race reports



Words by Jim Baker

Photos by Brad Baker

Jay Diedrich of Firebaugh, CA, stopped a full field of Pro Mod cars to win the feature event at Phil Painter’s MUSCLE CARS AT THE STRIP on April 27-29. Jay’s winning time was a near record at 2200 feet of 5.93 seconds at 247.61 MPH.

Runner-up was the stunning ’53 Corvette of Ed Marx who had trouble in the final run after running a best of 6.16 at 211.86 during the first round when #1 qualifier Roger Holder had to lift.

Mike Doushgounian ran a quicker semi-final time (5.90 @ 250.51) but lost to Diedrich on a hole shot, .017 to a losing .058.


Top five qualifiers in Pro Mod, all in the 5-second range, were:


1. Mike Doushogounian   5.85 @251.49

2. Roger Holder   5.89 @257.73

3. Jay Diedrich   5.90 @249.26

4. Jeremy Hanger   5.94 @252.33

5. Ed Thornton   5.97 @257.58


The unlikely ‘bump spot’ went to eventual runner-up Ed Marx.


An added feature this year was Mel Roth’s PSCA ‘Small Tire’ Eliminator. Kevin Waller of San Diego won the No Time title over the Mustang of Frank Yee.

Waller (far lane) had a great MCATS event, as he finished R/U in the Pony Car Wars category.


Regularly featured at MCATS is the popular Quick 16 Eliminator. The event always attracts fast cars from all over the US and Canada. None are more prevalent than the group from Ohio with their similarly painted (or wrapped) cars. This year was another great one for the team as Chris Wheatcraft (shown below) won the Quick 16 and Paul Peterson claimed the busy Super Pro Eliminator.

Notable Quick 16 qualifiers included: 1. Ron Leach at 6.648 seconds; 2. Western Fuel Altered 2017 Champion Greg Holman at 6.78; 7. Chris Wheatcraft’s ’02 Dodge Neon at 7.40; 8. 2013 Quick 16 Champ, Judy Radford at 7.45; and 10. Darren Williams from Calgary, Alberta, Canada at 7.47. The bump was a respectable 8.24 by Ohio runner Ron Strayer, Jr.


Other Muscle Cars at the Strip winners included:


Stock/Super Stock: Jesse Sanderson, South Jordan, UT, 10.80, 118.02 def. Brian Sanderson, South Jordan, UT, 10.84, 122.69

A/FX: Lee Anderson, Grand Jct. CO, 12.02, 110.79 def. Rick Ulmer, Colo. Springs, CO, 11.28, 118.34

Modern Muscle: Andre Crowe, Sun City, CA, 12.35, 107.52 def. Lonnie Bartley, Murrieta, CA, 12.45, 109.32

Hellcat Challenge: Robert Wood, Laveen, AZ, 10.11, 137.36 def. Al Viceacobos, Riverside, CA, NT

Truck Eliminator: Nick Ariotti, Boulder City, NV, 12.24, 90.47 def. Bryan Swanson, Chino Hills, CA, 17.35, 77.44

Scat Pac 392: Jess Rose, Ephrata, WA, 10.67, 136.72 def. Rudy Lopez, Downey, CA, 11.64, 91.97

Sport Compact: Kendall Garrard, Lake Point, UT, 15.64, 94.32 def. Clayton Ward, Huntington, UT, 14.75, 98.02

Pony Car Wars: Phillip Irby, Boulder City, NV, 11.40, 116.14 def. Kevin Waller, San Diego, CA, 10.32, 133.68

Street Trophy: John Irving, Boulder City, NV, 11.40, 116.14 def. Travis Waller, San Diego, CA, 12.52, 108.07

Mopars vs the World: Aaron Huckfeldt, Hay Springs, NB, 11.15, 112.72 def. Nick Ariotti, Boulder City, NV, 13.01, 100.88

Super Pro: Paul Peterson, Suffield, OH, 7.87, 155.52 def. Mark Beavin, Clovis, CA, 11.14, 116.87

Pro: Adam Hinkle, Clovis, CA, 11.69, 114.68 def. Nick Ariotti, Boulder City, NV, 12.98, 103.30

Stick: John Piller, Lancaster, CA, 17.73, 61.90 def. Don Faldowski, West Point, UT,  9.10

Foot Brake: Phillip Irby, Boulder City, UT, 11.36, 116.91 def. Mike Cortez, Fresno, CA, 10.77, 124.49


Muscle Cars at The Strip has morphed into a major event on the drag racing calendar. Phil and Jill Painter started the race known as Mopars At The Strip several years ago. As conditions changed and ‘street’ racing became a popular choice, so did the forward-thinking Painters. Three years ago, they changed to its present name and allowed cars and trucks of all makes and models into the fray. The winner’s list shows that while Mopar runners are still prevalent, Chevrolet & Ford now have a large presence.


For 2018, the promoters joined forces with Mel Roth and his PSCA brand to provide the Pro Mod and ‘Small Tire’ features. The race attracted racers from across the land, as those from Mexico did battle with a strong contingent from Canada.


This writer also noted that certain customers seem to ‘have a handle’ on MCATS events. None are larger than Mark Beavin of Clovis, CA.

“The Beav”, who won at three of four MCATS going into the 2018 contest, made it four of five when he cruised to victory in the Saturday Gambler. Then he backed up his ‘Mr. Las Vegas’ title by a quarter (5th round) final in Pro Eliminator and a runner-up in Super Pro on Sunday.


Another regular, John Piller came from Lancaster, CA, and entered three events. The 17-second, 4-cylinder Dodge Dart pilot won Stick Eliminator. Four years ago this writer watched in amazement as this little red ‘rental’ car claimed round after round. The car was not a rental, and John now has a dealership sponsor.


Las Vegas Motor Speedway Drag Strip manager Jeff Foster was on top of everything as is his mantra. Tower manager Randy and chief announcer Nathan did outstanding jobs as did the entire LVMS crew.

The biggest champions of the 2018 event, however, are Phil and Jill Painter. They worked tirelessly during the 100-degree heat on Friday, then Friday night at the Downtown Car Show, and kept the race on pace to its conclusion.


This writer has had the pleasure of reporting on several Painter events through the years. This Muscle Cars at the Strip had record entries, tons of action, and lots of awards for the racers. We look forward to 2019!  


Nick Ariotti

Todd Ishibashi

Darren Williams

Greg Holman

Rick Ulmer

Adam Hinkle

Jennifer Caputo-Armstrong

Lee Anderson



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