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.
After the first
session in Frantic Four Doorslammer, reigning series champ Billy Farmer
led the group. The list after round one was as follows:
- Billy Farmer, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.663, 209.52
- Chris Krajewski, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.715, 210.80
- Marc Hemling, nitrous '63 Corvette, 6.785, 204.01
- Marc Hayes, nitrous '99 Monte Carlo, 6.788, 208.55
- Ed Burnley, nitrous '94 Corvette, 7.132, 172.41
- Ricky Nadeau, nitrous '97 Monte Carlo, 7.419, 187.26
- Frank Snellings, Jr., mountain motor '96 Lumina, 7.767, 137.81
- Robert Tyree, mountain motor '57 Chevy, 7.830, 175.57
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
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.
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
had 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.
Frantic Four Dragsters and Altered qualifying round two was next.
Coming into this session, the field was as follows:
- Larry Plummer, nitrous dragster, 6.385, 212.26
- Doug Nordberg, blown altered, 6.574, 204.66
- Jim Fudge, blown dragster, 6.710, 203.89
- Bob White, blown altered, 6.830, 160.84
- Kevin Evans, dragster, 7.046, 184.60
- Dickie Smith, Jr., nitrous dragster, 7.081, 189.50
- Phil Soucy, nitrous dragster, 7.118, 187.00
- 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.
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 definite 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,
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 –
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.
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
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 Walker 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
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
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
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.
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 5.252, 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.