Lancaster finally opens season thanks to good weather

Mark Herbold


Any memories of the long, cold and wet Western New York winter were melted away on Friday night at Lancaster National Dragway as the 2018 Franco’s Pizza Friday Night Drag Racing program kicked off the 2018 regular season with the fire and fury of Al Hanna Racing’s Jet Funny Cars.


The First Strike Jet Funny Car of Rich Hanna of Middletown, CT edged the Top Secret: Eastern Raider jet car piloted by Ken Hall of Pottstown, PA in a pair of thrilling, side-by-side match races. Both jet cars torched Lancaster’s ⅛-mile dragstrip in just four seconds at speeds of 200 mph.


The weekly racers of LND’s Franco’s Pizza IHRA Drag Racing program finally got their first taste of competitive racing with the weather-delayed first night of home track points. It was a fantastic opening day turnout with 150 competitors filling the pit area.


Joe's Transmission TNT Super Series (7.00 Index): Mark Herbold (Elma, NY) 1996 Chevrolet Corvette, .539, 7.064 seconds, 117.51 mph def. Pete Maduri, Jr. (N. Tonawanda, NY) 1993 Chevrolet S-10, .549, 6.992 seconds, 111.70 mph


Top 8 Eliminator: Ann Marie Nugent (W. Seneca, NY) 1985 Chevrolet Camaro, .514, 5.95 dial-in, 6.008, 116.35 def. Mike Swinarski (Orchard Park, NY) 1955 Chevrolet, .527, 5.21, 5.269, 129.32


Top ET: Mark Talmadge (Williamson, NY) 1975 Chevrolet Vega, .535, 6.09, 6.086, 112.49 def. Jan Winkowski (Cheektowaga, NY) 1972 Chevrolet Nova, .498, FOUL

McGard Mod ET: Ryan Ricketson (Delevan, NY) 1974 Dodge Dart, .540, 8.02, 8.025, 84.08 def. Clay Ricketson (E. Aurora, NY) 1974 Dodge Dart, .527, 7.35, 7.390, 91.63


Hebeler’s Sales Bikes & Sleds: Brian Babiak (Elma, NY) 2009 Kawasaki, .539, 5.60, 5.631, 116.89 def. Mike Nearhoof (Youngstown, NY) 2006 Kawasaki, .648, 5.43, 5.488, 123.05


Tread City Tire Street ET: Mason Fix (Amherst, NY) 2002 Chevrolet Camaro, .577, 9.26, 9.362, 73.15 def. Timothy Markle (Hilton, NY) 1989 Pontiac Firebird, .640, 9.41, 9.457, 74.12


The action continues at Lancaster National Dragway Friday, June 1, with the first appearance of the season by the Buffalo Street Outlaws plus a full slate of Franco’s Pizza IHRA Drag Racing. The postponed VIP Night will now be held on Friday, June 8, with all weekly classes in action.  

Holliday claims biggest prize in ‘Big John’ Memorial at the Rock

Taz Holliday II (above) claimed the biggest share of the weekend purse and a father-son racing team claimed a rare double before Tropical Storm Alberto forced cancelation of the final day of racing in the 20th annual “Big John” Leviner Memorial Bracket Championships at Rockingham Dragway.


Holliday, Selma, NC, fought his way through nine rounds of Top ET competition on Sunday before breezing to a $10,000 payday when former Rockingham track champ Eric Aman of Clinton, NC, was .002 of a second too quick to react in the final.

James (Jamie) Freeman

Son, Ross Freeman


Holliday’s big payday notwithstanding, it was a banner weekend for the Westville, SC, team of James Freeman and son Ross, both of whom reached the winner’s circle. James Freeman beat Fayetteville’s Kyle Davis to win Top ET on Saturday before his 19-year-old son prevailed on Sunday in Footbrake.


Nevertheless, James went home with bragging rights since he enhanced his victory by winning Saturday’s Run for the Wally while Ross came up short in his bid for one of the iconic NHRA trophies on Sunday when he dropped a one-run, winner-takes-the-Wally duel with Holliday.


The weekend’s fourth big winner was Rockingham veteran Art Laselle who drove his 1991 Dodge Daytona to Footbrake honors on Saturday when Sanford, NC’s Kevin Locklear was guilty of a final round foul start.


