Some things I have been part of are ‘special.’
In this month’s Dead-On I am being a little more personal and thankful for the many blessings I have have provided. A lot of my readers have been reading “Dead-On” on for over 17 years, -- YES, you are that old! LOL. Anyway, this journey in editorial content, controversy, sharing my experiences and others as well has meant a lot to me over the years.
First, this means I have been writing editorial columns and writing tech stories and features for close to two decades (OK-20 years, there I said it). Who will replace old guys like me? Is the passion for the sport still with the young racers? I hope so. There is no salary or payments for most of the columns and tech stories. Sure, you can get some discounts and get some inside information on new high performance parts and feel like you are part of the “big picture” for a sport that has pretty much consumed me and my family for over 40 years.
No regrets as of yet and I think that is because I have always had the support of my wife, Barb, and family, and I have become great friends with the two people that might love drag racing more than I do, Jeff and Kay Burk, owners of Racing Net Source who publishes Drag Racing Online, ET Drag Racing, Mopar Max and Max Chevy online magazines. Readers visit these online magazines every year to get the latest news, opinions and special features.
In January of 2001 I approached Jeff with this crazy idea of building a four-link dragster and doing a tech story of the step-by-step process of building it. We would call it “Project 4-Link”. As I mentioned in the first announcement over 15 years ago “from the stack of pipe to the Winner’s Circle, we will show you how it’s done”! We went to the Winner’s Circle at the first Divisional race we entered in Quick Rod, then we won an IHRA National event, several track championships and two Best Engineered awards at Divisional ET Finals over the years.
Well, after 15 years I am still racing the same chassis. To be more accurate, my son, Andy, has taken over driving it the last couple years. Project 4-Link has been the most read, most published “project car” in the history of drag racing. We have changed the name for what will be the final season of tech projects for Project 4-Link. Before the details, I want to mention a few things about this dragster. It was built by a guy who might just be the best craftsman and detail guy I have ever met, Jim Pulliam. He only built three chassis on a part-time basis and I was lucky enough to have serial number 2. He left Jerry Bickel Race Cars to build them and then later took a job at Mittler Brothers in the racing division.
Competitors in eight classes raced to Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series wins at the 32nd annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals held Feb. 26-28 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park outside of Phoenix.
Eighteen-year-old Chandler Meziere battled to his first national event Wally trophy by defeating veteran racer Steve Williams in the Super Comp final. The two-time NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals champion used a nice reaction time to jump out in front of Williams as he clocked in with an 8.956 second, 155.85 mph pass to take the win. Williams opened the season with a big win two weeks before at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Local racer Clint Fishel came into eliminations as the Super Gas No.1 qualifier and took it all the way into the final against Brad Pierce. Pierce had a slight advantage off the tree and held on for the win with a pass of 10.100 seconds at 121.68 mph. Frank Kohutek picked up his 11th career win as he powered his Chevy Vega to a 10.917 second, 137.93 mph pass by knocking out Joe Greco, the event’s No. 1 qualifier in the Super Street final round.
Gary McGlasson and Bernie Cunningham got off the line with identical reaction times in the Super Stock final, but Cunningham broke out on the other end which handed McGlasson his third national event win of his career. Randi Lyn Shipp picked up her second win at this event, the fourth of her career, as she laid down a 10.349 second, 120.09 mph lap to defeat Jerry Hatch and his 10.717 second, 110.31 mph pass in the Stock Eliminator final.
Chris Newman became a first time national event champion as he raced his Chevy Cobalt to the Winner’s Circle with a pass of 6.878 seconds at 194.94 mph. Jeff Gillette fell behind at the starting line and his 6.986 second, 200.32 mph pass wasn’t enough to take the win light. (Michael Fischbeck photo)
Bobby Ray McMahan chased down Phil Unruh to take the title in Top Dragster, the third of his career. McMahan pieced together a 6.551-second, 206.95-mph run to defeat Unruh’s 6.362, 215.41 runner up finish.
