Hight proves that where there’s a will, there’s a way

Robert Hight got the final-round win over J.R. Todd for his second event win in a row.


Just the fact that Robert Hight was in the Lone Star State and racing his Funny Car was impressive itself, but that he wound up winning the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals Oct. 7, at the Texas Motorplex was nothing short of amazing. In a dramatic final round, Hight led stripe-to-stripe over J.R. Todd, leaving with a .016 holeshot, then running 3.95 at 325.69 mph to Todd's 3.98 at 319.52 combination.


"That was one of the biggest rounds I've ever won in my career, because J.R. Todd, he was 30 points behind me going into the final and there's 20 points available to win, so if I had lost I'd be just 10 points ahead, but now I have a 50-point lead, so that's a 40-point swing," he pointed out.


Two weeks earlier, the defending class champion was in St. Louis, where just as he crossed the 1,000-foot finish line at Gateway Motorsports Park to win the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, most of the body on his John Force Racing flopper was sent sky high by a violent engine explosion. Hight brought the car to a safe stop and exited under his own power, but no one realized at the time that the subsequent crash into the left guardwall had broken his left collarbone.


After being examined at a local hospital and being told to expect an eight-week recovery time while the bone fused itself, Hight flew home to California where he met up with former Automobile Club of Southern California CEO and longtime team supporter Tom McKernan, who took him to seek additional medical opinions. The first doctor he visited reaffirmed what Hight was told in St. Louis; however, Dr. George Hatch at USC's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery predicted just a two-week recovery if Hight went through with internal fixation surgery that used a metal plate and screws to rejoin and stabilize the fracture to speed healing along.


Not surprisingly, he chose Option 2 and underwent surgery just nine days before the FallNationals began.


That wasn't enough to get him back in the Funny Car championship chase, though. While his team busied themselves under the leadership of crew chief Jimmy Prock building a new car from the ground up, Hight secured a carbon-fiber shield from Simpson similar to what Pro Stock racer Greg Anderson used to keep his shoulder belts away from the surgery area after undergoing a heart procedure a few years ago.


“I took that, measured around my chest and we got a mannequin and put towels around it and got it to the same size and put the head-and-neck restraint (HANS) on it and then put this thing from Greg Anderson on it and built ears off it of carbon fiber to go to the HANS device and the belts come over that. There’s room underneath to protect my collarbone," Hight explained.


With the seatbelt cushioning device in hand, he returned to see Dr. Hatch about gaining clearance to compete in Texas, less than two weeks after the St. Louis crash. "I did everything like he said, went back late on Thursday to get my clearance, and he said I wouldn't have gotten the clearance if I didn't have that device."

After making his first qualifying pass on Friday in Texas, Hight knew he'd be okay to go the distance.


"I was most worried about the chutes because it slams you forward when you hit the chutes, but no issues," he said. "But I probably couldn’t have raced without that piece. It's actually comfortable and I may never take it off. One of the first things I did was thank Greg Anderson for giving me a start.” – Ian Tocher 

Musi, Schweigert set PDRA records

Pro Nitrous star Lizzy Musi recorded the fastest pass in class history Friday night, Oct. 5, at the Professional Drag Racers Association Fall Nationals at Darlington Dragway. Musi drove the Edelbrock/Lucas Oil “King Kong 7” ’16 Dodge Dart owned by Frank Barndao to a 3.677-second pass at 207.28 mph to qualify No. 1 in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC.

Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle low qualifier Terry Schweigert obliterated both ends of the PXM record with his 3.914-second blast at 184.58 aboard a new turbocharged motorcycle.


We’ll have the entire race results tomorrow.   

Pritchett clinches Factory Stock championship

Leah Pritchett clinched the 2018 SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Series championship in her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, racing to her third consecutive win of the season and earning her first championship in her first full year competing in the class.


Pritchett entered the action at the Texas Motorplex facility coming off of victories at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in early September and at the NHRA Midwest Nationals two weeks ago, where she became the first NHRA driver in the Factory Stock Showdown class to make a pass in the seven-second range. She qualified No. 10 and posted her quickest pass of the weekend, an 8.079-second E.T. at 169.64-mph, to defeat Aaron Stanfield in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.


