A Chip off the old block

A Chip off the old block

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Don Cachola in the Black Widow, a 1978 Monte Carlo, on left, races against Chip Sabyan in his 1984 Grand Prix Sunday at RPM. Below, Chip spends time working on his Grand Prix between races. Dale Cory photo
Don Cachola in the Black Widow, a 1978 Monte Carlo, on left, races against Chip Sabyan in his 1984 Grand Prix Sunday at RPM. Below, Chip spends time working on his Grand Prix between races.                                              Dale Cory photo
Don Cachola in the Black Widow, a 1978 Monte Carlo, on left, races against Chip Sabyan in his 1984 Grand Prix Sunday at RPM. Below, Chip spends time working on his Grand Prix between races. Dale Cory photo

Oliver’s Chip Sabyan had his ‘84 Grand Prix ready for racing when the Wine Country Racing Association kicked off its season last weekend at RPM. A record 275 drag races were staged!

There was no… “On your mark. Get set. Go!”

A drag racing Christmas tree light standard takes care of that these days.

However, there was a lot of burning rubber, engines revved to the red line, and a plethora of cars, trucks, dragsters, bikes and even snowmobiles racing down the track when the Wine Country Racing Association kicked off its 2015 summer schedule this past weekend at Richter Pass Motorplex (RPM) in Osoyoos.

“It was an absolutely wonderful opening day. We had far more cars turn out than we expected. And we had a lot of new drivers that we had never met,” said WCRA Director, and race car driver, Shana Cachola. “It was a real pleasure to be out, among fellow racers, enjoying the weekend.”

A total of 74 race cars attended the event – coming from as far away as Cloverdale and Mission, with plenty from the Kelowna area as well.

Even more impressive, a record number of drag races – 275 – were staged to entertain spectators.

Many ear-to-ear grins could be spotted while walking through the pit area – proof the off-season lasts “waaaay” too long.

drag racing.chip-1“It feels great to get out here again,” said racer Chip Sabyan while working on his 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix in between races Sunday. “It’s a long, long winter. It sure is enjoyable to be out here. It’s a great bunch of people, and a great community thing. There’s a lot of families here. It’s a great turnout this weekend too.”

Indeed, the stands were packed, and people were lined up half-way down the 1/8th mile track – taking in the sounds and sights of cars and bikes speeding down the track well on the north side of 100 miles per hour.

Competitors have been working on their rides through the winter months, eagerly anticipating the day spring arrives in the South Okanagan, allowing them to get back on the track.

“I’ve been preparing for a few weeks – even though the car is ready. Safety is such a big thing. That’s where you have to start,” offered Sabyan. “Normally you try to do some upgrades over the winter. You kind of always want to try and better yourself. So, you try to pick up a few tricks and toys and lighten it up. You’ve got to come out and be different from last year.”

Sabyan admits the work never ends when your hobby is drag racing, and, in Chip’s case, your business is Sabyan Automotive.

The garage door is always open.

“I changed intake manifolds, and went to an air-gap Victor Junior on there to give me a little more top end speed to pull at the end. I got rid of my mechanical water pump and went to an electric one. It’s a lot safer and a lot more controllable between rounds for cool downs. It makes for a more consistent temperature when I come up to the starting line. In bracket racing, you’ve got to be within a hundredth of a second – or you’re not going to win.”

At one point in the eliminations, Chip even found himself burning rubber against the Black Widow, a ‘78 Monte Carlo owned in part by brother Dave. Just another friendly grudge match at RPM.

“It’s going great,” said Chip after the race. “I’m running faster every round, so that makes it a little harder to work with, and knowing where you’re going to be at the end. Tire pressure is a big thing. With all-slicks on the back you’ve got to be really consistent with that so you’re going straight. You’ve got to offset a little since the pressure is different when it leaves and the car twists, so that’s got to be right on the money before you go up there.”

After each run, Chip could be found back on the pit area, tinkering with parts inside the car, and outside the car.

“Between rounds, you’ve got to get your engine at the right temperature, do another safety check, and a leak check,” he summarized. “The work’s never done. It’s a lot for a one-man team.”

And with that, Chip Sabyan returned to what he does best – tuning a car, preparing it for another race, and getting behind the wheel. For Chip, it just doesn’t get any better.

Please turn to page 17 for weekend race results.

 -dcory@oliverchronicle.com

Dale Cory

Oliver Chronicle

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