Budds Creek, Maryland (July 08) - It was a wild one at Royce Miller's Maryland International Raceway Saturday night. The event featured Pro Streeters, Frantic Four Doorslammers, Frantic Four Dragsters and Altereds, Pro Mods, a Nitro Harley, Top ...
Budds Creek, Maryland (July 08) - It was a wild one at Royce Miller's Maryland International Raceway Saturday night. The event featured Pro Streeters, Frantic Four Doorslammers, Frantic Four Dragsters and Altereds, Pro Mods, a Nitro Harley, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and Jet Dragsters. It was a battle of attrition that led to the surviving Funny Car and Pro Mod finalists having to run each other! You'll want to save this photo just to say, "Yes, it really happened!"
The pro show kicked off with a Pro Street match race. Dan Marrow's '67 Nova faced Jeff Miller's '37 Chevy. Miller was left on and shook the tires, but recovered and won with a 7.05 at 206.64 to Marrow's 7.438 at 182.58.
In round one of the Pro Mod match race, Wayne Torkelson Jr., in the Water Wetter '57 T-Bird faced Troy Critchley in Johnny Rocca's '49 Merc. Both cars had problems, but Torkelson recovered first to win at 7.19 at 201 to Troy's 8.04 at 118.
Rocca's team was facing all sorts of problems as they attempted to meet the recent IHRA rule changes for blown Pro Mods. They had to add 50 lbs. of weight to the car. They had to go from their tried and true four speed to a three speed, and they had to change the rear gear ratio to a 4:56. The car was driving through the clutch terribly. Rocca and crew were working mightily to try to win the match, but also to establish a baseline for the IHRA National event at Leicester, New York, next weekend.
Jamie Emery has fresh new paint on his Nitro Harley. He muscled the big bike to a 7.090 at 179.30 to thrill the fans.
The funny cars were next. Leroy Dewdney showed up with a beautiful new '99 Dodge Avenger called "Pure Insanity." He faced the leader of the War on Wheels gang, Bunny Burkett. At the hit, Dewdney welded Bunny to the tree and held on for a 6.297, 226.89 to 6.214, 228.69 thriller. The margin of victory was .014 seconds - four and a half feet at the stripe!
Up next was Billy Gibson versus Sam Leland. Gibson has been on a tear lately, winning twice in the last month. Leland has always had the power, but not the luck. That changed tonight. As Gibson suffered uncharacteristic tire shake, Sam marched the Mason Dixon Raider straight down the middle of the lane to record a 6.226, 227.15, to 7.43, 159 mph win. Leland later said the clutch got so hot that it burned through the crewmember's asbestos gloves when they took it out after the run!
A very interesting funny car racer was pitted with the big boys (and gals). Fourteen year old Damian Moore of Pasadena, Maryland, showed up with his "Driver's Ed" car, the small block Rodeck powered Corvette formerly campaigned by Fran Peppler of Chicago. Damian and family have long enjoyed a relationship with Bunny Burkett and Damian is definitely one of her "Boys."
Damian fired the car in the pits under Bunny's watchful tutelage, and continued to get a feel for the controls. The youngster only has two more years to wait! Beside the Corvette, yet another rig housed yet another funny car - a 2000 machine with one of Bunny's Hemis in it. That's the "post-Driver's Ed" car!
Bunny dropped a little secret: "I'm not gonna be drivin' forever! One of these days soon, I'll step back to become a car owner. That 's where the "The Boys" in Bunny and the Boys will step in. Damian Moore and Lil' Bear Pritchett are those Boys. Bunny and the Boys will keep hoppin' forever and ever!" Damian's parents posted $200 for the best reaction time in Funny Car on behalf of Moore's Auto Body.
Royce Miller always runs his second Frantic Four qualifying session as part of the first round action. The Frantic Four classes became Frantic Eights as outstanding fields showed up to race, prompting Miller to increase the field sizes as a bonus to the fans.
