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The latest update as of September 18, 2016
The Countdown Starts....
Just enough time for a quick update on the Top Alcohol Dragster competition before I head out to new home (site) at Spirit Bay for the afternoon. Things are falling into place nicely for Shawn Cowie as he disposed of another A-Fuel car (Megan Meyer) and will now have lane choice over Duane Shields (yet another AFD) in the semi-finals. Shawn's closest pursuer in the national standings, Mia Tedesco, fell to Shields in the just completed second round. An interesting sidelight is that the only blown alky cars left in competition are both from Canada: Cowie from the West Coast and Ken Perry from Ontario. And both have to face injected nitro cars in the semis. Is there the possibility of an all-blown, all-Canadian matchup in the final? That would be great.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, there's two Swedes, one California car and an East Coaster in the semi-finals. With both Swedes, Lindberg and Leanders, holding lane choice in the semis, there's a distinct possibility of an all-Sweden final in TAFC. Add it all up and there could be no Americans in the Top Alcohol finals for probably the first time in history. Stay tuned!
In Pro Stock, the one true upset of the round saw Jeg Coughlin leave on and outrun the much higher qualified Allen Johnson. The loss put some real hurt on Johnson's chances to move into contention as he dropped a spot from fourth to fifth before the round ended. And he could lose two more spots, all the way down to seventh if Chris McGaha and Shane Gray can advance to the semi-final round. The only other top ten racer to lose early was Drew Skillman. Already packed up for the weekend was non-qualifier Erica Enders, solidly ensconced in the tenth spot, as full 153 points - and counting - behind points leader Jason Line.
We finish off the opening round of Pro competition with the bikes, and the upsets continued as #2 qualifier, and #2 in the points, Eddie Krawiec, was holeshotted and outrun by Karen Stoffer, dropping to third place in the standings as Angelle Sampey got past her opponent. Sampey again flirted with disaster as she followed up her redlight in the 2nd round at Indy with a perfect (.000) light here in the first round. Luckily her opponent, Mark Paquette, red-lighted and broke to allow her the almost-automatic ticket to the next round.
The other big upset of the round was #3 qualifier, Jerry Savoie, losing to Steve Johnson, and dropping from fourth to sixth in the standings. He could fall another notch if Hector Arana Jr. can get past Sampey in the quarter-finals. Finally, the bottom three racers on the countdown list, Hector Arana (Sr.), Matt Smith, and Cory Reed, all lost and stayed in their respective positions, all more than 100 points out of first place, and destined to lose even more ground as eliminations progress.
The first round of Top Fuel is over and the Top Ten standings are in a state of flux already. Only five of the ten championship contenders made it out of the round, with the biggest upset being eight-time national champion Tony Schumacher losing to newcomer (very first race in TF) Cameron Ferre, in the Paton Racing dragster out of Canada. Other notable losses were recorded by Shawn Langdon to Aussie Wayne Newby in the Santo Rapisarda car, and J.R. Todd losing to proudly independent (ie: no sponsors) Pat Dakin. Other top-tenners out after the opening stanza are Richie Crampton and Clay Millican.
Crampton's loss to Leah Pritchett allowed her to move two spots up the ladder, passing both Crampton and Millican. If she can beat Doug Kalitta in the second round she could move into a tie for sixth place with the already eliminated J.R. Todd. The other woman in Top Fuel, Brittany Force, got a freebie when Chris Karamesines was shut off after the burnout and she passed Tony Schumacher to move into fourth place.
Funny Car didn't provide quite as many upsets, but notables to fall by the wayside early were Jack Beckman (in a close race to Del Worsham) and Alexis DeJoria to John "WHO?" Bojec. DeJoria's loss really had to hurt as she took out the finish line timing blocks for a DQ that left her at the bottom of the Top Ten and a minimum of 138 points behind the leader, Ron Capps, who easily advanced over an up-in-smoke John Hale. Beckman's loss to Worsham saw him drop two spots from fifth to seventh, and he's guaranteed to drop another notch to eighth behind the winner of the John Force - Tim Wilkerson match in the second round.
