Victory of a lifetime for veteran Solon Springs racer LissonAUTO RACING: As Tim Lisson advanced through the rounds at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series stop at Brainerd International Raceway two weeks ago, the excitement began to boil over for the rest of the Lisson family back home in Solon Springs.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
As Tim Lisson advanced through the rounds at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series stop at Brainerd International Raceway two weeks ago, the excitement began to boil over for the rest of the Lisson family back home in Solon Springs.
Tim’s wife, Julie, and sons Calin, 10, and Cade, 6, usually attend Tim’s drag racing events, but stayed home because of an ominous forecast, so brother-in-law Nate Seely, and Tim’s other son, Reid, 14, relayed updates to his mother via cell phone, including the epic final in Stock Eliminator.
That’s where Lisson used a great jump at the starting line to beat Tyler Wudarczyk of Topeka, Kan., for the biggest win of Lisson’s 20-year racing career.
“Reid called and was all excited, jumping up and down,” Julie Lisson said. “We were all yelling ‘whoooooo’ and ‘yeaaaaaa’ in the background. It was thrilling.”
Tim and Julie are high school sweethearts who have been married 15 years. They are 1993 graduates of Cloquet High School. Tim began drag racing as a senior when he and Julie would drive his race car, a 1965 Malibu Chevelle SS, right to the track.
“We’d have wood in the trunk, and our tent and my radio,” Julie Lisson said, laughing. “We had all our camping gear and firewood ready to go. It was fun.”
Tim Lisson quickly fell in love with the adrenaline rush and has been drag racing ever since.
“It’s like a drug,” Lisson said. “Once it’s in your blood, it’s difficult to get rid of it. You’re always trying to find that little bit extra to make your car perform better and more consistent. No matter how long you do it for, you’re always looking for that. This class is so competitive, it all comes down to fractions, so you’re always trying to get that edge.”
Lisson, 38, has had success before, making it to the quarterfinals at the national event at BIR in 2010, but never quite like this.
The Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is one rung below the national level. Each series stop includes series regulars Wudarczyk, a former Lucas Oil champion, and weekend warriors like Lisson, hobby racers who hit the big events whenever they’re close enough to home.
Lisson covered the quarter mile in 11.482 seconds at 113.87 mph to beat Wudarczyk in his 1969 Chevrolet Nova (11.493, 104.82). Lisson had a near-perfect reaction time and a strong run down the track.
“It was pretty much an unbeatable pass,” he said.
Lisson earned $1,000 for the victory, but expects an additional $3,000 in contingency rewards, money the product manufacturers give to drivers who use their products and display their decals on their cars.
“I was very excited,” Lisson said. “This is my biggest win so far.”
Lisson, a senior land-rights agent for Xcel Energy, certainly does his drag racing homework, logging data into a computer after every pass. He monitors barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, air density, wind speed, wind direction, cloud conditions and tire pressure — trying to figure out what combinations work given a certain location and day. Then, of course, there is the element of human error.
“There are so many variables — lots of ways to lose,” Lisson said, laughing.
Tim has tried to talk his wife into drag racing, but she said not a chance. Reid, meanwhile, could be a budding pro just like Duluth native and four-time national champion Greg Anderson.
Or maybe he could be just like his dad. With Father’s Day directly in the rear-view mirror, that certainly would be good enough.
“I just like to go spectate, but my 14-year-old (Reid) goes to every race and is really into it, big-time,” Julie said. “He gets along with everyone at the track and already knows everything about the cars. There’s no doubt he is Tim’s No. 1 fan. It’s pretty cute.”