WORKING THE PLAN - You gotta’ love it when a plan comes together. That pretty much sums up Mick Snyder’s feelings after his Powersource Transportation team, led by his father and crew chief, Larry Snyder, dominated Pro Extreme at the ADRL Northeast Drags II.
“Qualify number one and go on to win the race; I feel like I’m Jason Scruggs or something,” Snyder joked, referring to the two-time class champion immediately after defeating Tommy D’Aprile for his second career event title May 5, at historic Maple Grove Raceway in eastern Pennsylvania.
In the third and last qualifying session, Snyder stole the number-one starting spot away from Frankie Taylor with a career-best 3.644 at 207.53 mph in his screw-blown ’63 Corvette. He then followed a relatively easy path to the final round after Neal Wantye redlighted against him in round one, Dan Millen’s car broke on the starting line in round two, and Von Smith ran into handling problems in the semis.
That’s not to say Snyder took it easy, however, as he made consecutive passes of 3.665 at 205.35, 3.636 at 207.82 (which also marked the quickest pass in the entire ADRL so far this year), and 3.661 at 207.91 to reach D’Aprile, who was appearing in his second-straight final. Snyder ran low ET of each round except the first, when Todd Tutterow took the honor by exactly one-hundredth of a second.
“We changed a lot of stuff over the winter and it’s all starting to come around now. You have to take baby steps so you don’t hurt anything too bad and it’s working out for us,” Snyder said. “And Dad’s doing flippin’ awesome; he’s got this thing tuned up.”
In the final, D’Aprile got away first with a slim six thousandths advantage in his Mel Bush-owned ‘05 Corvette, but Snyder more than made up the difference with another impressive 3.648 pass at 207.46 mph to fend off D’Aprile’s game 3.690 at 204.57-mph effort.
“I saw him (D’Aprile) for just a little bit and then he was gone. I didn’t want to see him again after that; it’s not the way to get it done,” said the man with the plan.
A FIRST FOR PATRICK - That didn’t take long. In just his second race as a Pro Nitrous driver, former Extreme Pro Stock standout Robert Patrick reached victory lane at Maple Grove Raceway
“I really couldn’t be happier,” Patrick said after beating number-one qualifier Burton Auxier in the Pro Nitrous final at the ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske. “This Purvis Ford Mustang ran real good today and my whole crew, Rich Purdy, little Scotty Cannon, Gary Futrel, they really worked their butts off to get it done. My mom and my daughter are here at this race, too, so I’m just real happy for them to share this with me.
“And I can’t thank enough Rickie Smith and his crew guy, Chad. Rickie’s been really guiding me along on this deal and calling the shots on it right now, and with him and Pat Musi and their tune-up it’s just going great, couldn’t be better.”
After debuting a brand-new Jerry Bickel-built car powered by a monster, Ford-based 903 cubic incher from Sonny Leonard at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals last month in Charlotte, Patrick introduced the car to ADRL competition just two weeks ago at Bristol, TN, where he made it to the semis.
At Maple Grove, he started from the number-three position with a 3.886 at 192.38-mph pass. He then got progressively quicker as he ran 3.848 to beat John Bartunek, 3.841 to edge out Stan Allen and set low ET for the class with a 3.811 win over Jim Laurita in the semis. Auxier and his ’68 Camaro also were running well all day after opening with a 3.814-seconds solo pass before beating Jim Halsey with a 3.825 and Robert Rahain in the semis with a run of 3.815 seconds.
The classic Ford vs. Chevy showdown opened with a .023 holeshot for Auxier, but the 2010 class champ’s car shot hard to the right shortly after the launch, forcing him to shut down early. Patrick meanwhile, briefly lost traction a little farther down track and slowed to a 4.257 at 163.83 mph.
“We were trying to lay down a run in the 3.70s there in the final because we knew Burton was going to be tough, but the track got a little cold out there and wouldn’t take what we threw at it in second gear,” Patrick explained. “But hey, that’s okay because I’m extremely happy to get the win.”
BAKER'S DOZEN FOR GLIDDEN - It’s a baker’s dozen for Billy Glidden now, as the winningest driver in ADRL history added to his total by winning the 13th Extreme 10.5 race title of his career May 5, in the ADRL Northeast Drags II.
“Awesome. This one is very gratifying because it’s been quite some time since we won one of these (events), but also because it showed we can run with guys like Chuck (Ulsch) and Alan (Pittman) and not have to rely on something going wrong for them in order to beat them,” Glidden said after going a career-best 3.862 at 192.63 in his nitrous-boosted 2010 Mustang to beat Ulsch by just three-thousandths of a second at Maple Grove Raceway.
