Tim's Dragstrip News For July 19, 2009        

Ray Rapp - Pro

Mike Wright - Pro


Super Eliminator July 19, 2009


            Now halfway through the 54th season of the Humboldt-Del Norte Timing Association, the points race gets more interesting. Entering the Super Eliminator – hosted by Rocky’s Off Road, and including Fortuna Audio Concepts’ Battle of the Car Stereos -, there were three ties for points and very narrow points-gaps between some racers in other brackets.


            In one of two points-ties in Pro, getting two consecutive Finals appearance lept Mike Wright from a previous 3-way tie for 3rd to a running tie for 1st with Ray Rapp. A tie for 3rd continued between Pam Conn and Jerry Toledo. In Sportsman, Josh Rapp was within ten points of leader Mitch Marlin, Glen Terry was one point behind Rapp, and Larry Ghidinelli was 26 points behind Terry, who was absent Sunday, as Connie Beck was eight points behind Ghidinelli.  In Super Pro, Bill Wood has been closing the gap on 2nd place-in-points Jake Morris by 26 points, Jim Toledo and Mike Scoggin were tied for 5th with newcomer Kim Will within 7 points of them. Her brother Kevin was maintaining his strong points lead in Junior Dragsters, where Ashley Johnson replaced Austin Petersen’s season-long 2nd place spot (by a four-point margin), Kacee Mela 4th place in points with Austin Will behind her by 20 points. 20 points is not to gain, if you can gain 21 points by making it to the quarter finals.


            The outstanding reality of the day’s time trials was consistency and great reaction times among most racers. Lots of cars left the line with an .010 or better reaction time, perfect reaction times run by three racers (Troy Beck, Mike Pires [twice] and Jake Morris), and running consistent elapse times. Blue Lake’s Mike Scoggin is the best example of the latter, running 11.112 in Session 1 and 11.111 in Session 2. At least three other racers ran an 11.11 e.t. in time trials.  It started to look like there might be minimal handicapped starting trees (i.e., green light flashing for both racers at the same time to the naked eye), if competitors would have such similar dial-ins posted in Eliminations. Tom Brazil’s Hemi-fied dragster was the day’s top qualifier in cars, running 8.33 at 161 mph in Session 1 and 8.27 also at 161 mph in Session 2. Mike Pires led the bikes in reaction times with the first of his two perfect reaction times of the day.


            In Junior Dragsters, after runner-up finishes against Kevin Will in Finals this season, Austin Petersen got his first 1st place win, and it was against Will. Both drivers had similar reaction times – Will’s .757 to Petersen’s .758 – before Will brokeout, running 8.35 on an 8.38 dial-in, Petersen with a winning 9.27 e.t. at 69 mph, his victory giving him a 77-point leap towards the points leader. 20 points: very attainable by racers. In Consolation, Kacee Mela widened her 20-point gap from Austin Will with a winning 10.27 run at 62 mph over Austin’s 9.38 at 56 mph.


            The day’s top qualifier in Motorcycles, Mike Pires, faced Unlucky Racing teammate Rod Mikels in the Motorcycle final. Mikels’ dial-in was about 7 seconds slower than Pires, meaning Mikels literally got about a 7-second head start before Pires was given a green light, and stayed ahead for the win, 16.39 at 71 mph to Pires’ 10.20 run at 128 mph.


            In the Sportsman final points leader Mitch Marlin not only banked on Robert Keiselhorst’s breakout run for the win (16.30 e.t. on a 16.54 dial in), he did it running his ’87 Thunderbird against the circle track-turned-dragstrip Toyota pickup dead-on its 15.98 dial in. This is Marlin’s third 1st place win – the most such wins in a bracket having sporadic winners, this year (Glen Terry’s the only other Sportsman to have more than one Final win, this year).


            During eliminations, the tie for 5th in points was broken once Jim Toledo advanced further than Mike Scoggin, getting a bye-run in the semi finals (i.e., securing a spot in the final). Mike Giacone and Shane Barrett raced for that other spot in the final, Willits racer Barrett earning it, his ’87 Mustang taking a win over the ’67 Fairlane. But Barrett would red-light against Toledo’s ’64 Comet, the Mercury taking home 1st place.


            In the past two races, Mike Wright has had two consecutive finals appearances (the first of which was his first Final ever), tying him for 1st place in points with Ray Rapp. So guess who raced him in the Super Eliminator Final.


            Were it not for one of the racers getting a red-lit start, it would’ve been a double-breakout finish, as Wright ran 3 thousandths of a second under his 10.69 dial in, and Rapp’s Vega ran 1 thousandth of a second under his 10.20 dial in, though a red-lit start of Wright’s Camaro was the tie breaker for points leader, and Rapp’s third trip to Winner’s Lane this year. So far he’s the only Pro racer to win more than one 1st place trophy, but at the rate Wright is going, that might not be true for long.


            The next chance to find out will be Sunday, August 9 in the Carquest Eliminator, hosted by Finnegan & Nason and Ken’s Auto Parts, which includes the annual invitational Samoa Challenge Cup. Sponsored this year by Big Louie’s Pizza, S&H Auto Machine and Fat Rat Enterprises, the Challenge Cup is comprised of points champions, points leaders, those that’ve gotten 1st place this year, and the defending Challenge Cup champ (this year: Ray Rapp). Wright and Rapp are among racers in it to win it in the Challenge Cup, after the regular Carquest Eliminator eliminations.


The preceding Saturday, the 8th, Ponci’s Diesel Center and R&S Trucking bring back Diesel Days for third year – an exhibition day of diesels-only, from Mercedes to Mack trucks. The day will include a performance swap meet in the spectator parking lot, so start figuring out what you’re bringing from your porch, garage or borrowed shop space. Don’t forget that night is one of 3 remaining dates in the Budweiser Racing Street Legal Series, where it’s free to watch and free to race, starting at 5:30pm, at the historic Samoa Dragstrip.

                          -- Tim O'Brien

                       Track Announcer