The final quarter of the NHRA Mello Yello racing calendar begins today at Concord (Charlotte) North Carolina with the 9th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals. And there's been a bit of movement in the Top Ten standings in Pro Stock already, as the defending season champion, Erica Enders, has pretty much used up all her chances to stay in contention for a repeat championship, as she failed to qualify for eliminations today.
Even though the race isn't being broadcast on the full FOX network, the "old faithful" of drag racing news coverage, Drag Race Central, will be as close to real time as they can manage with the results. And we'll be keeping an eye on them throughout the day as the results roll in. Even though there's still five more races after today to catch up to the leaders, the chances to gain ground become very slim very quickly for the racers near the bottom of the pack.
In the semi-pro ranks, one of Canada's most successful Top Alcohol racers of the last decade, Shawn Cowie (Delta, BC) is into the second round of eliminations and holds lane choice over Megan Meyer. If he can get past the quickest A-Fuel Dragster in the country in that round, he'll vault past the 2014 champion, Chris Demke, and move into fifth place in the national standings. However, if he loses, and Mia Tedesco goes to the final round, then he could drop back to seventh in the standings.
There's lots more stories to follow, but time constraints are making this update a short one. More news as it happens or when we can find the time to post it.
The latest update as of July 17, 2016
More weather dramas
After a great rebound from Friday's drawn-out and nearly drowned first day of competition, Saturday went off as scheduled at the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals. When we rolled out of bed at "oh too early" this morning, the skies were bright, the air was warm, and hopes were high for a fast-paced exciting day of drag racing at Castrol Raceway. It all started well with the Pro 6.95 class, but by the time the second pair of cars crossed the finish line it became apparent that the weather was going to interfere again. As the fourth pair of cars began backing up from their burnouts, the raindrops started to fall, gradually increasing in intensity until it became another full-blown rainstorm.
Three hours later the rain finally stopped, track drying started again for the umpteenth time, and now, nearly five hours after racing began, we're getting close to resuming. As long as we can get going before 8:00 pm, and no more rain falls, we just might get this event in the books this evening. So far, the only racers to fall victim to the weather are the Pro Mods, and they will roll their eliminations into a double-header race weekend here in early September. The exhibition categories: Fuel Altereds, Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Car, and Top Fuel look to be on the sidelines also in order to speed up the show and increase the chances of completing the event.
The latest update as of July 16, 2016
Day one of the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals had a little, and in some cases a lot, of almost everything from blazing sun, to lightning, heavy rain, very dark clouds, brisk winds, and rainbows. We even experienced a bit of drag racing, starting very late, at nearly 8:30 pm, and continuing until 11:30 between a series of short-lived showers. While the Pro Cars (Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley, Top Fuel, Jets) were only scheduled to run once, they actually all got a chance for that sole pass. The Pro Mods and Pro 6.95 cars lost one session to the weather but the decision was made to give them two more chances today and push their first round of eliminations to Sunday morning.... weather permitting of course.
Unfortunately, the sportsman competitors drew the short straw, and aside from a handful of time trials for Super Street and a bunch of Junior Dragster passes, none of the sportsman racers got further than the staging lanes. That situation will impact the rest of the weekend, starting this morning with a somewhat compressed schedule of time trials and eliminations force-fed to the track before the start of Pro qualifying at 6:00 pm.
The latest update as of July 15, 2016
Lucky Number Seven?
Going through my files this week, reviewing past roadtrips to Edmonton for the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals, it became apparent that this year's edition will be my seventh time around at Canada's largest and most entertaining drag race. In that time period, from 2005 to the present, there's been every possible weather event - except snow (and we'll never say never to that) - and races that have ranged from the sublime to the downright ridiculous.
The trip up here saw rain for the last few hundred miles, and it rained well into last night, but the sun is shining brightly this morning and hopefully we won't be greeted by a muddy parking lot and a soaked track. However, I can't help but remember the "mud-bowl" of a decade ago, and the "morning of fire" after a very loooong rain delay.
10:00 AM Update: Of course last night's rain turned the parking lot into a bog. When we (Bob Snyder and myself) arrived, the gate attendant took one look at the Speedzone "staff car", a hemi-powered Charger, and said "call the tow truck now boys" and directed us to a semi-firm area near the front gate. Hopefully we won't see any more rain today and we'll get out of here unassisted tonight. In the meantime, there's nearly 30 funny cars and another half-dozen nitro cars in the pits to take a look at. Not to mention a bunch of 5-second Pro Mods, some super gnarly Harleys, and a host of blown, injected, turbocharged, and nitrous aided sportsman cars. More news as it happens.