A disappointing total of just six cars entered the XTF race in Pennsylvania, where Ulsch qualified on top with a 3.903 at 200.02 mph, followed closely by Alan Pittman, winner of the series’ first two events this year, at 3.905 and 197.97 mph. Glidden started third with a 3.996 at 187.16, while Dan Myers, Todd Moyer and Lamar Swindoll Jr. represented the bottom half of the field.
Glidden easily handled Myers with a 3.936 pass in round one of racing, then stepped up to a 3.883 single after Pittman’s 2009 Mustang broke at the end of its burnout. That left only the final, which represented a holeshot win for Glidden as he left with a .028 light against the .048 by Ulsch, who then ran 3.855 at 202.82 in his screw-blown ’68 Camaro.
“Racing Chuck, I knew he would be fast so I knew I would have to run well, too. Fortunately, our car was getting a little bit faster with each pass, which it did again in the final, so it all worked out,” Glidden said. “It carried the front tires forever and scooted a little right on me in third (gear), the first part and middle of third, but it came back okay.”
“I kept waiting for him to come flying by me down there, but I was happy to not see him again.”
GETTING A SECOND ONE - Sitting in victory lane at Rockingham Dragway in September 2009, Eric McKinney never dreamed it would take two-and-a-half years before he would score his second Pro Extreme Motorcycle win, but he finally got the job done May 5, in the ADRL Northeast Drags II at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
“We’ve been in a handful of finals since then, but it just shows how tough it is to win in this class, especially now that they’ve put the minimum weight (625 lbs) on us,” McKinney said after outrunning Ron Procopio in the final round. “Hopefully it won’t take as long to get the next one.”
McKinney ran 4.124 at 172.14 to qualify number-two behind polesitter Casey Stemper, who beat McKinney for the win at the 2012 ADRL season opener in March, but bowed out in the quarter-finals at Maple Grove. McKinney then set low ET for each round of eliminations as he went through Wes Hawkins, former two-time class champ Billy Vose and 2009 champ Scott Gray to reach Procopio, who in his first ADRL appearance of the year started ninth and took out Dave Norris, Stemper and David Vantine with a holeshot in the semis.
In the final, McKinney posted a .011 reaction time and put together a 4.099 at 173.96 lap to handily beat Procopio’s .071 light followed by a 4.116 at 171.08, his best pass of the weekend.
“I’ve raced Ronnie for years, back to our sportsman days, and I knew he could step it up so I had to be sharp on the tree. But really, this is all about my crew, my dad (Scott McKinney), my Uncle Steve on the clutch, we’ve got a new PMFR chassis this year built by Ashley Owens and Ashley is here with us, too, and I can’t overemphasize how much he means to us here. This is all Ashley Owens,” McKinney declared.
“We wanted to beat him so bad last year when he was out here beating up on all of us, but he’s on our side now and we’re all having a lot of fun with it.”
SPRING CHICKEN - Sixty-seven-year-old Dean Goforth beat Brian Gahm (pronounced “Game”) with a holeshot in the Extreme Pro Stock final at the ADRL Northeast Drags II.
“Wow, I think that might be the first time I beat Brian Gahm in five years of trying,” Goforth declared upon emerging from his 2010 Pontiac GXP. “Not bad for an old guy!”
The mountain-motor class also provided several other compelling story lines at Maple Grove Raceway, including a few statistical oddities to satisfy the freakiest of numbers freaks.
Qualifying confirmed the emergence of John DeFlorian as a legitimate contender as he scored his second consecutive number-one start with a 4.074 pass at 177.65 mph in his brand-new Black Diamond Motorsports 2012 Camaro. Also armed with a new Camaro, Pete Berner provided the drama for the final qualifying round as he rose from outside the field all the way up to number two with a 4.079 of his own.
Then consider the first six winners in the first round of eliminations each posted a 4.10-second pass on the scoreboard, a trend broken only when David Schorr ran 4.11 to end the day of Berner—who lost despite putting up another 4.07, the second quickest time of the weekend to that point.
In the semi-finals, close friends Gahm and Doug Kirk left the starting line with their Mustangs welded together, posting identical .031 reaction times, but it was Gahm moving on to the final after his 4.075 at 177.35 barely edged out Kirk’s 4.076 at 177.02 at the eighth-mile stripe. And then in the other semi-final pairing, Goforth strapped a .046 holeshot on DeFlorian, giving his 4.083 a five-thousandths of a second margin of victory over DeFlorian’s 4.048—a near-record pass that set low ET for the meet.
In the final, Goforth left with an outstanding .011 reaction to Gahm’s .058, which translated to a .029 advantage at the finish after Goforth ran 4.083 at 177.28 to negate Gahm’s by-far-best-of-the-weekend 4.065 at 177.09 mph. It marked the third career win in the class for Goforth, whose son, Cary, is the reigning Extreme Pro Stock world champion.
“You don’t expect me to be down here; it’s usually Cary, but I’ll take it, especially after the year I’ve had,” Goforth said, referring to serious off-season health problems that threatened the continuation of his racing career.