<pre> After the first session in Frantic Four Doorslammer, reigning series champ Billy Farmer led the group. The list after round one was as follows:
1. Billy Farmer, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.663, 209.52 2. Chris Krajewski, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.715, 210.80 3. Marc Hemling, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.785, 204.01 4. Marc Hayes, nitrous '99 Monte Carlo, 6.788, 208.55 5. Ed Burnley, nitrous '94 Corvette, 7.132, 172.41 6. Ricky Nadeau, nitrous '97 Monte Carlo, 7.419, 187.26 7. Frank Snellings, Jr., mountain motor '96 Lumina, 7.767, 137.81 8. Robert Tyree, mountain motor '57 Chevy, 7.830, 175.57
Non qualifiers included Mark Pullen's nitrous '98 Monte Carlo, 8.283 at 178.54, and Karl Petersen's mountain motor '97 Cutlass, Bob Bailey's nitrous '86 Monte Carlo, and Allan Juhase's nitrous ' 95 Monte Carlo.
</pre> Frantic Four Doorslammer qualifying round two kicked off with Nadeau beating Billy Farmer, 7.47 at 186 to a too near the centerline shutoff. Luckily for Farmer, his first run kept him solidly at number one.
Chassis builder and series sponsor Ed Burnley's "Predator" Corvette (complete with graphics of the beast from the movie series), took a win at 7.099, 184, over Marc Hayes, who went towards the centerline! This put Burnley into the field and bumped Robert Tyree.
Chris Krajewski was all over the track in the next qualifying match, but he held off Robert Tyree with a 7.40 when Tyree slowed. Krajewski stayed in the field and Tyree stayed out.
Up next, Tommy Howes, who has nothing but trouble with his blown Camaro this year, put down about his best run of the year at 6.787, 206.28, to hold off Frank Snellings, Jr., at 6.98, 191. Howes slammed into the fourth qualifying spot and Snellings solidified his position.
Mark Hemling brought out his '63 Corvette next and ran a good 6.794 at 203.80 to beat Mark Pullen, who slowed with problems. The consistent Hemling stayed in; Pullen stayed out.
Bob Bailey brought the huge '86 Monte Carlo Aero coupe out for his last chance at making the show. The former series champ pulled it off, going straight and true to a 6.899 at 200.92, bumping Ricky Nadeau out of the field.
Up next was a guy nobody had heard of. Allan Juhase (pronounced you-haas) came down from Jamison, Pennsylvania, with a '95 Monte Carlo. After a 14-second shutoff in the first qualifying session, folks wondered if Juhase would be able to cut his first qualifying time in half in order to make the field. The big yellow Monte stood up and marched at the green, however, and when a 6.960 at 200.53 showed up on the boards, the crowd cheered in amazement and support. As impressive as that run was, it wouldn't be Allan Juhase's last surprise of the evening. Ed Burnley's last ditch 7.09 got bumped and the fans had an all six-second doorslammer field to cheer for. <pre> Frantic Four Dragsters and Altered qualifying round two was next. Coming into this session, the field was as follows:
1. Larry Plummer, nitrous dragster, 6.385, 212.26 2. Doug Nordberg, blown altered, 6.574, 204.66 3. Jim Fudge, blown dragster, 6.710, 203.89 4. Bob White, blown altered, 6.830, 160.84 5. Kevin Evans, dragster, 7.046, 184.60 6. Dickie Smith, Jr., nitrous dragster, 7.081, 189.50 7. Phil Soucy, nitrous dragster, 7.118, 187.00 8. Karen Haddock, blown dragster, 7.123, 197.05
Non qualifiers included series sponsor George Paul's nitrous dragster and Charlie Gambino's Godfather blown altered.
</pre> In qualifying session two, Doug Nordberg, who did well at MIR last month, took another chunk off his personal best time with the great 6.57 in the first qualifying session. He was ready to take some more off in session two. Bob White, who usually has Leroy Dewdney in the seat of his space age '00 altered, took over the driving chores himself. His session one 6.83 shutoff showed the car's potential. At the green, the two altereds staged a ferocious battle. It was close for 900 feet, and then Bob White surged ahead for a fantastic 6.515 at 216.17 to 6.65 at 206 mph win! The run was the best pass of White's career and Nordberg had to be happy with his altered's consistency. White shot to the number two spot, bumping Nordberg to third.