A closeup look at Turner’s engine. (Michael Fischbeck photo)
It was a battle of Jay Turner Racing two-wheeled machines as Tii Tharpe and Jay Turner squared off in the final of Top Fuel Harley. Tharpe got off the line first and crossed the finish line at 6.496 seconds at 219.83 mph, but it wasn’t enough to overthrow Turner as he flipped on the win light with a 6.295 second, 228.96 mph lap.
SUPER STOCK: Gary McGlasson, Chevy Camaro, 9.825, 129.53 def. Bernie Cunningham, Pontiac Firebird, 10.867, 120.77.
STOCK ELIMINATOR: Randi Lyn Shipp, Pontiac Firebird, 10.349, 120.09 def. Jerry Hatch, Plymouth Duster, 10.717, 110.31.
SUPER COMP: Chandler Meziere, Dragster, 8.956, 155.85 def. Steve Williams, Dragster, 9.424, 165.15.
SUPER GAS: Brad Pierce, Chevy Corvette, 10.100, 121.68 def. Clint Fishel, Chevy Beretta, 10.282, 145.00.
SUPER STREET: Frank Kohutek, Chevy Vega, 10.917, 137.93 def. Joe Greco, AMX, 10.929, 146.54.
TOP DRAGSTER: Bobby Ray McMahan, Dragster, 6.551, 206.95 def. Phil Unruh, Dragster, 6.362, 215.41.
TOP SPORTSMAN: Chris Newman, Chevy Cobalt, 6.878, 194.94 def. Jeff Gillette, Pontiac GTO, 6.986, 200.32.
TOP FUEL HARLEY: Jay Turner, Dixie, 6.295, 228.96 def. Tii Tharpe, Dixie, 6.496, 219.83.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (www.racewildhorse.com) will host the season opening NHRA Pacific Division Points Race on March 4-6.
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This year the drag racing portion of the Holley LS Fest will get a shot in the arm thanks to the School of Automotive Machinists (www.samracing.com) and Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (www.lingenfelter.com).
The race will be known as “The Battle At The Green” and will be the ultimate COPO Camaro race in 2016. Falling under the rules of NHRA Stock and Super Stock Eliminator, a qualified pro ladder will be used, and COPO Camaros will race for a winner’s purse of $10,000 while the runner-up will receive a $1,000 payout. Racers will compete in an all dial-in format for eliminations with no heads up racing for the same class vehicles. The payout is set for a minimum 32-car field. If fewer than 32 COPO Camaros show up to compete, the purse will be adjusted based on the total number of participants.
The 2016 Holley LS Fest will take place on September 9-11 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY, while the Track X event will take place at the nearby National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park.
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Thanks to the thousands who signed the SEMA-sponsored petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its proposed rule on modifying race cars, the regulatory agency has reopened public comment on the proposal.
The proposed EPA rule would make it is illegal to modify a production automobile for racing if it affects the vehicle’s emissions system. That means things like engine swaps, going to a bigger cam, or even adding a simple set of headers could be violations of clean air regulations.
This rule not only affects race cars, but it also has very serious implications for the performance industry that makes the parts, the sanctioning bodies that organize competition, and the tracks.
But you can exercise your right as a citizen and continue to let the EPA know where you stand by doing two simple things:
• Leave a comment expressing your opposition to the EPA’s proposed rule at Regulations.gov. Make sure to use the Commenter’s Checklist on the site—it has a lot of tips to help you write a comment that regulators will pay attention to
• If you haven’t already signed the SEMA petition, go to http://wh.gov/ifXr1 and add your name. The goal is to get one million signatures by March 10, 2016.
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In the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the South Central Division Texas Sportsman Challenge at Royal Purple Raceway, local racers Jonathan Womack and Travis Salter took home wins in Super Stock and Super Gas respectively.
Womack, the 2004 Super Gas NHRA Lucas Oil National Champion and Houston resident, scored his third divisional NHRA Wally trophy ousting Jacob Pitt, Mansfield, Texas, running 9.621 seconds at 106.64 mph in his ’05 Cavalier. Pitt left early with a foul start handing the win to Womack. Slater of Baytown, Texas, clocked in at 9.902 on the 9.90 dial forcing Jackson Collier, West Monroe, La., to break out. The win is Slater’s third in Super Gas.
