BTE World Footbrake Challenge at Bristol, Tenn.

BTE World Footbrake Challenge at Bristol, Tenn.



The ninth annual BTE World Footbrake Challenge got off to a roaring start Thursday, July 9, with a Test n' Tune followed by the World Footbrake Gambler's race. With a guaranteed purse all weekend, Thursday's race is set pay $3,000 to some lucky and talented footbrake racer.


The whole event is rather unique in the aspect that pre-entries are accepted and preferred, saving entrants quite a bit of money. In typical bracket racing circles, pre-entries are usually not well received. Here though, close to 300 racers paid their entry fee up front, content in the knowledge that should they not be able to attend, their entry fee would be 100-percent refundable, no questions asked.


"That's just the way we do things," said co-promoter Jared Pennington. Both Pennington and his partner Steve Stites are veterans of the footbrake wars and treat the racers with a lot of respect; which one of the top reasons it has become such a popular race.

Friday and Sunday will feature $10,000 to win days while Saturday that number is increased to a $20,000 payday. And all the money isn't on top, as the payout starts with second round winners.


But first, Thursday's Gamblers race needed to be decided. Once the field of cars is down to eight or less, a ladder is generated based the previous round's winning reaction times. In tonight's instance, five cars remained: Josh Green, Adam Davis, Woody Campbell, Gary Simpers and Matt Obertanec.


IHRA Summit Super Series at San Antonio, Texas

IHRA Summit Super Series at San Antonio, Texas

Back in the Business of Racing



It's official! The IHRA Summit Super Series kicked off the track's official grand opening celebration Saturday, June 27, with about 150 cars (130 bracket, 20 exhibition) signed in. In competition on the eighth-mile drag strip just outside San Antonio were the Electronics (Box), Foot Brake (No-box), Jr. Dragster, plus a Street and Bike Trophy class.


Besides a pit full of cars in competition there were plenty of vendors in the midway, the Tantrum Monster Truck giving rides, and some exhibition cars from the Southwest Superchargers.


If that wasn't enough, after the conclusion of the Summit Series bracket races, it blended into test-n-tune/grudge racing with 300+ street cars making runs plus the Busted Knuckle Motorcycle stunt riders.


It was a hot, muggy day with sun and clouds taking turns in the sky. Track temperatures at the start of round one in eliminations was 127, but the track was good all day. A small shower passed quickly in the evening, only slowing activities briefly.


The biggest incident of the day came early in time trials when Rick O'Donnell in his newly finished Roadster got crossed up and nosed into the wall just past the finish line. The driver was uninjured, but the car will need to be front-halved according to Ryan McDonnell.

Boerne's Greg Meuth (lead photo) grabbed the Electronics $1,500 payday over Cole Herbold (Seguin). Meuth had a slight edge at the start in his Quality Care Automotive, TNT Chassis and ran within 5/1,000ths of his index to get the win over Herbold, in his Undercover Dragster.


On his way to the finals, Meuth had to beat Darrell Hendricks, C. Murray, B. Wenske, David Cain, Chris Keylich with a round five bye. Herbold bettered Austin Philpot, Brandon Bass, J. Wenske, R. Ramirez, Todd Robinson and got the round six bye.

Greg Meuth (4.97), 4.975 at 139.45 mph defeats Cole Herbold (5.00) 5.016 at 136.94


Former San Antonio Raceway promoter Todd Zampese (Universal City) and Josh Gaspard (New Braunfels) both over shot their index in a double breakout final that gave the win to Zampese. Zampese in his Landshark Style Dragster was 5/100th better on the tree and chased down Gaspard's, G&G Performance, '73 Dodge Challenger at the line with both going too quick.


T. Zampese put Jimmy Koranek, Carlos Carrasco jr., Tom Posey and defending track champ, Ryan McDonnell on the trailer. Gaspard got around Anthony Montoya, Rhett Floyd, Struxness, D. Alvarez, Art Morales and had a round three bye.


Would LESS add up to MORE in these examples?

Would LESS add up to MORE in these examples?

My last column generated some great input from our readers and it seems like the ones responding fit in two categories: they still race or they have a race car that is sitting because they lost interest. We also had several email us and they have quit supporting local tracks in favor of running Regional races, be it Nostalgia events, Index races or Big Bucks bracket races.


My concerns center around the local drag strips and whether they will survive off bracket racing or not. For me, at almost 65 years of age, it isn't that important personally but I would hate to see something that has been a big part of my family's life disappear or become unrecognizable.