Up next were the Top Dragsters of Phil Soucy and Dickie Smith, Jr. Both guys had run in the low sevens in the first qualifying session. They were going to need to step it up to compete with this crowd tonight. Unfortunately, Soucy's car broke and he considerately pulled off to the side of the track. Dickie Smith was only marginally happier - his 7.43 was a definitely a step in the wrong direction after his first session 7.08. Soucy is an interesting story. After spending 20 years in the Air Force where he flew SR-71 Blackbird jets to speeds of over 3,000 mph, his 200 mph Top Dragster ride must seem like a trip to the corner for bread and milk!
Larry Plummer, whose first qualifying session 6.38 at 212 equaled his final winning run in last month's race, had some problems on the line and left before the tree came down. His pole position was solid, however.
Charlie Gambino and Jim Fudge then took center stage. The Gambino team travels all the way from Port Orange, Florida, for every Frantic Four race. Talk about supporting the sport! Gambino's altered has to be one of the loudest blown alcohol cars ever. Fudge stumbled a bit, but Gambino left with an incredible .984 60-foot time and ripped down the track. He shut off to a 6.742 at 163.10 to take the 6th spot in the field. Gambino's incremental times indicated he was on his way to a 6.40! Karen Haddock was bumped out, thanks to The Godfather's heroics.
Series sponsor George Paul then brought out his unpainted dragster and went 7.452 at 185.77. The run was a huge improvement for paint and body shop owner, but failed to make the field. Soucy's 7.118 anchored the field. In an interesting twist, the Frantic Four Doorslammer field was quicker than the Frantic Four Dragster/Altered field!
It was time for the jets to round out the first round's action! Al Hanna was on hand with lovely Jessica Willard in the driver's seat of the high tech Queen of Diamonds machine, facing David Douthit in his family's California Smokey weenie roaster. After a great fire show, Willard couldn't hold the car on the line and blasted off before the tree came down. Douthit followed a tick later. Neither driver got times, but Douthit got the win after Jessica's redlight.
Before round two kicked off, kids of all ages were treated to a fire-breathing, metal eating, transforming dinosaur of destruction - Transaurus!
Definitely one of the more impressive of these types of acts, Transaurus picked up a Chevy Spectrum, chomped it in two, and left it a crumpled hulk. The kids loved the show.
During round one, Royce Miller had assigned his announcing staff to make announcements -- ad nauseum -- for the "driver of the Spectrum" to move it. Suffice to say, when the Spectrum finally got its due, the cheers from the crowd were boisterous and sincere! Automotive artist Tim Woods put in an entertaining cameo as the irate "tourist" whose car was destroyed.
Round two kicked off with the Pro Street match between Jeff Miller's ex-Hahn and Oddy '37 Chevy and Dan Marrow's flamed, yellow Chevy II. Marrow nailed Miller on the tree, .461 to .575, but both cars got out of shape on the DOT tires and nearly touched at half-track! Miller recovered first to take an 8.18, 155 mph win.
Up next were the Pro Mods of Johnny Rocca and Wayne Torkelson, two of the quickest Ford doorslammers on the planet. Troy Critchley evened the score with a 6.631 at 202 win when Torkelson had problems and shut off to an 8.69.
It was time for funny cars! The Dodge Avengers of Leroy Dewdney and Sam Leland lined up for battle. Dewdney left the red eye glowing, but slammed through the quarter at 6.088 at 229.00 mph for Low ET and Top Speed of the night. In the other lane, Leland ran a consistent 6.208 at 226.58 for the win.
Up next were Bunny Burkett and Billy Gibson in a battle for leadership of the Bunny and the Boys gang. Both racers had scored a win a piece in match race action leading up to their recent match race at Capitol Raceway. Gibson won there, going one up on the lady. Bunny was looking for revenge and this was her chance! She jumped off the line ahead of Billy, .523 to .547. The two cars were welded together, with Bunny still holding a half car length advantage at the eighth mile, 4.037, 178, to 4.064, 173. It was time for Gibson's patented IHRA Speed Record holding top end charge to kick in. Billy put his foot in it, but the engine showed its displeasure with a massive explosion. Bunny took the win at a consistent 6.214 at 224.66 to Gibson's wounded 6.432 at 179.66.
Gibson's mechanical carnage necessitated a massive cleanup that took about a half-hour. Royce Miller was in a quandary. A packed house at MIR, but nothing to entertain the troops! What to do? How about Big Wheel races? A byproduct of the wackiness that occurs at Bracket Finals events, Royce had on hand a fleet of Big Wheel toy tricycles and he had on hand scores of kids who had come to see Transaurus.
