Tricky track challenges Epping racers

Race day in Epping, NH, proved different from qualifying conditions and teams either rose to the occasion or fell by the wayside at the NHRA New England Nationals. The first day of the event was painfully hot and humid, and the racing surface was very, very tricky. Saturday qualifying was rained out after the third session and temperatures were cooler on Sunday.


Experience showed as Steve Torrence and Matt Hagan were able to get wins in Top Fuel and Funny Car with their tuners making the right calls on setup and the drivers adjusting to the track conditions.


Tim Wilkerson had a wild run with J.R. Todd in the second round as both drivers smoked the tires making for an “anyone could win” race. Wilkerson got the win with a 4.242 at 233.88 to Todd’s 4.274/229.12.


“That was crazy,” said Richard Hartman of Wilkerson’s team. “It looked perfect, starting drifting left a little, spun the tires, then J.R. spun the tires…. I don’t know how we got it. That gave me a heart attack.”


As No.1 qualifier in a 15-car field, Todd had a bye run in the first round.

Shawn Langdon made it to the Funny Car final round after eliminating Jim Campbell, Robert Hight and Wilkerson. Langdon had complained about the track prep and received some strong push-back from Cruz Pedregon, who was put out in the second round by Tasca. 

Hagan, who won last year at Epping, got his second win of 2019 besting DSR teammates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps, before breaking Bob Tasca’s two-straight winning streak. In the final Hagan’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat ran 4.014/322.81 to take the win over the 4.046/317.49 of Langdon’s Toyota Camry. Hagan set Low ET at 3.958 seconds and Top Speed of 326.24 mph. 


There were only 13 TF dragsters with No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican getting the first-round bye and Richie Crampton the second-round bye run.


Torrence had trouble in qualifying (No. 9), but again dominated the class on race day setting Low ET of 3.756 seconds and Top Speed of 328.62 mph. Torrence dispatched Austin Prock, Terry McMillen and Crampton to reach the final while Scott Palmer got past Canadian Dan Mercier, Antron Brown and Millican.

In the final, Torrence was off the line first .050 to .070 and never trailed, clocking a 3.861/321.58 to Palmer’s 4.014/251.25. 

Tharpe takes TF Harley win

Tii Tharpe took the Top Fuel Harley win for the third consecutive event this season. In the final, opponent Rickey House was off the starting line first (.033 to .049), but Tharpe grabbed the lead early and went on to win with a 6.393 at 214.69 mph to House’s 6.424 at 219.61.


Doug Vancil had Low ET of 6.332 seconds and Top Speed of 229.16, but broke the chain after staging in the first round against Bill Jackson. Jackson’s bike quit about half-track and he coasted to the win.


Bill Jackson’s Harley has some wild artwork. Yikes! No wonder many people are afraid of clowns! He lost to Tharpe in the second round.

Pennington, Stites pledge $100K to 2020 Footbrake winner

The team of Jared Pennington and Steve Stites through their Coalburg Racing Promotions company have announced a BTE $100,000-to-win race specifically for the footbrake crowd, with the entire purse 100-percent guaranteed regardless of car count.


Plans are not yet finalized, but the event will take place on Labor Day weekend of 2020 in Tennessee’s Bristol Dragway. The main event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 5, and will be bookended by two $10,000-to-win races on Friday and Sunday, leaving Labor Day Monday as a clean-up/travel day as needed. As they do at their other events, Thursday will be a Gambler’s race, with a Friday Gambler’s race also, time permitting.


More details will be announced by the promoters of the World Footbrake Challenge and Southern Footbrake Challenge. For more information or to pre-enter “The 100” go to www.worldfootbrakechallenge.com.  

St. Louis hosts July 4th Bracket Racing Series

Jason Grams of St. Peters, MO, defeated Rod Schaeffer of Trenton, IL, in the final round of Super Pro eliminations during the sixth round of the Carl’s 4WD & Performance Bracket Racing Series on July 5 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL.


Friday, July 5

Pro: Tommy Barbero, Wentzville MO, 9.847 46.64 def. John Ratulowski Sr., Highland IL, 7.953, 60.86

Sportsman: Kyle Jennings, Maryland Heights MO, 12.594, 98.74 def. Jim Pearson, Winfield MO, 12.468, 108.90

Motorcycle: Yan Levit, St. Peters Mo, 8.830, 152.02 def. Charles Willis Jr., Collinsville IL, 9.833, 136. 36

Jr. Dragster Thunder: Kennedy Hale, Pevely MO, 9.032, 72.05 def. Cohen Hale, Pevely MO, 9.033, 72.01

Jr. Dragster Lightning: Sam Stewart, Washington MO, 7.978, 80.85 def. Christian Smith, Woodlawn IL, 7.965, 82.93

Jr. Runoff: Kennedy Hale, 9.017, 71.47 def. Sam Stewart, 7.946, 81.79


Saturday, July 6

Super Pro: John Ratulowski, 6.503. 101.04 def. Cory Schollman, Arnold MO, 5.094, 134.43

Pro: Danny Ratulowski, Highland IL, 6.545, 102.50 def. John Ratulowski Sr, Highland IL, 9.135, 56.85

