CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS BLIZZARD SERIES TECH By Matthew Dillner
Mercer Not Coming Back After Post-Race Drama
As a racecar driver, it is important to push the envelope. Sometimes a driver pushes the envelope on the track and sometimes he or she pushes the envelope when it comes to the rule book. A racer will do anything to get the edge it takes to win.
A tech inspector is the man who makes sure nobody gets an unfair competitive advantage. His job goes by without much publicity, that is, until he has to rule against someone or take a win away.
In a sport where the edge is met in nearly every category, the two worlds are bound to collide from time to time. And when they do, someone is not going to be happy.
“The first race here he throws out the champion and throws out the third and fourth place car,” said a very upset Eddie Mercer days being disqualified from his second place finish. “I don’t have any reason now to go run those races. They stole my points and they stole my money.
“We’ve already had our carburetor checked and it’s the same carburetor we’ve run for three years there and the same one we won the Snowball Derby with. It’s the same carburetor we won the Blizzard championship with last year and the year before that.”
There was quite a crowd gathered at the tech shed awaiting the results of carburetor inspection (51 Photos/Steven Neely)
Speed51.com knows there are always two sides to every story. So, we contacted Five Flags Speedway’s Tech inspector Ricky Brooks about the claims. Brooks stands by his procedures and his decision to disqualify Mercer and the other two drivers.
“On Mercer’s and Scofield’s, the boosters had been raised. I can’t tell you if they are the same carburetors they (Scofield & Carlson) had run anytime before, not Mercer’s.
“The boosters, which are down in the venturi of the carburetor, have a standard height they have to meet with a gauge. They were raised above that, bringing them up out of the carburetor and that lets more cfm’s through the carburetor. Mercers, I didn’t use a filler gauge, but if was a good 1/16th (off), which is a 65-thousandths. It doesn’t sound like that much, but when you are fooling with air it is.
“Jeff’s (Scofield) was a good 1/8 of an inch (off). His was a Southern All Stars style carburetor that was bored out with tapered boosters, which was even more (illegal).”
There was a lot of attention payed to Ricky Brooks' rulings during the 2005 Snowball Derby weekend as well.
This was the case after the Blizzard Series opening race at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway (FL). Charlie Bradberry stole the show, but after the race, “the show” switched from victory lane to the tech shed just inside of turn number-three.
Bradberry cleared technical inspection and took his car and trophy to the trailer. It was a different result for runner-up finisher Eddie Mercer, third-place Jeff Scofield and fourth place Scott Carlson. All three cars were booted from their finishing spots because of rules infractions. All three were dq’ed for illegal carburetors.
So when the drama surrounding post-race tech was over, there were a lot of hard feelings and a lot of finger pointing.
Mercer was steamed after tech and said that he shouldn’t have had the finish taken away.
“Before (previously) they would set it (the carburetor) on the bench and look at it and tell you it was fine. This time he gets it up on an elevated bench and gets it up to eye level and is putting the gauge on there and gets about 2-thousandths air gap on the booster height gauge. I mean, it was two-thousandths of an inch. You couldn’t even see it if you held it up there. You would have to hold it up at eye level and get a microscope to even see it.
“We were running a stock carburetor with no weight advantage. You are allowed to modify the 390 carburetor so it can make about 60 more horsepower. But that place is so hard to get a hold of because the place is so bad and wore out that you can’t run that carburetor because it makes too much power. That’s why we had a stock one.”
“Personally, I don’t think Eddie was doing anything for a competitive advantage,” said Brooks. “Eddie doesn’t build his carburetors he buys them. Eddie should have a problem with who builds his carburetors, not me. In his defense he doesn’t build them.”
Scott Carlson's #38 finished the race fourth but had it taken away in post-race inspection.
Scott Carlson had his #38 loaded in the trailer when he was told to bring his racecar down to the tech-shed. The trip proved costly for Carlson, who was stripped of his fourth place finish. Carlson was surprised with the request to come back to tech and the results of the trip.
“He waved me on (on the first trip to tech) and said, ‘Ya’ll are okay, go ahead,’ and he did that to the 5th place guy also. We go to the trailer and get loaded up and we are waiting for the races to end so we can get out and they come up to me and say, Bring your car back down to tech and take your carburetor out, and bring the tools to take the carburetor out.’ I thought, well, if they got some problems down there we might go gain us a spot.
“So I take the carburetor out and dump the gas out and take it on in there to them. They start putting the tools on it, and the part of the tool he was using and the way he used it really wasn’t the way that he used it before. It’s the same carburetor that I have run for three years. It’s the carburetor he has checked many times and it even had his own markings on there in paint.
