St. Patrick’s Classic at Petersburg, VA

St. Patrick’s Classic at Petersburg, VA

Record Number of Entries Brave the Weather

A long, snowy winter gave way only to a cold and rainy opening to March, forcing the postponement of the 6th Annual St. Patrick’s Classic at Virginia Motorsports Park by one week. A forecast for cold and rain even on Friday’s (March 27) rescheduled date called for further schedule changes, compacting the $5K-$10K-$5K weekend into a two-day $10K-$10K. Despite all of the challenges, racers defied Mother Nature, filling the VMP pits with an event record 408 entries for Saturday’s ATI Performance Products $10K Main Event, presented by Summit Racing Equipment.

ATI Performance Products $10K Main Event, presented by Summit Racing Equipment

Randy Perkinson

A light misting rain shortened Thursday’s Test n’ Tune – the only action that the racetrack had been able to see thus far in 2015. Rain continued overnight and well into Friday, accompanied by plummeting temperatures, but the VMP staff under Allen Carpenter proactively covered the track to reduce the amount of water that was able to make it to the track surface, and started working it on Friday as soon as the rain abated. The cold temperatures held on through Saturday morning, delaying the start of time trials until 9:45, but soon the sun finally revealed itself, the track worked into its normal stellar conditions, and all of the gloom gave way to a beautiful day for racing.

After claiming many 1.0 sixty-foot times in 2014, those expectations were shattered by numerous sub 1-sec short times by notables including eventual Sunday winner Kevin Brannon, and Redline Speed Shop Best Engineered winner Randy Perkinson’s brand new 2015 Camaro, which reeled off 4.2’s on its maiden voyage!

The late start, maintenance, breakage, and the record car count slowed the pace for opening day, ultimately leading to a split among entries remaining in the 5th round of eliminations. The event pushed past curfew, but was finally halted when the EMS crew and ambulance had to leave the facility due to a non-racing related medical emergency.

Loose Rocker Promotions added $2,500 to the purse to round up the split in both classes by roughly $70 per entry to yield a $1,000 payout for each of the 20 remaining Top E.T. entries, and $1,200 for each of the 16 remaining Footbrake entries. The Iron Tree Trophies and Big Checks were awarded by random drawing among those remaining drivers, with Stacker Steve getting the goods in Top E.T., and former IHRA Summit No-Box World Champion Chad Dotson taking home the Footbrake awards.

CCRA S/SS Combo

Michelle Martel AJ Currie

The Carolina Class Racers Association H&F Performance Stock/Super Stock Combo was completed on Saturday, with Michelle Martel of Reedville, Va., wheeling her ’10 DragPak Challenger over Godwin, NC’s AJ Currie in the finals, driving Mark Beaver’s ’00 Camaro.

Martel used a .009 light in the quarterfinals to top #1 qualifier by RT, Myron Piatek of Holly Hill, Fla., to earn the semifinal bye run. Currie defeated Ryan Hardison’s ’69 Mustang in the semis to earn the right to meet Martel in the finals.

IHRA Summit SuperSeries at PBIR

IHRA Summit SuperSeries at PBIR

A Marathon of Racing

Racers started time runs in race 7 making impressive passes, but as eliminations began the race was plagued by another unusual rain storm which positioned itself directly over the Palm Beach International Raceway drag strip. A heavy downpour halted the racing action for an hour, along with another two hours of track prep before it got back underway. An additional time-run was given to all racers due to the newly prepped track. Once Race 7 was completed, Race 8 began with no more stops for weather. Racing concluded at 1:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, March 22.

TOP ELIMINATOR (Box)

Race #7

Robert Owens of Malabar, Fla. started the day off as the No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 5.975 ET. Owens continued through eliminations running within .01 second of that qualifying run each pass.

In the finals, Owens faced off against David Bledsoe of Pembroke Pines, Fla. Bledsoe in his '06 Mullis dragster red lighted at the start giving Owens the victory. Owens dialed in a 5.97 and ran a 5.966 ET at 114.23 mph in his final pass. 

Race #8
In race 8 it was Bruce Liberman of West Palm Beach, Fla., that made an impressive move in the points standings during this race. After Race 7 Liberman found himself in the 13th position, 112 points out of the lead, which all changed when he took his Spitzer dragster to victory.

