Tim's Dragstrip News For August 9, 2009        

George Brooks Challenge Cup Winner

           Carquest Top Eliminator & Samoa Challenge Cup 


            Getting past the halfway mark of the season, double-elimination race days really get under way and this year’s Samoa Challenge Cup had racers busy in two or three brackets a piece into quarter and semi-finals.

            Sponsored by Carquest stores Ken’s Auto & Truck Accessories and Finnegan & Nason, it proceeded in memory of Jim Sargent, an avid regular at Samoa while also a familiar face behind the counter of Finnegan & Nason.

            Top Qualifier on four wheels was Tom Brazil, his Hemi-powered dragster running 8.34 at 163 mph in Session 2 (a big shave down from Session 1’s 8.47 pass). In Motorcycles, Mike Pettit, Sr.’s Skidoo had the shortest reaction time - .002 on a .400 starting tree – to buzz into eliminations as Top Qualifier in ‘cycles.

            At the Carquest tent, Finnegan & Nason had extra prizes for each driver with a perfect reaction time and best packages in each round. Like Pettit, Sr., several came close until two racers caught perfect reaction times: Harlan Tucker in his ’69 Barracuda and George Brooks on his Hayabusa, both during Eliminations.

            Of the ten drivers in this year’s invitational Cup – made up of 2008 points champs, defending Challenge Cup champ Ray Rapp and winners of select ’09 races -, three were finalists in Top Eliminator eliminations while most of the field became quarter and semi-finalists in other brackets. Two of those three finalists were already doing double duty among brackets: Rick McFarlin (Sportsman and Motorcycles) and Ray Rapp (Pro and Super Pro).

            In Pro, Harlan Tucker beat Troy Beck’s hoodless ’69 GTO in a tight race before newcomer Michael Warren red-lit his Oroville-based ’88 Berretta drag car against Rapp.  Tucker, then behind the Pro points leader Rapp by 14 points, would face Rapp twice in eliminations: first in Cup quarter-finals (where Tucker red-lit against Rapp’s Vega), then the Pro Final, where Rapp ran 10.23 on a 10.22 dial-in as Tucker ran 11.08 under his 11.10 e.t. ceiling for the win. Talk about a drag race, to say nothing of a tight points race.

            Rick McFarlin was in the Cup on his motorcycle, advancing as far as the quarter-final until Super Pro’s Mike Giacone would have the win in his high to mid-10s ’67 Fairlane. However McFarlin’s ’68 Camaro would get him into the Sportsman final, Justin Sanders’ ’02 Mitsubishi out running the Fort Bragg Camaro, 16.554 (16.55 d.i.) to the Camaro’s straight run of 13.01.

            Two Wally Parks trophies are featured this year and McFarlin has already gone home with one as King of the Track. Will he take the second one? His next chance is at the National Dragster Challenge, Sunday Aug. 23 at the Samoa ‘Strip.

            In Motorcycles, Wayne Cox took his second 1st place win of the season, this one over Mike Pires, the Black & White Motorsports’ Kawasaki’s 8.88 to the Unlucky Racing Team’s Honda CBR’s red-lit run of 9.23. Despite the red-lit loss, his second consecutive runner-up finish (last meet was against teammate Rod Mikels) is helpful for someone running 6th in points.

            As Challenge Cup runners were eliminated, some got in line for the Gamblers bracket; Jim Broderson did and it paid off, his Pro ’63 Falcon taking on Jerry Toledo’s Pro ’70 Maverick for a majority of the purse.

            In the Super Pro final, Toledo’s brother Jim raced Curtis Daniels. Young Daniels’ second Super Pro final had a runner-up finish, Toledo’s ’64 Comet lighting up an 11.23 pass against Daniels 11.34 for a second consecutive Winner’s Circle visit in Super Pro. Daniels’ familiar ’69 Chevelle, “Nappy”, was bought brand new in Eureka and has spent its whole life strictly as a drag car, never once registered or setting foot on the street.

            In Junior Dragsters, Austin Petersen – who’s had a string of runner-up finishes- earned a second straight 1st place win, racing Mike Pires, Jr. With points leader Kevin Will absent (Petersen took a win over him at the previous meet), it was an especially  big points jump for Petersen, whose runner-ups have all been against Will. Pires, in his first full season of racing, is now running in the high-8’s, Petersen consistent in the low 9’s (eighth-mile).

            As for the main event, the Samoa Challenge Cup’s first round was one of the most interesting of the four, with not a single clean-start match up. Jake Morris stalled out his dragster against Harlan Tucker, Josh Rapp red-lit his Falcon against father Ray, Robbie Waddell red-lit his Nova against Mike Giacone, Pam Conn’s ’74 Camaro brokeout against George Brooks and Mike Scoggin’s ’46 Chevy pickup had the worse half of a double-breakout finish against Mitch Marlin’s ’87 T-Bird.

            Defending Cup champion Rapp raced Brooks’ ’04 Suzuki Hayabusa and a breakout loss by Rapp by .001 (10.219 on a 10.22 d.i.) aided Brooks’ bike into the $500 1st place purse, while cementing Brooks’ way to Samoa Challenge Cup 2010.

            The next weekend at Samoa Dragstrip is a big three-day affair, beginning Friday, Aug. 21 with the Budweiser Racing Street Legals at 5:30 PM (free to watch, free to race). Saturday Leon’s Car Care Center hosts this year’s Nostalgia Reunion with Howell N Hot Rods, Leon’s presenting two Nostalgia brackets, the Howell family bringing their well established monthly car show from Toni’s Restaurant to Samoa Dragstrip’s spectator parking lot. All car show participants get in for free and could win in Spectators’ Choice competition, raffles and 50/50.

            Last year Redwood Valley’s Cecil Matthews wow’ed the crowd with mid-7’s passes in his stretched ’57 Thunderbird and will return with a 6-second ’68 Mustang. Bring ear plugs and a camera.

           As well, be sure to bring a dish for the annual reunion potluck after the races, in the pits, for good food and bench racing.

            Sunday the 23rd is the National Dragster Challenge for the Dave Decker Memorial Race, presented by Finish Line Kustom Paint and Mickey’s Quality Cars.

            After that, only the Samoa Championship race remains of the 54th season, September 13, so plan to make a weekend of it at the historic Samoa Dragstrip, while you can.

-- Tim O’Brien

                                                           Track Announcer