I mentioned in the last Dead-On column maybe there are a few things I think local tracks could do rebuild their bracket program and make it profitable enough to become important again. Seems most tracks are paying their bills and mortgages off of Test & Tunes, Midnight Madness events and other non-bracket racing events. The tracks must survive and that is what pays the bills. From the results I read about at NHRA and IHRA Divisional and National events, it indicates most of those events are shrinking every time they have one.


Here are a few more details of the random thoughts I want to share on "How Less might add up to MORE" for bracket racing.

1. LESS emphasis on track prep could bring in MORE cars. Look, I don't want unsafe conditions. I know the fast cars can spin their tire almost anywhere on the track. Do, or should, local tracks need to spend $1,000 a weekend on these cars at weekly events?

How about this plan: Allow 10 gallons of Traction Compound for the event. Keep the staging lanes and track as clean as possible. Sure, some cars will not "dead-hook" anymore. We will likely see new faces in the semis and the finals. Is that a bad thing or a good thing?

2. LESS entry fee expense could bring in MORE cars. I think, without exception, the entry fees have increased to the point where the guys who are coming will always come because a couple hundred bucks a weekend isn't that important and they love their racing. No problem with that; I race every weekend I can and I work hard so I can pay for it.


BUT what about the guy who either likes racing or wants to move up from $25 Test & Tune days to real racing? Now he has to spend $60-$80 to enter a race he literally has no chance to win. If he is 30-40 years old with a family this might simply be too much expense to "learn about bracket racing", so he stays home. BUT what about the bracket racer who has "lost interest" because of the COST he knows he will have to make to bring his bracket car up to a competitive level? Would he come back out if the costs were lower and the track wasn't prepped for the faster cars in his bracket? focuses on the high-dollar races with results, schedules, tech, racing tips, driver profiles and much more, all with the high editorial standards and professional look from the same people who have been bringing you since 1999.


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Figspeed West Coast Classic at Fontana, Calif.

Figspeed West Coast Classic at Fontana, Calif.

Herem, Rizzoli, and Pierce top fields



Brenden Herem won a Huntsville Engine & Performance racing engine, Kyle Rizzoli won the Sunday Lucas Oil Pro eliminator and the overall Pro points title, while Sunday's Super Pro runner-up Brad Pierce earned the Racepak Super Pro points championship at the inaugural Figspeed West Coast Classic at Auto Club Dragway.


The first big dollar bracket race contested at the Fontana, Calif., racetrack opened with a Friday (June 13) afternoon Brodix "Race for the Money" competition where Alta Loma, Calif., racer Trevor Hayes (lead photo) and Arizona racer Seth Polvadore — who had the two best packages — and they faced off for the Pro title, while Jeff Shaw and Marko Perivolaris scored the best times in Super Pro, with Shaw's Road Runner advancing to the Brodix Shootout match. Hayes '74 Camaro took the win with a .007 reaction and was .003 good on his dial for the win.


Saturday featured a full day of bracket racing including Racepak Super Pro, Lucas Oil Pro followed by the Meziere 32-car Pro Shootout and the big 64-car Huntsville Super Pro Shootout. The Racepak Super Pro show opened with 120 cars with the winner awarded with a check for $5,000.


NHRA Sportsman Classes at Englishtown, NJ

NHRA Sportsman Classes at Englishtown, NJ


Steve Calabro, Stock winner

Arnie Martel led the list of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winners June 4-7 at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and the 46th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.


Martel, of Tewksbury, Mass., powered his '15 Camaro to his 16th NHRA national event win. The No.1 qualifier laid down a 7.732-second, 160.10-mph lap in the Comp Eliminator final to defeat Thomas Miller, Nottingham, Pa., adding to his Englishtown event wins from 2001 and 2012. Miller raced out of the No.2 qualifying position and was quicker off the line but couldn't hold on, resulting in his first runner-up finish of his career.


Larry Miller, Gettysburg, Pa., picked up his third Super Stock title in three final round appearances by defeating Lincoln Morehead with a pass of 9.800 seconds at 132.80 mph. Miller used a great reaction time off the line to keep ahead of Morehead's 10.265, 118.85 pass.

The Stock final would grant a first time winner when Steve Calabro, N. Arlington, NJ, and Eugene Monahan, Brockton, Mass., faced off. Calabro got out of the gate first and clocked in at 10.180 seconds at 121.04 mph to grab the coveted Wally trophy.


