Brittany Force, Hagan, Enders and Smith get lucky in Vegas

It was Ladies Days at Las Vegas as Brittany Force and Erica Enders were winners Sunday, Nov. 3, at the Dodge NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Force won the 900th Top Fuel event in NHRA history and Enders took the 150th win by a woman.


Top Fuel is beginning to look like 2017 redux where Brittany Force grabbed the championship away from a dominating Steve Torrence. She comes into the final event of this season behind him by just 16 points.


“We’ve been here before,” Force said. “We got the job done and Steve (Torrence) is shaking in his boots right now.”


She set the track ET record in the final with a 3.652-second run at 334.73 mph after setting the Speed record at 338.17 mph in the second round of qualifying.

Doug Kalitta has been on a tear all day, but in a dramatic semifinal round he suffered a mechanical malfunction on his burnout which deployed his chutes and shut off his Mac Tools dragster after his burnout. Steve Torrence then made a single run to the final. 


“I don’t know what happened,” said Kalitta, who dropped to third in points. “I was going forward and the thing just shut off. It is just real unfortunate. We were definitely going to give it our best out there to see if we could get by Steve. We are just going to drag it out to Pomona and just go after the championship there.”

Points leader Erica Enders came up big in Vegas again thanks to her 6.617 at 208.04 in the Pro Stock final round in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.


The win, which is Enders’ second this season, included all kinds of milestones, including the 25th in her career, the 150th for females and the 200th win for Camaro in Pro Stock. It also extended her points lead to 92 points over Coughlin, as Enders eyes her third world title.


Coughlin went 6.620 at 201.70 in the final round, but couldn’t run down Enders in his 110th finals appearance. He beat Fernando Cuadra, Aaron Stanfield and Jason Line earlier in the day.


Matt Hagan is back in the points’ race after picking up his second straight victory, going 3.876 at 331.36 in the final round in his MOPAR Dodge SRT Hellcat Widebody. It ousted Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.945 at 321.12, putting Hagan third in points and 56 behind leader Robert Hight. Hagan beat Paul Lee, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Bob Tasca III to reach the final round, leading Lindberg from start to finish.


“I’m fired up right now,” said Hagan, who, with two Funny Car world titles on his racing resume, knows what it takes to get the job done. “When you have that opportunity to go into Pomona and still be in the championship hunt, that’s what gets my adrenaline pumped, gets me motivated, makes me want to dig. I love winning races, but it’s about this hunt; this is why we do this. I’m so proud of my guys; they know how to step up and rise to the occasion. I wish Pomona was tomorrow, let’s do this, let’s get it done.”


Lindberg nearly picked up his first career Funny Car win, reaching his fourth career final thanks to wins against defending world champ J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon and Jack Beckman, who remains second in points, 46 behind Hight heading to the final race of the season.

Matt Smith (near lane) and PSM points leader Andrew Hines. 


Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Matt Smith picked up his first playoff victory of 2019 thanks to his 6.855 at 195.90 in the final round on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/MSR EBR. He outlasted Steve Johnson’s 6.863 at 194.04, picking up his second win this year and 24th in his career. He knocked off Katie Sullivan, Angie Smith and Andrew Hines to reach the final round.


Trying to play playoff spoiler, Johnson reached his second final round this year by beating Ron Tornow, Angelle Sampey and Scotty Pollacheck.


Hines leads Jerry Savoie by 115 as he closes in on his sixth world title. Smith, who won for the second time in Vegas, is fourth in points and trails Hines by 117 points. Pomona will award points-and-a-half, which will mean every pro team will be fighting for as many of the 191 points available per category as possible.  

400 Thunder racers begin season in Australia

The Atlantic Oils East Coast Thunder delivered a stellar day of drag racing in front of a huge crowd to kick off the 2019-20 400 Thunder Championship Series on Saturday, Nov. 2.


Wayne Daley, who started from the number-one position and survived a close race courtesy of a starting line advantage in round 1 over Victorian Chris Soldatos, fell in the semifinals to a resurgent Jason Hedges.

Hedges (shown) would do battle with reigning champion Aaron Tremayne in the final round, Tremayne taking a start line advantage by almost six hundredths of a second. At the finish line though, it was all Hedges who ran a 7.01 (his quickest pass of the event) to a 7.07 for a margin of four thousandths of a second and his first ever win in the 400 Thunder Pro Stock Category.


Top Fuel was yet again a spectacle to behold with a side-by side racing all afternoon. The final was fought between the reigning champion Wayne Newby and the returning Peter Xiberras in the Premiair Hire Top Fuel Dragster.

Xiberras, driving a brand new car, disposed of Terry Sainty in round one, Rapisarda Autosport’s Damien Harris in round two and in the final round he took a slight advantage over Newby and extended the lead to the finish line, a 3.85 enough to beat a 3.88. With the win, Xiberras takes the lead in the 400 Thunder Top Fuel Championship.


Pro Alcohol saw the number one and two qualifiers meet in the final round. With both Gary Philips and Steve Reed recording runs in the 5.4-second zone in the semifinals, a head to head matchup was exactly what the fans wanted to see. At the green light both racers were sharp but a 5.42 (quickest run of the event) from Phillips was more than enough to take down a 5.50 from Reed.


Pro Slammer turned on a fantastic show, and the final was contested between number one qualifier Steve Ham and Ben Bray in a strong return to form. In the semifinals, Bray eliminated front runner Kelvin Lyle with a 5.81 beating a quicker but losing 5.73 courtesy of a hole shot at the green light.