The Comp Eliminator final was close at the start as a pair of Texas racers faced off for the trophy. Keith Hall, Ravenna, Texas, took the win in his Cavalier defeating Bill Kent’s ’11 dragster out of Midland, Texas, by about a tenth of a second for this sixth win in the Lucas Oil Series.
Veteran racer Greg Stanfield and Bobby Brannon were identical at the start of the Stock final round but Stanfield quickly took the lead and raced to his 24th divisional event win having also won in Super Stock and in Comp over the years. This was Stanfield’s first win in Stock since 1986.
Super Comp also saw a great race with a .009 second package taking out a .013 second package as Christopher Dodd, Double Oak, Texas, ended Austin Williams’ day. The win in Dodd’s first Lucas Oil win in his first final round.
Both Johnny Shook and Allen Constantine won right off the start as Kyle Firestone and Christopher Bermond both left early with foul starts. Shook took his second win in the Sunset Performance Top Sportsman class as did Constantine in the KPE Top Dragster. Shook, Lamesa, Texas, went 7.361, 165.44 in his ’07 Pontiac while Constantine wheeled his dragster to a 6.334 second lap at 194.66 mph.
Tony Brown, Hallsville, Texas, was out first in Super Street and held on to beat Van Arnold, Houston, running 10.986 at 142.97 in his ’55 Chevy.
The NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series was also in action at Royal Purple Raceway this weekend with David Larson, Topeka, Kan., sweeping the Pro Fuel Harley class qualifying No. 1 and then taking out reigning series champion Janette Thornley, Statesville, N.C., in the final. Larson clocked in at 7.285 seconds at 177.53 mph to Thornley’s 7.422, 174.21.
John Toth took home a pair of Harley Series wins taking both the Street Pro and the Hot Street classes. Toth, Charlerio, Pa., beat out Michael Majeska in Street Pro and Don Henry Lynn in Hot Street. Majeska also advanced to a pair of final rounds and held off Charles Whitfield, Aurora, Colo., in the Screamin’ Eagle Performance class for his win.
Darrell Schwalbach, Omaha, Neb., rounded out the Harley Series winner’s in the Draggin’ Bagger category and Robert Sanders, Cypress, Texas, won on a hole shot over Michael Matthews, LaGrange, Texas, for the Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley-Davidson title.
South Central Division racers head to No Problem Raceway for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, April 8-10.
COMP ELIMINATOR: Keith Hall, Ravenna, Texas, ’05 Cavalier, E/SM, 8.495, 159.95 def. Bill Kent, Midland, Texas, dragster, B/D, 6.792, 193.05.
SUPER STOCK: Jonathan Womack, Houston, ’05 Cavalier, SS/BS, 9.621, 106.64 def. Jacob Pitt, Mansfield, Texas, ’03 Stratus, FGT/D, foul.
STOCK ELIMINATOR: Greg Stanfield, Bossier City, La., ’10 Challenger, FS/D, 9.847, 120.78 def. Bobby Brannon, Bossier City, La., ’69 Camaro SS, A/SA, 10.645, 101.51.
SUPER COMP: Christopher Dodd, Double Oak, Texas, dragster, 8.905, 177.18 def. Austin Williams, Burleson, Texas, dragster, 8.902, 170.58.
SUPER GAS: Travis Salter, Baytown, Texas, ’67 Camaro, 9.902, 156.66 def. Jackson Collier, W. Monroe, La., ’68 Camaro, 9.882, 158.59.
SUPER STREET: Tony Brown, Hallsville, Texas, ’55 Chevy, 10.986, 142.97 def. Van Arnold, Houston, ’67 Chevy P/U, 10.992, 138.48.
TOP SPORTSMAN: Johnny Shook, Lamesa, Texas, ’07 Pontiac, 7.361, 165.44 def. Kyle Firestone, Velma, Okla., ’73 Dodge, foul.
TOP DRAGSTER: Allen Constantine, La Place, La., dragster, 6.334, 194.66 def. Christopher Bermond, Bay Saint Louis, Miss., dragster, foul.
