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DRAGRACING: The Free Mexican Air Force Fly This Weekend

17 April 1998

"Nitro Neil" Bisciglia and the rest of the Free Mexican Air Force are preparing their Foothill Flyer Top Fuel Dragster for an invasion of the placid, rolling foothills of Wine Country this weekend. Their mission? To continue to advance the guard during Round 2 of the Goodguys Triple Crown Series, the Goodguys *Nitro Nationals* at Sears Point Int'l Raceway.

In preparation of the race, Bisciglia reveals snippets of the teams strategy: "We're playing around with cylinder heads. Everything's smooth...The car is much further along than it was at Bakersfield (Editor's Note: Site of a startling runner-up finish at the 39th March Meet). 'Pro' (engine man Ron Welty) is pumped and says this thing ought to shake pretty good."

What's happening with the tune-up? "The clutch is close," Bisciglia explains, "but the engine is not necessarily happy yet. When it's completely happy we might see a gain of a 10th and a cleaner read on the engine parts. Some camshaft massaging and manipulation will bring back the happiness to the engine and will allow us to really go the war with the other guys. It sounds simple but I really think it'll work."

Is there any pressure to continue to go rounds? "Pressure would be the wrong word. The notion that we are a 'one race wonder'-type deal--I'm looking forward to putting that behind us. But no doubt about it--the competition is stiff." B-U-T, Neil continues, "It's a happy team. Everybody's got to know the car a little better. It's such a friendly car too."

The race team's motley braintrust--"Pistol Pete" Jensen, Ken Castagnino, and Pro--will be joined this weekend by heretofore silent partner Mike Civelli, who will also lend his considerable knowledge to the operation, as well as rub elbows with the Dog Pound of Mike "Pit Bull" Bumbeck and Larry "Bulldog" Westerveldt.

So the FMAF is focused in its pursuit of VRA points leader Jim Murphy and the WW II AA/Fuel Dragster. They expect fierce competition from the expected 13 other fuel teams vying for Sunday's 8-car ladder. Qualifying will begin Saturday at 11:00am and continue at 3:00pm. The forecast is for clear, dry and 70 degree temperatures for the duration of the event.

One minor distraction, howver, is a discrepancy concerning where the FMAF actually stand in the VRA Points Race. It seems that in their frenzy to prepare for the March Meet, the team neglected to fork over the $20 necessary to enter the tournament. In their defense, many of the teams missed the same downpayment. We'll see if a powwow between the Executive Branch of the Goodguys VRA and the race teams can't sort this out over the weekend. Regardless of the outcome, in their hearts the Foothill Flyer bunch know where they stand...--Che Guevara