Davis, NHRA back Top
Sportsman class, new
heads-up racing to debut.

by Dale Wilson

Clarification: The following story ran in its entirety on Wednesday, January 21, with a reference to NHRA's Division 1 hosting Top Sportsman racing at all its divisional races in 2004. In talking with division director Bob Lang, however, Drag Racing Online has learned that several tracks have only SUGGESTED that the division run Top Sportsman races at its divisionals. Lang told us that as of now, Top Sportsman has not been included in Division 1's program for 2004, however they are going to add a Top Stock program.

op Sportsman, the fast bracket class exclusive to door cars, continues to make news for 2004. Here are some tidbits about the eliminator, courtesy of five-time IHRA world and divisional T/S champ Ronnie Davis of Commerce, Georgia.

First, NHRA will continue to present Top Sportsman racing at the divisional level, Davis said, which will now include division 1. The northeast division will try it out for the first time this year, and the eliminator will be contested at all NHRA Division 1 races, as it will also at NHRA T/S stalwarts, divisions 2, 3 and 4, according to Davis.

Secondly, the name of the Division 2 T/S series has been changed to reflect its new sponsor, Trac Star Systems/Davis In-Motion Satellites, Inc., a provider of satellite television systems for motor homes and coaches. Also, Davis' other company, Davis Custom Golf Carts, will give the T/S low qualifier at each division 2 race a check for $200, with the second-lowest qualifier getting $100.

Third, Davis, who races both a Fulton/Davis-powered 632-inch '63 split window Corvette and a heads-up 10.5-tired Nova, has formed the TFRA, which stands for "Ten-Five Racing Association," an association that will put on 10.5 races all over the southeast. Contact the website www.tfra.net for more info.

"Top Sportsman was brought to the NHRA by (division 2 director) Bill Holt and myself, the first race being at Bristol in 2002. For the past two seasons, it has been the John Bleakley Top Sportsman Series. In 2004, the series sponsor will be Trac Star Systems/Davis In-Motion Satellites Inc., and it will be called that," Davis said.

Top Sportsman, first created more than a decade ago by the IHRA, is the world's fastest bracket race for full-bodied cars. In the present NHRA "Top" series, the races are contested on quarter-mile tracks with a minimum dial-in of 7.99 and a 32-car qualified field. The lowest elapsed time Davis has seen in two years of racing was a 6.60-second blast last year at Gainesville Raceway in a mountain-motored car piloted by NHRA Competition Eliminator champ Santo Volpe, who finished No. 2 in Comp world points by a one-round separation against front-engine dragster racer Dean Carter --- who, by the way, beat Volpe in a head-to-head, NHRA World winner vs. runner-up race at the last Comp points race of the 2003 season.

Two years ago, Davis said, there were "zero" NHRA Top Sportsman licensed drivers. "Now, one-and-a- half years later, there are more than 100," he said. "It started off as a five-race, experimental category with division 2 director Bill Holt running it. It was so successful that it became a legitimate class in 2003, with divisions 2, 3 and 4 presenting the eliminator. In 2004, division 1 will also have it."

Also, Top Sportsman will be presented at a national race for the first time this year, at the Sports Nationals at No Problem Raceway in Louisiana on the April 24th weekend.

"Top Sportsman is growing and growing, and it will continue to grow. The 100-plus cars at the divisional level tells me that this has really taken off. It is a very exciting class that has brought some excitement back to the divisional races," Davis said.

Dates for the Top Sportsman races will be included in each divisional race throughout the four divisions. Check your divisional schedule for specific dates.

Also, Davis will be putting on a series of races for Top Sportsman cars. His "Top Sportsman Racing Association," or "TSRA" will book in shows for "Top" cars, with dates to be announced, at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, Georgia, South Georgia Motorsports Park near Valdosta, Georgia, Brainerd Optimist Dragway near Chattanooga, Bama Dragway near Jasper, Alabama and Huntsville Dragway in Huntsville.

He will also present 10.5 races through his "TFRA," or the "Ten Five Racing Association," at similar racing sites --- probably the same ones as above --- throughout 2004. Check www.tfra.net, contact Davis at Ronnie Davis Racing at www.ronniedavisracing.com., or telephone 678-482-9977 for more info.

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