MIR Pro Challenge 2001 - Day One Qualifying
by Bill Pratt
Hi gang. Here's some qualifying info from the 2001 Pro Challenge at MIR yesterday. It was a fantastically bright and sunny day in Southern Maryland that turned cold and windy after the sun went down. The action on the cold track was WILD with six, count 'em, SIX foam Compulink timing system blocks getting sent sky high as drivers crossed the center line! Despite the antics, qualified fields in Northeast Pro Shootout Association, Frantic Four (well, Frantic EIGHT) Doorslammer, and Frantic Four (Eight) Dragster/Altereds were filled for eliminations tomorrow. I'll be back on hand to call the race with Lewis Bloom and my brother Tim will be there, getting shots for tomorrow's story.
Here are the qualified fields, followed by a few race notes...
Northeast Pro Shootout Association (Pro Modifieds)
1. John Bartunek, nitrous '63 Corvette 6.583, 205.72
2. Marc Hemling, nitrous '63 Corvette 6.694, 207.15
3. Sal Passarelli, blown '68 Nova 6.715, 216.06
4. Allan Juhasz, nitrous '95 Monte Carlo 6.717, 201.52
5. Matt Dietch, nitrous '95 Camaro 6.789, 198.26
6. Bob Losordo, nitrous '92 Trans Am 6.861, 202.00
7. Gary Coutier, blown '55 Chevy 6.958, 205.26
8. Mark McHugh, nitrous '57 Bel Air 6.991, 197.77
9. Mike Ghiraldi, nitrous '90 Trans Am 7.024, 196.10
10. Paul Rocco, nitrous '98 Saturn 7.031, 138.73
11. Albert Bonamici, nitrous '00 Astro Van 7.449, 180.33
12. Jim Barker, blown '99 Monte Carlo 7.472, 186.82
13. Mark Pullen, nitrous '57 Bel Air 9.169, 114.93
14. Andreas Karampelas, nitrous '92 Camaro 15.53, 41.57
15. Steve Cossis, nitrous '53 Corvette 20.12, 38.39
Frantic Four Doorslammers (MIR's own heads up doorslammer class)
1. Billy Farmer, nitrous '63 Corvette 6.540, 213.16
2. Tommy Howes, blown '91 Camaro 6.587, 214.11
3. Frank Snellings, Jr., Pro Stock '96 Lumina 6.850, 203.12
4. Marc Hayes, nitrous '99 Monte Carlo 7.002, 207.94
5. Ed Burnley, nitrous '63 Corvette 7.101, 200.83
6. Chris Krajewski, nitrous '41 Willys 7.396, 137.36
7. Robert Tyree, nitrous '57 Chevy 7.815, 174.68
8. Perley Toye, nitrous '85 Camaro 8.076, 171.23
9. Paul Woods, nitrous '97 Camaro 13.55, 139.73
Frantic Four Dragsters/Altereds (MIR's own heads up dragster/altered class)
1. Neal Parker, blown '48 Fiat altered 6.265, 221.63
2. Bob White, blown '00 S&W altered 6.464, 189.44
3. Phil Adams, nitrous '94 Spitzer dragster 6.538, 207.94
4. Mike McKenzie, blown '01 Burnley dragster 6.642, 200.71
5. Vince Fourcade, injected '00 HFR dragster 6.893, 192.71
6. Dan Dietrich, blown '96 Mike Bos dragster 6.936, 187.76
7. Charlie Gambino, blown '00 Mike Bos altered 6.967, 177.23
8. Karen Haddock, blown '00 Mike Bos dragster 6.987, 185.54
9. Phil Soucy, nitrous '96 Spitzer dragster 7.269, 182.33
10. Dickie Smith, nitrous '98 HSC dragster 7.299, 190.30
11. George Paul, nitrous '99 Mike Bos dragster 8.047, 170.00
12. Steve Wilson, nitrous '97 Mike Bos dragster 8.183, 113.84
Notes: Dennis Whitestone has joined Bunny Burkett's alcohol funny car team as the primary national event sponsor. Dennis was on hand with Bunny. After a WILD, centerline crossing performance in the first round, Bunny came back to run Low ET for funny cars with a WAY detuned 6.12 at 229. The first run resulted from Dennis's five second Rockingham/Richmond tune-up. Look for Bunny to fly in 2001 under Dennis Whitestone's tutelage.
