So long, Tim…

It was rainy and cold all day Saturday at the March Meet with only a few cars getting down the track before it was called for the day, but just before the Celebration of Life for photographer Tim Marshall, the sun came out and this rainbow appeared.

Franklin tops ‘Mad Mule’ competition at GALOT

Tommy Franklin 


The first Mad Mule of 2018 at GALOT Motorsports Park was held on Saturday, March 3. The competition was fierce with 4.70 Outlaws, Pro Mods, Dragsters, Door Cars, and Junior Dragsters at the Benson, NC, track.


MAD MULE Pro Mod Shootout: Tommy Franklin, Fredericksburg, VA, def. Jay Cox, Smithfield, NC

4.70 OUTLAWS: Donnie Gibbs Jr., Mooresville, NC, def. Todd Buckner, Mooresville, NC

DOOR CARS: Brent Alford, Raleigh, NC, def. Ethan Atkinson, Victoria, VA

DRAGSTERS: Nick Womack, Lillington, NC, def. Jonathan King, Angier, NC

TOP JR. DRAGSTER: Connor Shields, Hayes, VA, def. Ryan Leche, Moyock, NC

7.90 INDEX PRO JR. DRAGSTER: Casey Wagner, Willow Springs, NC, def. Holt Strickland, Clinton, NC 

Gateway begins season on March 31

Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, IL, will kick off its 2018 event season on Saturday, March 31, with a Test 'n' Tune session at the Dragplex from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The first JEGS Super Quick Gateway Bracket Series race will be held on Saturday, April 7; the first Midnight Madness on Friday, April 13; and the first Wide Open Wednesday on April 25.


Among many special events, the PSCA Heads-Up Hootenanny will be May 24-26 and the Street Car Super Nationals on Aug. 2-4. The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will be held Sept. 21-23.


In addition to the quarter-mile drag strip, the facility, just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, also consists of a 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.  

NMRA begins season at Bradenton, Florida

The 2018 NMRA Drag Racing season, presented by Keystone Automotive, debuted with beautiful weather, thousands of spectators, and all of the hot, record-breaking racing that one could want. True Street took center stage at Bradenton Motorsports Park this weekend, with a record 152 cars entering True Street. At the conclusion of the hotly contested, 16-car eliminator that is the Spring Break Shootout, True Street winner Randy Seward (above) doubled up his wins by successfully defeating True Street runner up Jeff Bloem with an 8.80 to Bloem’s 9.48 elapsed time.

Andy Manson took the pole in in Street Outlaw and charged into the final against 2017 class champion Manny Buginga. Buginga was away first but was passed by Manson who took the win with a 4.31 to Buginga’s 4.78.

Two veterans squared off against each other in the Modular Muscle final. Gary Parker had the slightly better reaction time, but he broke out, running 11.06 on an 11.07 index, giving the win to Charlie McCullough.

In the Truck and Lightning class, Bob Cochran was victorious over James Steamer after Steamer went -.008 red at the start.


Other class winners were: Bart Tobener (Renegade), Kelly Stowell (Limited Street), Haley James (Coyote Modified), Tyler Eichhorn (Coyote Stock), Dan Rynta (Factory Stock), Kevin McKenna (Ford Muscle), Denis Corn (Open Comp) and Marvin Knack (Super Stang).


The Spring Break Shootout hosts several specialty classes also. These class winners were: Rod Heltzel (Cobra Jet Showdown), Gardner Ston (Cobra Jet Challenge), Mike Jovanis (True Street), Paul Hardcastle (Terminator vs. GT 500 Shootout), Justin Jordan (Coyote Shootout).


Other True Street winners were Don Julio (9-second), Carl DiBlasi (10-sec), Connie Greiner (11-sec), Robin Whitford-Quinto (12-sec) David Berry (13-sec), Aaron Donton (14-sec) and Rodney Ward (15-sec).


William Rinehart had the better RT in the True Street Shootout, but Karl Goin got to the stripe first for the win. In Saturday bracket action the winners were Jay Adams (B1) and Charles Johnson (B2). On Sunday it was Darwin Garcia (B1) and Gage Burch (B2).


The next stop on the NMRA tour is Atlanta Dragway (Commerce, GA) for the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE, April 5-8. 

Tracks need to plan for success or they risk problems

There is no shortage of good news of packed dragstrips based on recent events varying from NHRA national events, to this past weekend’s March Meet, to any number of heads-up outlaw events.


But one recent example of success gone awry is the recent Discovery Channel No Prep event held at the brand new South Carolina Motorplex (SCM), formerly Orangeburg Dragstrip. Kudos are due to SCM for the hard work invested into the track including new guardrails, timing system, refurbished race tower, PA/sound system, and approximately 15 acres of expanded parking.


