Tim's Dragstrip News For August 23, 2009        


Tom Brooks


Dave Decker Memorial Race  

 History in the making continued Sunday, sponsored by Finish Line Kustom Paint and Mickey’s Quality Cars, with more perfect reaction times, first by Shasta Lake’s Leticia Hill and her Camaro, then by Mike Pires, coming back from Motorcycles Session 1 R.T. of .005 (.400) tree,  with a .000 follow-up in Session 2, coming out of time trials Top Qualifier on bikes.

Tom Brooks’ ran 8.55, Tom Brazil’s dragster ran 8.53, Scott Anderson’s front engine dragster would run 7.96 at 164, coming out Top Qualifier in cars. It was the only solid run Anderson would run, which on Sunday was the story for other racers who would outrun their posted dial-ins in Round 1 losses. What’s more, Sunday’s Round 1 featured almost as many red-lit starts as Saturday’s Round 1 (in both lanes, respectively). The big difference in Sunday’s race: the National Dragster Challenge featured the famed trophies named in honor of NHRA founder Wally Parks (responsible for turning drag racing into the organized sport of sanctioned tracks that it is today).

The Dave Decker Memorial Race included the late, beloved Decker’s Duster being contested by his son, Davey, in some cases alongside Dave, Sr.’s grandson Chris in a ’72 Duster Demon. The Decker family earned Saturday’s Long Distance Award after the long haul from Grapevine-area mountain town Frazier Park.

You may have noticed the race cars displayed in front of co-host Mickey’s Quality Cars in McKinleyville the prior Friday, helping promote the track action to come that weekend, and look forward to such promotion in the future. Co-sponsor Finish Line Kustom Paint of Grants Pass, OR arranged for special trophies for such a special day: wooden trophy dishes laser-carved by Siskyou Laser Products of Yreka, the likeness of the late Decker’s race car artfully featured on it.

In Sportsman, last year’s Wally winner, Anthony Guida made it into the quarter finals before being ousted by Mitch Marlin. Ana Toledo got out-raced by Mike Marlin, leading to a brothers-Marlin Sportsman Final, the brotherly race featured Mitch getting a red-lit start (15.73 for his ’87 T-Bird) and Mike with the win (13.23 for his ’66 Ranchero). In Junior Dragsters, Austin Petersen gained a points lead over an absent Kevin Will, after winning a Finals race against Ashley Johnson in a double-breakout finish, Petersen’s 9.27 on a 9.30 dial-in saved by Johnson’s 11.00 run under her 11.10 dial-in. In Consolation, Mike Pires took a win (10.51) over rookie Kyle Barret (8.88 on an 8.90 dial-in).

One of the strange realities of bracket racing is how one of the slowest racers can end up in the Finals, and such was the case with Unlucky Racing Team’s Rod Mikels, riding a much slower bike than the one he normally campaigns. Fellow finalist Sylus Girard was to race Wayne Cox in semi finals, but Cox mechanical mishap during the burn out made a single pass for Girard, who is back on the track after a 3-year hiatus. Girard. Mikels had the first green light, a handicapped start by about 6 seconds, and stayed ahead for the win, 16.17 to Girard’s 10.59 for the Wally in Motorcycles.

Dan Gaylor, returning from Redding with the ’67 Plymouth Satellite that did him well during the Slant 6 race weekend last month, ran against Dan Hodge’s ’65 El Camino, the Elko running 11.53 under its dial in of 11.63, aiding Gaylor’s winning run of 12.17 for a famed Wally Parks trophy.

            One of the last races of the long day was a bye run by Super Pro’s Mark Gordon, in which near the eighth mile he blew the motor of his 8-second Mendocino Mustang. Waiting in the wings was Mike Giacone and Bill Wood. Despite blowing his motor, no matter who won the next race, Gordon would take second. Giacone’s Fairlane ran 10.67… after a red-lit start, Bill Wood heading to a first place win – his first in the season, after a string of semi final and runner-ups (as has Giacone) -, running 9.31. Woods came out of the event with Best Package, a 75 point gain in the day (instead of 60).

Remember, that was the second to last points race of the season, and no one in any bracket has secured the points championship. Woods, for instance, is in 3rd – 4 points behind Jim Toledo, 49 points ahead of Giacone. Toledo is 9 points behind defending Super Pro points champion Ray Rapp.

In Pro, Rapp continues to lead the points, though Harlan Tucker is 25 points away from a lead, followed by Mike Wright (who was tied with Rapp earlier this summer), Jerry Toledo and Pam Conn. Conn, 2008’s Rookie of the Year, is 17 points behind Toledo. Read this and think of what a Round 2, 3 or 4 win or loss can determine in the season closer, September 13th.

Last year in Sportsman, Mitch Marlin ended the season 34 points behind champion Robbie Waddell, now Marlin maintains a points lead over Rick McFarlin by 53 points, followed by Josh Rapp, Larry Ghidinelli and Connie Beck.

Defending Motorcycle points champ George Brooks has kept his lead in ’09, though Mike Pires, finishing 9th overall last year, is behind him by 26 points.  In the first half of the season, Brooks had 4 consecutive 1st-place wins. Pires has come into the second half with a string of semi-final and final appearances, and top-qualifier days (as well as t.q. Brooks). Behind Pires is rookie Mike Pettit, Jr. by 28 points, his father Pettit, Sr. behind him by 36 points, Rick McFarlin – King of the Track ’09 – behind Mike Pettit, Sr. by 4 points. In Junior Dragsters, 4 consecutive 1st place wins have put Austin Petersen ahead of Kevin Will by 17 points for the points lead.  Ashley Johnson is behind will followed by Kaycee Mela and Mike Pires, Jr. 

                          -- Tim O'Brien

                       Track Announcer