VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 9 - SEPTEMBER, 2019
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ET DRAG RACING
Funny Car Chaos at Martin, Michigan
Words by Chris Graves
Photos courtesy Funny Car Chaos
Allan Middendorf (far lane) took the A field win over Ken Singleton.
The Best of Texas BBQ Sauce Funny Car Chaos Championship series presented by Red Line Shirt Club made its debut at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, on Sept. 6-7. This marked the most northern stop in series history for the Southwest-based Funny Car series. With the battle heating up in the chase to the Inaugural Funny Car Chaos Championship, every run would prove critical in the sixth points race of the year presented by Powershield Coatings.
As well as the Chaos cars, US 131 general manager Jason Peterson provided a non-stop line up of drag racing entertainment including the Top Fuel dragsters of Larry Dixon and Dom Lagana, Bob Motz’s jet-powered Kenworth, the Nostalgia Drag Racing League and much more.
Fourteen nitro and alcohol burning floppers made the tow to Michigan including cars from as far south as Seguin, TX, to as far north as Ontario, Canada, and included several first time Chaos participants. The open format to body style and engine combination attracted a wide variety of entries including the Canadian based Aidan Heatley-Smith and the “Ant Hill Mob” team (above) who made their United States competition debut with their 2013 Ford Mustang bodied, screw blown 521 cubic inch combination, to Sue Christophersen who became the second female Chaos driver in series history in the “Susie Q” 1957 Chevy-bodied entry powered by a roots style blown 521 TFX.
Mike Minick, Vic Tiffin, and David Wagner also made their first Funny Car Chaos appearances in Michigan.
Ken Singleton’s “High Risk” team from Oklahoma came into the event atop the points standings with three final-round appearances and three top qualifiers. Being on the top puts the target on your back and stiff competition from fellow points chasers Jordan Ballew, Brandon Lewis, Tod Barker, Chuck Loftin and Allan Middendorf had Singleton feeling the pressure. Steve Timoszyk and Mark McElwee, who represented both ends of the Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ field final round from the previous event in Havana, IL, were also in attendance and looking to defend home turf with their Michigan-based teams.
Cool temperatures welcomed the racers and fans, but with that came a steady dose of lake effect moisture and an unrelinquishing drizzle that lasted well into the night, thus eliminating any chance of completing one of the two qualifying sessions scheduled for Friday night. With that, the pressure mounted as teams would have just one qualifying attempt on Saturday afternoon before the fields were set for final eliminations later that evening. Teams prepared for an all-out one day brawl at the “Fastest Track in Michigan.”
What a difference a day makes as Saturday brought sunshine and go-fast weather with temperatures in the mid-70s and track conditions at their best. Fans poured through the gates of US 131 and picked their favorite flopper to cheer on as teams made their way to the lanes for the critical one-shot qualifying round. Anticipation of a fast session became reality and by the end, a new record bump spot for the quick eight Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ Field was held by Kevin Lennon with a 4.06 at 197 mph. Allan Middendorf and the Jake Sanders-tuned “American Outlaw” clicked off a 3.73 at 213 mph to take the pole followed closely by Ken Singleton’s career best 3.76 at 200 mph. Brandon Lewis and Mark McElwee rounded out the top half of the ‘A’ field, both in the 3.80s.
Mike Minick wheeled the “Chi-Town Hustler” to a pedaling 4.22 at 128 mph to take the top spot in the AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field.
Points hungry Jordan Ballew lost fire after the burnout and would start off eliminations in the No. 14 spot. Canadian David Wagner went for a wild ride, tagging the wall on his qualifying run in the “Pure Insanity” Barracuda which ended his Chaos debut prematurely. The ladders were set, the cars were being serviced and it was time to play for keeps as the first round of eliminations neared.
FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER RODAK’S COFFEE ‘A’ FIELD:
1. Allan Middendorf (Columbia, IL) – 3.73 @ 213
2. Ken Singleton (Chickasha, OK) – 3.76 @ 200
3. Brandon Lewis (Tulsa, OK) – 3.84 @ 204
4. Mark McElwee (Vandalia, MI) – 3.86 @ 205
5. Chuck Loftin (Seguin, TX) – 3.93 @ 188
6. Vic Tiffin (Oswego, IL) – 3.98 @ 163
7. Aidan Heatley-Smith (Ontario, CAN) – 4.03 @ 185
8. Kevin Lennon (Merrillville, IN) – 4.06 @ 197
FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER ALKYDIGGER ‘B’ FIELD:
1. Mike Minick (Justice, IL) – 4.220 @ 128
2. Sue Christophersen (Clarkston, MI) – 4.226 @ 173
3. Steve Timoszyk (Detroit, MI) – 4.42 @ 125
4. Tod Barker (Marlow, OK) – 4.45 @ 138
5. David Wagner (Ontario, CAN) – No Time
6. Jordan Ballew (Bartlesville, OK) – No Time
Brandon Lewis’ “Attitude Adjuster” tuned by Guy Tipton came to life to open the first round of eliminations in a competition bye run after his opponent Vic Tiffin was sidelined with transmission issues. Lewis set the bar with a strong 3.84 at 195 mph to make a statement to the competition and head into the semis.