“But it wasn’t me who won this race. It was a higher power than me that got this done,” he insisted. “It’s just wonderful to be out here racing against quality people like Brian and wonderful to be part of an organization like the ADRL.”
STILL PERFECT - Mike Castellana knew heading into the 2012 ADRL Pro Mod season that he had a great car, a great crew chief and a great crew, but even he didn’t expect to be undefeated after starting from the number-one position at every one of three races held so far this year.
“Yeah, it’s pretty wild, but Shannon (Jenkins, crew chief) and my guys, they just get the job done,” the native New Yorker said after steering his nitrous-boosted 2012 Camaro to a 3.847-seconds win at 195.42 mph over Mike Janis and his supercharged 2010 Mustang in the Pro Mod final for the ADRL Norteast Drags II at Maple Grove Raceway.
The final-round pass was Castellana’s best in eliminations and nearly matched his 3.845 top qualifying time. Janis started from the sixth spot in the eight-car field and ran 3.915 at 193.10 in the final.
Castellana’s streak is destined to end at the next ADRL event, however, as he’ll miss attending the June 1-2, Gateway Drags IV in St. Louis due to attending his daughter’s graduation ceremonies that weekend.
FIRST TIME FORMAN - In just his third ADRL appearance, Top Sportsman campaigner Chip Forman made it to his first ADRL final at the ADRL Northeast Drags II and by the end of the weekend he’d notched his first-ever national-event win.
“This is a lot better than two weeks ago at Bristol, where we broke a crank and went home early. I’m so excited right now, everything just went so awesome here, the exact opposite,” the Albright, WV, racer said at the end of Maple Grove Raceway, where he ran 4.155 at 174.05 against a 4.14 dial-in for the all-’68 Camaro Top Sportsman final against New Jersey’s Raymond Baymond, who broke out by three thousandths against his 4.37 dial.
“It’s my first national event win anywhere, so this is awesome,” Forman said. “We’ve gone from an extreme low in Bristol to an extreme high here at Maple Grove. It all just came together so perfect.”
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR - For Lester Cooper, racing really is a family affair. A member of the Lumbee Indian tribe near Lumberton, NC, Cooper counts no less than his wife, Cathy, daughter Sherry, two brothers, three sisters and an assortment of grandchildren among his crew and most ardent supporters at the ADRL Northeast Drags II this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” said Cooper, 57, who has been racing professionally for nearly 20 years, first with the IHRA and now in the ADRL’s mountain-motor Extreme Pro Stock class. “They work on the car; they help in the pits; they’re my number-one fans.
After three rounds of qualifying, however, Cooper was unable to get his 820-equipped 2009 Mustang into the 16-car race-day field.
“I don’t know what it is,” he admitted shortly before his third and final attempt yielded only an aborted pass. “We’ve gone as quick as a 4.10 at Norwalk (OH) last year, but just can’t get up to speed here.
“It takes a lot of ducats to race at this level and unfortunately, that’s just something we don’t have a lot of,” Cooper added. “We took three years just to get the parts together in order to do this.”
Further demonstrating his commitment to the class, late last year Cooper hired multi-time IHRA Pro Stock winner and championship contender Carl Baker as his trackside crew chief.
“We just have to figure this out. I really want to become a top-half qualifier and go some rounds,” he said. “Maybe we hurt the motor and just don’t know it yet. We’ll figure it out.”
TAYLOR BACK ON TOP IN PRO EXTREME - After failing to qualify for both ADRL events held so far this season, it was more than just a number-one run at stake for Frankie Taylor when he went 3.653 seconds at 207.85 mph with his 2005 Corvette on Friday evening to secure the provisional Pro Extreme pole at Maple Grove Raceway.
“What a relief,” the 2010 class champ said. “It feels good to finally get in the field. It makes my brother happy, that’s for sure.”
Early this year Taylor swapped out his trusty screw-type supercharger for a pair of turbochargers on his 526 c.i. Hemi, a move his brother and crew chief, Paul, opposed from the start. Just one day before the start of the ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske, they reversed the decision, bolting a borrowed screwcharger from Larry Jeffers back in place.
“Not too bad for our first blower pass in two or three months,” Taylor quipped. He added, however, that his top-qualifying pass began with a relatively conservative .938 sixty-foot time; performance, he feels, that given time, the turbos could match. “We’ll do some more testing with them and find out. They may be back sooner than you think.”
The focus at the track Friday night, though, turned to teammate Tim Tindle, who slotted into 13th place at Maple Grove with a 3.748 at 201.70 mph in the screw-blown ’05 Vette that Taylor raced in Extreme 10.5 trim last year.
“That car (Tindle’s) is about a hundred pounds heavier than this one, but it’s a good car and it should go almost as fast,” Taylor said. “We think the problem may be in the (torque) converter, so that’s what we’re working on here.”
