Big Bucks Racing: Too much of a good thing?Talk about something that is growing and expanding, that’s Big Bucks Bracket Racing. While a lot of local tracks struggle to get cars it seems the Big Bucks Races are being announced everywhere. I asked myself a question the other day, "Are these Big Bucks Races and big entry fees a good thing or not?"
IHRA Summit Super Series at Academy, Texas
Well it was close, but Little River Dragway was able to squeeze in its IHRA Summit Super Series points opener on Saturday, April 4. A huge field of cars signed in for Electronics (Box), Foot Brake (No Box), Street and Jr. Dragster classes on the eighth-mile drag strip.
The day started with a mixture of sun and clouds dotting the skies that kept the track temperature ideal for racing. During the evening, the rush began to get the full event in as showers were closing in. A brief shower halted action for only a short period and Kirk Wolf and his crew had in right back in action.
In the interest of time and getting the show finished, the Electronics (Box) Quick 16 was canceled. Good thing, since as soon as the last finals pair went down the track the showers started again.
San Antonio's Carlos Carasco Sr. made the long haul pay off taking home the payday against local driver, Jason Ramm in the finals. Carasco, in his Pontiac-powered ‘69 Firebird, had a slight advantage on the tree then held off Ramm in the dragster at the stripe. Carasco Sr. 6.5436 (6.53) at 108.83 mph def. Ramm 4.6824 (4.67) 147.16 mph.
Chuck VanBuren (Windcrest) got an early Easter gift courtesy of Todd Zampese (Schertz) in the Footbrake finals. Zampese, who ran dead on his number in his newly purchased Landshark-style short wheelbase dragster, went .009 red giving VanBuren the victory. Lucky break as VanBuren in his ‘82 Ford Mustang broke out on the big end, but still took home the payout. VanBuren 7.3794 (7.47), 93.19 def. Zampese 5.4342 (5.43), 124.52 (red).
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
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
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
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals at Belle Rose, LA
Cummings makes it two in a row; Candies resets Super Stock record
Hundreds of racers in nine categories were narrowed to nine champions late Saturday night, March 21, at the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at No Problem Raceway Park. Slate Cummings (shown above) of Ponchatoula, La., was victorious in the Moser Sportsman Shootout in the final round contested Sunday morning.
Cummings worked his way through the unique 16-car Moser Shootout field, where racers from seven entirely different classes battled it out. Cummings powered his 2000 Stock Corvette to the $5,000 payday over Jeff Lopez, Bedford, Texas, in his Super Comp entry.
Lopez was hoping to double up on his Super Comp event title from the night prior when he defeated John Labbous, White House, Tenn., with a winning pass of 8.908 seconds at 158.06 mph. This marks his second National event victory, both at the Cajuns.
NHRA Sportsman Classes at Gatornationals
Randy Meyer and Ulf Leanders raced to victory in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville on March 15.
Meyer (above) scored this seventh national event win in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series knocking out reigning Top Alcohol Dragster National Champion Chris Demke with a lap of 5.219 seconds at 277.37 mph. The pair left the line together but Meyer slowly pulled away beating Demke by a tenth of a second as Demke clocked in at 5.330, 276.24. Meyer also won here back in 2007.
“That was our first outing (of the season),” Meyer said. “We hadn’t even started the car since Reading last year. We didn’t do any testing or anything.”
Joining Leanders as a first time winner was William Clark, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in Super Gas who went 10.321, 124.67 mph in his 2000 Firebird in beating Craig Porter, Silver Spring, Md., who left early with a red light foul start.
In Comp Eliminator it was former Super Stock Champion Joe Santangelo winning over another former champion in Al Ackerman. The two were even at the start with Santangelo, Marlborough, Conn., posting at 7.745 second run at 165.33 mph in his ’34 roadster to Ackerman’s 7.971, 169.42.
David Rampy and Kevin Helms both added wins to their impressive careers with Rampy taking his 87th and Helms his 22nd at the national event level. Rampy, Piedmont, Ala., ran down Mike Crutchfield, Montgomery, Ala., in Super Stock going 10.238 at 127.57 mph in his ’87 Camaro. Helms collected a nice .021-second final round package to down Jeff Adkinson, Damascus, Ga., in Stock Eliminator. Helms, Schriever, La., was .018 at the line with an 8.923 on his 8.92 dial in.
Some technical stuff and a few opinions for this month
I wanted to bring some things up this month that deal with a little bit of technical information as well as a few opinions on what I see happening in our sport. As we all know it is seemingly harder and harder to find businesses that actually offer real, heart-felt “Customer Service”, I've had a few experiences in the last month that have “restored my faith” in some of the companies that support us local bracket racers.
It started when I heard about the new M/T Pro Bracket Radial line of drag tires. I looked them up on their website and decided what size would fit the “Project 10 Firebird”. I wanted a set to try at the first IHRA Pro-Am race at Immokalee Raceway so I called the MT factory and they told me the Factory Race Support Truck would be at Bradenton Motorsports Park and that they had a few sets in the trailer. They provided the cell number for Buddy, their factory rep, and when I left text messages for him he actually responded to every one of them (Bing, Bing one click for Customer Service).
I told him what size bias ply tire I was using and we agreed the new 28.0x 9.0 Pro Bracket Radial would e the best. I told him I would be able to get to the track on a Friday afternoon and asked if he would have time to take the old M/Ts off and mount and balance the new Pro Bracket Radials. His response was instant and a big relief to me, he said “no problem, be glad to do it”. (Bing, Bing, more customer service.)