Saturday’s Gamblers Race winners were Clarkton, NC’s Allen Britt, who drove E.J. Womack’s dragster past the Chevy S-10 of Womack in the Top ET final and Roxboro, NC’s Chris Dixon, who prevailed in Footbrake. Bud Tramwell won the Jr. Dragster Gamblers race.


Because of the rush to beat the weather, the Run for the Wally in the Jr. Dragster class was postponed. The winner will be determined in a runoff between Hayden Dial of Rowland, Connor Caulder of St. Pauls, Lane Morgan of Angier and Cale Pittman of Selma during The Rock’s Hoosier Tires Carolina Coalition event in September.  

Bottles vs Blowers’ grudge match added to PDRA Summer Drags

Randy Weatherford will represent the nitrous (Bottle) faction.

Tommy D’Aprile’s car is supercharged (Blower).


The eighth-mile competitors of the Professional Drag Racers Association will kick off the summer portion of their eight-race season this weekend at the PDRA Summer Drags, May 31-June 2, at US 131 Motorsports Park. The event will feature a variety of exciting one-off races and competitions in addition to the standard qualifying and eliminations for the PDRA’s six professional classes and seven sportsman categories.


Among the special races is a “Bottles vs. Blowers” grudge race between two of the biggest stars in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC and Moroso Pro Boost. Randy Weatherford, who won his first Pro Nitrous race last month at the PDRA North-South Shootout, will face off against Pro Boost points leader Tommy D’Aprile.


While Weatherford and D’Aprile bear striking similarities – they both race ’69 Camaros, they both won the most recent race, and they’re both capable of running in the 3.6-second range – the similarities end when it comes to their powerplants. Weatherford’s Camaro is powered by a nitrous-fed Pat Musi 959 ci engine, while D’Aprile relies on horsepower from his Al Billes-supercharged, Noonan 481 ci Hemi. The Bottles vs. Blowers grudge race is set for Friday night’s third and final qualifying session.


The Bottles vs. Blowers race isn’t just for bragging rights, though, as both drivers will represent their favorite charities. Weatherford and his company, WS Construction, have offered up a $1,000 donation to the winner’s chosen charity. A win light in Weatherford’s lane will mean a donation for the Alzheimer’s Association, while D’Aprile will pass his donation on to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Swedish doorslammer racing hero Adam Flamholc also wanted to get in on the grudge racing action, so he’s called out any fellow racer in Bryant Industrial Pro Extreme presented by Pro Line Racing. Flamholc, the Pro Extreme winner at Maryland last month, says he’ll race anyone in Pro Extreme for $1,000 in Friday qualifying. He hopes the added incentive – piled on top of the $10,000 event winner payout – will help draw more cars and put more eyes on the series’ quickest and fastest class.


Friday qualifying will also feature a burnout contest for racers in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock and MagnaFuel Top Sportsman. Drivers who make a pass during the last qualifying session on Friday are automatically entered into the contest, which is sponsored by Race Hard Apparel in Extreme Pro Stock and Classic Graphix in Top Sportsman. The burnout contest winners, picked by the announcers based on the crowd’s reaction, will receive $300 and a trophy.


On top of the on-track action, the PDRA Summer Drags will include a live performance by country recording artist Tony Bakker. Bakker, a West Michigan native, will perform from 8-10 p.m. Friday night. The concert is included in all Friday spectator tickets.   

Shields, Bellemeur top winners at Maple Grove

The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at Maple Grove Raceway saw Duane Shields, Boulder City, NV, and Sean Bellemeur, Placentia, CA, taking the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively.

Shields worked his way through the field with a pass of 5.250 seconds at 275.5 mph in his final round victory over Doug Foley, Mooresville, NC, who clocked in at 7.624 seconds, 113.44 mph.


Bellemeur faced off against Dan Pomponio, Berlin, NJ, and posted a winning run of 5.543 seconds, 265.17 mph in his ’17 Camaro. Pomponio drove to a 5.629 second, 257.33 mph lap for his runner up finish.