In the final Ham took a start line advantage and extended the lead with a 5.668 matching his qualifying time to the thousandth of a second, and was enough to take down Bray’s valiant 5.75. Ham assumes the points lead in a bid for his maiden Pro Slammer Championship.

The Pro Bike final was contested between Glenn Wooster and Daniel Rabnott. Wooster was on a high after recording his first ever 6-second run in round two after a long night of repairs after engine damage on Friday night, and ,despite a lazy .185 reaction time, a 7.04 beat a 7.48 from Rabnott.


Sportsman category winners were Joe Gauci – Pro Radial; Joe Khoury – Modified Bike; Paul Linnett – Modified; Paul Doblien – Top Sportsman; Peter Byrne – Supercharged Outlaws; and Anthony Panetta – Super Gas.


The 400 Thunder Series now moves to Willowbank Raceway on January 4th for the New Years Thunder.  

2020 schedule for NHRA Top Fuel Harley series announced

Tii Tharpe was the 2019 Top Fuel Harley champion. 


The Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will be contested at 10 event next season.

Feb. 6-9: Pomona, CA

Feb. 21-23: Phoenix, AZ

April 24-26: Charlotte, NC

June 12-14: Topeka, KS

July 9-12: Joliet, IL

Aug. 13-16: Brainerd, MN

Aug. 21-23: Epping, NH

Sept. 2-7: Indianapolis

Sept. 17-20: Reading, PA

Oct. 15-18: Dallas 

McCandless, Dotson and Caissie win Rock’s Third Amber titles

Graham, NC’s Jason McCandless, Chad Dotson of Mill Springs and former Division 1 Summit ET Series Champion Dan Caissie of Thompson, CT, were the big winners in the inaugural Third Amber Throwdown completed Sunday, Nov. 3, at Rockingham Dragway.

Caissie (shown) drove his 1987 Ford Mustang past the ’89 Mustang of Danny Faile of Pageland, SC, to win Friday’s feature and just missed doubling up in the Friday bonus race in which he lost to reigning and three-time Hoosier Carolina Coalition Champion Ernie Humes of Troutman by .001 on a second in the final round.

Humes and his 1972 Dodge Demon won both of the bonus races, beating Caissie on Friday before turning back Lauren Edwards of Maysville, NC, a former Fayetteville Motorsports Park track champion and a winner at the Rock’s 2019 Super Chevy Show, on Saturday.

Dotson, 2017 runner-up at the World Footbrake Challenge in Bristol, TN, was Saturday’s big winner in a final round shootout with Brandon White of Austinville, VA.

McCandless, grandson of Pro Stock Champion Herb, prevailed on Sunday, when his opponent, Tim Douglas, Wytheville, VA, red lighted in the final.   

‘Stevie Fast’ caps Pro Mod championship season with win

“Stevie Fast” Jackson clinched his first career world title in the Pro Mod class at the previous event in Charlotte, but added one more dominant performance in his remarkable season. At the NHRA Pro Mod series finale at Las Vegas he qualified No. 1 in his blown Bahrain1 Racing Chevrolet Camaro, and then finished off the year by going 5.788-seconds at 247.84 mph in the finals to beat Todd Tutterow. It gave Jackson his fourth victory this season and the ninth in his career.


“I never minced words,” Jackson said. “When I came to run NHRA in 2017, I said I was coming to win a championship. (Crew chief) Billy Stocklin is a magician running this car. He’s got this thing on a string. All my boys are killing it. I love racing here.


“Todd is my mentor. He taught me how to run a blown engine. Todd crushed me on a holeshot in the first race of the year at Gainesville. When I lit the top bulb in the final, Billy said, ‘Do not let this man wear your butt out. Bring your ‘A’ game.’ It worked out good for us and we’ve just got a bad hot rod.”


Jackson beat defending world champ Mike Janis, Scott Oksas and Mike Castellana to reach his eighth final round this year. Tutterow, who ended the year a career-best second in points, beat Bob Rahaim, Jim Whiteley and Steve Matusek to reach his fifth career final round.   

Sighted at the CHRR

Among the fans enjoying the California Hot Rod Reunion were, from left, retired NHRA Vice President Graham Light, Funny Car driver Ron Capps, and legendary driver-turned-tuner Roland “The Hawaiian” Leong.   

Penske is buying Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar series

In roundy-round news, the Indianapolis Business Journal and the Associated Press report that Penske Corp. is acquiring Hulman & Co., owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar series. A Penske subsidiary, Penske Entertainment Corp., will own the speedway, the IndyCar Series, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions. Roger Penske and his Team Penske have been involved in nearly all major forms of motorsports since 1966.


The move comes one year after the death of Mari Hulman George, the only daughter of Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr., who bought the dilapidated track in 1945 and built it into a powerhouse facility. It also comes six months after Hulman & Co. announced it had sold it iconic Clabber Girl Corp. for $80 million to concentrate on motorsports and entertainment, which officials then called the company’s “core focus.”  

Founder president of Motorsports Hall of Fame dies at 72

Ron Watson, founder president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, died on Nov. 27 at the age of 72. The organization honors all forms of motorsports.


Visitation will be Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2-8 p.m. at O’Brien-Sullivan Funeral Home, 41555 Grand River Ave., Novi, MI 48375. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 6 at Novi United Methodist Church, 41671 W. 10 Mile Rd., Novi, MI 48375. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Heart Association or the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.


A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, Nov. 22, from 3-8 p.m. at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114.  



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