With Friday’s third session of qualifying rained out, Taylor will be followed into Saturday’s last chance at making it into the 16-car field by Todd Tutterow, Mick Snyder, Von Smith and Tommy D’Aprile. Former two-time class champion Jason Scruggs, who won the most recent race two weeks ago at Bristol, TN, ran 3.705 at 203.80 to lead the first qualifying round, but was pushed down to sixth after having to abort his second attempt due to tire shake.
On the bubble in 16th place, was Art McMahan with a career-best 3.883 at 198.09 in just his second ADRL appearance.
AUXIER OWNS EARLY PRO NITROUS LEAD - With a 3.825-seconds pass at 194.66 mph in his Jerry Bickel-built ’68 Camaro, 2010 Pro Nitrous World Champion Burton Auxier jumped up from third to first place after two rounds of qualifying May 4, for the ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske at Maple Grove Raceway. A final qualifying session is scheduled before eliminations begin on Saturday.
“I wish we had the other run tonight because I feel like we knew what to do to go faster,” Auxier said, referring to the cancellation of Friday-night’s third scheduled qualifying session due to rain. “But there’s probably a few other guys out here that feel the same.”
Robert Patrick Jr., making just his second Pro Nitrous start, slotted into second with a 3.895 at exactly 192 mph with his 2012 Mustang, the only Ford in an otherwise all-Camaro field of 15 entries. Robert Rahaim was third, followed by first-round leader Stan Allen and Pat Stoken.
After explaining the Maple Grove racing surface is “good, but you have to be careful with it,” Auxier said his number-one run could have been a couple hundredths better, but his car “moved around quite a bit” because he didn’t apply enough clutch behind the 854 c.i. Reher&Morrison powerplant.
“We haven’t been able to put the good tune-up in it yet. You can only give it what the track will take,” he said. “I do think it’s still capable of going quicker, but that’s just a guess; you never know with these cars.”
ULSCH HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT IN XTF - Of the six entries for Extreme 10.5 at the ADRL Northeast Drags II, only Chuck Ulsch failed to improve from the first to second session on Friday—but his 3.903 at 200.02 mph in Gil Mobley’s screw-blown ’68 Camaro stood up as number-one qualifier.
Alan Pittman, winner of the series’ first two races this year, went from 3.964 to 3.905 to remain second in his screw-blown ’09 Mustang, while 2008 champion Billy Glidden and his nitrous-boosted 2010 Mustang improved from 4.041 to 3.996 seconds in third.
Fourth remained the domain of California’s Dan Myers and his supercharged ’57 Chevy after going from 4.156 to 4.042; fifth was Todd Moyer, whose twin-turbocharged ’63 Vette posted 4.490 and 4.051-second laps, and Moyer’s teammate Lamar Swindoll Jr. ran laps of 8.371 and 4.191 seconds.
A final round of qualifying remains for Saturday after Friday’s scheduled third round was preempted by rain.
STEMPER STAYS STRONG IN PXM QUALIFYING - Pro Extreme Motorcycle points leader Casey Stemper traded places with 2009 class champion Scott Gray after improving from 4.171 seconds to 4.110 at 170.92 mph in the second qualifying round late on Friday afternoon at Maple Grove Raceway.
“I knew it was on a good one as soon as it came out of the hole,” said Stemper, who won the season opener at Houston in March and finished runner-up at Bristol, TN, two weeks ago. “We stepped on the nitrous a little harder and ran it pretty lean the whole way down.”
Gray’s class-leading 4.141 from the opening session fell back to second, with David Vantine, Eric McKinney and most recent class winner Japel Heard rounding out the top five in the 15-bike field with one last opportunity to improve before eliminations for the ADRL Northeast Drags II begin on Saturday.
Stemper said he was disappointed to lose Friday night’s scheduled qualifying round to rain as he was ready to “swing for the fences” in his quest to run the first three-second pass at the ADRL’s newly mandated 625-pound minimum weight for the bikes.
“That’s definitely one of our goals this year,” he stated.
DEFLORIAN ‘DA MAN IN XPS QUALIFYING - John DeFlorian finds himself racing on a different plane this year after switching classes and teaming up with Extreme Pro Stock veteran Kevin Bealko. With a brand-new 2012 Camaro built by Jerry Haas Race Cars, where DeFlorian works as shop manager, the former Pro Nitrous competitor is well on his way to a second-straight top qualifier award at the ADRL Northeast Drags II.
“I knew it was a good pass, but right as I was going through the lights I was still pretty anxious,” DeFlorian admitted after going 4.074 at 177.65 mph Friday night at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. “When I saw that .07 pop up on the scoreboard I thought, ‘You’ve gotta’ be kidding me!’ I really couldn’t believe it.”