Mark McElwee was up next in “Buzzy’s Bomber” alongside Chuck Loftin’s “Motivation” Texas-based Mustang in an all nitro pairing. Loftin qualified with a career best 3.93, but slowed to a 4.02 at 172 mph in first round, which came up short to McElwee’s stout 3.81 at 207 mph.
‘A’ field eliminations continued as points leader Ken Singleton pulled to the line against Aidan Heatley-Smith, son of Top Fuel pilot Smax Smith. Two modern bodied alcohol burners were ready to unleash their fury and Singleton clicked off a powerful 3.77 at 200 mph to Smith’s burst panel-booming 4.29 at 174 mph. In the final ‘A’ field pair of first round, Allan Middendorf lowered the boom with a flawless 3.65 at 218 mph to defeat Kevin Lennon’s 4.48 at 136 mph in the “Shake N’ Bake” entry.
The 218-mph blast earned Middendorf 10 bonus points as he re-set the previous record held by Kebin Kinsley at 214 mph.
AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field action got underway with the “Detroit Tiger” of Steve Timoszyk lining up with the “Back In Black” Corvette of Tod Barker. Barker knew he needed to make up some performance and came in with a hot tune up that resulted in severe tire shake off the line, giving him the best seat in the house to watch Timoszyk advance with a career best 3.98 at 180 mph, the first ever three second pass for the “Detroit Tiger” team.
Sue Christophersen benefited from the bye run as David Wagner’s damage after tagging the wall in qualifying kept him from making the call. A timing system issue fouled her launch routine and “Susie Q” idled to the win light and into the semis. Top qualifier Mike Minick in the famed “Chi-Town Hustler” came to life next with Jordan Ballew and team “Ballew Thunder” looking to pull off the upset and hoping their mechanical issues were solved. Unfortunately for Ballew, the gremlins surfaced again and his 5.72 was no match for a thundering 3.80 at 194 for Minick, who clearly found their combination as the opening round came to a close.
Dropping temps as clouds moved in over US 131 threw a curve ball for crew chiefs as cars returned to the staging lanes for semi-final round action.
The ‘A’ field featured two powerhouse match-ups which got started with Ken Singleton taking on Brandon Lewis in an Oklahoma flavored battle that would prove critical in the Championship points. If Singleton could light the lamp, it would extend his lead over the two cars beneath him, while if Lewis could knock out the points leader, his efforts to catch up and stand a fighting chance at the season finale would drastically improve. The cars came to life and all eyes were on the starting line as the teams made their final adjustments.
Lewis bumped the “Attitude Adjuster” nitro burner into deep stage and possibly threw Singleton off his game as the resulting starting line advantage of over a tenth of a second had the nitro car out front early, but not for long. With the front end in the air, Lewis went into tire shake and drifted out of the groove forcing him to abort the run while Singleton charged to a consistent 3.78 at 200 mph to take the first spot in the ‘A’ field final round, his fourth of the season. For you statisticians out there, Singleton’s last three passes were 3.76, 3.77, 3.78.
Next up, big power, big noise, big flame action was on tap as Allan Middendorf and Mark McElwee brought their nitro burners to life. In a developing friendly rivalry, team “Buzzy’s Bomber” has made it no secret they are coming to win and plan to take no prisoners, this time loaded for bear and ready to battle the quickest car on the property. Meanwhile, Jake Sanders appeared to have a firm grasp on the tune-up in the “American Outlaw” and hoped to snag 10 more bonus points by leaving the event having re-set their own 3.59 series elapsed time record. With fumes pumping from the pipes, the cars pulled into stage and the ambers dropped.
McElwee blasted off the line with a tenth of a second advantage and was charging hard as the cars were side by side at half-track. As they neared the eighth-mile stripe, the black Dodge Charger-bodied fueler of Middendorf stuck a nose out and pulled ahead to take the win with a series elapsed time record of 3.580 and improved mph record of 221 mph. Cha-ching!
AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field semis welcomed Timoszyk and Christophersen to the line and, despite her best pass of the event, Christophersen’s 4.16 at 173 mph came up just short to Timoszyk’s repeat 3.98 at 180 mph. A bye run for top qualifier Minick set the final round as the “Chi-Town Hustler” took a free shot at the track and made a statement with a stellar 3.73 at 199 mph, the second quickest pass of the round.
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