Sportsman: Aaron Worstell, Beaufort MO, 12.074, 108.68 def. Brad Kaemmerer, Swansea IL, 12.457, 108.58

Motorcycle: Thomas Cole, Davenport IA, 9.143, 121.18 def. Janie Palm, Bunker Hill IL, 9.514, 145.64

Jr. Dragster Thunder: Sarah Stewart, Washington MO, 9.046, 70.79 def. Lilly Kinne, Canton IL, 8.994, 72.12

Jr. Dragster Lightning: Jay Kilkenny, West Plains MO, 7.910, 81.06 def. Christian Smith, 7.975, 82.79

Jr. Runoff: Jay Kilkenny, 7.923, 79.66 def. Sarah Stewart, 8.988, 71.86  

‘Ohio’ George Montgomery among MSHFA class of 2020

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America will induct its largest class in recent years March 16-17, 2020, during its 32nd annual Induction Celebration in Daytona Beach, Fla.


The Class of 2020 includes NASCAR’s first-ever champion Robert “Red” Byron (Historic), flat track impresario Chris Carr (Motorcycles), early motorcycle racer, promoter and publisher Floyd Clymer (At Large), driver, official and safety advocate Wally Dallenbach, Sr. (Open Wheel), Rick Hendrick, one of NASCAR’s most successful owners (Stock Cars), Daytona 500 champion Tiny Lund (Historic), Can-Am and Rolex 24 At Daytona champion Jacky Ickx (Sports Cars), quarter-mile racing legend “Ohio” George Montgomery (Drag Racing) and Baja 500 and 1,000 and SCORE World Champion Ivan “Ironman” Stewart (Off-Road Racing).

“Ohio” George Montgomery was signing books and memorabilia at last fall’s Carillon Park Concours d’Elegance fundraiser and car show in Dayton, OH.


The Dayton native went from working on tractors in his uncle’s Ford dealership to “King of the Gassers,” the initial name for a cluster of NHRA classes for prewar-bodied cars running on gasoline. He won eight NHRA national titles between 1959 and 1968, most of them in his supercharged Chevy-powered ‘33 Willys. He captured the prestigious U.S. Nationals four times and countless match races. Sponsorship from Ford in the mid-1960s led to even more success in the 8,800-rpm, SOHC 427-cubic-inch “Malco Gasser” Mustang. His George’s Speed Shop in Dayton may be the oldest such enterprise in continuous operation in the United States. He was voted #28 of NHRA’s All Time Top 50 Drivers.


Next year marks the fifth consecutive induction ceremony in Daytona Beach since the MSHFA moved to Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in 2016, from Novi, Mich.   

Top Dragster, Top Sportsman classes will race for $10K at WSOPM

Menholt Auto Group’s Derek Menholt drove a twin-turbocharged ’68 Camaro Pro Mod at the first two WSOPM events. This year he will drive a Top Dragster in the ProStar 16 Shootout.


Racers in the increasingly popular Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes will have an added incentive to race on “Thunder Mountain” at the World Series of Pro Mod this year. Race officials announced an increased $10,000 prize for the winners of the MagnaFuel ProStar 16 and QuickStar 16 Shootouts presented by Menholt Auto Group.


The 16-car shootouts are part of the third annual DRAG ILLUSTRATED World Series of Pro Mod presented by J&A Service, Elite Motorsports, Big O Tires and benefitting One Cure, Aug. 9-10 at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.   

Meziere sweeps SoCal Pro Gas series at Fontana

After missing the first four races of the 2019 Southern California Pro Gas Assoc., season, Dave Meziere made his presence know at the fifth and sixth races of the 10-race series by sweeping the weekend doubleheader at Auto Club Dragway. Meziere defeated Doug Sedmak in the Saturday, June 29, afternoon final and Michael Boner in the Sunday final.


Meziere began his weekend with a first-round win over 2018 Pro Gas champ Kevin McClelland, moved on to beat Steve Parsons in round two and stopped Greg Ventura in the third round. In the semifinal he defeated Bob Hefley.  Sedmak, the current Pro Gas Shootout points leader, advanced to the final with wins over Pete Bothe, Greg Bonds, and Greg Martin.

The Fix-Auto Collision/Pro Gas-sponsored race final was decided on a double-breakout after Meziere had a .010 advantage at the ‘tree. Meziere’s ’03 Cavalier took the win at 9.893, 170.13 to Sedmak’s Corvette, losing with a 9.856, 157.23.


A special note of interest took place when Hefley made a perfect run on his third-round win over Mark Fenton, running 9.900 with a .000 reaction time.


K&N Engineering and Lucas Oil Products sponsored the second race of the weekend, and Meziere opened the Sunday event with a 9.900 pass after a .002 reaction time to defeat Greg Bonds. He continued to the final by defeating Sedmak, Martin, and Hefley. Mike Boner got to his first Pro Gas final of the year by defeating Gary Hesselbrock, Randy Kersey, and Mike Lang before getting a bye into the final.

Reaction times decided the final, with Meziere cutting a .009 light and 9.936 time as Boner broke-out with a 9.857.


The Pro Gas season continues August 10-11 at Auto Club Dragway.   



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