Frank Soldridge (Limited Street), Dean Marinis (X275), Mark Barese (8.50 Index), and Joe Gladstone (Pro Street Bike) were the hot shoes in unusually cold conditions Friday night as The Shakedown Nationals street-legal fall classic opened at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at Englishtown, N.J.
They were the early class leaders following a late qualifying session characterized by a double-digit number of outrageous wheelstands and capped with a fiery incident on the scheduled final run of the day.
Paul Major, of Fort Salonga, N.Y., saw his '01 Corvette go up in flames on the closing run of Limited Street action on the historic quarter-mile. Major, whose PM Construction Services company is the class sponsor this year, was unhurt after a mechanical breakage was the apparent cause of the fire. Emergency crews responded immediately, and Major exited the car on his own power.
Massachusetts-headquartered DMC Racing just two weeks ago completed a relocation of the turbochargers in Major's Corvette. They had been in the trunk area of the race car, and the mechanics moved them up front. All went well during a pre-Shakedown test at Maryland International Raceway, and today's two runs -- which netted Major a 12th then 13th spot in the line-up -- were his first since the modification.
It is unclear whether Major will be able to come back with another car for the rest of the weekend.
Otherwise, the oohs and aah from the spectators came from the wheelstands that race control officials attributed to an adjusted altitude of 1,200 feel below sea level. That resulted in a surprise but substantial horsepower increase for the four classes that raced Friday. A handful of drivers had their hands full with launches that lifted all four wheels off the ground and landed on the back bumpers.
Time trials will continue Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m. The remaining four categories -- Pro Modified, Top Sportsman, Outlaw 10.5, and Heavy Street -- will debut Saturday morning.
Eliminations will start at 9 a.m. Sunday.
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