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The winner's list for the all-eighth-mile Professional Drag Racers Association season finale Oct. 24, at Virginia Motorsports Park displayed a distinct international flair as racers from the United States, Dubai, Brazil, and Canada prevailed in the pro classes for the Brian Olson Memorial PDRA World Finals presented by Mel Bush Motorsports. Olson was the PDRA's popular trackside announcer who unexpectedly passed away early in August.
Dubai's Badir Ahli won the premier Pro Extreme class, while Lizzy Musi from North Carolina took the Pro Nitrous event title, Sidnei Frigo of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the Pro Boost winner, and Canadian Terry Schweigert finished first in Pro Extreme Motorcycle. Additionally, Ohio's Phil Esz won in Pro Open Outlaw and a special appearance by the Outlaw 10.5 class saw Mike Decker Jr. take the trophy home to Baltimore.
In the PDRA sportsman ranks, Georgia golf cart dealer Ronnie Davis capped off his Top Sportsman championship with a win at the season-ending race, Kathy Fisher got her first PDRA win in Top Dragster, and brother-and-sister duo Preston and Alexis Tanner punctuated their new championships with wins in Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster, respectively.
Starting from the number-six position on the Pro Extreme qualifying list, NAS Racing's Badir Ahli was the only driver in contention to deny points leader Jason Scruggs his first season championship since 2008, but to do so not only would Ahli have needed to win the race and set a new elapsed time record along the way, Scruggs would have had to lose in the opening round. When Scruggs, who scored five PDRA event wins in 2015, got past a redlighting Danny Lowry in the opening session, the championship mathematically became beyond reach for Ahli.
"I want to congratulate Jason Scruggs and his team," Ahli said. "It is disappointing for us, yes, but they deserve to win after such a great season."
That still left the race win up for grabs, though, and Ahli made his march toward the final through Johnny Cobb, Jose Gonzales and Tommy D'Aprile to reach Brandon Snider of Atmore, AL, there. Snider, who qualified number one with a record-setting 3.51-second pass at 217.63 mph in his Q80-backed '69 Camaro, defeated Lorenzo "Killer" Brooks, Carl Stevens Jr. and Paul Mouhayet of Australia in the preliminary rounds.
Significantly, in a holeshot loss to Snider, Stevens broke the 230-mph barrier over the eighth mile, going 3.56 at 230.10 in his twin-turbocharged 2014 Camaro to set a new, official PDRA speed record.
"My wife called me right after we ran, all confused because she thought she saw I'd lost (on the PDRA's live, online video feed), but my guys were all jumping around, hugging each other on the starting line," Stevens said. "We did lose, but to be honest, it's a win for us right now. We couldn't be happier. We'd run 229 earlier in the day, but 230 is a nice round number; it just sounds better."
In the final, Ahli's screw-blown '69 Camaro left with a slight .009 advantage off the start and won going away despite slowing considerably to a 3.66 at 205.79 mph. In the right lane, Snider's similar ride left hard, but carried the front wheels in the air past half track, where he had to lift in order to avoid crossing the center line into Ahli's lane.
"It felt good at first, but then it started drifting left and you can't steer if the front tires aren't on the ground," Snider observed after posting a 3.75 at 173.25-mph pass. "We wanted to win, of course, but still not a bad way to end the year. Number-one qualifier, set a new ET record, got a runner-up, and the car's all in one piece. We'll take that."