03rd Mar2020

Florida Man Buys Defunct Race Track, Makes Me Miss Our Defunct Track

by Michael Chandler

By now we’ve all seen that Cleetus Mcfarland bought himself a race track in Florida. And some of us are very happy that he has this facility where he and his friends, and other content creators, can go and do the stuff we love: make awesome videos and content. Videos and content that may or may not bogging deep, letting her eat, fogging like you mean it, epic burn outs, crazy drifts, or kei vans. While we’re happy, some of us are also left wanting something we remember fondly.

It was a place where we met new friends, hung out with old friends, and took part in the age old tradition of giving everyone shit. Money was won and lost, unofficially, and extra-curricular activities were planned for the hours after the gates would close. The place was Rocky Mountain Raceway, a place that was ours without us owning it.

8.8 second 1/4-mile Mustang

I was never much for drag racing, but most of the guys I came up with were. So pilgrimages to the Midnights were always in order. We’d hang out in the stands, watch the really fast guys go really fast, and talks shit to everyone who didn’t think a Honda couldn’t wreck an SN95, F-Body, or any other Domestic. Those were the days. We’d talk about getting a car on track, or how the project car was so close to being done. Those warm summer nights were some of the best.

I didn’t make it to a lot of Midnights after Miller Motorsports Park opened up. I had found something new and fun, and then I found another new, fun thing: drifting. Then it was more nights, and even some days, back at RMR with all my friends. We did the same stuff: talk about getting a car on track, how close our projects were, and give out some humility when it was necessary. We were in the midst of the halcyon days, and like everyone who is in them we didn’t know it.

That track was the place where I could just have fun. I didn’t feel obligated to shoot all the photos. I could go, shoot some photos, and hang out with my friends and sneak them down into the infield. We saw all the local legends up close, and we could just kick it. Those warm summer nights were some of the best.

There were always rumors that the track was going away, that it had been sold and was about to be bulldozed. But those rumors would die down, and everyone would get back to driving. Then one day the rumor didn’t die down, it didn’t go away. It became real.

As I write this, the pavement has been removed and the bleachers ripped out. Buildings have been razed, fences torn down, stairs removed. It lies in state. A great corpse, desiccated and rotten. It was ours, but then it was taken away. The memories we made there can never be taken, though. We have the memories, photos, and videos. In them, RMR exists as it was, or even better than it was. Our little spot is just as glorious in our minds as it ever was in reality.

I’m glad Cleetus has the Freedom Factory, that him and his friends have something we had. I can’t wait to see what they do with it. But on those warm, summer nights I wish we still had our track. What are your memories of RMR? Let us know, and we’ll share them on an upcoming CAMcast!

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners
22nd Apr2014

Catching up with the RBZ

by Michael Chandler

RBZ burnout Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (1 of 1)

When last we saw Clint Stoneham’s RB26DET powered 260Z, it was little more than an old Datsun shell wrapped around a new Datsun body.  But now things have changed.  It’s been tuned, had a cage built and certified, and it finally made a few passes.  After weeks of talking about it, I met up with Clint, Jason Kemp, and Melvin North.  What followed were four passes interrupted by some hunting.

By the time I got there (thanks for cutting me off twice Prius!) they already had the car unloaded and were getting her ready to make the first pass of the day.  After waiting in the staging lanes Clint pulled the orange sled into the burnout box and lit up the slicks.  And then he made his pass which, if I’m honest,  wasn’t exactly stellar.  I’ll spare you the time (i.e. I forgot to write it down), but it was slower than what the car was capable of.  While Clint was making the maiden pass, the rest of us heard something.  We met back in the pits, and the guys got to work.


Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 10)Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (4 of 10)

Out came the laptop, and the theories of what sounded like an ignition problem.  The data logs didn’t show anything, but we all heard it breaking up.  Thinking the spark plugs were amiss, Jason and Clint pulled them and Jason re-gapped them.  Fun Fact: the engine of a car gets hot while making a 1/4 mile pass, and it stays that way for a minute.  Guess who relearned that lesson?  No, not me.  I had my hands full of camera.  With the plugs re-installed and the coil packs back on, we piled onto the side by side and followed Clint to the staging lanes.


Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (8 of 10)

Things were better, 10.87 compared to something much slower.  But the ignition was still breaking up.  Jason, who has a 900+whp 2JZ swapped Mk 3 Supra (!), posited that it might be weak coils.  The RB26 and 2JZ are made for a similar purpose, maybe they had similar problems.  Logs still showed nothing, plugs looked great, so it was back in the side by side for another pass.


Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (5 of 10)

Clint lined up, burned out, and proceeded to go 10.50.  Still improving, and still breaking up.  Back in the pits I learned that the best time he could post was a 10.00, and the fastest he could go was 135mph.  Anything beyond that would require more safety equipment in the car.  So with that in the air, the guys again started taking the coil packs off the engine and pulling spark plugs.  The original plan was to swap in a set of HKS spark plugs, but Jason noticed something on the cylinder 3 coil pack.  There was carbon tracking, which meant electricity was arcing in the pack itself.  It wasn’t dead, but it was hurting.  Thinking a decrease in cylinder pressure would help, they switched places between the bad #3 pack and the known good #1 pack.  With the car buttoned up, we made our way back to the line.


Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (9 of 10) Clint Stoneham RBZ Test N Tune Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (10 of 10)

Before we left, Jason did some slight tweaking.  The boost was turned up ever so much and “a touch of fuel” was pulled out.  “This will exacerbate the problem” said Jason, knowing that some of us only heard that the boost was going up to around 24 or 25psi.  The 4th pass yielded a 10.33, which all things considered is not bad.  Plans were made for another pass and I would have stayed to watch him make a 10.2 pass, but a supercharged Charger SRT8 decided it wanted to break after doing a burnout… then repeat the the burnout/breakdown cycle again after a few cars were waved ahead of him.  Unfortunately I had a prior engagement and had to leave, BUT FEAR NOT! There is another chance for us all to see this thing go for the gusto!  This Friday night, or April 25th if you’re reading this after the event, is the first Midnight Drags at RMR and Clint will be making some passes in the brisk evening air.  I encourage you all to come out and watch.

Clint wasn’t the only fellow running at the Test N Tune.  I snapped some photos of those characters, and included them and all of the RBZ photos in a gallery below!

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.

11th Sep2012

Midnight Drags 09/07

by Trent

LS1 Turbo FC Mazda RX-7

We are motorsports fortunate in Utah. We have a world-class racing facility at Miller Motorsports Park as well as an off-road, motorcross, and rock-crawling course out there. Parking lots are full of auto-x on the weekends, and Rocky Mountain Raceway hosts the midnight drags on their 1/4 mile track. It’s always great having somewhere to go to test out your car. All of this is within 1 hour of Salt Lake City too.

Turbo LS1

Well it had been some time since we’d been out to the drag strip to see some of that action, and with one of our friend’s customer’s car running out there, we figured we’d make the trip. I brought a camera and lens with me to show the way.

White and Black Evo drag race

The last time I was at the drag strip, it was littered with Subaru’s, my old STi included. It seems to have switched to the Evo crowd. There were plenty of them. Of course, the usual Mustang and Camaro combo came out to show everyone what can be done for relatively cheap.Fox Body drag race8.8 second 1/4-mile Mustang

I was impressed by some of the vehicles, and also surprised to only see one 10-second Honda Civic. Utah has more than a few of them, but they must have been busy that night. Also surprising, no less than 4 Dodge Vipers showed up. I haven’t seen that many together in some time.VIper and Mustang drag race

Unfortunately we realized the fun we were missing out on at the end of the season, so expect more from the drag strip next year.

RMR midnight drags700HP Mitsubishi Evodrag race Evo

Photos by Trent Bray and Michael Chandler.  Words by Trent Bray

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