Bob Olmstead Memorial Race,  5/10/09

Before we start, a history inquiry: a fan wrote our website, curious about the retired race car in her barn. She says it's a '33 Chrysler coupe named The Teacher. While you work on that one, here's results from the May 10th race...

Tight, tight racing that would have thrilled the late, beloved man named for the event, the Bob Olmstead Memorial Race was one surprise after another. Bob died of a heart attack, October 30th, friends and family knew the perfect way to celebrate his life.
The dragsters were on it early time trials. previous top qualifier Ricky Ellsworth, Jr.'s straight 8.34 in Session 1 was followed by Tom Brazil's Hemi-powered 8.32 at 159 mph. Session 2 saw Dennis Ellsworth, Jr. with an 8.24 also at 159 mph, entering eliminations as top qualifier.
The quickest bike continues to be Pro Stock Motorcycle pilot James Surber, who had Competition Eliminator's fastest run of 8.37, and Session 1 of the Memorial Race saw a streak of Harley Orange with his 8.22 e.t. Top qualifer - what bikers define as best reaction time - was Mike Pettit, Sr.'s .004 on a .400 starting tree. His son Mike, Jr., would later beat veteran John Widdman in eliminations, due in part to a much better reaction time. Rookie Jr. then raced Sr. in the semi-finals in a close Skidoo snowmobile dual - Jr. in the 12's, Dad in the 11's -, Sr. would go to the final round against James Fish. Garberville biker Fish had only one full practice run, his chain popped in a Session 2 start. Surber red-lit against Fish in the semi's, both Fish and Pettit, Sr. would breakout in the final (i.e., going faster than your dial-in), Pettit's lesser-offense 11.68 on a 11.70 dial to Fish's 10.44 on a 10.55 dial taking 1st place.
Breakouts were everywhere that Sunday, along with close-to-dial in runs. In Round 1, Ray Rapp ran his Super Pro Vega one-thousandth of a second above his 10.15 dial against Ricky Ellsworth, Jr., who ran 8.249 on an 8.26 dial. Rapp then faced Mike Scoggin in a close double-breakout race, head to head about 60 feet into it, with Scoggin's lesser breakout leading his 1946 Chevy truck to the Super Pro semi finals against Tom Brazil. Another extremely close race for Scoggin, his purple street rod edging out a win over the dragster with a .017 reaction time to Brazil's .020 on a .500 starting tree.  Remember, these are with a 'handicapped' tree, meaning the slower dialed-in contestant gets an official first green light. Imagine a long dragster or drag bike catching up to your hatchback or Skidoo.
Scoggin raced a second dragster in the Super Pro final - rookie Jake Morris, who just earlier had the only perfect reaction time - .000 - of the day. Morris used it to beat Jim Toledo in the semi's, though would breakout against Scoggin, the truck running one-thousandth of a second above his 11.11 dial, taking 1st place. This is Morris' second consecutive final in his first year in a dragster.
McCrea Nissan-Subaru of Eureka attracted throngs of racers in their special import class - some doing double duty in Sportman or Pro. Host Mike Shapiro, also of the Redwood Sports Car Club, had fun in an '05 Nissan 350Z track model (only 522 built), though not officially competing. Adam Moore tuned his Mitsubishi to run 11's in Pro and 12's in Import. He raced Drew Duncan's '03 Mitsubishi Evolution in the Import final, 12.42 to Duncan's 13.37 for 1st place.
Look for an upcoming one-time Mustang class, hosted by Arcata Transmissions in the annual King of the Hill meet, Sunday June 20th.
Sportsman was an especially big field that day, a tall ladder for Josh Rapp and Kim Ponci to climb to the final, Rapp's '63 Falcon taking the win over Ponci's '93 Dodge Ram.
In the Pro Pacific Auto Repair Junior Dragster series, Kevin Will and Austin Petersen met in their second consecutive final. Will grabbed a repeat 1st place win over Petersen, 8.67 [1/8-mile] at 75 mph over Petersen's 9.24 at 69 mph. Much thanks to Sports World for sponsoring the Juniors that day, as Will's brother Austin took the Consolation win against K.C. Mela, his 8.98 at 72 mph to her 10.36 at 62 mph. Young Mela, by the way, joined adult racers Stan Freeman and Greg Crone in having .002 reaction times (note: Harlan Tucker had a .001 RT).
The starting tree can be a harsh mistress. Jerry Toledo, for one, has struggled with not getting a start as red as his Pro '72 Ford Maverick (i.e., under .500 reaction time). Toledo evaded that red bulb all the way to the Pro final, facing Nick Purcell. Purcell's '75 Ford Torino brokeout seven-thousandths of a second under his 11.83 dial-in, as Toledo took 1st place running 11.18 on a 11.17 dial-in.
Back to the mystery drag car. Having announced about it at the Samoa 'Strip that Sunday, a few racers added some peices: the Teacher is a '33 Chrysler five-window coupe, is/was painted gold, powered by a big block Chevy, might've run 10's in the 1960s or '70s. It was owned and driven by the Owenby brothers. If you have info to add, drop me a line at We've got to keep the machines and memories of yesteryear alive and well. Bob Olmstead is no exception, so thank you to Mrs. Bob Olmstead and family for hosting an exciting, memorable race day.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Samoa Dragstrip for more quarter mile magic Saturday June 6 for the Budweiser Racing Street Legal Series, free heads-up racing and fence-leaning beginning at 5:30 PM, and Sunday June 7 for the Boss Eliminator, time trials for an ever-unpredictable season beginning at 9:30 AM.
See you at the Samoa 'Strip for more history made,
-- Tim O'Brien
Track Announcer