Alan Kenny, Kutztown, PA, went against Rick Bell, Merrimack NH, in the final round of Top Dragster and Kenny posted a winning run of 6.237 seconds, 206.80 mph in his ’14 Dragster. Vonnie Mills, Kennedyville, MD, took the victory in Top Sportsman with a victory pass of 6.826 seconds and 202.27 mph against David Miller Canterbury, CT.


COMP: Frank Aragona, Freehold, NJ, '16 Neil & Parks, E/DA, 7.379, 177.23 def. Richard Schonberger, Southampton, PA, '06 Cavalier, I/SM, 9.034, 150.65.


SUPER STOCK: Michael Iacono, Wading River, NY, '87 Camaro, GT/GA, 11.385, 82.94 def. Brian Martel, Fredericksburg, VA, '87 Firebird, SS/BM, foul.


STOCK: David Barton, Robesonia, PA, '15 Camaro, FS/F, 10.366, 122.44 def. David Pazak, New Kensington, PA, '68 GTX, D/SA, 10.847, 114.59.


SUPER COMP: Tom Stalba, Williamstown, NJ, '10 Undercover, 8.960, 154.83 def. Chris Garretson, Middletown, DE, '95 Ed Quay, 8.980, 129.59.


SUPER GAS: George Smith, Centereach, NY, '68 Camaro, 9.902, 165.86 def. Michael Lang, Coopersburg, PA, '68 Camaro, 9.882, 145.30.


SUPER STREET: Keith Mayers, Ellendale, DE, '85 Porsche, 10.888, 144.41 def. John Maggiulli, East Hanover, NJ, '69 Camaro, 10.882, 148.48.


PRO STOCK SNOWMOBILE: John Parenteau, Brentwood, NH, '12 Artic CAT, 8.753, 150.11 def. Benny Rosada, Sandown, NH, '03 Skidoo, 8.729, 152.37.


JR DRAGSTER 13-17: Wade Kubicke, Yardville, NJ, '16 BOS, 7.928, 82.28 def. Natalie Musolino, Bridgeport, NY, '14 American, 8.021, 79.26.


JR DRAGSTER 10-12: Tyler Depascale, Parlin, NJ, '02 Halfscale, 9.108, 72.03 def. Frank Aragona III, Freehold, NJ, '18 Halfscale, foul.


JR DRAGSTER 6-9: James Stack Jr., Gilbertsville, PA, dragster, 14.206, 44.38 def. James Antonette, Wantagh, NY, dragster, foul.


SUPER STOCK TOP 8: A. Lincoln Morehead, Marlboro, NY, '87 Iroc-z, SS/IA, 10.134, 126.68 def. Jeff Roell, Danbury, CT, '10 Cobra, FSS/G, 9.614, 140.47.


STOCK TOP 8: Bob Conway, Oak Ridge, NJ, '80 Malibu, K/SA, 11.959, 107.57 def. Anthony Fetch, Colonia, NJ, '69 Camaro, AA/SA, 10.048, 126.58.


SUPER COMP TOP 8: Anthony Fetch, Colonia, NJ, '01 Undercover, 8.922, 166.68 def. Kevin Scholl, Eagleville, PA, '95 Dragster, 8.901, 164.87.


SUPER GAS TOP 8: Mike Sawyer, Leominster, MA, '18 Corvette, 9.905, 162.82 def. Michael Handras, Hicksville, NY, '04 Cavalier, 9.933, 164.43.


SUPER STREET TOP 8: Keith Mayers, Ellendale, DE, '85 Porsche, 10.899, 150.88 def. Phillip Judd, Bangor, PA, '99 S-10, 10.873, 127.45.


Northeast Division racers head to Lebanon Valley Dragway for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, June 29–July 1.   

New activities added for Holley Hot Rod Reunion

Larry Lombardo (wearing glasses) and his “Buckshot” Corvette. Lombardo will be Grand Marshal for the Hot Rod Reunion. 


The 16th annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion® presented by AAA Insurance returns to Bowling Green, KY, and Beech Bend Raceway Park, June 14-16, presenting a memorable three-day gathering celebrating the American hot rod culture.