Following DeFlorian on the qualifying list were defending class champion Cary Goforth, his father, Dean Goforth, Doug Kirk and Todd Hoerner. Canada’s Larry O’Brien was in the 16th and final slot with a 4.162 effort at 173.61 mph with one more qualifying session to go on Saturday.
After having his own racing program financially sidelined for the last year and a half, DeFlorian credited his friendship with Bealko for giving him a new chance to make a mark in racing.
“That’s the great thing; we were good friends long before we ever talked about racing together. Just one day Kevin said, ‘We have to get you out there again; you need to be racing,’” DeFlorian enthusiastically recalled. “He even let me decide whether I wanted to remain in Pro Nitrous or join him in Extreme Pro Stock and I love my nitrous, but in the end I heard so much about how great Pro Stock is and I made the choice and I’m glad I did.
“What a wonderful deal we have here. I know everyone says this about their team owners or partners, but I could never thank Kevin and Karen Bealko enough. We’re talking about some genuine, good people here.”
CASTELLANA CONTINUES TO DOMINATE ADRL PRO MOD - After winning from the number-one starting spot in the opening pair of ADRL Pro Mod races this year, Muttontown, NY’s Mike Castellana appears well positioned to at least keeping his perfect qualifying record alive.
With a straight-off-the-trailer 3.845 at 194.72 mph that also represents the quickest pass in the brief history of the class within the ADRL’s eighth-mile confines, Castellana leads the eight-car field after 12 entries made two attempts at getting into the ADRL Northeast Drags II at Maple Grove Raceway.
“I knew the car could do it, but first round you never know,” Castellana said. “Shannon (Jenkins, crew chief) and the guys got it done, though.”
The first round of Pro Mod qualifying was marred by the violent crash of Canadian driver Ray Commisso, who was uninjured despite smashing head-on into the left guardwall in his supercharged ’68 Camaro. The impact was so severe it dislodged a section of the concrete wall, requiring an hour-long delay for clean-up and repairs.
Also qualified (in order) with one more round left before eliminations begin on Saturday was an all-star cast including: Jeff Naiser, Pat Musi, Adam Flamholc, Ed Wilson, Mike Janis, Rickie Smith and Kevin McCurdy.
COMMISSO TALKS ABOUT THE CRASH - ADRL Pro Mod driver Ray Commisso was uninjured in a spectacular, fiery crash against the left wall at Maple Grove Raceway May 4, during first-round qualifying for the ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske.
Starting from the right lane, Commisso’s ’68 Camaro went into tire shake about 100 feet out before suddenly veering left and passing behind Justin Wilson and his ’41 Willys in the left lane to hit the wall head-on almost exactly at the 330-foot halfway point of the eight-mile course.
The Toronto, Canada-based driver said he’d just decided to get off the throttle when the tires started shaking excessively, but “it just stuffed me into the wall” when the automatic shifter kicked in at the same time.
“It shifted and just shot me across the track,” Commisso recalled. “When it turned left and got up on two wheels I thought, ‘Uh oh, this isn’t going to be good. These cars, you know we run them on the edge and when we run fast it’s always quivering through the tires. This time it was on a good run, but maybe we got a little too aggressive with it.”
Despite suffering an impact that knocked a large section of the modular-constructed concrete wall out of position, as well as damaging the fiber-optic cables for the track’s timing system, Commisso was out of the car on his own even before ADRL and track emergency crews arrived to quickly douse the flames around him.
“I’m okay, didn’t get hurt at all,” he said. “I wear and use absolutely the best safety equipment available and Tim McAmis builds these cars to take a hit like that and not hurt the driver.
“Actually, the car doesn’t look too bad either; it may only need a new front half,” he added. “But we’ll load it up and it’ll be going straight to McAmis (in Hawk Point, MO), to get checked out and hopefully fixed.”
After confirming Commisso was okay and removing his car, the Maple Grove track crew immediately set to work and had all repairs completed within about an hour of the accident.
SCARY MOMENT WITH RAYMOND COMMISSO CRASH
ADRL Pro Modified racer Raymond Commisso was involved in a high-speed accident during the first session of qualifying at the ADRL Northeastern Nationals in Reading, Pa.
Commisso apparently suffered tire shake, forcing the car to make an abrupt left and into the concrete barrier. The result of the impact was a huge fireball. Commisso emerged from the car and is okay.
Racing was put on hold as race officials work frantically to repair the broken barrier.
CompetitionPlus.com's Roger Richards captured the horrific crash.
HE'S TRICKY, HE'S RICKIE - As a seven-time IHRA national champion and multi-time NHRA national event winner, Rickie Smith is a legitimate doorslammer driving legend. Currently campaigning his Industrial Distribution Group (IDG)-backed 2012 Camaro on the 10-event NHRA Pro Mod tour, Smith scored his most recent win in that series’ season opener this spring over fellow nitrous driver Mike Castellana at the Gatornationals in Florida.