A perfect match! Royce and MIR staffers lifted eight lucky kids over the fences and set up a Big Wheel eliminator. The kids put on a ferocious show with their Big Wheels showing the same characteristics as true racing machines! The bigger kids had more horsepower, but spun their front tires as their back tires remained anchored by their heavier weight!
At the end of the competition, the winner was the youngest kid in the group. Four year old Timmy won it all with a combination of light weight and little legs that could work the pedals through a smoother range of motion! Timmy showed incredible consistency, running the 60-foot distance in times of 6.13 and 6.15 seconds. The most entertaining part of the evening followed Timmy's first round win, after which he wouldn't give up the Big Wheel! This caused a Keystone Kops scene in which various members of the MIR starting line staff were left grasping at air as Timmy expertly weaved and bobbed the yellow and red trike in a series of crowd pleasing figure eights.
After the cleanup, Dickie Estevez brought out Phil Bonner's Daddy Warbucks '65 Ford Falcon to make an exhibition pass. The great looking nostalgia machine went straight and true, clocking a 7.823 time at 173.99 mph.
Frantic "Eight" Doorslammers were up next. Spring FC Classic Frantic Four winner Marc Hayes lined up next to Tommy Howes, who seemed to be getting the temperamental '92 Camaro to run up to potential. Howes' recent string of bad luck continued, however, as a throttle linkage broke on the launch. Hayes trucked into the next round with a consistent 6.804 at 206.54 mph.
Up next was a battle of two former series champions, Billy Farmer and Frank Snellings, Jr. No love is lost between these teams and a massive burndown ensued. Started Jeff Taylor had a nice relaxing seat and let the racers steam. After about a minute, Snellings finally pulled in. Farmer went in next and a charitable Jeff Taylor flipped the switch. Farmer seemed to win the psychological battle with a huge reaction time advantage, .466 to .613 seconds. The C&B Racing car was long gone, leaving the normally-aspirated mountain motor car in its wake. However, Farmer's car lost power at 800 feet, and Snellings blew by for the win, 6.920, 196.79, to 8.68, 109.
Newcomer Allan Juhase was up next against Randy Delano's '63 'Vette with Chris Krajewski on board. Juhase, who had shocked the crowd just by making the show, had another surprise up his sleeve. At the green light, Juhase laid a .471 to .748 holeshot on Krajewski and held on for a jaw-dropping 6.951, 200.17, to 6.699, 208.55 win over the Baltimore Corvette. Krajewski was moving hard, but came up a half car length short. No volunteers were offering to trade places with Krajewski as he faced big Randy Delano after that one.
Marc Hemling, who won the NPSA race at MIR in April, faced Bob Bailey's massive Monte next. Bailey didn't have another Hail Mary in his bag of tricks, however, and Hemling's '63 Split Window made short work of him, 6.772, 203.49 to an 18 second shutoff.
Frantic "Eight" Dragster/Altered round one was next. Phil Soucy couldn't make the call, so George Paul stepped into the field. George slaughtered Larry Plummer off the line, .431 to .827, but lost power. Plumer accepted the gift with a 6.836, 200.47, to 7.955, 172.74 win.
Bob White faced local Super Pro hero Dickie Smith, Jr., next. Smith's Top Dragster just didn't have the oats to keep up with the futuristic altered. White shut off to an easy 6.807, 169.53 to 7.516, 186.02 win.
The Gambino cars faced off again, with Jim Fudge grabbing a great 6.472, 206.51 win over Charlie's 17-second shutoff in the altered. Charlie and his team come all the way from Florida to race the best the mid Atlantic has to offer. So they end up racing each other?
Doug Nordberg and the Young Guns were up next. They took an easy 6.604, 200.98 broke bye win as Karen Haddock, who had filled in for Kevin Evans, could not make the call herself.
The round ended with Jessica Willard evening up the Jet Dragster match with a 5.13, 296 mph win over David Douthit's redlighting 5.30 at 296 mph.
The third round kicked off with the Pro Streeters. Dan Marrow had lost two straight, and was racing for pride. He nailed Jeff Miller at the hit, .475 to .612, and grabbed a 7.513, 183.02 consolation win as Miller got out of shape and coasted to a 7.96 at 121.
