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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Retro Report: The 1984 ADRA
Grandnationals at Dragway 42

By Rickie Howard

Funny Car final from 1984 ADRA Grandnationals gave Jim White his first national event win. Photo by Rickie Howard
Funny Car final from 1984 ADRA Grandnationals gave Jim White his first
national event win. Photo and caption by Rickie Howard

The old American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) had one brief, final gasp in the early '80s. The owner of Nationwide Van Lines resurrected it as the American Drag Racing Association (ADRA) - not to be confused with the brand new nostalgia drag racing organization. This great circuit offered a fun alternative to the NHRA - all the classes but at smaller venues. Rickie Howard was there and here is his report:

For trivia purposes, the first ever ADRA event was held at Dragway 42 in Ohio in July of '84. The Top Fuel field was "weak" with only six showing up and Gene Snow taking a solo win when Dick LaHaie broke. In Funny Car action, Jim White took top honors in the St. Moritz Camaro over Dale Pulde. Raymond Beadle, John Collins, John Force, Roy Harris, Don Prudhomme, and Bob Gottschalk (yes, he went nitro for '84) also made the 8-car field. In Pro Stock, Rickie Smith upset Gary Duckworth. And in Alcohol Funny Car, Richard Smith cleaned up by getting around Lynn Redeman in the final. 

Prior to this event, my first visit to Dragway 42 was to attend the '79 GrandNats. I returned in 1980 (rain delayed the finals one day and I missed it), saw the 1981 event, missed 1982 (divorce), and returned for the 1983 AHRA GrandNats. The 1984 race was my last trip there after they went to the ADRA format. I don't think it returned for '85. If anyone has the "copy story" from any printed drag mag for either the '79 or '80 AHRA GrandNats or the '84 ADRA GrandNats, I'd appreciate a "photocopy" of the results for my photo book. I have the '79, '80, '81, and '83 race on Super 8mm film. I took a 35mm camera to the '84 ADRA event instead of the movie camera. I have photos of this race, including final pairings in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Alcohol Funny Car. I also have pit photos of all the funnies there that day, including Bruce Larson's non-qualifying USA-1 Corvette (and his smoky burnout for the Sunday crowd prior to eliminations).

Here are some notes from the race:

Top Fuel: 

Dick LaHaie was #1 qualifier @ 5.67/247, but only six cars were on hand. Eventual winner Gene Snow was #2 @ 5.68/246, followed by Frank Bradley #3 @ 5.70/246, Chris Karamesines #4 @ 5.77/237, George Tolon #5 @ 5.97/241, and Jack Ostrander #6 @ 6.42/231.

Top Fuel round one: LaHaie def. Karamesines, 5.67/246 to 6.23/222; Snow def. Tolon, 5.75/222 to 6.13/191; and Bradley singled with a 5.80/238 when Ostrander broke on his burnout.

Top Fuel semis: LaHaie sat it out with broken trans but got to wait for the finals. Snow def. Bradley with a slower 5.73/241 despite Bradley's Low ET/Top Speed of the Meet run of 5.67/253.52!

Top Fuel finals: Snow def. a broken LaHaie with an easy, coasting pass that wasn't recorded for ET/MPH. 

Funny Car:

Dale Pulde (winner of the '79 and '81 AHRA GrandNats at Dragway 42) was #1 qualifier @ 5.94/240, followed by Don Prudhomme #2 @ 5.95/245, John Force #3 @ 6.02/240, Jim White #4 @ 6.04/245, John Collins (in the Datsun 280Z) #5 @ 6.04/230, Raymond Beadle #6 @ 6.05/231, Roy Harris #7 @ (career best) 6.07/243, and Bob Gottschalk #8 @ 6.21/236. Bruce Larson was a non-qualifier but came out on Sunday and laid down a 5-second tire-smoking pass that set the crowd buzzing.

Funny Car round one: After Bruce Larson smoked the tires to a 5-second pass on an exhibition run, pole sitter Pulde stepped it up and clicked off his own 5-second pass, a 5.96/247 ousting Collins piston-burning 6.17/199. John Force also clicked off a 5-second pass, running 5.94/252.80 (Top Speed of Meet) beat Roy Harris' troubled 6.41/201. Jim White took his KB Chevy to a nice 6.05/232 pass that covered Gottschalk's 6.29/227 and Raymond Beadle took a close 5.92/244 to 6.00/222 decision over Prudhomme.