But this year he’s also racing his EFI-equipped, nitrous-boosted Chevy in the ADRL’s new “legal” Pro Mod class, which, unlike Pro Nitrous, is one of just three classes in the all-eighth-mile series that mandates minimum weights for driver and car combined.
“It’s good that they’ve got two nitrous classes because there are a lot of nitrous cars out there, but obviously, anyone that weighs over 210 pounds, it’s tough to get as light as some of those other guys,” said Smith, who hails from King, NC. “I mean, we’ve all got the same cars; anyone can go to Rick Jones or Jerry Bickel and buy a lightweight car, but not everybody can be a light driver.
“I would not be over here racing, period, if it wasn’t for that,” he added. “I’m not going to come over and give up a hundred pounds to somebody before we even start.”
Being able to race with the ADRL provides more than just extra seat time and opportunities to win, however, as Smith explained his ADRL outings provide valuable test data for his ongoing championship quest in the quarter-mile NHRA series.
“It definitely helps. The whole deal with these cars is getting it through low and second gear; once you get out of second gear it don’t matter where you are; you’re going down the race track,” he said. “We run the same gear combination and everything on the quarter mile or the eighth, but as far as getting the car out of low, everything’s the same until you get it into second gear and then you can start running the motor a tad harder.”
Also aiding the transition between the two series is similar track preparation equipment and techniques, Smith said.
“ADRL is doing a super nice job of keeping the tracks in good shape. Them and NHRA have got the same dragger (track grooming machine) now and that’s helped a bunch. They’re so similar now that you can pretty much just figure in the track temperature and your correction factor for the air and you’re going to be pretty much where you need to be everywhere, whether its NHRA or ADRL that’s dragged the track. It’s definitely a big deal to have that dragging machine at these tracks.”
About the only drawback Smith sees in running with the ADRL this year is that two of its 10 events coincide with dates on the NHRA Pro Mod schedule.
“My deal with IDG is for the NHRA, so of course that’s where my focus is, but I wish they (ADRL) hadn’t of done that because we would definitely have gone for the championship over here, too,” Smith said. “Mike (Castellana), he’s in the same boat; we’re both going to miss out on 250 bonus points for going to all the (ADRL) races, so that’ll probably take us out of the deal no matter what.”
Given Smith’s track record, though, the competition might not want to count him out of the running. After all, they don’t call him “Tricky Rickie” for nothing.
DON'T GET ALL EXCITED YET - Nobody was smiling wider at Maple Grove Raceway today than Paul Taylor when a screwcharger was finally placed back atop brother Frankie’s engine in his Pro Extreme Corvette.
In a bid for more horsepower, the 2010 PX champ, going against the wishes and advice of his crew chief—and brother—swapped out his tried-and-true, screw-blown set-up in favor of an experimental twin-turbocharged combination early this year. But a litany of aborted runs, broken parts and a pair of rare DNQs at both ADRL events contested so far this year convinced the Dickinson, TX, siblings to return to familiar territory.
“This is the same motor that we ran with the turbos, we just changed the rods and the cam in it,” Paul Taylor explained. “Larry Jeffers made up some new headers for us and he loaned us this blower and hat; these are the same ones that Wes Johnston went 211 (mph) with when we were teamed up with him in Richmond a couple of years ago.”
Still, it may be a relatively short-lived return to familiarity as Frankie has seen and felt from the driver’s seat the power-making potential of turbocharging.
“We just haven’t tapped into it yet. We found out we can’t come out and test these things in race conditions. These guys are brutal out here; they don’t give a damn if you’re trying something new,” Frankie Taylor said with a laugh as he prepared for this weekend’s (May 4-5), ADRL Northeast Drags II presented by Penske at the historic track near Reading, PA.
“So we made a deal with Richard Patterson to use one of his cars, a ’61 Chevy that’s a little heavier than what we run here, but good for us to test the turbos with so we can maybe bring them back out toward the end or maybe the middle of summer. We haven’t given up on this thing yet, not by a long shot.”
That’s fine with Paul, too, so long as the Taylor entry is competitive again after missing the race-day cut at their home track in Baytown, TX, and two weeks ago in Bristol, TN.
“I’m just not convinced that (turbo cars) will run in the eighth mile with the screwchargers that we’ve got now,” he said. “You know, if we were running quarter mile I could see being more amped up about the turbos, but what you give up in the first 60 feet I just don’t think you can make up, not in 660 feet; there’s not enough race track, you just run out of it too quick.
“We went to HMP (Houston Motorsports Park) on Monday after the Bristol race and it dropped another valve or something, so we had a team meeting, a little heart-to-heart talk, and decided to come back out here with the blower so maybe we can qualify and try to go some rounds.”
Frankie agreed completely with that mindset, recognizing the need for more immediate results than what the turbo experiment had offered so far.
