VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 11 - NOVEMBER, 2019
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ET DRAG RACING
Funny Car Chaos Finale
Words by Chris Graves
Photos by Russell Brown, Wes Ramsey, Ken Bennett and Chris Graves
Ken Singleston (near lane) and Allan Middendorf during Friday night qualifying.
The epic conclusion to the 2019 Best of Texas BBQ Sauce Funny Car Chaos Championship tour presented by Red Line Shirt Club unfolded in spectacular fashion at North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas. The event, presented by Entech Oil & Lubricants, was held September 27-28 and welcomed the largest car count in series history with thirty cars from nine different states converging on the birthplace of the series to crown an inaugural series champion. Teams from California and North Dakota to Michigan all came for a piece of the Chaos fun in this final points race of the year.
Four racers stood a firm mathematical shot at the title as Ken Singleton's alcohol burning "High Risk" team came in atop the standings followed closely by Jordan Ballew, Allan Middendorf and Brandon Lewis. The competition was stiff, as nitro and alcohol burning funny cars of all kinds were ready for their shot at over $35,000 in event and championship payouts. The pressure was on and the anticipation was overwhelming.
This event followed the normal sixteen car 'A' & 'B' field format, but also included an all run 'C' field shootout available for any entry qualifying outside the quick sixteen. Racers and fans were welcomed by a sunny and warm, but thankfully dry weather forecast, and it was time to tango in Texas as Friday night welcomed two rounds of qualifying under the lights that brought record setting performances.
Fred Farndon was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement" award recognizing his many decades of years in the sport.
Prior to qualifying, a special awards ceremony was held during the drivers meeting that honored several racers including Tod Barker who was named series "Rookie of the Year", Robert Slaughter who was named "Most Dedicated Chaos'er" and Jeff Cameron who was recognized as Funny Car Chaos "Racer of the Year" by the series director Chris Graves.
After two wild rounds of side by side action, Allan Middendorf led the field with a new series elapsed time record of 3.574 at 222 mph in the “American Outlaw” entry tuned by Jake Sanders. Middendorf had a big task at hand to catch Ken Singleton in the standings. Series records are worth 10 points each, so if he could leave the event with both ends of his own records, it would be very helpful in his Championship effort.
Mark Billington’s “Sons of Thunder” Texas based Top Alcohol Funny Car clicked off a 3.80 at 199 mph to slide into the number two spot in a stacked field of three second performers. Ken Singleton’s 3.836 at 199 earned him the number three spot.
Chuck Loftin posted a career best 3.837 at 191 in the “Motivation” nitro burner to take a spot in the top half of the Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ Field.
Six other cars dipped into the three second zone as the bump spot for the ‘A’ field was already the quickest in history with Jim Chase’ 3.875 holding onto number eight.
Brandon Lewis’ “Attitude Adjuster” tuned by Guy Tipton finished Friday at the top of the AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field standings with a 3.91 at 194 mph, followed by Mark McElwee’s 3.98 at 187 and Steve Timoszyk’s 4.06 at 175 in the “Detroit Tiger” from Michigan. Andy Mears’ “Dragon Slayer” posted a career best 4.46 at 155 mph to secure the number eight spot in the ‘B’ field after Friday night qualifying. Teams returned to the pits ready for service in what would be a thrilling final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon to set the final quick sixteen. A thrash unfolded in Singleton’s “High Risk” pits as a motor swap was required, a service that was completed around 4am Saturday morning.
Saturday welcomed more warm, sunny and humid weather for the Chaos racers and fans. A pre-race parade showcased all thirty entries prior to their final qualifying session. The pressure was on as teams had one last chance to bump themselves into the ‘A’ and ‘B’ fields, while all remaining competitors would compose the bonus Sam Tech ‘C’ field. Let the bumping begin!
The first pair out featured a stellar shot fired by Brandon Lewis as he catapulted to the number two spot with a 3.72 at 201 mph. Next up Tera Graves, driving Keith Jackson’s “High Heaven” nitro burner from Colorado, clicked off a 4.04 at 178 mph to secure her spot in the ‘B’ field. That’s when things took a turn for the worse, as Allan Middendorf and Mike Buchanan staged up in the next pair.
Middendorf blistered the North Star Dragway eighth mile, gunning for the series mile per hour record, which he achieved with an incredible 227 mph blast. Unfortunately, a parachute failure gave Middendorf all he could handle at the top end and despite his best efforts to slow the “American Outlaw” he soon realized the sand trap was his only viable option. Into the net he went, thankfully the custom designed system at North Star Dragway did its job and the safety equipment on board kept Middendorf from sustaining any serious injury as he jolted to a wild stop with sand and dirt flying into the air. Middendorf climbed out under his own power and was quickly cleared by on site EMTs, but his race day was clearly done and thus, his hopes of a Funny Car Chaos Championship.