Funny Car semis: Pulde ran Low ET of Meet against Force in a side-by-side 5-second battle, Pulde's 5.86/247 beating a 5.96/246. White smoked the tires, but recovered enough to get by Beadle with only a 6.53/221 after Beadle popped a blower at half-track.

Funny Car finals: Both cars went up in smoke at the green, with Pulde eventually driving right off the race track to give White his first ever national event win with a 6.75/229.

Pro Stock:

Gary Duckworth's mountain motor Camaro was #1 qualifier @ 7.70/185, followed by Rickie Smith #2 @ 7.77/182, Jim Feurer #3 @ 7.79/180, Lou Tabillo #4 @ 7.79/181, Tommy Sutton #5 @ 7.79/181, Barry Shirley #6 7.84/178, Joe Anderson #7 @ 7.85/178, and Jerry Janota #8 @ 7.94/175.

Pro Stock round one: Duckworth's 7.75/184 def. Sutton's red-light; Feurer def. Anderson 7.83/180 to 7.94/176; Tabillo singled with a 7.83/192 after Janota broke on a burnout, and Smith uncorked Low ET of Meet when he defeated Shirley with a 7.66/185 to 8.90/124.

Pro Stock semis: Duckworth def. Feurer 7.81/175 to a tire shaking 8.51/165, and Smith def. Tabillo 7.73/184 to 7.84/177.

Pro Stock finals: The final should have been close, but Smith put an outstanding two-car holeshot on Duckworth for the money and held on to a 7.91/181 pass that beat Duckworth's quicker but losing 7.79/184.

Alcohol Funny Car: Richard Smith's "Warhawk" Mustang was #1 qualifier @ 6.49/215 for Low ET of Meet and Top Speed of Meet, followed by Steve Group #2 @ 6.60/210, Phil Sebring's "Thriller" Vega #3 @ 6.80/210, Lynn Redeman's Trans Am #4 @ 6.81/208, Tom Thompson (son of Jr. Thompson) #5 @ 6.92/205, driving Court Durkalski's "Sundancer" Corvette, Larry Dobbs #6 @ 6.93/194 in the Kardiac Kids Datsun 280Z, Tim Jenkins "Fire & Ice" #7 @ 6.94/196, and Mark Thomas' "Heavy Metal Warrior" Dodge Omni on the bump with a 6.99/201.

Alcohol Funny Car round one: Smith def. Tom Jaros (alternate for Tom Thompson) 6.58/213 to 7.05/198; Group def. Dobbs, 6.62/213 to 6.91/200; Sebring def. Jenkins, 6.84/210 to an up-in-smoke/shut off, and Redeman def. Thomas, 6.77/209 to 7.10/194.

Alcohol Funny Car semis: Smith def. Sebring, 6.55/215 to an off-pace 6.96/205, and Redeman's 6.93/204 def. Group (who red-lighted away a 6.58/208).

Alcohol Funny Car final: Redeman got the jump at the green light, dangling the front wheels just so slightly off the ground, but went into instant tire smoke. Smith roared by for the win, 6.60/204 to 7.50/144. Smith had come into this event the winner of the AHRA SpringNats and Gateway Nats and runner up at AHRA Chicago the week prior to Dragway 42. He went on to win the points championship for the year. 

There you have it... all my notes, ETs, and speeds. I got my "numbers" for this race out of the United Racer magazine dated August 31, 1984. I wish I could find a "house organ" magazine with the story line... I like scanning for tidbits about the race, etc. If I can be of any more help, just yell. Thanks for letting me share.

Rick Howard

P.S. -- I have the AHRA GrandNats on Super 8mm film from 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1983. I have "most" of the info I need to add captions to the films for '81 and '83 (thanks to Don Garlits sending me his own personal AHRA Drag World newspapers), but I am still seeking "info" on 1979 and 1980. All films except the 1980 race have all the elimination action for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Alcohol Funny Car. The 1980 race was rained out after the first round, so it's not complete. I also have the 1976 and 1978 Pop Hot Rod championships on movie film, but it's Sunday's Top Fuel, Pro Stock, and Alcohol Funny Car action. I missed the nitro Funny Car action from the Saturday night program...damn it! If anyone can help with this information, please email me at the address shown above. RH


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