After finishing runner up in Race 7, David Bledsoe found himself in the finals again facing Liberman for the win. Bledsoe dialed in a 4.75 hitting it right on the mark with a pass of 4.750 ET at 144.94 mph. Liberman, dialing in at 4.95, missed his mark by .001 as he ran a 4.951 ET at 139.52 mph. Liberman took victory from his .010 RT to Bledsoe's .015 RT. By taking victory, Liberman moved up to third place in the points.

SUPER ELIMINATOR (No Box)

Race #7

In No Box, Doug Parlamento of Lake Worth, Fla., qualified first and never looked back. Knocking out Sonny Freelan, the 2015 points leader, in round 3 Parlamento marched his way into the finals.

John Taylor of Ft. Pierce, Fla., faced off against Parlamento for the final. In the end it was Parlamento with a dial in of 7.10 seconds running a 7.11, 97.97 mph to take victory over Taylor. 

Race #8
In Race 8 of No Box it was Jeremy Jarosz of Boca Raton, Fla., who qualified first. Jarosz was knocked out in round 4 by Ethan Doty of Margate, Fla. Doty continued on to the final to face the 2015 points leader, Sonny Freeland from Hollywood, Fla.

In the final it was Freeland dialed in at 6.12 seconds to run a 6.177, 102.14 mph to defeat Doty dialed in at 9.67 seconds, running 9.770, 75.62 mph. The victory has now extended Freeland's points lead to 93.

All IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour Events Televised Live and Free

The International Hot Rod Association is offering free, live webcasts of every IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL IHRA event. The broadcasts are sponsored by Summit Racing.

“We are broadcasting the entire 2015 IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL series free of charge,” said IHRA President Scott Gardner. “We are the only sanctioning body to offer this and as a result we have raised the bar for sportsman racing. Our tracking indicates more than 100,000 viewers in 92 countries have tuned in to our coverage. Our racers now are competing on a digital, global stage.”

To view the free live broadcasts, simply click on the webcast icon on the main page of www.IHRA.com.

“We are excited to be a part of the ever-evolving arena of sportsman racing within the IHRA,” said Jim Greenleaf, Motorsports & Events Manager for Summit Racing. “Utilizing current technology to further promote IHRA sportsman racing is necessary to keep up with the changing landscape of the media. Going into our second year of live coverage, we’ve been extremely pleased with the viewership numbers the webcasts have received. The webcast highlights not only the racers but the great facilities that host the Summit Racing Pro-Am events.”

This weekend the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL heads to Lufkin, Texas, for a doubleheader event at Pine Valley Raceway. Two rounds of time trials and qualifying will begin on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, at 9 a.m., followed by eliminations. Classes include: Good Vibrations Top Stock, Good Vibrations Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod, Hot Rod, Junior Dragster Masters, Junior Dragster Advanced and Junior Dragster Beginner.

ESPN2 to shoot ‘Sportsman Spotlight’ at Beacon Dragway on May 9

LewisBloom-headLewis Bloom “Stat Guy” on ESPN’s coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will be making a visit to Beacon Dragway on Saturday, May 9, as part of its Birthday Bash event. Bloom will be joined by cameraman Mike Panek to video a “Sportsman Spotlight” feature at the eighth-mile track to air on one of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series shows on ESPN2.

The event is also the season opener for the Hedman Husler Hedders DRO Nostalgia Nitro Challenge Presented by Comp Cams. It marks the first time AA Funny Cars, Dragsters and Altereds will be running against each other in the series. (photo courtesy NHRA)

Moser Shootout part of Cajun SPORTSnationals this weekend

SlateCummings-launch-SuperStockThrough a points battle during the NHRA South Central Division’s 2014 season and a year-end Wild Card drawing the field has been set for the annual NHRA South Central Division 4 Moser Sportsman Shootout to be held Saturday, March 21, at the upcoming JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose, La., March 20-22.

The event presents a unique match of NHRA sportsman racers in Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman in head-to-head competition to see – who really is the best of the best.

The father-son team of Larry and Slate Cummings have again both qualified for the all-star group of racers and the special event. Slate (shown) is actually qualified in two categories (Stock and Super Stock) as has former NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Jeff Lopez who is qualified in Super Comp and Super Gas. Lopez will face defending Moser Sportsman Shootout Champion Austin Williams in the round 1 Super Comp pairing.

The Moser Sportsman Shootout is unique in that racers from seven entirely different class structures will be racing each other.

