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Danny's Corner

Hot Doorslammer Action at Red River!

by Danny White (3/8/99)

The National Street Car Association held its season opener at Red River Raceway with the first annual Cajun Challenge. The track in Gilliam, Louisiana, was voted IHRA Track of 1998 because of its superior facilities and excellent track surface. The times from the first ever NSCA race did not disappoint with excellent times in the heads up categories. The race had to be called after sundown Sunday though due to dropping track temperatures along with fast approaching rain from the west.

The first ever Pro Modified race held by the NSCA was not perfect but growing pains are to be expected. Eleven teams showed up for the race after three rounds of qualifying. Billy Harper was the low qualifier with a 6.44 shot in the final session. The field was anchored by Harold Martin's problemed 10.70-second run. The first round was anticlimactic as the odd sized field and breakage caused a number of single passes. Iowa-based car dealer Carl Moyer took the first race over the broken Radiac Abrasives Lumina entry of Mitch Stott. The high tech EFI entry of Moyer ran a consistent 6.649, 207.66 -- just .05 off his qualifying run of 6.59. Gary Shearer and Harold Martin were up next. The race was over quickly with Shearer running 6.500, 210.53, over Martin's tire spinning 10.95. Next, Steve Vick in the ex-Tommy Mauney 1968 Camaro ran a solid 6.484, 215.55, on a solo pass. Billy Harper was next with a new engine setup from Gene Fulton and help from Shannon Jenkins. Harper shut off on his bye run to a 7.562, 131.15, after his career best 6.44 in qualifying. Landon Jordan then drove "The Kid" '63 Corvette of new owner Ray Brooks to a solid 6.540, 205.04, to back up his 6.50 qualifying time. Ed Hoover ran low ET of the weekend on his solo with a solid 6.42, 1217.98, run in the Trussle Motorsports Corvette. Quain Stott ran 6.481, 215.00, in the Lee Boy Paving Corvette to advance to the next round. The round ended with another solo, this time by Mike Castellana and his new Western Beef '57 Chevrolet. Castellana's 6.52, 205.13, defeated Ronnie Diamond, whose car was unable to start in the staging lanes.

The second round was better than the first but the weather was worse. In addition, the track surface started going away. Castellana redlighted, giving the win to Harper, who received no ET on his crossed up run. This led many to believe that Harper crossed the center line and hit the center cone at mid track. Harper still was credited with the win. Quain Stott easily beat Carl Moyer with a 6.60, 210, to Moyer's shaking 11.66. Steve Vick pedaled to a 6.838, 183.52, to win over Landon Jordan's shaking and spinning 17.51 shutoff. Ed Hoover was the winner next with a 6.65 over the worst run of Gary Shearer's weekend, a dismal 12.25, 77.29. Frank Sheffield called off the race before the semifinal round.

In Pro Street, ten competitors came from across the county to compete. The amazing twin turbo Ford Probe of Racin' Jason Betwerda with Mike Ragusa driving took the number one spot with a 6.812, 205.51. Danny Scott was number two at 6.972, 198.37, in his Chevelle. The number three qualifier was Pro Street newcomer and Louisiana-based match racer Paul Daigrepont with a 7.041, 195.28. Daigrepont drove a 1994 Camaro that was last seen as Leroy Roeder's Autoville Used Cars Pro Stocker .Top Sportsman racer Billy Bridges also entered Pro Street for the first time and worked up to a super 7.072, 195.11, run in his repainted all red 1998 Camaro for fourth. Steve Kirk, Jr., was number five in his 1969 Camaro with a 7.091 197.39. (Kirk showed he meant business, however, when he went 6.88 at 206 on a late Saturday test pass that tremors through the pits.) Chassis builder Billy Webb recorded his best ever run in his small block Lumina with a 7.27, 191.73, that blew out the side window to take spot number six. Lawrence Conley in the Tweaked II turbocharged 1998 Camaro also laid down his best ever run at 7.347, 190.54, to garner the number seven spot. The Culver Bros., with brother Joe driving the former Thunder Chicken Thunderbird, ran a troubled 7.934, 194.31, to end up in the eighth spot. Florida racer Randy Blackman in his all black '68 Chevelle ran 7.95, 163.99, to take the ninth spot. Blackman's run hurt several parts that kept him from making the first round. The final spot was taken by Joe Ditmar in his super sano 1974 Chevy Luv pickup at 8.48, 154.12.

The first round started with Daigrepont beating Culver 7.192, 167.91, to a shutoff of 13.97. Daigrepont's run was costly, hurting the engine and ending his day. Mike Ragusa set a new NSCA record with 6.801, 207.18, pass that floored Ditmar's best ever run of 8.263, 151.87. Billy Bridges won his first ever Pro Street race, 7.122,195.99, to Conley's worst pass of the weekend, 8.25, 141.15. Steve Kirk beat Billy Webb next with a smooth 7.009, 199.08, run to Webb's troubled 11.33. Danny Scott ended the round on a solo pass when Blackman could not show. Scott went 8.906, 107.02.

The second round started with a solo run by Ragusa whose 7.71, 146, was good enough to make the semifinals. Billy Bridges took the green light then backed up to the pits to win when Daigrepont could not return. The run of the round happened when Danny Scott beat Kirk, 6.865, 204.01, to 8.630, 113.15, to wow the crowd. The purse was split when the race was called.

