NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.

NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.

Lindberg, Cowie Top Sportsman Classes


Reigning Top Alcohol Funny Car National Champion Jonnie Lindberg raced to the win while Shawn Cowie returned to the national event winner’s circle for the first time since 2013 as they each scored at the Feb. 11-14 season opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Four Southern California racers also took home the coveted NHRA Wally trophy and Len Darnell, Vancouver, Wash., won the Top Fuel Harley class.

Lindberg, out of Sweden, opened the 2016 season as he did during his 2015 championship run taking the win here at historic Auto Club Raceway edging out John Lombardo Jr., in a classic 1-2 final round as both drivers qualified at the top of the field. Lindberg grabbed his third national event win driving his Chevy Monte Carlo to a 5.423 second lap at 271.90 mph to nip Lombardo’s 5.456, 272.31.  Lombardo was looking for his eighth straight round win here in Pomona having won the 2015 season ending Auto Club NHRA Finals last November.


Civil Wars at Rockingham, NC

Civil Wars at Rockingham, NC

Jonathan Gibbs Claims 4.70 Outlaws Title


Monroe, North Carolina’s Kevin Carpenter used a narrow starting line advantage to upset Donnie Gibbs Jr. in the second round Saturday, providing Jonathan Gibbs with the opportunity he needed win the 19th annual Roush Yates Performance Products Fall Civil Wars at Rockingham Dragway and, with it, the 2015 4.70 Outlaws series Championship.


Gibbs Jr. held a narrow point lead coming in but it evaporated in that second round upset in which Carpenter used a .051 of a second starting line edge to make his 4.746 a winner over his Mooresville rival’s slightly quicker 4.727.


Jonathan Gibbs then got a virtual free pass to the winners’ circle when Super Chevy winner Jeremy Youker had mechanical problems in the final round.


Gibbs drove his 1963 Corvette through the eighth-mile course in 4.872 seconds at 130 miles per hour to claim victory in the featured event in a Civil Wars event shortened by rain on Sunday.


Robert L. Richardson of Asheboro and Jerry Cline of Mooresville won in the 6.0 and 7.0 Index classes, respectively, and Keenan Luther beat his brother Miles in a family affair showdown for the Pro Tree Jr. Dragster title that was settled at the starting line.


Sikes’ win in Open Comp, the only category to race at the full quarter-mile distance, was particularly noteworthy not just because the winning car was his wife Holly’s street driven Pontiac but because the vehicle that carried 70-year-old Tommy Hussey of Kinston to runner-up honor was a venerable 1964 Mercury Cyclone. The margin between the two at the finish was .029 of a second.

NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, Group 2 – Nostalgia Fall Championships at Bakersfield, Calif.

NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, Group 2 - Nostalgia Fall Championships at Bakersfield, Calif.


Words by Eric Lotz

Photos by Tim Marshall


Mike Rabener (far lane) over Dan Fournier.


Mike Rabener won both the event and the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway Nostalgia Fall Championship/Saturday Night Nitro while Roger Turley scored this second series championship in Nostalgia Eliminator III. NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Group 2 classes wrapped up their season and celebrated both event and series championships in the winner’s circle celebration.


Rabener’s win in D/Gas clinched him the championship over three-time series champion Ed Carey who finished second in the points. Rabener, Paso Robles, Calif., knocked out Don Fournier with a 10.639-second lap at 125 mph in his ’67 Camaro. The win, combined with a runner up finish at Rocky Mountain Raceways, gave him the championship by 22 points.


Turley, Wales, Utah, had one win in two final rounds on the way to his NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship having won the series in 2013 as well. His semifinal appearance this weekend kept him out in front of former NHRA Lucas Oil Series Champion Ed DeStaute who held on to second in the points. Turley lost in the semis of NE III to event winner Wes Morris of Boise, Idaho, who finished the season with a win and a runner up as he took out former series champion Lindsey Lister who broke out by a hundredth of a second.


UBDRA Black Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park

UBDRA Black Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park

Gateway Motorsports Park hosted a St Louis area tradition, the United Black Drag Racers Association’s Black Sunday event on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12-13. On Sunday, Eric Barach of Bethalto, Ill., defeated Ron Mergel of St. Charles, Mo., for Super Pro honors. On Saturday, Terry Lacey (shown) of Edwardsville, Ill., defeated Jason McKague of Chamois, Mo., in the final round of Super Pro eliminations.


