Tim's Dragstrip News For August 22, 2009
History was stunningly made in a double-race weekend, for this year’s Leon’s Car Care Center/ Howell N Hot Rods Nostalgia Reunion, while welcoming back some faces we see at that particular event each year and others that returned after a decades-long hiatus. Track records were made on the quarter-mile, while the former blimp landing pod played host to a car show.
Tom Brooks returned to Samoa Dragstrip after 15 years, with a quick orange Deuce roadster. The Grants Pass, Oregon racer was a bit of a regular when he lived in Mendocino County, has since lived and raced in Hawaii and other parts of the country. Saturday he was the second quickest car in qualifying, running an 8.60 before an 8.59 in time trials Session 3. Tom Brazil’s dragster was Top Qualifier with an 8.30 run. The quickest runs of the day were exhibition passes by Cecil Matthews in a ’67 Mustang, first setting a track record of 6.90 (yes 6) at 211 mph before cutting that down to 6.88 at 212 mph. Matthews and company have previously visited us with a stretched ’55 Thunderbird running 7.47, returning this year with a Hemi-blown Mustang they’ll continue campaigning with in Sacramento for the Governor’s Cup, September 18th and 19th, after having brought a new level of sound and speed to Samoa Dragstrip.
Brooks’ buddy Mike Morales ’65 Mustang joined local biker Brian Bognuda in having a perfect reaction time (.500 for Morales, .400 for Bognuda), as Coos, Bay Oregon racer George Smith later ran his ’64 Nova dead on its 9.30 dial in. Not a bad day at the drags.
Indeed, for the likes of Smith, who worked his old-school injected Nova into the Quick Nostalgia finals against Oregonian Dan Holscher. Holscher’s wide ’68 Chevy Impala raced to the finals, but pounced too soon on the lights, his 10.74 pass a red-lit runner up time to Smith’s winning 9.28 pass.
Morales’ Mustang, one of a long line of cars running in two brackets, was half of the Super Pro finals feature, meeting Curtis Daniels’ ’69 Chevelle. Daniels was the defending runner-up from the prior meet, and Morales would make Daniels wait longer for a 1st place win.
One of Saturday’s several interesting features was a ’37 Fiat altered drag car: the Deacons Car Club’s 15-year build of a replica (of a ’37 they raced at San Fernando and Famoso Dragstrip 1962-’64). Bill Wardall, the driver of the original purple drag car, drove the replica at its second dragstrip (debuted at Redding Dragstrip in April). They are almost done completing licensing passes to go 9.99 or quicker and/or 135 mph or faster. A great bunch of original Deacons members took in a day of the Nostalgia Reunion, adding to an unbelievable day. I met them the night before, at the Budweiser Racing Street Legals and had to force myself from the tent of humor, stories and anticipation, or Mrs. O’Brien wouldn’t see me at home for dinner in time.
Local racer Andrew Howard, of the Killer Bees Racing Team was among racers roping in personal best times, getting his Slant 6 gasser-style ’62 Valiant into the 12’s. His drag car is one of many that underwent a tremendous amount of rebuild time in the off-season (and his deadline was sooner than April, it was mid-March, for Mopars at the Strip in Las Vegas), as Mr. Loud buzzed past the quarter mile cones with a 12.98 e.t. with long-stroked six-cylinder in time trials.
Last year’s Wally Parks trophy winner in National Dragster Challenge Sportsman, Anthony Guida was back from Medford, racing Rick McFarlin in the Final. McFarlin won a Wally earlier this year in King of the Track (on his motorcycle), but Saturday contesting in his ’68 Camaro would red-light against Guida’s ’72 Chevelle, Guida with a winning 12.95 against McFarlin’s 13.06.
In Motorcycles, Mike Pires’ Honda took a win against Jason Garza, aided by Garza’s red-lit start, the Kawasaki with a runner-up 11.54 run at 120 mph, Pires running 9.88 at 134 mph. Pires son Mike, Jr. would get into the Junior Dragsters final against Austin Petersen, Petersen getting his third 1st place win of the season running 9.28 at 67 mph in the eighth-mile against Pires’ 10.28 at 61 mph.
Mike Salazar and crew chief Jim Lowesly’s hard work in the off-season finally paid off, as the heavily rebuilt ’72 Chevelle got into two finals, racing Wayne Selden’s survivor gasser from 1960’s Midwest, a Hemi-powered ’54 Dodge Coronet. The Dodge would have the win, but Salazar wasn’t done yet, having earned a finalist position in Pro, beating Jerry Toledo in a tight race, Salazar’s 11.39 against the Maverick’s 11.25, both cars passing the quarter mile clocks at 117 mph.
The weekend was far from over for most, as the next day’s NHRA Dragster Challenge would feature the famed Wally Parks trophies and sizeable purses…
-- Tim O'Brien