Outlaw Pro Street brought a wide variety of vehicles to Shreveport to race in big grooved tire class. Local legend Mike Steele was the number one qualifier at 7.178 in the former Rickie Smith Firebird. Chris Shortridge was number two at 7.55 in his nitrous 1997 Camaro. ASCS racer Kevin McCurdy was number three at a solid 7.60 in his blown small block Camaro. 1998 Texas Quick 8 Champion Frankie Taylor caused a stir with his 7.68, 205.98, run in his first race on street tires. The Animal Man, Alan Mahone, ran his best ever pass with a 7.70, 176.79, in his wild '67 Camaro. Scott Nestler took his beautiful '67 Nova to a nice 7.79 run. Jim Brock was fastest pickup with an 8.14, 166.23, run in his '69 Chevy Stepside. Joel Cooper in his 1979 Chevy pickup ran a solid an 8.432, 157.23. Damon Perez, also in a Chevy pickup, ran next to last. Steve Hall in 1951 Mercury broke the car on an 11.51 run to end his weekend. Vinnie Pacifico in the Mike Castellana small block Corvette broke a belt drive, also ending his weekend without making a run.

The first race was between Steele and McCready with Steele slipping and sliding to an 8.29, 142.91, win over McCready 's breaking 11.10 second shutoff. Taylor laid down the pass off the weekend in the Taylor Brothers & Jim Brooks entry with super 6.96, 211.07, to set a new NSCA record. Chris Shortridge won at 8.89, 177,to Brock's worse 9.83, 162. Mahone won another crossed-up race, 9.40 to Perez's 10.86. Joel Casper then oiled down the track, getting all over the place on an 11.15 pass that lost to Rob Emmons' 8.26, 160.77. Nestler had to wait nearly an hour to solo at an 11.43, 71.44, .to end the round.

The second run had Emmons over Nestler, 11.46 to 17.30 in an off pace contest. Frankie "The Mad Man" Taylor then beat Mike Steele 7.23, 185.66, shutting off to beat Steele's slipping 8.49, 184.40. Shortridge laid a holeshot on Mahone in a side by side slugfest with Shortridge ending the Animal Man back to Chi-town, 8.091, 180.26, to Mahone's quicker 8.00, 186.41. The semifinal never happened, but Taylor got the extra points for having a bye in the semis. Emmons had broken a cam drive and would not be able to run in the semifinal to face Shortridge. Emmons, Shortridge, and Taylor split the purse with Taylor getting the contingency money. Taylor had a good weekend, taking a new record at Shreveport while car owner Jim Brooks was runner up at Sealy, Texas, to Gaylen Smith in his Big Jim Lumina.

In Super Street, 12 cars showed up to battle for the win and the magical seven-second zone. Low qualifier was Matt Scanton with the Silver Bullet supercharged Mustang recording an 8.18. He would later run 8.047, 178.24, for low elapsed time as the car fought to navigate the tricky surface. The trick new S-10 of Jim Huber suffered a crash Saturday evening, hitting the guardrail and barrel rolling several times. Luckily Jim was not hurt. Racin' Jason Betwerda, Matt Scanton, and Jim Monson were the semi finalists still in when the race was called. They all drove 5.0 Mustangs, but all differently aspired from supercharged for Scanton, turbocharged for Racin' Jason, normally for Jim Monson.

The largest heads up field was the wheelstanding Modified Street eliminator with sixteen cars doing battle. They were solidly in the mid eights all Sunday. Among the racers who made it to the semis were Bob Josey's second generation Camaro, Dick Lowry's trick new Camaro, and Tony Breeden's '68 Camaro, defending his NSCA championship. Several racers from the Midwest-based Outlaw Super Stocks Association showed their support for the NSCA. These racers included Bill Sharpness, Rob Mnoz, and a couple of others.

Limited Street was a slim field also with eight racers doing battle. The racers who made it to final were Al Fountain and Todd Moyer. Fountain had a true street-based car racing against the trick ex-Competition eliminator Super Modified of Moyer who caused a stir in the pits. Jim Witmer ran low elapsed time in qualifying at 8.68, 160.21.

In Easy Street, Bob D'Andrea was the biggest story by far. The blue car ran an 8.97 to put him into the zone shared by NMCA bad boy Gary Rowe. He was light years ahead of the rest of the seven other racers and was the clear favorite to win the event.

Pro Nostalgia was very entertaining and the fans loved it. Ron Mancini was low qualifier at best ever 9.17. The race made it to a final with Mancini in the Zoomo Plymouth versus the SS/BA Southland Flyer Coronet with Joe Tueton at the wheel. The Southland Flyer team of Tueton and Sid Bonnecare bypassed the Division 4 race at Houston to run with the NSCA.

The race was a definite success in terms of the sheer performances of the racers. However, the race suffered a few growing pains, as well, including extended down times and a lack of full fields in all of the classes. Of course, the race did not finish due to the weather conditions, but Frank Sheffield cannot be held accountable for that. He made the right decision to call the race before the rain hit.

Racers and fans should put a trip to Shreveport on their racing calendars. Red River Raceway is an excellent race facility with a super track and great Louisiana hospitality.

Danny White


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