SPORTSMAN MOTORCYCLE : Robert Sanders, Cypress, Texas, ’82 Suzuki, 9.180, 131.87 def. Michael Matthews, LaGrange, Texas, ’05 Suzuki, 8.437, 161.02.
PRO FUEL HARLEY: David Larson, Topeka, Kan., dragster, 7.285, 177.53 def. Janette Thornley, Mocksville, N.C., ’15 HRP, 7.422, 174.21.
DRAGGIN BAGGER HARLEY: Darrell Schwalbach, Omaha, Neb., ’06 Road Glide, 10.830, 125.05 def. Neil Sauder, Magnolia, Texas, ’15 Road Glide, broke.
STREET PRO HARLEY: John Toth, Charlerio, Pa., ’01 Harley, 9.217, 145.96 def. Michael Majeska, League City, Texas, ’00 Buell, 10.007, 130.86.
HOT STREET HARLEY: John Toth, Charlerio, Pa., ’12 Harley, 9.997, 137.11 def. Don Henry Lynn, Belle Vernon, Pa., ’13 Harley, 12.849, 104.38.
SCREAMIN’ EAGLE PERFORMANCE HARLEY: Michael R Majeska, League City, Texas, ’02 Sportster, 10.815, 87.28 def. Charles Whitfield, Aurora, Colo., ’06 Destroyer, 10.469, 109.43.
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MGM Grand Detroit has signed on to sponsor the Berkley, Michigan-based Gutierrez Brothers Racing Dragster for the 2016 NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster season. The team will be representing MGM Grand Detroit at events throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.
This is the third year that MGM Grand Detroit has supported this team led by Phil and JP Gutierrez, who unveiled their 2016 dragster at the 64th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama on Feb. 26 at COBO Hall.
The dragster will make several additional appearances in Metro Detroit throughout the year including at the Annual Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger Dream Cruise preview party to help promote Forgotten Harvest, a food bank dedicated to relieving hunger in Metro Detroit, in August.
First event for the team will be Apr. 29-May 1 at the LODRS Regional at Indianapolis.
Pro Radial racer David DeMarco. (Chris Simmons photo)
Maryland International Raceway (www.racemdir.com) has partnered with Joe Krivickas and the folks at Precision Turbo & Engine to bring Radial vs. the World to the track for the first time ever. They will make their first appearance at the 8th Annual Haltech Door Wars event presented by Winegardner Auto Group scheduled for April 15-17.
The Radial vs. the World pays $5,000 to win and $1,200 to the runner-up. Over $60,000 in prize money will be split up in the classes, which also include the NEOPMA Pro Mods, Outlaw 10.5, Limited Drag Radial, X275, Nitrous X, Ultra Street as well as 8.50, 10.00 and 11.40 Index Classes.
Jay Blake’s Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team has a new driver for the 2016 season: Phil Burkart.
“Our whole team is excited to have Phil driving as another era begins here at Follow A Dream. We’ve had some changes in the off season and are ready to get the 2016 season underway,” said Blake, who has led the team to multiple victories since fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own Alcohol Funny Car team in 2003.
Burkart began drag racing at age 14, starting with bracket cars and moving up the ranks to both Alcohol Funny Cars and nitro Funny Cars. He also has seat time in Nostalgia Funny Cars.
“Jay and I have been friends for a long time and I’m eager to get back to my Funny Car roots, where I honed my skills,” Burkart said. “I’m hoping to pick up where Todd Veney left off and not miss a beat for Jay and this group.”
Blake’s Follow a Dream team will compete throughout the country on a 13-race schedule that includes seven national events and six Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events.
Anthony Terenzio will tune for Blake, the only totally blind crew chief in all of motorsports. (DRO file photo)
The School of Automotive Machinists & Technology (www.samtech.edu) has signed a multiyear agreement to sponsor the four NHRA Factory Showdown competitions beginning this season. The NHRA Factory Stock Showdown was designed to showcase the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, Dodge Mopar Challenger Drag Pak, and the Chevrolet COPO Camaro.