Recent Frantic Four Doorslammer winner Marc Hayes lined up against former series champ Frank Snellings, Jr. All expected more burndown action from Snellings, but both cars went right in and staged. In a clean race, Hayes' incredibly consistent tangerine Monte Carlo took a 6.773, 206.89 to 6.919, 199.52 win.
In the other match-up, Marc Hemling lined up against the night's designated giant-killer, Allan Juhase. There would be no massive holeshot in this match-up; Hemling and Juhase left practically together, .429 to .430. While the Pennsylvania driver suffered troubles and shut off, Hemling ran 6.775, 204.26 to set up a dream final with Hayes.
In a repeat of their qualifying battle, the altereds of Bob White and Doug Nordberg faced off next. White had the altered performance marks for the night, but Nordberg had the consistency. The Young Guns blasted off the line for a .485 to .689 holeshot advantage, then grabbed the win at a new career best 6.552 at 205.04 as White shut off to a 9.34.
The 6.30 and 6.40 cars of Larry Plummer and Jim Fudge lined up next. The two quickest Frantic Four cars on the grounds had also been the least consistent. It was Fudge's turn for the consistency bug to bite, as the Godfather entry sat at the line and did not leave. This left Larry Plummer's nitrous fed monster free to record an uncontested 6.450, 212.90 win. Fudge rolled through a few seconds later.
Two non-qualifying Frantic Four Doorslammers came out for a match race next. Either car could win Best of Show anywhere. Mark Pullen 's beautiful black Monte Carlo beat Robert Tyree's gorgeous purple-blue '57 Chevy, 7.367, 190.27 to 7.825, 176.44.
The Pro Mod and Funny Car final rounds were in jeopardy because of parts attrition. Wayne Torkelson hurt his car in the second round loss to Rocca & Critchley, and the funny car drivers claimed they were out of clutch parts. This left Rocca's Ironhorse Pro Mod and Bunny Burkett's "Bunny and the Boys" Funny Car. After a quick review of the two cars' times for the night, Royce Miller determined to have Rocca & Critchley face Bunny Burkett. Burkett would give the Pro Mod car a 4-tenth head start, based on the night's performances. The cars also left on a five tenth's sportsman tree, something Bunny hadn't done for over 30 years!
The suspense of the match was lost immediately, however, as Troy redlighted. Bunny drove it out the back door anyway, going 6.291 at 209.10 to defeat the Iron Horse's 8.72, 104 shutoff. Johnny Rocca and his team have their work cut out for them as they attempt to implement the most recent round of rule changes from Norwalk in time to become competitive for the Leicester IHRA race.
Jessica Willard and David Douthit lined up for a final match to see which Jet Dragster driver would get to leave with the title of the sport's hottest young jet shoe. At 23 and 25, Jessica and David are probably the youngest Jet Car drivers in the world. After another great flame and burner pop show, Jessica grabbed a slight holeshot and opened it up into 5.176, 271.79 to 5.525, 294.69 win. Jessica's speed was down somewhat as she was busy avoiding Douthit at the other end of the track. David lost his primary chute, but was able to wrestle the car to a stop by using the reserve chute and the brakes.
This left only the two Frantic Four finals, and they both looked great on paper. The 6.70 cars of Marc Hayes and Marc Hemling lined up first. Both racers had won at MIR this year already and the fans were looking for a side by side battle for doorslammer supremacy. Unfortunately, Hemling left a tad too soon, a .390 light negating his 6.85, 202 pass. Marc Hayes coasted to his second straight Frantic Four title in 7.94 seconds.
Another redlight marred the Frantic Four Dragster/Altered final. Doug Nordberg knew he needed to make up a tenth to keep up with Larry Plummer. He tried for .400 perfection and got a .394 redlight for his troubles. The Young Guns pilot probably took little consolation in realizing that he didn't need that big a margin at the starting line. His losing 6.70, 200.82 mph run compared favorably to Plummer's .539 initiated 6.67, 209.62 winner.
It was another wacky night at Maryland International Raceway, as the spirit of two-out-of-three match racing was kept alive for the faithful. Then next big event at MIR is the Mountain Motor Nationals Pro Stock event, Wednesday night, July 26.