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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

23rd MIR Mountain Motor Nationals to Tom Lee

By Bill Pratt
Photos by Tim Pratt

Tom Lee was the class of the field at the 23rd annual Mountain Motor Nats at MIR. Photo by Tim Pratt
Tom Lee was the class of the field at the 23rd annual Mountain Motor Nats at MIR.
Photo by Tim Pratt

Budds Creek, MD (June 27) - Tom Lee turned in a dominating performance Wednesday night in winning the 23rd annual Mountain Motor Nationals Pro Stock race at Maryland International Raceway. Lee turned away all fellow Pro Stock competitors, including runner-up Terry Leggett. Lee set Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet in the process. The only honor he did not garner was Low Qualifier. That fell to Brian Gahm and his Ohio-based Mustang.

After two rounds of qualifying, the field was set as follows:

1. Brian Gahm, Lucasville, OH, 2001 Mustang, 814 ci, 6.724, 207.56
2. Tom Lee, Kingsport, TN, 2000 Mustang, 815 ci, 6.726, 207.43
3. Angelo Alesci, Cleveland, OH, 2001 Cavalier, 800 ci, 6.756, 206.48
4. Doug Kirk, Lenore, WV, 2001 Cavalier, 814 ci, 6.757, 206.48
5. Terry Leggett, Pinetown, NC, 2000 Mustang, 812 ci, 6.758, 205.19
6. John Montecalvo, Center Moriches, NY, 2001 Cavalier, 800 ci, 6.768, 204.42
7. Ron Miller, Lebanon, OH, 2001 Grand Am, 808 ci, 6.775, 205.88
8. Gene Wilson, Canton, GA, 2000 Cougar, 812 ci, 6.779, 193.21

Alternates included the following:

9. Steve Williford, Engelhard, NC, 2001 Cavalier, 813 ci, 6.791, 204.48
10. Dwayne Rice, Grove City, OH, 1999 Firebird, 803 ci, 6.795, 205.94
11. Wally Stroupe, Kings Mountain, NC, 2001 Grand Am, 812 ci, 6.849, 201.91
12. Terry Walters, Roanoke, VA, 1999 Monte Carlo, 810 ci, 6.940, 201.28
13. Wayne Bishop, Raphine, VA, 1999 Monte Carlo, 813 ci, 7.041, 199.88
14. Harold Robinson, North Tazewell, VA, 1999 Monte Carlo, 815 ci, 7.082, 195.79
15. Tony Fox, Roanoke Rapids, NC, 2000 Mustang, 815 ci, 11.911, 75.71
16. Carl Baker, North Ridgeville, OH, 2001 Cougar, 812 ci, broke (Baker, the defending champion, seized up his motor on a time run and could not compete).

Brian Gahm's new Mustang was low qualifier. Photo by Tim Pratt
Brian Gahm's new Mustang was low qualifier. Photo by Tim Pratt

Round one kicked off with a race between the two most evenly matched cars. Only one thousandth of a second separated the qualifying times of Terry Leggett and Doug Kirk. Kirk had had a number of problems with a brand new car, however. His 6.75-second qualifying time was the only time the car had made it down the track, after several aborted runs. The new car blues returned in the first round, as another clutch problem stopped Kirk right off the line, sending Terry Leggett to a 6.873, 204.66-mph win.

John Montecalvo and Angelo Alesci then matched up in a battle of Chevys. Montecalvo spun, shook, did a hard right turn, then shut off to a 13.22. In the other lane, Alesci's sinister looking Cavalier sped to a 6.750 at 206.51 mph.

Ron Miller and Tom Lee met up next. Miller grabbed a slight starting line advantage, .462 to .473, but Lee steamed on by at the top end to take a 6.682, 208.20 to 6.755, 207.02 victory. The fans cheered loudly when the night's first 6.6 number appeared on the scoreboards.

Gene Wilson (with fishing great Orlando Wilson looking on) then took on low qualifier Brian Gahm. Gahm was the apparent favorite, qualifying five hundredths of a second quicker than Wilson. But Wilson has been the winningest racer on the IHRA trail this year, and his 6.77 qualifying time was a 193 mph shut off run. Most felt he had a lot more left in the car. If he did, it never got a chance to prove it, as Wilson's Don Smith Ford machine broke right after the launch. Gahm took the win with a consistent 6.751 at 206.67 mph.

Angelo Alesci was the toughest GM, lasting until the semifinals. Photo by Tim Pratt
Angelo Alesci was the toughest GM, lasting until the semifinals. Photo by Tim Pratt

Round two began with Angelo Alesci, the lone remaining Chevrolet, facing Tom Lee. Alesci needed to grab a holeshot to have a chance and he did, .500 to .516. Alesci's Cavalier seemed to lead Lee's Mustang until about three-quarters track, but then inexplicably lost power. Lee's Mustang Parts Specialties-sponsored machine blew by the Chevy, 6.694, 208.71 Top Speed of the Meet blast to a slowing 7.050, 158.95.

