Norwalk Earns Fastest Track Status After Cannon Goes 331!
By John Raffa
It wasn't a matter of hanging chads or questionable vote counts, but there was a necessary delay before longtime Norwalk Raceway Park favorite Scotty Cannon's incredible 331.20 mph speed obtained in NRP's "Night Under Fire" this past weekend was declared official by NRP management. And for the moment at least, super star John Force, in attendance as the show's headliner, was overshadowed at the AC Delco/ Ohio Lottery-sponsored race that was presented by Amalie Oil and WMMS radio.
"We've looked at all the data from our own electronic records and examined Scotty's computer printouts that were recorded during the run, and it all boils down to the legitimate fastest run ever made in a Funny Car on any track, anywhere, regardless of racing association affiliation, so we're ready to shout it to the world," Norwalk's CEO, Bill Bader, Jr., unreservedly declared today.
Cannon's thunderous run in the second round of nitro Funny Car competition, on which he recorded a 4.882 elapsed time, at first silenced the huge crowd, estimated at over 35,000, a record itself for a single-day drag racing event anywhere. Seconds later, however, the stands became a bedlam of applause and foot stomping, followed by over 17,750 "high fives" being exchanged.
In the first round, Force himself had set a record Funny Car speed for NRP by laying down a 319.14 mph run at 4.981 seconds. The relatively cool temperatures after a mid-afternoon storm and carefully prepared track surface conditions contributed to the record times recorded by Force and Cannon.
Force went on to become the overall meet winner, determined by a match between the two quickest qualifiers from the first round - Force and Dale Creasy, Jr. - even though the ten-time world champion's car broke just after the start, seemingly giving Creasy, Jr., an uncontested win. But as drag racing fans everywhere know, nothing's certain in the sport until the entire 1320 feet that comprise the course is covered. Almost inexplicably, Creasy, Jr., one of the growing stars in the Funny Car world, crossed the course's centerline just after completing half the course, automatically eliminating him and giving Force the win.
Other nationally prominent Funny Car stars taking part in the event, which continues to grow annually in drawing national attention, included Dean Skuza, Cruz Pedregon, Chuck Etchells, Jim Epler, and newcomer Terry Haddock.
Commenting about next year, Bader and Force said they are in the midst of cooking up something even more spectacular than this year's event, which closed with the ignition of the biggest fireworks display that anyone in Huron County could remember.
"We just completed adding 10,000 seats last year," beamed Bader, "so I'm not exactly sure where we'll put everybody. But that's a dilemma I'm quite happy to help solve. I'm really ecstatic and thankful for the way the crowds turn out for us. First, in May we had a great crowd for the "Jet Warz," even with poor weather, and then this... our fans are amazing."
Next up at NRP is this weekend's Mr. Gasket "10 Grand Nationals," presented by Drag News Magazine. The Sunday winner of the three-day event, Friday through Sunday, July 6-8, is assured of $10,000, with $5,000 to the Saturday winner and $1,000 guaranteed to the Friday victor. Gates will open at 8:00 a.m. daily. Please call (419) 668-5555 for more information.
John Raffa, Communications Director
Phone: (419) 433-0858
Fax: (419) 433-4155
Norwalk Raceway Park
1300 State Route 18
Norwalk OH 44857
Note: Scotty later said
he thought the run was something more like 322. Indeed Bret Kepner's RZ
Factors do not bear out a 331 mph run. bp