New for 2018, the activities kick off on Wednesday, June 13, with the Nashville Road Tour starting in Spring Hill, TN, stopping at Tennessee Speed Sport in Goodlettsville, TN, at noon; and concluding later that afternoon at the free Holley National Hot Rod Reunion® Fan Fest at Bowling Green Ballpark on Wednesday, June 13 from 5-8 p.m. Come for the display of hot rods and race cars and stay for the baseball game starting at 6:35 p.m., when the Hot Rods take on the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. Use Discount Code ‘REUNION’ and tickets are only $5.


This weekend celebrates those who have dedicated their lives to the sport as well, with this year’s five honorees and Grand Marshal for the 16th anniversary of the event. The Grand Marshal for 2018 will be Larry Lombardo, the 1976 NHRA Pro Stock world champion. The Holley National Hot Rod Reunion® presented by AAA Insurance Honoree Reception will take place at the National Corvette Museum on Friday, June 15, from 6-8 p.m. Admission to the honoree reception and cruise-in is free.


On the track, Nostalgia Top Fuel and Funny Cars will put on another intense and entertaining show.


Coming to the event for the first time is the 6.0 racing category and exhibition class. This open class features front-engine dragsters, center-steer altered and ’65 to ’79 Funny Cars, offering more exciting injected and blown nitro racing.


Also new for 2018, the first Thursday night street legal drags for Axalta Show N Shine entrants. For just $10 you can run your street legal hot rod, classic, or custom machine on the track and show what it can do. Open only to registered Axalta Show N Shine entrants with valid event credentials.  

Sunoco signs as official fuel of ANDRA

ANDRA General Manager, Brett Stevens (left) with Sunoco Race Fuels National Product manager, Aaron Brookes.Sunoco Race Fuels and the Australian National Drag Racing Association have announced a partnership between the two organizations which will see Sunoco as the official fuel supplier for all ANDRA-sanctioned events.


Under the partnership, the top qualifier for Super Stock/Super Comp at each round of the 2018/2019 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series will be known as the Sunoco 260GT Plus Top Qualifier, and if they are running Sunoco 260GT Plus fuel in their car, will receive a cash prize of $1,000.


Other benefits of the partnership include each of the 11 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series championship winners receiving a $1,000 Sunoco racing fuels voucher.


Sunoco Race Fuels has also committed to a contingency program for competitors in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series; with winners and runners-up in the respective categories who are showing the appropriate Sunoco signage and are able to provide a proof of purchase able to claim $300 for a win and $100 for a runner-up.  

New bike coming for Vantine, so old one has to go

Although his old Top Fuel motorcycle won the first race of the season at the Mac Cup race at South Georgia Motorsports Park, David Vantine is awaiting the delivery of a new bike and has the old one for sale.


“We’re really looking forward to getting our hands on the new bike. We’re taking delivery—probably mid-summer—of a rolling chassis from the McBrides. Then Greg Pollard will do some detail work on the bike at his Nitro Fab shop in Canada.”


The new bike will be red and yellow, similar to the current bike. But a theme might develop to recognize Vantine’s Armenian heritage, and the most feared Armenian of all time—Vlad the Impaler!


“That remains to be seen,” Vantine said about the Vlad livery. Either way, the new bike will have difficult time living up to both the performance and great looks of the one that’s for sale.


That bike will see action June 1-3 at the Manufacturers’ Cup DME Nationals at North Carolina’s legendary Rockingham Dragway. If you’re interested in the old bike, contact Vantine at dvantine@vantine.com or 315-824-3200.    

New Product of the Day


GM LS Billet Aluminum Valve Covers from Moroso

Moroso introduces GM LS Billet Aluminum Valve Covers that are 2.5 inches tall, have OEM Coil Pack mounts, and have a 1-1/4”-12 Female (Part No. 68488). Fit GM LS Series stock and aftermarket cylinder heads and can be used on 2013-up COPO Camaros and other applications. 2.5 inches tall to clear most aftermarket valvetrains The integral coil pack mounts accept LS2, LS3, LS7 and LS8 style coils. Cylinder head mounting area has an O-ring groove that accepts Moroso No. 93025 or GM gasket. Each cover features an oil fill with a CNC-machined cap with O-ring. CNC machined from billet aluminum bar. Covers can be polished, chromed, powder coated or left as-is- for a race look. Use Moroso No. 68844 to adapt COPO breather to valve cover.



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