VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 4 - APRIL, 2019
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ET DRAG RACING
Champions Clinch Titles at Season Final
Results courtesy ANDRA
Photos by Outlaw Images
The first of three NHRA Pacific Division National Open events took place March 22-24 at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA, with great weather and an excellent turnout of West Coast drag racers.
Seventy cars entered the Super Stock/Stock combo race, with Joe Kohorst of Grand Terrace, CA, taking the premier category title.
Claiming the ultimate reward for their efforts over the season were Jake Hamilton-Moderate (Modified Bike), Paul Jennings (Super Street), Martin Mirco (Super Sedan), Adam Mundy (Modified), Paul Stephen (Supercharged Outlaws), Jason Arbery (Top Sportsman), Rob Cassar (Competition Bike), Alex Panagiotidis (Super Stock) and Craig Geddes (Competition). These racers joined previously announced championship winners, Adrian McGrotty (Super Gas) and Jake Berias (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), in being celebrated as Australian Champions.
Craig Geddes was not competing this weekend, but his strong season to date meant that when David Roberts suffered a startline breakage in the first round he could not be beaten for the big Competition class trophy. Geddes had travelled from his home in Victoria to Perth for the event, and was therefore on-hand to accept his trophy on the night.
“It was a little bit sad to see David Roberts break down on the startline, I am not sure what happened, but we were certainly cheering him on and all the best to him,” Geddes said. “He ends up number two this year but I am sure he will have another crack next year.”
This is the fifth Competition Championship for Geddes and his fourth in a row. In total, he has now won six Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Championships, having also taken one out in Super Gas in 1995.
Alex Panagiotidis was the Super Stock Champion.
Alex Panagiotidis was almost speechless following the day’s racing at the ANDRA Grand Finals, having not only realized a 20-year goal but also going all the way to the final at the last round of the season.
“This is a 20-year dream, I don’t know what to say. We started racing and bought this car 20 years ago and it took 10 years to win our first event and it has taken 20 years to win the championship, which was our goal right from the beginning,” he said.
Panagiotidis faced off against event winner and top qualifier Todd Stacy in the final round, after enjoying a bye in the semi-final. He had earlier taken on Graeme Simms (round one) and championship runner-up, Rob Dekert. Stacy meanwhile impressed against Errol Quartermaine in round one, ahead of a bye in round two and victory over Jake Chaisty in the semi-final.
Modified Bike champion Jake Hamilton-Moderate made it through to the third round before being eliminated from the event proceedings, however you still couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he had earlier been confirmed as the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Modified Bike Champion.
“There was a bit of hard work for us on Saturday, we had to change a clutch out, but it all came to the party on Sunday,” Hamilton-Moderate said. “At the last ANDRA Grand Final my wife said to me, ‘You have to win me one of those,’ so it was good to be able to back that up.”
Rob Cassar, Competition Bike champ.
It was a troubled run to the top for Rob Cassar, who took out his first Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Competition Bike championship on a tie break with runner-up David Willis.
“We broke the motor in the pits before the first round,” explained Cassar. “We warmed up in the pits and broke the engine, we had David Willis in the first round and I had an hour to put an engine in. We had never run that motor before and we said, ah well, let’s send it!
“In that run it sort of creeped through the water, and I thought that was going to be it, championship over. In the next round I said I am not doing a burnout, and it surprised me! In the next pass I thought I wouldn’t do the burnout again and we went 7.43s at 170-something mile per hour and I thought, wow!”
A first round loss wasn’t enough to keep Paul Jennings from clinching the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Super Street championship over Nikolas Karanovic, who also suffered an early exit from racing on Sunday and would walk away with the runner-up honors.
Runners-up in the title chase were Bryan Finn (Modified Bike), Nikolas Karanovic (Super Street), Peter Tzokas (Super Sedan), Jessica Proud (Modified), Mark Hunt (Supercharged Outlaws), Vlado Turic (Top Sportsman), Dave Willis (Competition Bike), Rob Dekert (Super Stock) and David Roberts (Competition), while Colin Griffin (Super Gas) and Zara Board (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster) were also recognized at the presentations.
Martin Mirco, Super Sedan
Martin Mirco had plenty to smile about on Sunday evening, claiming both the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Super Sedan championship over runner-up (and 2018 champion) Peter Tzokas as well as the event victory for his bracket. The Bibra Lake (WA) racer enjoyed a bye to the final where he took the win over Steven Miilias after having earlier defeated Luke Guppy (quarter-final), Ned Karanovic and Jason Lippi while Miilias had earned his spot in the final with victories over Mick Fenton (semi-final), Yvette Gregg, Top Qualifier Dean Dawes and Mark Rodgers.