The Super Comp title was handed over to Tom Stalba of Hamonton, N.J., when Jack Sepanek Jr., Moosic, Pa., left .004 seconds too early off the line. With the automatic win, Stalba received his second Super Comp victory to go along with his six Super Gas titles.

Unlike Sepanek, Dan Northrop of Pipersville, Pa., recorded a .004-second reaction time on the green side of the tree in the Super Gas final. With the starting line advantage, he drove his '75 Vega into the winners circle with a pass of 9.922 seconds at 142.67 mph to defeat Mac Starks Jr., and his pass of 9.904/162.06. Northrop earned his sixth national event win, splitting them evenly between Super Comp and Super Gas.


Project 10 Update: Getting ready for some 10.90 racing

Project 10 Update: Getting ready for some 10.90 racing


I have not updated the progress on "Project 10 - The Hard Way" in quite a while and we have had some interesting twists and turns in the project. We have had great support from several manufacturers in our quest to get Project 10 as reliable and as nearly bullet-proof as possible.


We ran 15 races during the Winter Series in Florida and finished it off nicely with a runner-up Saturday and Sunday during the Citrus Nationals at Palm Beach Int'l Raceway. We put it away for a couple months; then I couldn't stand being so close to an IHRA Pro-Am so we entered the IHRA Pro-Am at Immokalee Regional Raceway in the Hot Rod class. I had not run the Firebird on the .5 Pro-Tree so that issue and the fact I did not have a throttle stop would prove interesting. Had a great time, went a few rounds, and parked it until we got home to Iowa in April.


I was changing the oil and found a big piece of metal stuck to my drain plug. (UH-OH!) After about 20 minutes trying to figure what it was we decided it was the top part of a chain link on the roller timing chain. Thought I might as well do a compression test to see if everything else was good and we found #5 cylinder only had 90 lbs. of compression. The others were all about 165 lbs. So much for never taking the engine out, right? Better safe than sorry.

JEGS SPORTSnationals at Fontana, Calif


Words by Eric Lotz, Photos by Bob Johnson


Justin Lamb and Bernie Polvadore won for the second week in a row at Auto Club Dragway grabbing the wins for May 29-31 JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.



Lamb, who won in both Comp Eliminator and Super Stock at last weekend's Lucas Oil divisional, outran former national champion Alan Ellis to capture the Comp trophy again. Lamb, Henderson, Nev., drove his '10 Cobalt to an 8.075 second lap at 149.48 mph as Ellis ran 8.300, 108.80 for the runner up finish.

‘Big John’ Memorial Race at Rockingham, NC

Jeffery Dobbins was the big winner throughout the weekend with two wins and a runner-up.


'Big John' Memorial Race at Rockingham, NC

Dobbins and Creech are Big Winners

Familiar names claimed the bulk of the hardware over the Memorial Day weekend as North Carolina racers Jeffery Dobbins II of Wilmington, Tommy Plott of Winston-Salem, Jarrett Creech of Selma, Eric Aman of Clinton, and Zach Pennington of Lexington, SC, were the big winners in the 17th annual "Big John" Leviner Memorial Bracket Championships at Rockingham Dragway.

Creech claimed the biggest single share of the holiday purse after winning Sunday's $7,500 Pro ET title over Sammy Adkins of Bluefield, West Va., but it was Dobbins, the son of IHRA Pro Stock standout Jeff Dobbins, who was the big winner.

Not only did he win Monday's Pro ET title, he was runner-up to Plott on Saturday and capped the weekend by winning one of the four special "Wally" trophies awarded at the end each day to the winners of runoffs between the Pro ET and Footbrake winners.

Other winners of the trophies named for NHRA founder Wally Parks and presented to race winners at NHRA national events were Aman, Plott and Pennington.

Aman got the "Wally" on Sunday when Creech was guilty of a breakout foul, missing his target number by .001 of a second.  A former Rockingham track champion, Aman got his shot by winning Sunday's Footbrake class. 

Plott, a frequent Rockingham winner and former Carolina Coalition Series champion, beat Footbrake winner Tommy Duff of Holly Ridge to win the "Wally" on opening day. 

Pennington got the last "Wally" in a three-round shootout involving the most successful of the weekend's Jr. Dragster drivers.  He beat Fayetteville's Noah Johnson, last year's winner, in the final.

K&N Spring Fling 5-Day at Bristol, Tenn

K&N Spring Fling 5-Day at Bristol, Tenn.