After advancing past Randy Taylor in the quarterfinals, Pritchett moved on to a dramatic semifinal grouping that also featured co-points leaders Stephen Bell and Arthur Kohn, with Pritchett trailing each by a single point. She squared off against Bell with her season on the line, leaving first with a clutch 0.038-second reaction time and recording a winning 8.107-second 169.00-mph mark. Kohn was up next, needing to win his semifinals match against Kevin Skinner to extend the championship battle to the final round. Skinner took the win, crowning Pritchett as the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Champion. She would add the cherry on top by taking out No. 1 qualifier Skinner in the final with an arrow-straight 8.106-second pass down the track to earn her third consecutive event win.    

Gateway’s Fall Bracket Battle crowns champions

Scott Cook, of Festus, MO, topped a field of 78 entries and won the $5,000 Fall Bracket Battle Super Pro class final Saturday, Oct. 6, at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, IL. Cook, driving a dragster, defeated Dennis Pearson of St. Peters, MO. Cook posted a reaction time of .033 to Pearson’s .031. Cook’s dragster ran 4.851 sec. at 143.11 mph to Pearson’s Camaro’s 6.886 sec. at 99.06 mph.


Rick Thomas III of St. Louis won the Pro category over Nick Curl of Freistatt, MO. Frankie Radake of St. Louis won the 6.0 Index class over Kevin Prior of Warrenton, MO. Steve Zeuner of Imperial, MO, earned Sportsman honors by defeating Blaine Miller of Kansas in the final. Jason Clubb of Wright City, MO, won the Trophy class. Sarah Stewart of Washington, MO, won the final round of Jr. Dragster eliminations  over Collin Boehmer of Festus, MO.


Scott Leonard of Glen Carbon, IL, won the final round of Pro Motorcycle eliminations during the NHRA All Access Challenge Sunday, Oct. 7, at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, IL. Leonard defeated Yan Leavit of St. Peters, MO, in the final round to collect the winner’s check and coveted NHRA “Wally” trophy. 

Danny Ratulowski (far lane) of Highland, IL, won the final round of Pro eliminations defeating Rick Thomas III of St. Louis, MO. 

Adam Penning of Hermann, MO, won the final round of Super Pro eliminations. He defeated Brian Cook of Arnold, MO, in the final round with a margin of victory of a mere .0005 second.  

$100K to three winners of Super Bowl of Drag Racing at Rockingham

Three different drivers left Rockingham Dragway on Sunday with $100,000 each after getting wins in the SFG Super Bowl of Drag Racing.


The five-day bracket race attracted more than 500 participants from across the country and, at week’s end, Marshall Grooms of Washington, DC, “Racin’ Jason” Lynch of Pleasantview, TN, and Shane Carr of White House, TN, had grabbed off the biggest shares of the purse.


Grooms got the final $100,000 by driving his dragster past the 1972 Chevy Vega of Dave Triplett of Eustis, FL, on Sunday. Grooms, .015, 4.798 on a 4.780, 141.27 mph def. .006, 5.818 breakout on a 5.830, 116.81.


Lynch got a win for the door cars on Saturday when he and his Chevy S-10 pickup ran dead-on their 5.920 target to hold off the dragster of Kyle Cultrera of Eliot, ME, who turned in a 4.626 on a 4.620 dial.


Carr got the first big check by beating Graham, NC’s John Lassiter and his 1966 Chevelle on Friday, when Lassiter turned on the red light.


Fairmont, NC’s Eric Thomas and Winston-Salem’s Tommy Plott won $20,000 and $10,000, respectively as the winners of preliminary races on Wednesday and Thursday.


Dragsters and door cars raced separately each day to determine a winner with the two champions facing off for the big money. There also were separate races for Top Dragsters each day, two of them won by Scott Taylor of Portage, MI, the other by C.J. Drake of Binghampton, NY. 

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