While it concluded in the best way possible, Mirco’s championship push got off to a rocky start, with his Chev Camaro failing on the startline during Saturday qualifying.
“We had issues on the start line in qualifying, it had been there on Wednesday and we thought we had fixed it and it came back on Saturday night, so we did a few things and it worked thankfully,” Mirco explained.
Paul Stephen won the event and the Supercharged Outlaws championship.
The West Australian drag racing community pulled together to ensure Paul Stephen could compete for the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Supercharged Outlaws championship and their efforts were well rewarded with Stephen taking out not only the championship but also the event victory at the weekend.
The Sydney racer had destroyed a differential during Saturday’s qualifying and without their efforts, would not have been able to front for race day.
“The way the West Australian drag racing community rallied around us on Saturday night was absolutely amazing,” Stephen said. “George Separovich supplied the diff gears and wouldn’t take any money, Aaron Deery opened up the workshop and put it all together including all of the parts and a diff carrier and also wouldn’t take any money. It was amazing.”
Ultimately he would race all the way to the final, where he took a solo run to the event victory after his competition, Alan Mahnkoph, was unable to front due to a broken car. On his way to the final, he enjoyed a bye run in the semis following victory over David Smith and Norbert Claite while Mahnkoph had successfully faced off against championship runner-up Mark Hunt (semi) after a bye run and had also earlier dispatched Jon Ferguson in the first round. Top Qualifier Bowden was not on-track on Sunday due to personal circumstances.
A number of racers had their hands quite full in Perth, with Mundy, Arbery, Mirco and Stephen claiming the ANDRA Grand Final event victory as well as the championship in their respective classes while Panagiotidis took out the runner-up honors for his bracket.
Adam Mundy was another racer with his hands full, walking away with the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Modified Championship as well as the event victory and the Top Qualifiers Medallion. The Port Lincoln (SA) racer took out victory over event runner-up Angelo Locantro after having earlier faced off against championship runner-up Jessica Proud in an intense semi-final which followed a bye run in the quarter-final and victory over Jeff Acton in round one. Locantro meanwhile had taken wins from Erin Healy (semi-final), Nicholas Wroe and Ashley Johnson on his way to the final.
Jason Arbery was the Top Sportsman champ and the event winner. He faced championship runner-up Vlado Turic in the final after enjoying a bye run in his semi-final following victory over Darryl Maxfield and Christopher Roe. Meanwhile, Turic had won against Darren Saliba (round one) before enjoying a round two bye ahead of victory from Nathan Puglia. Top Qualifier Amanda Martin was unable to front for race day after suffering a breakage in her Chev Cobalt.
Chris Moore won Modified Bike at the Grand Finals event. Budgie “Bruce” Jones was runner-up. Moore had a bye run in the semi-finals and earlier victories over Chris Morgan (quarter-final), Zoe Nieuwhof and Christopher Fryer. Jones suffered a heart-breaking failure on the startline in the final after having earlier emerged victorious from battles against Luke Seaton (semi), Tom Gartrell, Chris Allen and championship runner-up (and 2018 title winner) Bryan Finn.
Brett Ghedina took the Comp Bike win over Ross Smith. He was top qualifier and also reset a national record.
While the championship battle was decided early, there was still plenty of exciting Super Street action unfolding across the day, with Kirstie Wroe ultimately taking the event victory over Ian Taylor. On her way to the final, Wroe had earlier dispatched Jeff Thurley (semi-final), Kenah Begg, Denise Downe and her sister Ashleigh Wroe while Taylor had enjoyed a bye in the semi-final following wins over Michael North, Stephen Hotchkin and Paul Antonelli. Top Qualifier Lee Watson was unable to proceed past the first round in a repeat of his Westernationals results.
The Super Stock win went to Todd Stacey.
The Competition championship honors may have been decided in the first round, but the action continued to come thick and fast for the category across the day, with top qualifier Kyle Putland ultimately taking out the event victory over Sam Gullotto. Putland booked his ticket to the final with wins over Steve Martin (semi) and Trent Morrison following a solo run in the opening round, while Gullotto – who impressed with a number of blistering passes across the weekend – had successfully taken on Ralph Lewis (round one) and Adam Marchant before enjoying a bye in his semi.
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