Lugnut the Squirrel and the 2nd Dimension Dancers made their debut at MIR. Lugnut was a big mascot, such as you see at college basketball and football games. The 2nd Dimension Dancers did a good job of entertaining the race fans just before each round.
Bob Coutier's blown '55 Chevy suffered a huge fire on the top end during his 6.95 second, 205-mph qualifying lap. It was reminiscent of the funny car fires of the 1970s, with flames licking out from all around the bottom of the car. The car was quickly extinguished, but Bob was done for the night. It is unknown whether he'll return for eliminations tomorrow.
Albert Bonamici's "Nightmare" 2000 Chevy Astro van is completely wild, especially by NPSA standards. The thing actually goes straight, and ran a decent 7.44 lap to make the program.
Tommy Gray's Undertaker '53 Corvette and Johnny Rocca's Mohegan Sun '51 Mercury with Paul Athey aboard were on hand for a two out of three Pro Mod match race. Athey took the first round with a 7.34, 136 to 8.48, 109 decision when both cars got VERY loose at half-track. It was basically a case of who got out of it first. Tommy decided discretion was the better part of valor in that one. In the second round, Tommy blew a great 6.483, 213.70 pass with a redlight start that gave Athey the win with a 6.70.
Bunny Burkett race Bill Naves in the Shooting Star Cutlass in round one of a funny car match race. Bunny crossed the centerline and ran into Naves's lane. Bill got out of the lady's way and shut off, while Bunny drove it through at 6.83, 168 mph. This lead to the aforementioned detuning!
Leroy Dewdney then took his nice Dodge Avenger alky FC to a 6.282, 230.17 mph decision over Ernie Bouge's "Running with the Devil" '57 Chevy Jet Funny Car after the 'Devil ran out of fuel and flamed out.
A second session qualifying pass between Frantic Four doorslammer racers Billy Farmer and Tommy Howes was WAY over the top! Howes lost the handle and crossed the centerline to end up DIRECTLY IN FRONT of Farmer's nitrous Corvette. Farmer, with ice in his veins, did not seem to lift at all! He merely moved over a few feet and kept his foot planted to record a 6.64 at 200 plus!
Chris Krajewski was on hand with Randy Delano's amazing '41 Willys. The car is just a temporary ride while Delano's state of the art '68 Camaro Pro Mod ride is being built. The Willys turned out to be the old Kenny Tripp "Bad Medicine" machine, originally built by Gary Hajek. The 102-inch wheelbased machine was a handful indeed, and looked positively high and short compared to the other sleek machines. But it LOOKED like a Pro Mod, and made veteran railbirds recall the reason we all fell in love with the class. Krajewski couldn't get the bulbous car to behave, however, taking out the SIXTH foam timing system block of the night on his errant 7.39, 137 mph pass.
Karen Haddock's blown Frantic Four dragster was a neat piece. The "Black Widow" dragster sounded unreal on its burnouts, but the best part was the header flames shooting two feet out of the pipes! They weren't nitro flames, but they were visible and cool nonetheless!
The second round of the funny car match race ended the night for the show cars, partly due to the late hour and partly to limit any further carnage! Bunny Burkett ran the aforementioned 6.12 at 229 to knock off Leroy Dewdney's out of shape 7.38 at 137. Billy Naves then took an out of shape 7.42, 192 win over Ernie Bouge's jet, which again flamed out on the starting line. Bouge's fire show and burner pops were AWESOME, but possibly too awesome in terms of how much fuel remains for the actual run! Ernie's car ran great last year, and I'm sure he'll figure out his problems..
I'll have more info tomorrow night after eliminations. Brother Tim will be on hand with the digital camera, so look for some shots, too.