Harper makes it to elite eight in Indy. CLERMONT, Ind. (September 3, 2002) - While the average person may think the Indy 500 is the hottest racing ticket in Indianapolis, drag racing fans know that the real action is held across town at ...
Harper makes it to elite eight in Indy.
CLERMONT, Ind. (September 3, 2002) - While the average person may think the Indy 500 is the hottest racing ticket in Indianapolis, drag racing fans know that the real action is held across town at Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) in Clermont, Indiana. This past weekend, Billy Harper, along with the best in the drag racing business, descended on the quarter-mile asphalt strip of IRP to show race fans what it takes to travel at speeds of more than 225 miles per hour. Harper, in his reptile-inspired Dodge Viper, proved to be a crowd favorite at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Mac Nationals not only for his slick paint scheme, but more importantly for his super-fast passes.
In drag racing, only the best cars are allowed to compete in the final show. Twenty-six pro modified cars started out the weekend's events in hopes they would have the power to make it to Monday's elite and final eight cars. Harper, who made it to the semi-finals in 2001, was confident his car had what it would take to get to the big show.
"This team has worked so hard over the last few months to give me a car and an engine that would be competitive," explained Harper. "We don't compete every weekend like a lot of these teams do, so we don't really have our momentum going week to week. Even with our limited schedule, these guys are so good, you would think that we are a full-time team."
Round one of qualifying started out a little shaky, literally, as the Dodge Viper shook at the line and headed to the wall before Harper saved it from damage. Once his competitors had cycled around through their passes, Harper was listed in the 25th position. Problems continued into round two when Harper's Dodge fishtailed following takeoff.
Knowing that he was going to have to kick it in, and quickly, Harper rallied in round three knocking off a 6.294- second run at a speed of nearly 225 miles per hour. The pass put Harper and his crew second out of 26 following completion of the round. Harper made two strong passes in both rounds four and five backing up his third round performance. Once the five rounds of qualifying were complete, the 2000 Dodge Viper was listed fourth out of 26 in the final rundown.
With only eight men left standing by Monday's big show, Harper was paired against the 1953 Corvette of Troy Critchley. Unfortunately, during the pass, Harper's Viper broke going down the strip sending him across the centerline, which caused disqualification.
"We had a great car today," stated owner and driver Billy Harper. "It is just so fun to come here to Indy and compete on the same strip as people like John Force and Kenny Bernstein. The fans at this track are awesome. They cheer for everyone and they make everyone feel welcome. I hope that we can come back next year to compete."
Harper and his teammates will be heading to the home of Rock and Roll for the next event on their limited schedule. Memphis Motorsports Park will host the NHRA for the 15th Annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals which will start on September 19 and continue through September 22.