Sunday winners also included Artie Schneider (Pro), Jason Phillips (Sportsman), Scott Leonard (Super Pro Motorcycle), Al Jones (Street Bike), Kayden Koehler (Jr. Dragster) and Anthony McGraff (Jr. Dragster Consolation).


Saturday winners also included Handy Hartline (Pro), Jeremy McKague (Street – with a perfect reaction time of .000), Californian Rob Linders (Super Pro Motorcycle), Phil Humphrey (Street Bike), Jakob Richardt (Jr. Dragster) and Brandon France (Jr. Dragster Consolation).


The Black Sunday event included drag racing, exhibition racing a hip hop car show, hydraulics contest and free cancer screening from the St. Louis University Cancer Center.

Final-round elimination results, Sunday, September 13
Indicating driver/rider, hometown, vehicle, elapsed time (E.T.) and top speed.

SUPER PRO: Eric Barach (Bethalto, Ill.,) 2003 Nelson, 4.821 sec., 140.61 mph def. Ron Mergel (St. Charles, Mo.,) 1968 Barracuda,  6.163 sec.,  109.58 mph

PRO: Artie Schneider (St. Charles, Mo.,) 1971 Camaro, 10.275, 130.33 def. Frankie Radake (St. Louis, Mo.,) 1968 Camaro, 9.247, 143.17

SPORTSMAN: Jason Phillips (Granite City, Ill.,) 2002 Mustang, 14.119, 96.87 def. Jeremy McKague (Chamois, Mo.,) 2000 Mustang, 14.404, 92.37

SUPER PRO MOTORCYCLE: Scott Leonard (Glen Carbon, Ill.,) 2009 Suzuki, 9.377, 138.47 def. Charles Willis Jr. (Collinsville, Ill.,) 2003 Suzuki, 9.893, 137.53

STREET BIKE: Al Jones (Markham, Ill.,) n/a, 13.653, 96.20 def. Mike Reed (Florissant, Mo.,) Harley-Davidson, 9.729, 138.78

JR. DRAGSTER: Kayden Koehler (Festus, Mo.,) 8.020, 79.94 def. Lauren Chamberlin (Troy, Mo.,) 9.242, 68.61

JR. DRAGSTER CONSY: Anthony McGraff (n/a), 9.599, 66.66 def. Kayla Watkins (Madison, Ill.,) 8.726, 68.73

Final-round elimination results, Saturday, September 12

SUPER PRO: Terry Lacey (Edwardsville, Ill.,) 1969 Camaro, 6.029, 112.70 def. Jason McKague (Chamois, Mo.,) 1969 Nova, 6.339, 103.97

PRO: Handy Hartline (Granite City, Ill.,) 1986 S-10, 11.389, 117.05 def. Artie Schneider (St. Charles, Mo.,) 1971 Camaro, 10.279, 130.99

STREET: Jeremy McKague (Chamois, Mo.,) 2000 Mustang, 14.453, 89.20 def. Larry Wilkerson (St. Charles, Mo.,) 1987 Mustang, 12.701, 107.44

SUPER PRO MOTORCYCLE: Bob Linders (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 1982 Suzuki, 8.960, 143.78 def. Janie Palm (Bunker Hill, Ill.,) 2008 Suzuki, 9.569, 134.36

STREET BIKE: Phil Humphrey (Collinsville, Ill.,) 2006 Kawasaki, 9.381, 150.31 def. Scott Leonard (Glen Carbon, Ill.,) 2002 Hayabusa, 9.569, 134.36

JR. DRAGSTER: Jakob Richardt (Festus, Mo.,) n/a, def. Brylee France (Astoria, Ill.,) 12.305, 49.88

JR. DRAGSTER CONSY: Braxton France (Astoria, Ill.,) 8.761, 72.83 def. Lauren Chamberlin (Troy, Mo.,), 9.513, 65.35


NHRA Northwest Division Summit ET Finals

NHRA Northwest Division Summit ET Finals

No cookie cutter cars here

It is safe to say that at the highest levels of drag racing in the professional ranks of the Big Show -- and not being disparaging -- that the cars really do all look alike. Some might even say “cookie cutter”.


