Big Rigs at Maryland Int'l Raceway

Big Fun at MIR Big Rig Nationals By Bill Pratt June 6, 1998 - Budds Creek, MD - Maryland International Raceway hosted its annual Big Rig Truck Nationals in front of a large crowd of truckers and truck fans. The event featured dozens of truck ...

Big Fun at MIR Big Rig Nationals By Bill Pratt

June 6, 1998 - Budds Creek, MD - Maryland International Raceway hosted its annual Big Rig Truck Nationals in front of a large crowd of truckers and truck fans. The event featured dozens of truck racing categories, a truck show and swap meet, and truck-oriented sales displays. Also on hand were exhibition runs by the Little Red Wagon wheelstanding truck and the Ram Jet jet-powered truck. Live country music (with a touch of James Brown thrown in for good measure) was the order of the day, courtesy of 93 WFLS Radio and "Silver Wing." It was a fun day at the drags.

Adrian Miller of Germantown, MD, won the Race Truck (Super Pro) category, defeating Randy Jamieson of La Plata, MD, in the final round. Miller's 1983 Chevy S-10 pickup ran 11.61 seconds at 113.45 mph as Jamieson broke. David Sewell of Hughesville, MD, was the semifinalist.

John Semiklose of Waldorf, MD, survived six rounds of competition to win the Tuff Truck (Heavy Eliminator) category. Semiklose drove his '81 Chevy Pickup to a 15.47-second, 87.28 mph win over Wesley Washington of King George, VA, and his '92 Ford Pickup. Willard Hammond of Bowling Green, VA, was the semifinalist. Thirty-six trucks competed in the category.

Robert Ching of Budds Creek, MD, won the Super Duty category, defeating a six-truck field. Ching, who may very well be the first MIR winner to actually live in Budds Creek, defeated Tee Blake of Glen Burnie, MD, in the final round. Ching's '79 flatbed truck ran 23.43 seconds at 53.38 mph to drive around Blake's 25.38-second, 51.85 mph effort. Emory Burchett of Pasadena, MD, was the semifinalist.

Bill Colvin of Baltimore, MD, survived a 28 truck field of "Heavy Haulers," including dump trucks and the like. Colvin placed his 1996 Western State machine on top with a 23.20-second, 59.01 mph winning run over Todd McIntyre, whose '97 Ford LTL9000 was quicker at 23.10 seconds, 56.61 mph. Colvin won the starting line battle, however, and McIntyre's lumbering Ford ran out of racetrack in a catch-up attempt. Allen Foster of Bartonsville, MD, and Maurice Matthews of Odenton, MD, were semifinalists, driving a '98 Peterbilt and a '87 Freightliner, respectively.

Randy Jamieson made up for his final round loss in the Race Truck category with a big win in the Big Rig class. Consisting of 28 semi tractors, the Big Rigs impressed all with amazingly quick and fast runs. Jamieson's '86 Peterbilt ran 18.99 seconds at 65.90 mph against a handicap of 19.25 seconds to defeat David Blankenship of Millington, MD. Blankenship pushed his '84 Freightliner too hard, disqualifying himself by running 17.33 seconds at 60.70 mph on a 17.60 second handicap. Jamieson won, although he exceeded his handicap time by .26 seconds. Blankenship's infraction was a mere one-thousandth of a second worse, exceeding his handicap by .27 seconds. Linthicum, MD, racer Sony Fragg and Crofton, MD, racer Bruce Popp were semifinalists. Fragg drove an '85 Freightliner; Popp drove a '91 Peterbilt.

In addition to the main races, MIR lined up the quickest eight Big Rigs and the Quickest eight Heavy Haulers in two "Quick Eight" fields. Bradley Owens of St. Inigoes, MD, won the Heavy Hauler Quick Eight. Owens took his '95 Kenworth to a 20.00-second, 71.22 mph win over Gordon Jones' Severn, MD-based '87 Freightliner, which ran 20.85 seconds at 69.06 mph. Jimbo Harrell of Linthicum, MD, and Kirby Williams of Severn, MD, were semifinalists. In addition to the win, Owens set Low Elapsed Time and Top Speed of the category at a pole-sitting 19.294 seconds at 74.21 mph. The speed was a new track record.

Chris Larouque won the Big Rig Quick Eight competition, defeating David Blankenship in a mild upset. Larouque, of Upper Marlboro, MD, was not the quickest truck on the grounds until it counted--in the final round. Blankenship, of Millington, MD, had been hitting the big numbers all day, qualifying on the pole at 16.49 seconds at 83.87 mph. Larouque qualified third at 17.06 seconds. By the semifinals, however, Larouque had closed the gap, taking a 16.84-second win over Thad Spiridigliozzi's close 17.00. Blankenship went 16.85 seconds to defeat Joe Oliver's '98 Peterbilt at 17.42 seconds. In the final, Larouque got the jump off the starting line and just did hold off Blankenship in a great 16.74 to 16.79-second duel! Blankenship reset his track speed record in the final round at 84.27 mph. Spiridigliozzi earlier had reset the track elapsed time record at 16.386 seconds. For comparison purposes, that is roughly the performance of a brand new Honda Accord EX!

The Big Rig Nationals featured some neat exhibition trucks, as well. Kentland, Indiana's, Galen Hoover, reset his own Exhibition Big Rig track records, bombing the previous 13.61-second, 101 mph marks with an incredible run of 12.86 seconds at 106.50 mph! Hoover's "Tornado" features a 12 cylinder, turbocharged motor. In an attempt to back up the run, Hoover's truck blew pieces of the turbocharger completely out the stacks in a fiery explosion! There were no injuries, but the amazing machine was done for the day.

Wheelstander pioneer Bill "Maverick" Golden was on hand with the venerable "Little Red Wagon" '64 Dodge A100 machine. In its fourth incarnation, the LRW thrilled another generation of fans with runs of 11.17 at 111.82 mph and 10.94 at 114.46 mph. In an impressive display of grit and skill, Golden was driving with one arm in a cast, a broken arm the result of a recent fall.

Paul Stender was on hand with the amazing "Ram Jet" jet-powered Dodge Ram pickup truck. The gorgeous machine thrilled the fans, especially Billy Dodge, who won a passenger seat ride in the wild machine (during the fire show and burner pops only). I swear I am not making up Billy's last name just to fit the story! After Mr. Dodge reluctantly exited the red machine, Stender left the line hard but lost fire at half-track. The extended fire show and burner pops had expended all the fuel! Paul came back later to "try to go 200." Seconds later: triumph! Stender's 7.244-second, 205.69 mph blast got a huge roar from the crowd.

The next MIR special event is the Superchargers Showdown on June 27th. Blowers will abound, on Funny Cars, Dragsters, Pro Mods, Wheelstanders, and more! Check out the MIR website at www.mirdrag.com for all the details on the exciting 1998 Maryland International Raceway schedule. --- Bill Pratt Drag Racing List Online http://www.draglist.com

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