“I think my problem wasn’t the same as Mercer and Scofield had. From what I understand their boosters were too high. One of my venturi's was too big, just barely. I mean he had to wiggle the tool around, and finally it fell in. What they do is set the tool on top of the hole and if it doesn’t go in you are okay. He has checked this carburetor many times before and said this is a close one but it never was illegal until last Friday night. I think with him wiggling the tool a round it finally wore the edge off and it finally fell through, barely.”
“Carlson’s carburetor, three of the venturi’s were too big,” said Brooks. “The gauge went right through three of them. Whenever the carburetor gets hotter it gets bigger.”
“It’s a rule you have to go by. When you push the limit and cross that limit, I have to enforce the rules. I’ve got rules that the carburetor have to meet. Where is the stopping point?”
But Mercer and Carlson feel like the post-race tech turned into too much of a show. The drivers said that they feel cheated out of the finish, points and money they deserve and had harsh words about head tech man Ricky Brooks.
“This tech guy, Ricky Brooks, just like the problem he had with Richie Wauters at the Snowball Derby; he likes drama,” said Mercer. “He likes human drama. He likes to get a big crowd gathered up and make a big scene. It took him an hour-and-a-half to tech carburetors because he likes to get everyone gathered up and make a big scene. He’ll go get the fourth place guy out of the trailer and throw him out too. He likes to make himself out to be a hero. I wasn’t cheating! They can come take their friggin’ Snowball Derby trophy back and that’s the way I feel.”
“The tech man made a big show of it,” said Carlson. “He said Eddie was wrong, Scofield was wrong and then he pulled me down there. Then he held on to everyone’s carburetor until he found someone who passed his inspection. Everyone was gathered around and he was at a point where he couldn’t go back; he couldn’t say, look guys, a lot of these carburetors are a little bit over the line, but it’s the first race of the season, so don’t’ bring ‘em back next time because there isn’t going to be any benefit of the doubt. When they say, ‘That’s what the rule is,’ that’s just an excuse for them to stand behind and say that they are right. It’s not the fair thing that should have happened.
Mercer says the carburetor was the same one he used winning last year's Snowball Derby.
“It’s is typical tech man standing behind the rule book; using the rule book as a shield, saying that it is black and white. A little bit of common sense goes a long way with a rule book. A rule book is a guideline for fairness.”
Brooks feels like he was fair in the process and seemed surprised about the claims of creating drama.
“I don’t like throwing people out,” said Brooks. “If you cross that line, I am not afraid to throw you out. The only way I am going to do that job is if I am fair, straight across the board and everybody is going to get the same treatment or I won’t do it any longer. That is what I do. Everyone gets the same treatment. I don’t enjoy throwing people out. There have been a lot of nights that I haven’t thrown anyone out. It’s not like I throw someone out every single week.”
Carlson and Mercer believe their not only needs to be a better process as far as the inspection, but a way for drivers to appeal a decision.
“I think there ought to be an appeals process,” says Carlson. “I think we should appeal it just like they do in NASCAR. I don’t think it should have been a disqualification. I think there should be penalties that say, ‘Yes, we were over the line, but we were not deliberately trying to do that.’
“I feel like it was a real slap in the face for the local guys. I'm not looking for special treatment, just for equal fair treatment, the carburetors certainly didn’t have any factors in the outcome of the race.”
Brooks added; “Once you go past that tolerance level and go past that limit, the gauges have tolerance built in them and you have crossed that line. It’s not a deal where you can say, ‘Don’t bring it back,’ because that is not fair to the other guys.”
Although the Blizzard Series opener was a success with a strong field of racecars, the champion says he won’t be coming back.
“I’m going to go run CRA and I’m going to go run PASS,” says
Mercers says he will not be back and plans on running some CRA and PASS South shows.
Mercer. “I talked to Richie Wauters (Super Late Model car owner) about the PASS tech and he said that they are super fair. He said that if you go across the scales and you are supposed to be 58-0 and you are 58-1, they fine you a hundred dollars. If you are 58-2 they fine you five hundred dollars. If you are 58-3 they throw you out. Nobody is going to go over the scales at 58-1 or 2 for an advantage. You are just trying to be on an edge there. So you pay a fine and get it closer, but they don’t throw you out.
“These guys are over here on a wood bench with a ragged-ass gauge trying to throw someone out and take their money. It’s not a laboratory out there. They want to throw someone out because they see an air gap. It was immeasurable what they found. To sit right there and understand that I run a stock carburetor that is 50-horsepower down from what you are allowed to run and throw me out is bullsh-t.
“It’s the same carburetor that he has checked before and it has his marks on it. It’s a bullsh-t deal. He stole $2500 from me and I don’t feel any different about it than if he had come in and stole $2500 out of my nightstand. I’m unhappy about it and I won’t be back there.”
The next Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway is Saturday, May 26th.
Some drivers have accused Ricky Brooks for turning tech into "a show".