Eliminations will be in a dial-in/breakout handicap format on the eighth mile. A $15,000 cash purse is up for grabs with $5,000 to the winner, $2,000 to the runner-up, $1,000 to each of the semi-finalists, $700 to the quarter-finalists and $400 to each of the remaining event qualifiers. (file photo)

Butner wins Gainesville Factory Stock Shootout in a Mustang

RL_BoButner-Mustang-FS-XXVeteran F/S competitors Bo Butner and Sal Biondo met in an all FS/X heads-up final for the F/S Shootout Title Thursday, March 12, at the NHRA Gatornationals with Butner overcoming a massive holeshot by Biondo to get the win. Butner had a .073 RT combined with a 8.872/151.92 effort to run down Biondo who had a .026 RT but could only muster a 8.931/150.61 which couldn’t hold off Butner’s top end charge.

Fourteen cars qualified for the Shootout led by the FS/XX 2015 Camaro driven by Comp Eliminator veteran Bruno Massel with an 8.513 on a 9.90 index.

Morton, Potts win big money in Carolina Coalition opener at Rockingham

Preston Morton

Preston Morton


Preston Morton and Greg Potts were the Top Eliminator winners at Rockingham Dragway in the first race in the 2015 Hoosier Tires Carolina Coalition Bracket Series.

Grey Potts

Greg Potts

Potts claimed the first $5,000 share of the purse by turning back Randall Blinson on Saturday. Morton matched him on Sunday by stopping Chad Duke in the final round.

In addition to Carolina Coalition points, drivers also earned points toward Rockingham track championships in Top Eliminator, Footbrake and Jr. Dragster. The Carolina Coalition next moves to Farmington Dragway on April 18-19, then to Piedmont Dragway on June 20-21 and, finally, to GALOT Motorsports Park (formerly Dunn-Benson) for the finale on Aug. 29-30.

Aaron Brock

Aaron Brock

Justen West and Aaron “Hot Rod” Brock were the series’ initial Footbrake winners while Jr. Dragster was the domain of the girls with reigning Hoosier Carolina Coalition Series champion Ashleigh Stafford sharing the podium with Kimberly Dawn Messer.

Brock showed off his starting line skills to win Footbrake on Sunday. First, he used a .006-to-.028 reaction time advantage to upend Kelly Stevens in the semifinals and then a .015-.046 margin to get past Derek Harris in the final.

Both Stevens and Harris probably deserved better. The former threw a .037 package at Brock only to lose to his better .028. Meanwhile, Harris missed his target number by a mere .001 of a second (6.471 on a 6.470) but just couldn’t overcome the starting line deficit and dropped the final by .015. (Gary Rowe/Raceworks photos)

Mickey Thompson stops production of ET Street radials; replacement tire debuts this month

Mickey Thompson Tires are retiring their iconic ET Street, ET Street Radial, and ET Street Radial II tires and are going to replace them with two new tires in March 2015, according to Ken Warner, vice president of marketing at Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels.

Those three tires will be replaced with the ET Street R and ET Street S/S. The ET Street R is the evolution of the original bias-ply ET Street that was built to provide small-tire racers with a tire that was the closest thing to a drag slick they could get and still be DOT approved. The R is available in both radial and bias-ply designs.

MIR schedules double-header dates to make up for weather delays

After another blast of arctic air, ice and snow, Memphis International Raceway (MIR) postponed its scheduled racing for the March 7-8 weekend. The bright side to the latest in a series of cancellations is that make-up dates for the postponed races have been determined with two double-header races now scheduled.

The first double-header race will be on Saturday, April 25. That race will feature full class racing including a 2nd Hand Power Stock/SuperStock competition. The second will be Saturday, July 25, and be highlighted by 6.0 and 7.0 competition. Gates open those days at 10 a.m. with the first time trials starting at noon with racing at 2 p.m. At the conclusion of the first race (approximately 6 p.m.), drivers will have one time trial to dial their cars into the changing conditions before starting the second race.

The final makeup date will be on Saturday, August 29, and take place once the Fun Ford Series event wraps for the day. Gates will tentatively open at 5 p.m. that day with time trials at 6 p.m.

“We’ve got drivers who are competing for a team championship at the end of the year and we want to give them every opportunity possible to earn points,” said MIR VP and GM Pam Kendrick said. “We wanted to give the racers both a little good news for a change and as much notice as possible, so they can plan accordingly.”