But even the shiniest of towers does not keep the current state of rampant social media buffs from placing any track on the highest pedestal or blasting the harshest criticisms. Agent 1320 received numerous calls from racers who reported the debacle of hosting the reported 10,000+ spectators who came for this grand opening event.


The first ingredient for failure reported to the Agent was the unprepared entry gate causing long backups on the county roads leading to the track. One specific report spoke about the single entry gate utilizing ONE cell phone to attempt to process charge cards and handle event phone calls at the same time.


South Carolina Motorplex had sold a considerable amount of VIP passes that included reserved parking and seating. That should have been the first indicator to track operators of the need to prepare for success. Many of those holding VIP passes arrived to find no remaining VIP parking, no provided grandstand seating, or were even refused entry to the strip by law enforcement that shut down the gate.


An example of the plethora of negative day-after Facebook reviews to SCM came from Tim Rahl who stated, “We bought five tickets over a month in advance. Drove almost 4 hours and waited in line for an hour to get up and have the police tell us we can't go in because it's full. Now we try and battle to get a refund. Glad you guys let us disappoint our kids.”


The moral of the story is that with the success of these drag racing events comes the two-edged sword of today’s social media. If you read the number of scathing reviews following the Orangeburg event, you can't help but consider who will risk attending the next large-scale race the track will host. That is a black eye for drag racing overall. 

Women lead racers to Belle Rose winner’s circle

Jackie Fricke, Flemington, NJ, and Annie Whitley, Grand Junction, CO, took home the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively at this weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at No Problem Raceway, Belle Rose, LA.


Fricke (above) worked her way through the field beating Terry Schmidt in round one and No. 1 qualifier Megan Meyer in round two for a chance to take on Duane Shields in the final.  Fricke then ran 5.309 seconds at 272.28 mph in her final round victory over Shields, Boulder City, NV, who clocked in at 5.341, 272.25 mph.


Whiteley faced off against Kris Hool, Evansville, WY, and posted a winning run of 5.512 seconds, 270.50 mph in her ’15 Camaro. Hool left early, giving the win to Whitley right from the start.


Louisiana racers Joey Tanksley, Jimmy Hidalgo, Steve Collier and Mark Jones all took home wins as well. Tanksley, Greenwell Springs, beat out Craig Bourgeois, Metairie, with a 6.884/193.45 lap to Bourgeois’s 6.910/188.74 in Comp Eliminator. Hidalgo, Donaldsonville, won over Bill Bagley, Longview, TX, in Stock with a lap of 11.107, 91.29 as Bagley turned on the red light.


SUPER STOCK: Pete Peery, Bowie, TX, '05 Sunfire, FGT/E, 9.323, 141.46  def. Brandon Bakies, Alexandria, LA, '13 Chevrolet, FSS/F, 9.570, 138.48.


SUPER COMP: David Warren, Jacksonville, TX, '11 Dragster, 8.921, 167.70  def. Chase Murray, Orange, TX, '03 Miller Drgster, 8.893, 172.26.


SUPER GAS: Steve Collier, Benton, LA, '72 Vega, 9.908, 169.19  def. Jim Capp, Willis, TX, '10 Corvette, 9.897, 171.29.


SUPER STREET: Clint Castellow, '54 Ford, 10.899, 134.83  def. Guy Thompson, Schriever, LA, dragster, 10.884, 128.60.


TOP DRAGSTER: Mark Jones, Marrero, LA, '09 Spitzer, 6.278, 209.54  def. Crystal Peterson, Tomball, TX, '12 Spitzer, 6.728, 200.50.


TOP SPORTSMAN: Henry Kindle, Angleton, TX, '98 Truck, 7.733, 175.89  def. Michael Mims, Iowa, LA, '63 Corvette, foul.


SPORTSMAN MOTORCYCLE: Derek Dorey, Kingwood, TX, dragster, 8.920, 143.28  def. Ricky Kay, Humble, TX, '92 GSXR, 8.874, 136.66.


SUPERSTREET GAMBLERS: Chris Huesers, Rayne, LA, '06 Cavalier, 10.888, 136.67  def. Steven Beckham, Hattiesburg, MS, '68 Camaro, 10.868, 118.53.


SUPER COMP GAMBLERS: Michael Holcombe, La Porte, TX, '11 Ray Alan, 8.890, 172.50  def. Gordon Prejean, Brusly, LA, '05 Undercover, 8.881, 162.85.


SUPER GAS GAMBLERS: Jackson Collier, Benton, LA, '68 Camaro, 15.858, 52.87  def. Justin Allen, '16 Corvette, foul.  

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