“We want to contend for whatever’s left this season. We know this track is fast (he set the current Pro Extreme ET record of 3.581 seconds at Maple Grove last year), which is partly why we put the supercharger back on here. We need to at least qualify because even doing that helps out with the fuel costs,” he stated.
“Plus we’ve got a whole bunch of sponsors helping us out and we really want to do good for those guys. Process Manufacturing, they’ve been great to work with; they see us struggling but they’ve stuck with us, so I really want to do something good for them.”
And to keep peace in the family, no doubt.
EAGER FOR COMEBACK - Fresh off her latest television interview, this one at a local Harrisburg, Pa. FOX station to help promote the ADRL Northeast Drags II this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway, Lizzy Musi still isn’t sure what to make of all this newfound attention.
The ADRL Top Sportsman driver became an instant YouTube celebrity moments after her wild ride and crash at Bristol Dragway two weeks ago.
Since then, Musi has been all over the news. Her story has been featured by the likes of Yahoo!, USA Today, SPEED Channel and Musi also appeared in a live interview on FOX News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” just days after it happened.
The story has even spread internationally and has been featured in a number of European publications, adding to the one million views on YouTube alone.
It’s still all very surreal for the 21-year-old Musi.
“It’s been pretty shocking to me to even be doing these interviews,” Musi said. “I’m definitely surprised it got blown up like it did. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. I wish I was getting recognized in a better way, but hopefully that will happen soon.”
That, of course, would happen with her first ADRL Top Sportsman win, but Musi is still very much appreciative of the publicity she’s gained.
As for her first national television appearance, Musi admitted to plenty of jitters.
“I was nervous. I’ve never been on national TV before. I just wanted to make sure I got my feelings and thoughts across. Overall I had a very good time,” said Musi, who has also seen a huge gain in Twitter followers and Facebook friends following the crash.
But there is one point that still remains for the likable Musi, who is the daughter of drag racing standout Pat Musi.
“I just want to go out and get back to racing,” Musi said.
That day appears to be coming soon and may happen as early as June 1-2 when the ADRL races in St. Louis.
Musi didn’t want to reveal official details of what she will be driving and who she will be driving for, but that could become clear as soon as this weekend.
Musi will be at Maple Grove this weekend, helping her father and his Pro Modified car, but there is other big news as well.
Musi plans to have her new car at Maple Grove to have it run through technical services and to get fitted in the car.
That has Musi more excited than any of her recent appearances.
“I’ve been non-stop working on it. Most likely I’m going to be ready for St. Louis. We’re going to have the car here in Maple Grove, get fitted in the car and everything like that. Then, we’ll do some testing after Maple Grove. I just want to get back at it.”
Musi is already “back at it” in some respects.
The 762-cubic inch motor from the first car got back to the shop on Wednesday and Musi has already been furiously at work.
Of course, having been around racing her entire life, working on the ins and outs of the car has always been enjoyable.
“We’re just freshening it up and getting it ready. That’s what is fun for me. I can’t wait to work on that. I really enjoy doing that kind of stuff,” Musi said. “We’re trying to get everything rolling.
“Someone has given me the opportunity to drive and I’m really excited about that.”
Musi is counting down the days to return to driving and remains confident she won’t be nervous after her wild ride in Bristol.
For now, she remains thankful with the outpouring of support.
“It’s just been amazing. It means so much to me. I just wish I could thank everyone single one of them personally,” Musi said. “It’s really been overwhelming and it’s just helped keep my head up and moving forward.” - Bobby Bennett
MAD MAN EXPERIMENT ON HOLD FOR NOW - The turbo experiment is over, at least for a few races.
Past ADRL Pro Extreme champion Frankie Taylor announced on Wednesday he will return to his supercharged combination headed into this weekend's ADRL Northeast Drags at Maple Grove Raceway, located outside of Reading, Pa.
“I have not given up on the turbos as I think they will be fast," Taylor said. "We just need more time to test. It killed me to not qualify in the last two ADRL races. Me and my team expected more out of the performance side. We are going back to what we know for now.”
Taylor will continue to test his turbo combination thanks to Richard Patterson, who has loaned his 1961 Chevy as a test vehicle. He hopes to bring back the turbo combination later this year following extensive testing.
Taylor established the current Pro Extreme elapsed time record at last year's Maple Grove event with a 3.581-second pass.
HIS PLACE IN HISTORY -When Todd Hoerner arrived at the American Drag Racing League’s Spring Drags III late last month at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, he didn’t know what to expect.
Hoerner, a longtime NHRA Sportsman racer, was making his ADRL debut with a new Jerry Bickel 2012 Camaro. The Camaro has an 825 cubic inch Sonny's Hemispherical Headed Engine.
All Hoerner did is make history by becoming the first electronic fuel injection (EFI) car to qualify in the ADRL’s Extreme Pro Stock class. Billy Dingman did try to qualify an EFI car at the ADRL race in Houston last month, but failed to make the show.