“We needed to re-set our speed record to gain as many points as possible, the chutes didn’t come out and I was hard on the brake. The car was bouncing and I knew the net was coming quick so I let off the brake and tried to turn into the net at an angle to save the chassis if possible. I’m all good, may be a little sore tomorrow, but we’ll head back to Indiana and regroup in preparation for a full season Chaos effort in 2020,” said Middendorf.
After repair to the top end safety net, it was time to resume racing and Doug Schneider raised eyebrows in his Colorado based Top Alcohol Funny Car with a 3.79 at 195 mph to move into the ‘A’ Field at number three. John Umlauf Jr wheeled the Missouri based “Mass Chaos” nitro burner to a 3.98 at 202 mph earning him the number two spot in the ‘B’ Field. Clay Cunningham made a big move from number twenty six to number seven in the ‘B’ Field with a 4.19 at 171 mph in the “Still Crazy” alcohol burning Dodge Daytona. Tod Barker’s 4.31 from Friday night help up as the bump for the quick sixteen in the quickest fields in Funny Car Chaos history. Ronny Young and the “Blue Max” held the bump spot in the ‘A’ Field with a 3.87 at 176 mph. With Middendorf out and word from the pits that Kebin Kinsley and the Farris owned “War Wagon” also out with mechanical issues, alternates were inserted as Ray Stringer and Nick Johnson found their spots on the appropriate ladders. WHEW! That was some exciting qualifying action and now it was time to play for keeps.
Championship contender Jordan Ballew’s best of a 4.74 at 147 mph came up short of a spot in the quick sixteen, but team “Ballew Thunder” would be a player in the ‘C’ Field Shootout along with Jeff Cameron, Matt Nissen, Mike Buchanan and Joacim Ljungberg. Ljungberg hails from Sweeden and bases his team in California as the “Raw Valley Motorsports” team made the long haul to Texas to join the fun at Funny Car Chaos.
FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
1. Allan Middendorf (Columbia, IL) – 3.57 @ 227
2. Brandon Lewis (Tulsa, OK) – 3.72 @ 201
3. Doug Schneider (Milliken, CO) – 3.79 @ 195
4. Mark Billington (Prosper, TX) – 3.80 @ 199
5. Ken Singleton (Chickasha, OK) – 3.836 @ 199
6. Chuck Loftin (Seguin, TX) – 3.837 @ 191
7. Kebin Kinsley (Arlington, TX) – 3.85 @ 197
8. Ronnie Young (Wylie, TX) – 3.871 @ 176
9. Jim Chase (Bismarck, ND) – 3.875 @ 186
10. John Umlauf Jr (Rolla, MO) – 3.980 @ 202
11. Mark McElwee (Visalia, MI) – 3.984 @ 187
12. Nick Poloson (San Antonio, TX) – 4.02 @ 182
13. Steve Timoszyk (Detroit, MI) – 4.03 @ 177
14. Tera Graves (Princeton, TX) – 4.04 @ 178
15. Clay Cunningham (Dumas, TX) – 4.19 @ 171
16. Tod Barker (Marlow, OK) – 4.31 @ 167
17. Ray Stringer (Alamogordo, NM) – 4.43 @ 169
18. Nick Johnson (Orleans, NE) – 4.45 @ 155
19. Andy Mears (Lubbock, TX) – 4.46 @ 155
20. Jeff Cameron (Magnolia, TX) – 4.50 @ 154
21. Fred Farndon (Edmond, OK) – 4.53 @ 143
22. Joacim Ljungberg (Vallakra, SWE) – 4.54 @ 158
23. Matt Nissen (Alma, NE) – 4.56 @ 154
24. Jordan Ballew (Bartlesville, OK) – 4.74 @ 147
25. Dustin Bradford (San Antonio, TX) – 4.82 @ 149
26. Mike Buchanan (Wichita, KS) – 5.18 @ 119
27. Paula Martin (Phoenix, AZ) – 5.60 @ 91
28. Damon Kuhn (Houston, TX) – 8.06 @ 87
29. Blaine Cunningham (Dumas, TX) – 8.99 @ 67
30. Robert Slaughter (Waco, TX) – No Time
With Dirty South Gassers and Ray Kelley’s jet dragster rocking the strip between rounds of funny car action the racing never stopped and soon enough, the call went out by series announcer David Rattan to ‘bring em’ to the lanes’ for first round eliminations. The elite Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ field competitors brought their muscle in some excellent side by side racing.
The biggest bout of the round featured two alcohol burning Monte Carlo bodied entries as points leader Ken Singleton squared off with Mark Billington (near lane).
In this pair, Ken Singleton would mathematically secure the Inaugural Funny Car Chaos Championship with a win light. His opponent had qualified better and was certainly no slouch. At the flash of amber, both drivers cut amazing reaction times and were glued side by side at the half-track mark. As they neared the finish line, Billington’s motor expired as he slowed to only 157 mph with a 3.98 and Singleton charged ahead for the win with a 3.89 at 194 mph locking the title for team “High Risk” as celebration erupted on the starting line! Ronny Young, Brandon Lewis and Doug Schneider also scored ‘A’ field first round wins.
The AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field was up next, the toughest ‘B’ field in series history. Nick Poloson in the “Bucket List” nitro burner squared off with Steve Timoszyk in the alcohol powered “Detroit Tiger”.
Timoszyk was making his Texas debut and hoping to earn a spot in the Chaos Top 10 after competing in the final three events of the season.
Poloson took a slight starting line advantage but Timoszyk was hanging tough in the other lane, at the stripe, in the closest race of the entire first round, Poloson’s 4.02 at 183 mph nosed out Timoszyk’s 4.04 at 177 mph for the win.
Mark McElwee (near lane) got the B field first round win over Tera Graves.
Mark McElwee, Clay Cunningham and Tod Barker also earned first-round wins.
The Sam Tech ‘C’ Field Shootout was run prior to the semi-final round and open to any entry that fell short of a spot in the quick sixteen ‘A’ and ‘B’ fields. Five teams entered the action and the two quickest winners would advance to the ‘C’ field final round for some extra cash. Matt Nissen drew the lucky bye run and clicked off a 4.52 at 155 mph on his solo shot, hoping that would be quick enough to earn him a spot in the final. Jeff Cameron and Jordan Ballew were up next. Ballew blasted off the line with a huge starting line advantage, but Cameron had the ponies to drive around with a 4.48 at 155 mph to Ballew’s 4.68 at 148 mph. In the final pair, Joacim Ljungberg’s entry failed to fire and Mike Buchanan soloed to a 5.51 which moved Matt Nissen and Jeff Cameron into the ‘C’ Field final round as the two quickest winners.
Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ Field semi-finals were up next and boy did we have some big match-ups on tap as newly crowned 2019 series Champion Ken Singleton came to the line against the famed “Blue Max” of Ronny Young. Young had fought engine troubles all season, but apparently found the gremlin and was running the best he has all year coming up against the always dangerous Singleton. In an extremely close match, Singleton posted his best numbers thus far with a 3.76 at 200 mph to take the win over Young’s close 3.80 at 195 mph.
Next up, Doug Schneider, who was making his Chaos debut from Colorado in a wicked fast Top Alcohol entry, faced off with Brandon Lewis and the “Attitude Adjuster” team who had secured a third-place finish in the Championship standings by this point. Schneider had this one from start to finish as he left first and clicked off a clean 3.80 at 193 mph over Lewis’ tire shaking 5.42. It was an all alcohol ‘A’ Field final round at the Championship Finals in Denton, Texas.
Moving into the AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field semis, an alcohol versus nitro battle kicked things off with Mark McElwee making his Texas debut in “Buzzy’s Nitro Bomber” alongside Clay Cunningham in “Still Crazy”. Cunningham was fired up with a great reaction time and his best pass of the night as his 4.17 at 170 mph took the win over a tire smoking McElwee’s 6.87. Next up, Nick Poloson and Tod Barker came to the line. The bar just kept getting raised as teams continue to post their best passes of the night. Poloson followed the trend as he dipped into the threes with a 3.98 at 182 mph to win over a red lighting 4.33 at 166 by Barker.
Jeff Cameron was the C Field winner.
The final rounds were set; the Top 5 in the Championship standings were inked, the seventh and final points race of the season had only three rounds to go. It was finals time in Texas. Cameron and Nissen got the rounds started as the ‘C’ field came to life. Cameron got his starting line game back on track and took a massive advantage, coupling that with another 4.48 at 155 mph to win over Nissen’s 4.55 at 157 mph.
Nick Poloson got a single for the B field win.
Next up was the AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field as Poloson and Cunningham were given the signal to fire up. In a wild turn of events, Poloson and the Gary Doak-owned team were delayed in firing and appeared they may not make the cut, then suddenly Cunningham’s car was shut-off with an apparent oil leak backing up from the burnout. Just as Cunningham’s car shut off, Poloson’s fired and away we went with a solo final round shot for team “Bucket List” as the team used consistency to mow through the ‘B’ Field and a posted a 4.02 at 183 mph to score their second career ‘B’ Field Chaos win.
The final pair of the night, two 3.70 range Top Alcohol Funny Cars were set for a screw blown battle royale to crown an event winner and dish out the $5,000 prize. For Singleton, it was icing on the cake if he could win the event, which would be his first win of the season after four runner-up finishes to this point. Schneider had nothing to prove, he wasn’t in the points chase, he was in his first career Chaos event, he just wanted to win just like any other drag racer on the planet and he stood a good chance as one of the quickest and fastest cars on the property. As the ambers dropped, Singleton charged out first by a slim margin and the motors revved up screaming wide open and side by side. Schneider made a move to the centerline and a quick pedal job was all it took for Singelton to move ahead with his best run of the weekend, a 3.74 at 201 mph to seal the deal over Schneider’s 3.90 at 188 mph.
Congratulations to Singleton and the entire “High Risk” team on an outstanding performance throughout the 2019 season and dominant effort at the final event to secure the Inaugural Funny Car Chaos Championship.
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