TREMEC Racer Jeff Smith Takes on Sick Week 2024

TREMEC Racer Jeff Smith Takes on Sick Week 2024

Photos courtesy of Wayne Stewart

Sick the Mag Sick Week is a week-long event that visits 4 race tracks over five days. Part of the event’s challenge that makes it so interesting is that participants must drive their vehicles from track to track, hitting official checkpoints along the route to verify they are actually being driven to the next track. While no support vehicles are allowed, racers can tow a trailer with their race car or have some sort of cargo mount on the vehicle to help carry supplies.

Sick Week 2024 started at Orlando Speed World Dragway and went to Bradenton Motorsports Park, Gainesville Raceway, South Georgia Motorsports Park and finished back at Orlando Speed World. Each entry must make a minimum of one pass, but can make as many passes as they are able to at each track. The best run of the session is counted as the racer’s official time for that track. At the end of the event, all five of the racer’s official passes for each track is averaged, determining the winner of each class.

TREMEC racer Jeff Smith is a past winner of the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, and he decided to enter Sick Week for the first time in his 2004 Mustang Cobra. The car features a built supercharged 4.6L DOHC running a Holley ECU backed by a TREMEC Magnum 6-speed transmission with McLeod clutch. Maximum Motorsports suspension front and rear helps the car handle the track and street without issue.

Jeff set out on Sick Week with bare minimum supplies: a few jugs of pump E85, tools, spare serpentine and blower belts, a jack and some tools. No spare tires (he ran the entire week on his front racing skinnies and rear drag radials), no trailer, not even a hitch-mounted cargo platform.

“The only real issue I had all week was finding a gas station with E85,” explained Jeff “I wanted to save my jugs of E85 for refueling at the track and to get me to an E85 station after my runs.”

“Throughout this challenging race/street drive event, I didn’t have a single issue with the Magnum 6-speed transmission,” said Jeff. “Even after multiple years of competition on this transmission, I don’t have missed shifts or issues changing gears at high RPM on the dragstrip.”

Jeff Smith drag racing his Ford Mustang

Day One – Orlando

The first stop for Sick Week was at Jeff Smith’s home track of Orlando Speed World Dragway. The Mustang had Jeff worrying a bit on the engine’s health because it had been pushing coolant which he thought might indicate a head gasket starting to go bad. After a test run with a 9.22 E/T and no signs of the engine being in distress, Jeff pulled back into the lanes for another run and recorded a [email protected] mph pass, a personal best.

With the lines in the staging lanes packed and the 9.091 E/T being his best ever run, Jeff and his co-pilot, James Hellerman of Cobra Engineering, decided to pack up and start the journey to the next track, Bradenton Motorsports Park.

Day Two – Bradenton

The weather continued to be ideal on day two of Sick Week. Because of how fast the staging lanes filled at the last track, Jeff got to the track at dawn and was ready to run when the lanes opened. After a personal best on day one and with everything looking good with the engine, he decided to push the car a bit harder and see what it could run with the ideal conditions. The board lit up with [email protected] mph, another personal best. This also placed Jeff in the top five for the stick shift class. With the wait to run again looking like hours and only a slim chance of running a faster pass, Jeff and James hit the road for the next stop, Gainesville Raceway.

Day Three – Gainesville

Florida’s current longest running dragstrip (having opened in 1966), Gainesville Raceway has hosted the NHRA Gatornationals and several drag racing record passes over the decades. Weather conditions were still ideal, and the Mustang was running consistent with no hiccups. Jeff followed his same routine which had been paying off so far. Off the line the car hooked a little too hard, though, killing engine RPM and boost, hurting the 60-foot time a bit and netting a slightly slower [email protected] pass. This was good enough to keep him in the top five.

Jeff Smith doing a burnout in his Ford Mustang

Day Four – South Georgia

In his previous two runs Jeff hadn’t launched the car hard out of concern for the engine’s health. Combined with the track prep being very good and the racing surface super sticky for the higher horsepower cars, this led to some dead-hooking issues that caused the car to bog and kill its 60-foot times. Since there weren’t signs the engine was ailing, Jeff decided to let it fly and really see what the car could do. He adjusted his rear tire pressure up by a pound and pulled into the staging beams ready to launch the car way more aggressive than the previous four runs. The Mustang blasted through the beams at the top end with a [email protected] pass – Jeff’s first time ever running in the 8s.

“The drive from Gainesville to South Georgia Motorsports Park was the best of the week,” Jeff described “with beautiful scenery along the 2-lane roads.”

Day Five – Orlando

For day five the circle was completed as Sick Week returned to Orlando Speed World Dragway to finish a superb week of racing. Jeff’s Mustang had been running like a watch and consistent for every stop so far. Weather and track conditions remained excellent, and the competition to finish in the top three was extremely tight.

There were 19 cars running in the stick shift class. One bad run by the other top competitors combined with another 8-second pass could move Jeff into second place or possibly first. Another 8-second pass wasn’t in the cards for Jeff, though, with a [email protected] posting to the top end scoreboard. This gave Jeff a [email protected] average for the entire week. Unfortunately this had him missing out on the top three finish by just .07 seconds. Third place ended up with a 9.000 average E/T, with second was 8.715 and first 7.904. This was still an impressive finish out of 19 cars and for Jeff’s first time ever running the Sick Week event and that format.

Next Time…

Jeff was very happy with what he achieved in his first Sick Week competition, but he learned a lot that he says he’ll put into place the next time. He realized that you can only really count on getting one run in at each track, so you have to make it count. And get to the track really early to that one pass in. He also said that he may add a trailer hitch to the Mustang to pull a trailer with spares next time, which will make the process of packing and unpacking at the track that much easier.