I arrived at the track and fund out there were about 75 cars on the grounds. Mostly Pro-Mods and 10.5 radial cars testing for upcoming events in Florida. I want to thank the gate people at Bradenton for letting us in at no charge to get our tires and especially Buddy and his guys for getting the new Pro Bracket Radials mounted and balanced in about 15 minutes after I arrived. Great service and they made me a happy M/T customer.
How did the new radials work? One word- AWESOME. I ran in the Hot Rod class at the Pro-Am and the 60’ varied only .005 in 9 runs. The radial design of the tire allows a racer to use about 17 lbs of air pressure and it hooks with very little burnout. Shorter burnout means longer tire life and the 17-19 lbs of air in the tires means they roll easier and are more stable. The radial tire does NOT GROW at the finish line like a bias-ply and in my case I liked that because I am using a 4.10 rear gear. Overall, I think M/T (Mickey Thompson) has a great new design in the Pro Bracket Radial. (One note to you guys who race: The tires are still holding 17 psi after 4 weeks!! That means you don’t have to worry about them going flat in the trailer.Now some “other stuff”.
With NHRA offering a World Championship in Top Dragster and Top Sportsman will it change the “look” of these two classes? I think both of these bracket classes are a very cool evolution started by racers wanting to have the highest MPH cars in S/Comp and S/Gas and the assumption that at big bracket events it is a slight advantage to leave last, thus a faster car carries that slight advantage (if it is as consistent as the slower cars).
NHRA Sportsman Classes at Phoenix
Lamb wins Comp, Polvadore and Ritchie score first wins
Justin Lamb scored his 13th NHRA national event win while Bernie Polvadore and Trevor Ritchie each grabbed their first at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals Feb. 20-22 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Lamb, Henderson, Nev., had a .013-second reaction time in his ’10 Cobalt to take the early lead and stayed out front posting a 7.972 run at 172.43 mph. The win was Lambs second in Comp Eliminator as he knocked out Doug Lambeck, Mike DePalma and Dan Fletcher on his way to the final with Alan Ellis who was coming off a season opening win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Ellis went 6.529, 207.08 mph in his ’23 Ford for his runner up finish.
Ritchie clocked in at 6.815, 191.81 mph in defeating John Taylor II, all the way from Oley, Pa., in Top Dragster.
IHRA SUMMIT SUPERSERIES
Race #5 & 6 Results | February 21, 2015
The day started out the wrong way with an out of nowhere rain shower causing a four hour delay. A big THANKS! to all the racers and fans who patiently waited while the PBIR Track Prep Team got the 1320 back ready for racing. Once running commenced, fans saw fierce battles throughout the day, across all race classes. As a good rhythm began to develop, a freak power outage took out the overhead track lights, putting a brief stop to the racing action until power was restored. Racing concluded at 11:55 pm.
Top Eliminator (Box)
Points Leader: Bill Pollard - 242
The 2015 points leader, Bill Pollard from Lake Worth, FL. lost during round 4 due to a red light to Claude Debonis. Debonis, the winner of that match up, from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. went on to battle Jupiter native Keith Hnasko in the finals. Hnasko red lighted to give Debonis, who had a .008 RT, running a 4.805 ET at 117.63 mph, the victory.
The only perfect reaction time of the two races came during Round 1 as Gus Mascarenhas of Deerfield Beach, FL. advanced to Round 2 firing off the .000 RT, with a 5.45 D/I, running a 5.513 ET at 124.83. Gus was eventually eliminated during Round 4 by Paul Schultz of Lake Worth, FL. Shultz went on to make it into the finals facing Randy Weber of Loxahatchee, FL. The pass made for an exciting end of the race with both drivers having dial-ins only .28 apart. The result saw Weber taking victory after making a near perfect pass of 4.949 ET at 137.18 mph on a dial-in of 4.94 compared to the 4.670 ET at 147.71 mph, dialed in at 4.66 put down from the #1 qualifier, Shultz.
NHRA Sportsman Classes at the Winternationals
Demke, Lindberg Take Alcohol Wins at Season Opener
NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol Dragster National Champion Chris Demke began his title defense with a season opening win while Jonnie Lindberg grabbed his first national event win February 8 at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Demke, Tujunga, Calif., faced off with Shawn Cowie who got the early lead only to see Demke chase him down for his 16th NHRA national event win, posting his quickest pass of the weekend at 5.264 seconds, 273.88 mph. Demke had the lead by the 330’ mark and won by a tenth of a second as Cowie, Delta, B.C., crossed the finish line at 5.367, 268.33.
Demke ran in the 5.20’s all day on Sunday defeating No. 1 qualifier Don St. Arnaud and Joey Severance on his way to the final.
In addition to Demke's championship car, Maddern Racing was fielding an experimental car with driver Ray Martin and car chief Kirk Kuhns. The results of the two cars surpassed most everyone's expectations as both cars advanced to the semifinals before Demke went on to win the race.
“After having won a championship, I was confident in our guys. I was confident in our ability to put the car I was driving back together in championship form and come out swinging. We had the added challenge of bringing a second car into the mix, the X car. But we had a great bunch of guys working on that car. Ray Martin is an excellent driver and he's adapted to the car quickly. We had Kirk come in to serve as the car chief on that car and it was a pleasure to work with him. He's a great guy and I look forward to future opportunities with him,” Demke noted.
While Martin's car was off to a great start, qualifying sixth with a 5.311 ET, Demke's car was struggling. The championship car went into eliminations from the eight spot.
“My car just wasn't responding. We still don't know exactly what the issue was. We made small changes between Q1 and Q2 and it went from a 5.35 to a .34. Then we made huge changes for Q3 and it went from a .34 to a .33. Going into first round we made bigger changes yet and it went from a .33 to a .32. We ended up swapping motors for second round and it responded and was back to its winning ways. I knew as soon as I did the burnout that it was going to be better than all of the previous runs.”