“It was real exciting and just a pretty neat deal,” said Hoerner, 45, who also raced in NHRA’s Pro Stock ranks. “We were pretty happy. It was my first time driving in the ADRL and it was my first time driving a stick shift.”
Hoerner clocked a 4.143-elapsed time at 174.68 mph down the eighth-mile to qualify No. 15 in the 16-car field.
“On that run we qualified we had very good speed, so we were sneaking up (on things),” Hoerner said.
Hoener’s historic weekend got even better when he beat Brian Gahm in the first round on a holeshot. Gahm clocked a 4.108-second run, compared to Hoerner’s 4.137-second effort. The difference was Hoerner’s .013 reaction time, while Gahm had a .057 light.
Hoerner’s day came to an end in the second round when he had problems at the starting line.
“At the starting line when the guy was adjusting my wheelie bar, the Racepak load cell came unscrewed from the wheelie bar underneath,” Hoerner said. “We couldn’t get it screwed back up in time.”
As a result, Hoerner could not stage his Camaro and was timed out, giving Richard Penland a bye run.
Although Hoerner lost to Penland, he did add his name in the storied Bristol Dragway history pages.
Bristol Dragway is a place known for innovative debuts like when Buddy Ingersoll, back in 1986, debuted a V-6 car as a professional entry.
Hoerner is no stranger to the electronic fuel injection. In his NHRA days a couple of years ago, he set a national record elapsed time and speed record while running an A/altered automatic in Comp Eliminator.
“Once ADRL allowed for EFI in the Extreme Pro Stock class this year we thought it would be a good market to get into,” Hoerner said.
Hoerner is the sales manager for Sonny’s Racing Engines shop which is based in Lynchburg, Va. The web site is sonnysracingengines.com. Hoerner also does Research & Development at the race track.
“When we race, it is like an advertisement for Sonny’s Racing Engines,” Hoerner said. “If people like the engine, they can buy the engine right out of the car. So, if we can run good, it makes it good for Sonny’s. There is definitely pressure for us to perform good because we want to put on a good show.”
Up next for Hoerner is the ADRL’s Northeast Drags II at Maple Grove, Pa., Friday and Saturday.
“We are hoping to qualify in the top half of the field this weekend,” Hoerner said. “Bristol was my first race and I plan on running the remainder of the ADRL season. I’m hoping to be competitive and get better every run.”
ALL SCHOOLED UP - A portion of his lifestyle might slow down and for ADRL Extreme Pro Stock racer Trevor Eman this isn't necessarily bad. As long as the slow down doesn't affect his doings on the drag strip, he's a happy camper.
Eman, a native of Aruba, has been juggling the challenges of obtaining a Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of Central, Florida, maintaining a home in Aruba while living in Florida and competing for an ADRL series championship. Tomorrow, his schedule will be relieved of one challenge.
Eman graduates from UCF with his degree in Mechanical Engineering and his first stop as a college graduate isn't a job interview or a vacation. He's headed north to Reading, Pa. for the ADRL Northeast Drags II hosted by Maple Grove Raceway.
“I’m excited to be graduating from college for more than one reason,” told Eman. “Since we have our lives in Aruba, and a shop in the states, my father always has the feeling that he lives a double life. Now, from my perspective, I feel like I lead a triple life. I have my life back home in Aruba, granted I am not often there, but I still have a home and a bedroom to always return to. Then I had my life at school in Orlando, where I handled my obligations to school and my household here. Finally, I also try to make it to the shop in S.C. often before and after the race to make sure we are always on top of things on the racing side.
“So, graduating from college will be a big relief, because I get to focus more on two lives instead of three.”
Eman became a multi-tasking wizard over the last four years. Now he plans to put the newly acquired education to work at his father's s Machine and Welding Shop, where he intends to introduce the newest in CNC technology to the family business. He's uncertain if he will live in his native homeland or abroad. What he is certain of is his drag racing.
“Traveling will certainly become easier now, because my father and I have always had to synchronize our flights to make sure we land around the same time to wherever we fly. Now I can just travel together with my dad. However, we’ll still have to travel more than most or all of our competitors, because even when we get back to the shop after a race, we’re still another 1,700 miles from home.
“Still, graduating from college will reduce the busyness of our lives and help me focus on sharpening my skills as a driver. We’ll all be breathing a little easier at Maple Grove this coming weekend.
“Many people may not realize, but New Jersey and the surrounding area is home to many Arubans,” Eman added. “As a matter of fact, one of the main tourism offices of Aruba is in New Jersey. So we are extra excited for this event. We are extending the invitation to our Aruba fans in the area to come out to Maple Grove. We would love to introduce some Arubans to drag racing who have maybe never had the chance to make it to a race and meet all our fans who follow us already.”
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