Terry Leggett then upset low qualifier Brian Gahm, when Gahm broke right on the line. Leggett recorded a good 6.760, 205.47 win to advance to the finals against Lee.

The final looked great on paper. Although Tom Lee had displayed a clear performance advantage, Terry Leggett actually would have won the match had the two faced in the semis! Lee's 6.694 time was initiated with a .516 second reaction time - a total time of 7.210 seconds. Leggett's 6.760 time was initiated with a superb .426 second reaction time - a total time of 7186 seconds! Had the two faced each other, Leggett would have won by a half a car length!

Tom Lee faces off against Terry Leggett in the final round at MIR. Photo by Tim Pratt
Tom Lee faces off against Terry Leggett in the final round at MIR. Photo by Tim Pratt

Tom Lee must have had some time to reflect on his reaction time before the final, however, because he and Terry Leggett left almost identically, .452 for Leggett to .466 for Lee. Tom Lee then marched to victory, with a Low Et of the Meet 6.671, 208.59 to defeat Leggett's disheartened 6.909, 191.89.

MIR's own Frantic Four Doorslammers also competed. The Pro Modified-type cars put on a great show. Qualifying results were as follows:

1. Ed Burnley, Pasadena, MD, 1994 Corvette, 706 ci nitrous, 6.691, 210.44
2. Marc Hayes, Laurel, MD, 1999 Monte Carlo, 706 ci nitrous, 6.701, 210.18
3. Billy Farmer, Millersville, MD, 1963 Corvette, 706 ci nitrous, 6.748, 210.21
4. Milt Decker, Dover, PA, 1963 Corvette, 463 ci nitrous, 6.790, 203.83

Alternates included the following:

5. Frank Gugliotta, Mount Airy, MD, 1995 Mustang, 700 ci nitrous, 7141, 197.08
6. Bert Jackson, Glen Allen, VA, 1968 Camaro, 598 ci normally aspirated, 7.516, 184.50
7. Jessie Grant, Sr, Chesapeake, VA, 1996 Beretta, 500 ci normally aspirated, 7.582, 182.21
8. Mark Pullen, Pasadena, MD, 1957 Bel Air, 706 ci nitrous, 12.695, 93.29

Billy Farmer returned to his winning ways after a rare DNQ last time out. Photo by Tim Pratt
Billy Farmer returned to his winning ways after a rare DNQ last time out.
Photo by Tim Pratt

Milt Decker's amazing small block '63 Corvette was looking for an upset in round one. Unfortunately, he rolled the beams and got no time. This sent low qualifier and recent event winner Ed Burnley on a 6.740, 209.43 single. Burnley is having great luck with his backup car, the "Predator" '94 Corvette, after blowing the motor sky high in his new '63 Corvette at the first race of 2001.

In the other first round match, defending series champion Billy Farmer took an easy 6.753, 209.85 win as alternate Frank Gugliotta broke on the line.

The Frantic Four final was a classic. Farmer grabbed a .446 to .487 holeshot advantage over Burnley, then stretched it out to record a 6.664, 210.24 to 6.684, 210.01 win. Farmer, who did not qualify at the recent event that Burnley won, went a long way towards defending his championship with the win.

Barney Squires was shaking out the new MJ Johnson Paving Pro Mod. Photo by Tim Pratt
Barney Squires was shaking out the new MJ Johnson Paving Pro Mod.
Photo by Tim Pratt

In other action, Tommy Gray was out testing the "Undertaker" '53 Corvette Pro Mod car. Gray recorded runs of 6.510 at 215.00 and 6.440 at 218.58 in the muggy conditions. Barney Squires was out testing a new '68 Camaro nitrous Pro Mod car for MJ Johnson Paving. Squires did not get any decent times.

Marty Martin of La Plata, MD, won Super Pro over 44-year drag racing veteran Charlie Yingling of Waldorf, MD. 

Defending points champion John Mattera of Waldorf, MD, won Heavy Eliminator over George Windsor of Upper Marlboro, MD.

The next MIR special event is on Wednesday night, July 18. "War on Wednesday" will be an all-heads up event featuring Frantic Four Dragsters, Altereds, and Doorslammers, Top Street Doorslammers, Top Street Bikes, and heads up grudge runs. Check out the MIR Special Event schedule at www.mirdrag.com.

See more photos at the 6/28 Picture of the Day. Tim took DOZENS of photos, so look for more photos to come!

Bill Pratt
bp@draglist.com

 

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