history by a nitrous oxide-assisted, full-bodied machine.
Burnley, competing in Capitol’s Northeast Outlaw Pro Modified Association (NEOPMA) event, scorched the 1,320 to the tune of 5.734-seconds at just 231.99 mph, eclipsing the 5.746-second (251.49 mph) standard set by Bob Rahaim at the NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas in May (it should be noted that Burnley runs a lock-up converter, Rahaim does not).
Even though they knew it was out there, given the incredible sub-200-feet corrected altitude, for Burnley and crew chief Bobby Holtzner, the .73 came as a welcome surprise.
“It’s one of those things where the stars all aligned,” Holtzner commented.
With just twelve cars on hand, Burnley and company were guaranteed a starting spot in the field, and so they set out to “lay down a run” during qualifying, largely in an effort to snatch the $2,000 bounty offered to any team that could better the existing track record. “Both qualifying runs we took a shot at it and just had too much. I figured the track just wasn’t there and wouldn’t hold it, but really, I just overestimated how much power we were trying to throw down at it, because the air was that good.”
Burnley skipped the first qualifying session, and shook hard on the two subsequent passes, forcing him to enter eliminations from the anchor spot. In round one, the Camaro again rattled the tires, but Ed was able to pedal and edge out number one qualifier Dwayne Wolfe to advance on.
“That last run was so close to going that I knew if we could slow the tire down just a little bit early, that it was really going to run,” Holtzner says.
Holtzner says an on-track delay between the first and second rounds allowed the program to advance into “just about the perfect time of day to run here in Maryland. It’s really tricky, because you want some sun on the track this time of year, but as soon as it starts cooling down, the dew settles on the track, so you need to catch it right at that good period where there’s a little heat in the track, the air is getting really good, but the dew isn’t coming in yet. And it got to that point right when we ran.”
Racing alongside Casey Stemper, Burnley sailed to the career best 5.73 (his only full pass of the entire weekend), despite the engine chewing up the number-one piston in the lights and ending his night.
“I just blacked out after the run. I don’t even remember what happened. It was pretty surreal, for sure. And it would have been quicker and faster had it not burned itself up,” says Holtzner.
Holtzner says, comparing their numbers side-by-side to Rahaim’s, that the Camaro ought to run in the 5.60s, but admits “we can’t be sure until it runs it.”
After repairing their “small” 903-inch Pat Musi powerplant, Burnley and Holtzner will get another shot at bettering their mark, in perhaps equally as impressive of conditions, at the Maryland International Raceway’s $25,000-to-win Superchargers Showdown next weekend.
Ed is quick to thank his team, which includes Bill Smith, George Shriver, Ken Willey, Thomas Johnson, and Tim Simmons.