The Labor Day weekend NHRA Northwest Division had its annual Summit Racing Equipment ET Finals. Sixteen track teams from the Northwest Division made the journey to Eagle, Idaho, and Firebird Raceway. There were some very dedicated racers driving as many as eighteen hours one-way to make the trip to Idaho and represent their respective tracks.


Each team is limited to 60 cars from each track. Not every track brought that many racers, however; in many cases it is quality over quantity. Winning is the most important thing.

For the Race of Champions held on Saturday, each team brings the top six from each of the four classes of Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman, and Bike/Sled. This is where the prestige comes into play as the winner in each of the four classes gets to compete as part of the NHRA Auto Club World Finals at Pomona, Calif., in a special class run off during eliminations on Sunday.


In addition, points for each round win during eliminations are awarded to the winning team and the team with the most points at the end of the day on Saturday wins the Track Managers Cup.


Also on Sunday there is another race that is open to all team members and, once again, points are awarded for each round win. The team with the most points wins.


What makes this race so interesting and entertaining is that it is the real grassroots of drag racing, where ingenuity and gumption are just as important as a fat check book. But it doesn’t hurt to have a fluffy check book. (That is a Gabriel Iglesias reference.)


You will not see the staging lanes filled with twenty similar looking Camaros all in a row.

IHRA Summit Series Pro-Am Tour at San Antonio Raceway

IHRA Summit Series Pro-Am Tour at San Antonio Raceway


The IHRA Summit Series Pro-Am concluded on Sunday, Aug. 16, with another complete race program following one round of time trials and qualifications. It would be another scorcher in the central Texas sun as drivers in the 10 Pro-Am classes fought it out on the quarter-mile strip near San Antonio.


With only one time trial/qualification run, first round saw track temperatures only around 120. By the time final rounds began kicking off it had risen to 140, topping out at 150 for the final few races.


These Saturday nights winners were looking to double up for the weekend: Ronnie Hughes (Top Dragster), Steve Harvey (Top Sportsman), Jarrod Granier (Super Stock), Hunter Pierdolla (Stock), Bryon Turner (Super Rod), Kevin Picha (Quick Rod), Alan Bracey (Hot Rod), Shallon Broussard (Jr. Masters), Aaron Jordan (Jr. Advanced), and Ashley Wenske(Jr. Beginner). Of those drivers two were able to make it to the Sunday afternoon finals, but no one was able to do a two-day double. There were two runners-up from Saturday that went on to win on Sunday and a couple that only doubled as the runner-up.

Top Dragster

Two local veteran drivers, both named David, were paired off for the Top Dragster finals. David Johns (Floresville) in the Johns Automotive, Waynes Paint & Body, Worthy Chassis used a .009 light to get a slight edge on David Bills (San Antonio). Both ran within 2/100ths of their dial in with Johns scoring the victory.


To get to the finals Johns took out Terry Pollard, Curt Harvey, Andy Mears with a round 1 bye. Bills got wins over Mike Crader, Saturday’s winner Ronnie Hughes, Peeps Pennington and took a bye in round 4.


David Johns (shown) (7.01) 7.0335 at 185.80 defeats David Bills (7.29) 7.3188 at 181.38


NHRA Sportsman Racing at Seattle

NHRA Sportsman at Seattle

McKernan, Whiteley Lead Northwest Winners

KENT, Wash. – Megan McKernan and Annie Whiteley outran the guys in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car to take the wins at the Aug. 7-9 NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

McKernan (far lane), coming out of the No. 7 qualifying position, ran 5.30’s and 5.40’s in qualifying and eliminations, then met up with No. 5 qualifier Garrett Bateman in the final with both drivers having a runner up finish here in Seattle in recent years. Bateman, Albany, Ore., left before the tree was activated, handing the win to McKernan out of Sierra Madre, Calif. McKernan reacted to Bateman leaving early, did the same causing neither driver to get a time. The win was McKernan’s second on the national series.


Whiteley (near lane), Grand Junction, Colo., was looking for her third NHRA national event trophy but would need to get by Shane Westerfield who had beaten Whiteley all five times they have faced off. Westerfield was out first but immediately went into bad tire shake as Whiteley raced off for the win with a nice clean 5.546 second pass at 265.43 mph. 


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.


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.