The first School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Showdown of the year will take place at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway, March 17-20. Other events will take place at the NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, June 9-12; the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, in Norwalk, Ohio, June 23-25; and concluding at the birthplace of the event, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 5.
New to the Factory Showdown program is a special Quick 8 Eliminator showcasing the quickest eight Factory Stock race cars in a heads-up competition to be contested on Saturday and Sunday. At each of the four School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events, competitors will qualify within Stock Eliminator and compete in FS/X and FS/XX class eliminations. The quickest eight Factory Stock race cars following qualifying will advance to the Quick 8 Eliminator. The competitors who did not qualify for the Quick 8 Eliminator will remain in Stock Eliminator.
The NHRA will create a new logo for the events, decals for competitors, and will conduct winner’s circle activities at the conclusion of each School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Showdown.
San Antonio raceway kicked off its 2016 season with ‘Back to the Track’ weekend of racing. After undergoing some track repair the previous weekend, the track was ready for business with an open test-n-tune on Friday night, Feb. 19. Saturday featured a triple-header of sorts with a non-points Summit Super Series bracket race during the day, followed by another test-n-tune session in the evening along with family night.
During a break in rounds, Nancy Matter’s Guardian for Heroes Top Alcohol Funny Car made a test hit. Unfortunately for her, either the parachutes failed or the throttle got hung, sending her long at the top end into the hay bales. The car had some body damage, but Ms. Matter was alright.
Saturday morning kicked off the events with a Summit Super Series non-points bracket race for Electronics (Box), Foot brake (No-box), Jr. Dragster and a trophy Street Car class.
With no points on the line yet this season, Brett Zampese (San Antonio) and Chris Keylich (San Antonio) opted to split the 1-2 purse in the Electronics final. In the semifinals B Zampese, in his dragster, got by Leroy O’Bryant’s Chevy Monza with Zampese nailing his dial in (4.874 on a 4.87 dial). Chris Keylich in his Keylich Electric Dragster had a bye run in the semi’s.
In earlier rounds, Zampese took out Greg Meuth, Candace Ritter, T. Leason and M. Rodriguez, plus a round 5 bye. Keylich knocked out Peeps Pennington, Todd Robinson, David Johns, J. Garza and Tony Farmer.
San Antonio’s David Bixler made his buy-back pay off, scoring the win in the Foot Brake (No-box) finals over Bryan Day. Bixler, in his Chevy-powered ’49 Ford Coupe, cut a .004 light on Day and that was pretty much all she wrote for Day in his ’86 Chevy S-10 pickup. Bixler (6.84) 6.8602 at 95.66 defeated Bryan Day (6.92) 6.9456 at 87.51
After losing in round 1 to R. Dunsirn, D. Bixler rebounded to beat, T. Barber, Sherman Davis Jr., B. Spain and Rhett Floyd. Day trailered Sherman Davis Jr., B. Waite, J. Bixler, H. Aguilera and Motorcycle Mike.
Losing to Caden Meuth in round 1 on eliminations didn’t deter Emily Ball (San Antonio) from grabbing the first victory of the year. After a timing snafu, the finals had to be run twice against Gianna Carrola. Ball, in her 2012 Greg Hubbell Chassis, got out on Carrola by .058 and needed every tenth to hold off Carrola in his All In Designs, Half Scale Chassis, at the stripe. Ball (7.92) 7.9808/79.42 mph defeated Carrola (7.97) 7.9924/81.89.
Ball won the rematch with Meuth in round 2 and had a round 3 bye. Carrola bested Kathrine Keylich and her cousin, Matthew Keylich, on his way to the finals.
The Street Car finals was supposed to be a revisit of the old children’s story, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’ Caitlin Mitchan, on her Suzuki GSXR 1000, would give up nearly four and half seconds to Rhett Floyd in his 2008 GMC Sierra, on the line. Floyd tried to cut a light, but gave the race away going red, and leaving Mitchan the win while she waited on her light. Mitchan (6.12) 6.2904 at 120.68 defeated Floyd (10.49) 10.5586 at 68.68 (-.0158 red).
(J.M. Hallas photos)