ET Dragracing

5TH Annual West Coast Classic at Fontana, California

Words by Jim Baker

Photos by Brad Baker

The 5th annual WEST COAST CLASSIC presented by Chris Forsyth and Shawn Langdon got off to a strong start on Friday, May 24. While the sun was shining and temps were comfortable, a cold front was bearing down on California and the three-day event. Saturday was a little cool but nice with rain and cold predicted for Sunday. (It certainly did occur) The management duo made a decision early Saturday to combine the awards guaranteed for Sunday with Saturday’s race. That meant the $10K Super Pro Winner would receive $20,000!


Also on Saturday was the Special 64-car Super Pro Shootout for $20,000. The turnout for the $20K Double Up was huge with 140 racers paired up for the first round. Not only that, there were 88 runners answering the call for Pro which paid $9,000.


Friday’s race crowned two winners with Andy Schmall starting his winning collection with a $3,000 Pro win and Tom Bayer winning Super Pro for 5 Grand. Bayer fields as many as four cars at these big money events, plus he operates a school to license new drivers for Super Comp and Top Dragster.

Andy Schmall: Friday & Saturday Winner!


Saturday produced three winners with Andy Schmall taking home the Pro money all the way to Idaho Falls, ID. A battle of the Wurtz family finished with Dustin Wurtz winning the Super Pro event and $20K. He too resides in Idaho.


The Super Pro Shootout for $20K went to California racer D.J Houmard driving a 1963 Corvette. Jeff LaSalle was Runner up in the Pro category; while Duston Wurtz and Greg Hicks were Runner ups in the $20K contests. (Actually Duston and Dustin are one and the same, he was double entered and won all his rounds to face himself in the final!)


The race included a Jr. Dragster Invitational contest for the future generation of the sport. Each young winner was presented $1,000 for their reward. Taylor Taylor won the first bracket while brother Jake Taylor took the second. Young Blane DiNunzio claimed the 6-9 year old contest.


Although Auto Club Raceway at Fontana is a quarter mile track, the West Coast Classic utilized 1/8th mile for all contests. This meant Reaction Time was of ultimate importance.


Red lights (there were nine in the first round of Pro) were prevalent as racers tried to ‘shave’ the tree. Rick Reynolds cut a .001 to defeat popular Brandon Umberger’s .030. Reynolds dialed in at 5.90 secs. and ran exactly that. Umberger dialed a 5.77 and ran 5.775 in a ‘close but no cigar’ losing effort.


The torrid pace in Pro continued to round 7 where Jeff LaSalle driving a 1967 Dodge R/T put a .008 RT on the black Chevy S-10 of David Myhre’s .016. Thus advancing LaSalle to the $9,000 final where he fouled, allowing Andy Schmall to win!

Jeff Lasalle, 67 Dodge R/T


Super Pro had 15 foul starts out of 70 pairs. Gabe Hernandez from Hermosillo, Mexico, cut a .010 on Rusty Wilson’s late start to advance to round two. Marko Perivolais shot a .007 on the good .014 of PJ Giacalone, then ran dead on his dial in to force a break out. Valarie Houmarde did not leave first but ran dead on her dial -.0007 , to upset Blu Hayball who had a .016 light and ran two-hundredths over in a losing effort.


Action like this continued to round 7 where Dustin Wurtz ran .004 with a dead on 4.63 too clip Val Torres, Jr. who had a better light at .003 but ran 4.628 on his 4.61 dial in to lose a very close contest for the final.


The Super Pro final for a ton of cash was anticlimactic as Dustin Wurtz ran a shut off single for all of it.


Combined with making a very tough decision to combine Saturday and Sunday with double up money on Saturday, Chris Forsyth and Shawn Langdon did a stellar job of ‘hands on’ management for the entire event. This included featuring two of the nation’s very best announcers, NHRA’s Mike English and LVMS’s Nate Hirshi !


Chris Forsythe & Shawn Langdon (driver of Kalitta Motor Sports’ Global Technology Funny Car


Daniel McClelland, NHRA’s Dave McClelland’s grandson

Dennis Pez, ’41 Willys pickup

Gabe Hernandez, Hermosillo, Mexico

Gage Cameron, Bakersfield; El Camino

Dustin Wurtz got two wins and two runner’s-up heading up to Idaho



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