3:00 PM Update: The planned noon-ish start didn't materialize, but they began shortly after that with a round of junior dragster time trials, followed by... another round of junior dragster time trials, followed by.... you guessed it..... yet another round of the same. The "weepers" (water coming up through small cracks in the pavement) coming up near the finish line continued unabated until nearly 2:00 pm, when the go-ahead came down as a large bank of very dark clouds surrounded the facility. The wind picked up strength but the rain held off until the second pair of Super Street cars ran, then the word came from the top end "it's raining" and that's the end of story for the time being. Next report whenever something other than a weather report happens.
The latest update as of July 6, 2016
Half the season gone already?
We're just past the halfway point of the calendar year, and starting the second half of the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season this week. After a gruelling four week stretch of non-stop national events, the Pro teams - at least those that are still standing - got 10 days to regroup and retool before this week's Route 66 Nationals in Joliet. Then it's one more week of "rest" before they head out on the annual death march that's politely called the "Western Swing".
If we had the time to spare, we'd do a quick recap of the first half of the NHRA season, take a quick glance at two major local events from the past month at Mission Raceway, and report on the IHRA Nitro Jam Canadian Nationals at Grand Bend, Ontario. Due to circumstances that had a much higher priority, I gave the IHRA race a miss, and similarly wasn't able to attend either of the Mission races. There is a small sliver of tiresmoke on the horizon however as I'm booked into the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton next weekend for what will most likely be the only drag race I attend this year.
For now though it's back to drawing up house plans and looking at the myriad details that go into constructing a waterfront home from scratch. It's going to be almost as much fun - and even more expensive and time-consuming - than building another race car, and infinitely more useful in the long run. As always: stay tuned!
The latest update as of June 22, 2016
Same old, Same older
Hit the fast forward button again and we now find ourselves nearly halfway through the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello season. This week's tour stop at Bristol will be the 11th of 24 events on the calendar, and the third week of a string of four consecutive race weekends. And before we know it, the second half of the season will kick off at Chicago's Route 66 Raceway. Following that, we've got the Western Swing, then it's Indy, and then the countdown to the championship begins. Where does the time go?
This drag racing season will be a very short one for myself as the only event I'm (almost) certain to attend at this point is the NHRA Lucas National Open at Mission Raceway next month. Even next week's IHRA (remember them?) Nitro Jam race at Grand Bend, Ontario, has been erased from my calendar as much more pressing matters are keeping me close to home that weekend. What about Seattle? While I've tried to attend the Northwest Nationals every year, this year's event might be one that I miss, again due to circumstances.
We will try to keep current on what's happening in drag racing and bring you the viewpoints that made this site a factor nearly two decades ago, but the enemy as always is time, as in just not enough of it available to devote to the sport of drag racing. Next update as soon as there is a little bit of that precious commodity to spare.
The latest update as of May 15, 2016
Time is truly flying
Fast forward eleven weeks (has it really been that long?) and we've just passed the quarter pole in the NHRA Mello Yello national event series. The IHRA has reached the same point also, with two out of the seven races on their schedule in the books. However, it seems like a very long time (April 3rd) since their latest event wrapped up at San Antonio. On the PDRA side, it's two out of nine races in the books. The next race on their calendar is coming up next weekend at the Texas Motorplex but it's going to be a sombre group of racers and officials in attendance, with the twin tragedies at the last event in Rockingham still all-too-fresh in their minds.
There's been far too much water under the bridge to attempt to recap the last two and a half months of racing action, or fill in any more of the gaps in our coverage on the "What's New" page, but I'll try to pick up from this weekend's NHRA event in Atlanta, do a synopsis of the first quarter of the NHRA season, and look ahead to the events coming up in the next few weeks. Speaking of which, it's less than three weeks until the first Lucas Western Regional event of the season in the Northwest Division, taking place at my home track, Mission Raceway Park.
To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page
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