It Took 6 Days

Day 1 Results

Gary Williams won the Dragster Shootout.  (John DiBartolomeo photo)

Over 300 racers arrived Tuesday, May 12, to the sixth annual K&N Spring Fling 5-Day at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee. Tuesday is reserved for a time trial session along with the American Race Cars/Racetech Dragster Shootout. Thirty-two combatants coughed up $1,000 for a chance to win a brand new dragster by becoming one of the two finalists. Each finalist earns a dragster with the winner having choice of brand from the two sponsors. Semifinalists also earn a cash award.

The 1,000-foot compromise race distance is in effect all weekend and after two time trial sessions for the select 32, eliminations began. Making it to the field of four were Wesley Washington, Gary Williams, Richard Jelich and Rob DiMino.

DiMino faced off with Washington and two dead-on-the-dial runs ensued with DiMino taking the reaction time advantage and the win to earn a dragster. His brother, Vinny, was the $50,000 Shootout winner at the Vegas Fling three weeks earlier so the DiMinos are on quite a roll. In the other semi, Jelich had problems but Williams would have been tough anyway scoring a triple-zero perfect reaction time for the win.

The final might have been anticlimactic as both racers were slated to go home with a brand new dragster but there was definitely some bragging rights on the line.

For the final, Williams left first on a 6.19 dial-in to DiMino's 6.02, but it was Williams with the reaction time advantage that made all the difference for the win light and his choice to go home with a brand new American Race Cars dragster.

Day 2 Results

Gary Williams had a very good Day 2 also.  (John DiBartolomeo photo)

Yukon Gear & Axle Wednesday opened up at the K&N Spring Fling 5-Day race with more sunshine for over 350 racers looking to score a $15,000 to win payday.

In addition to the race purse, over $50,000 in prizes and awards are available for Racer Appreciation Giveaways. Starting off this morning, John Biagi earned himself Performaire Weather Station by having the best reaction time in the first ten pairs of door cars. Marty Martin performed the same feat for the dragster contingent and he walked away with a Bell helmet.

As has been the custom of late at many big money bracket races, door cars run separate until the ladder round of 16 cars. That one move has built up the door car count to where at today's event, roughly one-third of the entries was door cars. At 16 cars, five door cars remained to hold up their honor. By the next round, only the one single door car of Jeremy Bargo remained. The other combatants were Mitch Ellison, Tim Thomas, Tommy Cable, Gary Williams, Jeremy Hancock, Brian Lampton and John Taylor.

Moving into the semifinal round, Hancock, Williams, Cable and Ellison each shared a 25-percent chance of earning the $15,000 winner's payday with their winning appearances every round so far. However, when the smoke cleared at the end of that round, only Cable and Williams remained. Williams is working off a winner's circle appearance last night for a dragster and Cable won a $40,000 race at last year's Bristol 'Fling, making the final tonight an epic battle.

For the final, Williams left first with a .007 reaction time and coupled with his .006 over the dial it left Cable mathematically ineligible with his .022 reaction time. Two days, two wins for the Bradenton, Fla., team of OK Motorsports just adds to their already legendary status in the sport.

"Bracket racing doesn't get the kind of media coverage reserved for other classes," Williams said, "but being able to race on the big stage here is really awesome. I have to thank Peter [Biondo] and Kyle [Seipel] for putting on a great race."

Cavalcade of Stars at Norwalk, Ohio

Words by Eric Lotz

Marty Thacker and Doug Gordon raced to victories at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series North Central division Ninth Annual Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser event at Summit Motorsports Park May 15-17.

Reigning North Central Region Top Alcohol Dragster champion Thacker came out of the eighth qualifying spot knocking out No. 1 qualifier Jared Dreher and No. 4 qualifier Robin Samsel to earn a trip to the final round.  The Robinson, Ill., racer faced off with Brandon Booher, Urbana, Ill. Thacker was out first with the early lead and pulled away for the win in 5.430 seconds at 265.69 mph to Booher’s 5.523, 238.98.

Doug Gordon  (Barb Castello photo)

Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., qualifier No. 1 in Top Alcohol Funny Car and raced through eliminations downing Tony Bogolo and DJ Cox Jr. in rounds one and two.  In the final it was Michigan racer Todd Robertson with a big starting line advantage only to see Gordon streak by about half track for the win.  Gordon posted a 5.604, 262.90 to Robertson’s 6.342, 150.61 for his second win of the year having won two weeks ago at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals.