SATURDAY NOTEBOOK: WINNERS ARE CROWNED
TWO-IN-A-ROW - The ’63 Corvettes of polesitter Mick Snyder and second-place qualifier Jason Scruggs looked to be on a Pro Extreme collision course June 2, but in the end only one car made it down the track in the final round of the ADRL Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe.
Snyder secured his second consecutive top-qualifying position with a double track record 3.609 at 210.05 pass on Friday, while Scruggs clocked in with a 3.617 at 207.91 mph. A total of 23 cars made qualifying attempts as the ADRL heralded a grand reopening of Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis in Madison, IL, with Clint Thompson’s 3.773 edging out Todd Martin by just one-thousandth of a second for the 16th and final qualifying position for the second-quickest field in ADRL history.
Driving the same car Scruggs once drove to the sport’s first 200-mph pass in 2007 at Rockingham, NC, Snyder never strayed from the 3.60s at Gateway, making passes of 3.644, 3.646 and 3.650 to defeat Thompson, Tommy D’Aprile (whom Snyder beat in the PX final just three weeks earlier in Reading, PA), and Terry Leggett, respectively. Scruggs also was running well in eliminations, using passes of 3.674, 3.647 and 3.646 to get by Chris Russo, Tim Tindle and Quain Stott, though the win over Stott proved costly.
With the sounds of final rounds for other ADRL classes already ringing in the background, the screw-blown Hemi of Scruggs remained in a jumble of parts after it was damaged in the semis against Stott. When it came time to stage, Snyder was ready—and waiting—but after the Scruggs team hastily arrived at the starting line and went to start their car, they discovered a burst panel had inadvertently been left off the blower and had to forfeit the round.
Snyder got the signal to make a solo run and promptly posted a 3.630 at 208.23 mph—his best run of eliminations—that delivered a matching trophy to the one he received from the Reading event.
“Man, I really wanted to race Jason. He’s the best out here and you always want to beat the best and know you’ve really earned it,” Snyder insisted. “But it’s like Warren Johnson once said, ‘There’s no such thing as a pretty loss or an ugly win,’ so I’ll take it.”
LONG DRIVE WORTH IT - After a marathon 17-hour journey from his home in Victoria, TX, Doug Riesterer arrived on Saturday just in time for the fourth and final round of Pro Nitrous qualifying for the ADRL Gateway Drags IV in Madison, IL.
“The car’s been running good and we had confidence we could come up here and make the show and maybe go a couple of rounds,” Riesterer said after beating Burton Auxier for the event title. “I hoped to win; I didn’t come expecting to win, but man, it sure feels good.”
Despite making no prior passes on the eighth-mile course, Riesterer promptly slotted into the seventh of 13 positions on the list with a 3.972 pass at 185.31 mph to set up a first-round race against Blake Housley, who gave a game 4.032 effort, but Riesterer improved to 3.915 at 189.20 mph.
Riesterer really flexed his ’68 Camaro’s muscles in round two, though, matching top qualifier Rickie Jones’ track record 3.800 from qualifying and ousting Jones in the process. An aborted run in the semis still got Riesterer into the final round since his scheduled opponent, Robert Mathis, broke on the line.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the ladder, third-place starter Auxier got a fortunate pass through round one with his ’68 Camaro when he ran only 4.490 at 120.79, but Chris Patrick went way red (-.239) in his ’41 Willys. Auxier also picked things up in round two, though; with a 3.861 getting him around fellow past champion Jamie Hancock before he made his best run of the weekend with a 3.838 and 196.27 to deflate the hopes of Jim Laurita.
Auxier took a slim .010 advantage of the start against Riesterer with a .022 light, but his 3.842 at 195.99 wasn’t enough to hold off Riesterer’s 3.826 at 189.10 that ended with a bang and flash of fire just before he crossed the finish line.
“Yeah, we hurt it a bit there, but it was the final round against Burton. You have to step on it a bit because you know Burton’s going to be doing the same,” Riesterer reasoned. “It’s the final round; you’ve gotta’ go for it in the final; otherwise, why bother coming?”
HIS PLACE IN HISTORY - A pair of first-time finalists decided the Extreme Pro Stock (XPS) title for the Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe when Todd Hoerner drove the only EFI-equipped entry in the 16-car field to victory over Trevor Eman. Hoerner’s win also represented the first visit to victory lane in any sanctioning body by a 2012 Camaro in Pro Stock trim.
Hoerner defeated Brad Waddle and Brian Gahm in the first two rounds before using a holeshot to get by defending class champion Cary Goforth in the semis, while Eman beat 2010 class champ John Montecalvo, Scott Hintz and David Schorr to reach the final round.
“It was really exciting for both of us, I think, being that Trevor had never been to a final before either,” said number-three starter Hoerner after overcoming a .028 holeshot by Eman and his Team Aruba 2011 Mustang with a best-of-eliminations 4.072 pass at 177.30 mph. Eman, the ninth-place qualifier, opened with a .018 light that led to a 4.116 run at 176.56 mph.
“We tried not to over do it and beat ourselves,” Hoerner said. “I wasn’t surprised but definitely a little worried when I saw him leave on me, but then that Sonny’s horsepower kicked in and got the job done. I have to thank Sonny Leonard, of course, and Jerry Bickel for building me a killer car, and John Meaney at Big Stuff; we all worked together to get this done and they all deserve credit, too.”
Number-one qualifier John DeFlorian, who ran a double-record-setting 4.018 at 179.92 to start from the top of the list, got out of shape in his opening pass in eliminations, which handed the win to Hintz.
MOYER WINS XTF - Even Todd Moyer knew he was handed the Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5 win June 2, at Gateway Motorsports Park when Alan Pittman’s car failed to start for the final round of the ADRL Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe.
“If you ain’t got no luck, you got nothin’ and we had luck today,” the Texas-based racer acknowledged after not making even one clean pass in eliminations. “That’s not the way we wanted to get one, but a win’s a win, so I guess we’ll take it.”
Moyer had been fighting huge down-track wheelies in his twin-turboed ’63 Corvette all weekend long, twice posting bogus 213-mph trap speeds—once in qualifying and again in a semi-final solo pass—when his rear wheels broke the first timing marker, but the front end came down just in time for the front wheels to trigger the finish-line beam.
Only five cars entered the class at Gateway, with Pittman’s screw-blown ’09 Mustang taking the top spot with a track record 3.803 at 201.55. After four rounds of qualifying, Pittman was followed by Dan Myers, Dennis Sugrue, Billy Glidden and Moyer.
Round one of racing saw Pittman post a bye run, Glidden get by Sugrue and Moyer advance with a troubled 5.054 pass after Myers threw away a 3.978 with a .005 red-light start. Moyer made his wheelstanding free pass in the semis, while Pittman ousted Glidden, but then Pittman’s car failed to start for the final, handing the win on a platter to Moyer.
“I waited as long as I could, but it was getting hot and then they (ADRL) told me I had to go,” Moyer said immediately after his final-round 4.608 at 125.17 mph took the win.
“It picked the wheels back up to where I couldn’t steer it, but it was going left so I had to lift,” he recalled. “If I had been racing I might have stayed in it a little longer, but why take a chance?”
ANOTHER ONE - After scoring his inaugural Pro Extreme win at Rockingham, NC, in September 2009, it took Eric McKinney two-and-a-half years to win again last month at Reading, PA, but he can now count back-to-back race titles among his accomplishments after prevailing once more June 2, in the ADRL Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis.
“I have to thank my mom and dad, Ashley Owens for what he’s brought to the team, my Uncle Steve on the clutch; they give me a good package to ride and it makes my job a whole lot easier,” McKinney said.
The Hamersville, OH-based rider qualified his 2012 Suzuki fourth before downing Jeff House, former two-time class champion Billy Vose and Dave Norris to make it to the final at Gateway against Georgia’s Travis Davis, who started sixth before defeating Brunson Grothus, Derrick Holloway and David Vantine to advance.
McKinney led stripe to stripe with a dominating performance in the final after leaving with a .015 light and posting low ET of the meet with a track record 4.072 seconds and top speed of the weekend at 176.01 mph against Davis’ off-the-pace 4.248 at 152.12 mph.
“This gives us a pretty good points lead over second place, so hopefully we can maintain the momentum,” McKinney said. “I mean, I know it’s still early in the season and it’s still going to be tough, but I feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
NAISER ADDS PM WIN TO RESUME - Former Pro Nitrous standout Jeff Naiser made the move over this year to the ADRL’s new Pro Modified class for its inaugural season and scored his first win June 2, in the Gateway Drags IV in Madison, IL, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
After qualifying his nitrous-boosted ’68 Camaro in the fifth qualifying position for the eight-car Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Mod field, Naiser knocked off the blown ’68 Camaro of Colorado’s Mike Knowles in round one, then took down Scott Ray and his supercharged ’53 Corvette in the semis to reach fellow nitrous racer Edward Wilson and his 1941 Willys in the final round. Wilson, in his best ADRL showing ever, started from the number-two slot behind Pat Musi and defeated Jeffrey Cummins Jr. and Adam Flamholc in the preliminaries.
Naiser left first in the final with a .020 advantage before posting his best run of the weekend at 3.867 seconds and 193.32 mph, while Wilson made an early shut-off pass of 4.074 at 159.31 mph.
“We built a whole new nitrous system, a whole new manifold with five stages, but the first two (qualifying) runs when we got here we knocked the clutch out so we really couldn’t work on the nitrous and adjust it,” Naiser said. “So we got to work on the nitrous more in eliminations and slowly stepped up; it’s going in the right direction. That’s the fastest I’ve been in Pro Mod trim, so I’m looking forward to working some more on it.”
BATTING .500 - Drew Skillman is batting .500 in the ADRL’s new SuperCar Showdown (SCS) class for factory-made race cars, winning the Gateway Drags IV in just his second attempt on the ADRL eighth mile with his supercharged 2012 Cobra Jet Mustang.
Skillman, from Greenwood, IN, ran 5.727 at 120.90 in the final round at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis, to overcome a .031 holeshot by Chatsworth, CA’s Jimmy DeFrank, who posted a run of 5.788 at 120.03 mph in the 2012 Cobra Jet normally campaigned by Bo Butner, who was on vacation.
QUALIFYING ISN'T EVERYTHING - For the first time in ADRL history—in any class—the 15th- and 16th-place qualifiers squared off in the final round of Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman at the Gateway Drags IV, with number-16 starter Chris Nyerges taking the win home to Burton, OH, with his 2000 Firebird.
Nyerges caught a break in round one of eliminations when number-one qualifier Chuck Mohn left before the starting tree was activated. He then advanced past round two after Aaron Glaser broke out and merely broke the starting beam without making a pass when Lizzy Musi was unable to answer the call to the semis. Meanwhile, 15th-place man Jim Sackuvich beat Ronnie Davis, ran the number against a breaking-out Bruce Thrift and nipped Marco Abruzzi by just one-thousandth of a second in the semi-finals.
After dialing in at 4.46 for the final round of the ADRL’s only bracket-racing doorslammer class, Nyerges posted a .027 reaction time followed by a 4.467 at 157.72 to get the job done by four thousandths against the .021/4.387/162.10 effort that Sackuvich managed against a 4.37 dial.
“We got lucky a couple of rounds there,” Nyerges said. “But we were able to put together a solid combination when it really counted.”
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK: DOORSLAMMERS UNDER THE ARCH
SNYDER SNAGS PROVISIONAL PX QUALIFYING LEAD - Fresh off his second career Pro Extreme (PX) win last month at Reading, PA, 2012 points leader Mick Snyder maintained his momentum June 1, by taking the provisional qualifying lead into day two of the ADRL Gateway Drags IV at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis.
After not getting down the track in Friday’s opening session, the 2010 ADRL Rookie of the Year sat last of 22 PX entries, but stepped up with a 3.625-seconds effort at 208.52 mph in his Powersource Transportation ’63 Corvette that vaulted him all the way to the top of the list after round two. In the third round he improved further to a career-best 3.609 at 210.05 that also reset both ends of the track records.
“We didn’t expect this kind of weather,” Snyder said, referring to the unseasonably cool temperatures that dominated the day. “We were prepared to detune when we got here to make sure it got down the track, but when we saw the conditions we left it pretty much the way we had it in Pennsylvania.”
Snyder pointed out he had a .908 60-foot time on the 3.62 pass, but a .912 start to his 3.60 run of record, so he hoped to run even quicker if conditions remained positive for Saturday’s final qualifying opportunity.
“Right now we’re in uncharted territory because we’ve never been this fast before, but I’d assume we’ll step it up a bit. There’s definitely more there,” he insisted. “It’s all experimental right now, but that’s good because that means we’re going forward and not just doing the same old thing. That’s what keeps it interesting; doing new things.”
Close behind Snyder was past back-to-back class champion (2007-08) Jason Scruggs in his Garret Race Cars-built ’63 Vette, who posted an incredible .889 60-foot time before going on to run 3.617 seconds at 207.91 on Friday night.
Bubba Stanton, another former PX champion (2006), placed third at 3.633, with an impressive 12 cars running in the 3.60-zone. Clint Thompson of Klamath Falls, OR, held the 16th and final position with a 3.773 at 198.52 in what already was the second-quickest Pro Extreme field ever with one more round of qualifying to go.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Snyder said of Saturday’s opportunity to score his second-straight top qualifier and second-straight win. “When you’ve got a hot streak going like this you’ve got to ride it out.”
JONES FOCUSED ON FIRST PN POLE - Second-generation driver Rickie Jones took a big step toward earning his first Pro Nitrous top-qualifier award by leading all three rounds of Pro Nitrous (PN) qualifying at Gateway Motorsports Park on Friday. His straight-off-the-trailer 3.839 at 194.52 stood up through round two before he improved with a 3.800 at 196.76 on Friday night that reset both ends of the track records.
“That was a really nice run with a .940 60-foot (time). We tried something for Q2 that just didn’t work, so we put it back just like it was for the first round. The only real difference was the track was just a little better tonight,” Jones explained.
“The car was hooked up great and made an awesome run,” he added of his RJ Race Cars-built 2012 Camaro. “The track was great, the air was really good and we ended up making a really nice run. We’re definitely happy about being number one after the first day.”
Immediately following Jones and his Summit Racing team on the qualifying list were Jim Laurita, Robert Mathis and Stan Allen. It marked just the second time in his Pro Nitrous career that Jones took the qualifying lead into Saturday’s fourth and final session before eliminations begin for the ADRL Gateway Drags IV in Madison, IL, just across the mighty Mississippi from St. Louis.
“This is like my home track,” said Jones, who hails from Galesburg, IL, about a 3.5-hour drive away. “I won my very first round as a pro here in 2008 in NHRA Pro Stock against Mike Edwards, so I have good memories here.”
PITTMAN FIRST IN EARLY XTF QUALIFYING - Alan Pittman drove team owner Terry Leggett’s screw-blown 2009 Mustang to the second-quickest pass in Extreme 10.5 (XTF) history on Friday with a 3.803 at 201.55 mph while qualifying for the ADRL Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis.
Defending back-to-back class champion Dan Millen, who moved up to Pro Extreme for 2012, ran 3.780 two years ago at Norwalk, OH, and holds the official XTF record of 3.823, set that same weekend in September 2010.
Pittman’s run at Gateway came in the third and final qualifying session of the day with one more to go on Saturday before eliminations begin.
“We almost sat that round out because we were already in good shape,” said the current points leader, who entered the round with the lead at 3.866 seconds, which is not, however, within the one percent required to back up his 3.80 for the official record. “But we saw all these other guys in the other classes going so fast today that we thought we might as well go for it.”
Only five teams entered XTF in St. Louis, with Pittman followed by Dan Myers, Dennis Sugrue, Todd Moyer and former class champion and winner of the previous event in Pennsylvania, Billy Glidden, who was yet to make a full pass under power.
MUSI ON TOP IN PRO MOD - For the first time in his ADRL career, Pat Musi wrapped up a day of qualifying on top of the Pro Modified list. The Carteret, NJ-based doorslammer legend ran his nitrous-boosted, electronic-fuel-injected 2010 Stratus to a 3.861-seconds pass at a potentially record-setting 196.22 mph to lead the Gateway Drags IV after Friday’s three scheduled qualifying sessions.
“We’ve been struggling to get the car to run good down low, but it’s really running strong on the top end,” Musi said. Mike Castellana actually went a little faster at 197.31 in the 2012 ADRL season opener in Baytown, TX, but Rickie Smith holds the official class record of 195.68 mph.
Helping in Musi’s pit is a veritable who’s who of doorslammer racing, including Marc Dantoni, Joe Dunne and Kelly Bluebaugh. “Rickie (Smith) helps a lot, too, but he’s racing at the NHRA race in Englishtown this weekend or he’d be here, too,” Musi added.
Musi said he thought if track and atmospheric conditions remain as good as they were on Friday he may be able to improve his time in Saturday’s lone and final qualifying opportunity.
“We’re sneaking up on it, just trying to be careful. It’s got a lot of power,” he said.
DEFLORIAN ‘DE MAN IN QUICKEST XPS FIELD EVER - Local hero John DeFlorian officially secured both ends of the Extreme Pro Stock (XPS) records with a 4.018-seconds qualifying pass at 179.92 mph to lead the first all-4.0 field on Friday night at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis.
“I’ve been racing here forever. I started as a bracket racer and made hundreds and hundreds of passes here, going back to when the track ran in the opposite direction,” said DeFlorian, who hails from nearby Arnold, MO. “So to make a run like that and get the records and qualify number one in front of so many friends and members of my family is a dream come true.”
With a fast, well-prepped ADRL eighth mile and dense, cool air that favored the naturally aspirated, mountain-motored cars, conditions were ripe for the first three-second XPS pass, but DeFlorian insisted his Kevin Bealko-owned team wasn’t trying to reach that far.
“Honestly, we knew conditions were good and some of the other guys would be going for it, but we just wanted to improve on our time,” said DeFlorian, who entered the third and final qualifying round of the day in first place after going 4.035 at 179.28 in his opening salvo.
“That 4.01 surprised us, to be honest,” he claimed. “We were really just trying to run another 4.03, maybe a high 4.02, so we’re absolutely blown away right now.”
DeFlorian is the shop foreman at Jerry Haas Race Cars and completed much of the construction himself on the Black Diamond Motorsports 2012 Camaro that’s powered by a Sonny Leonard-built 825 cubic incher.
“I can’t thank Kevin, Jerry and Sonny enough, as well as all the guys on our team,” said DeFlorian, who up until this season had always campaigned in Pro Nitrous within the ADRL series. “I also want to thank my fellow Extreme Pro Stock competitors who welcomed me to this class and who’ve been very generous with their congratulations tonight. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to talk to me here, but I want to thank ever single one of them.”
Defending class champion Cary Goforth stepped up with his 2010 Pontiac GXP in round three with a 4.032 to place second, followed by Todd Hoerner at 4.048 in another 2012 Camaro that is the only car in the class to be running electronic fuel injection.
After 22 cars made qualifying attempts, Scott Hintz with his 2009 Mustang was on the 16th-place bump spot at 4.096 and 174.32 mph, making it already the quickest field in XPS history with one more round to go on Saturday before eliminations begin.
“I guess that’s the only thing that could make this any better, that we could win tomorrow,” DeFlorian said. “That would put the cherry on top of the sweetest piece of cake.”
TOP SPORTSMAN’S MOHN IN FAMILIAR POSITION - Fountainville, PA’s Chuck Mohn is intent on keeping his perfect streak in Top Sportsman qualifying alive after starting from the number-one spot in each of the three ADRL events contested this year.
In the second of three qualifying rounds for the ADRL Gateway Drags IV on Friday at Gateway Motorsports Park, Mohn made the quickest pass ever in the class with a 4.089 at 175.05 mph in his nitrous-fed, EFI-equipped ’69 Camaro.
“I want to get 10 top qualifier plaques this year,” Mohn stated after taking the provisional pole into Saturday’s fourth and final session. “I already know exactly where I’ll hang them.”
Georgia racer Ronnie Davis placed second after Friday’s action with a 4.108 at 178.66 mph in his Roush Yates-powered ’63 Corvette, the fastest speed ever seen in ADRL Top Sportsman. He was followed by Bob Gulitti, Rick Corn and William Brown III in the 16-car field.
A WILD RIDE - Things went bad in a hurry for 2009 Pro Extreme World Champion Todd Tutterow in round one of qualifying for the ADRL Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe.
“It tried to rattle, so I pedaled it and I felt like it recovered, but all of a sudden it started rattling again and it was just pure tire smoke then,” Tutterow said shortly after emerging from a wreck near the eighth-mile finish line at Gateway International Raceway, near St. Louis. “It felt like it was in slow motion when it came around, kind of a weird deal; I mean, I’ve pedaled a lot of cars, but I’ve never been in nothin’ like that.
“It actually felt like it was dropping oil, that’s how loose the car got, but they said there wasn’t anything at all on the race track. It didn’t have any traction whatsoever.”
Running in the right lane alongside the ’63 Corvette of 2007 and 2008 PX champ Jason Scruggs as the first pair of Pro Extreme entries to make a pass, Tutterow’s ’67 Mustang made a hard left turn just past the 330-foot halfway point and spun around far enough to strike the left guardwall with its right front fender. The car then sideswiped the wall with its right flank before completing a 360-degree spin as Tutterow wrestled the now three-wheeled wreck to a halt.
“It hit pretty high up on the cage because it was up on its right wheels when it hit, so we’ll have to strip it down and take it back to (chassis builder) Larry (Jeffers) to see how bad it’s damaged,” Tutterow said. “I don’t know how much he can get done in just a couple of weeks (before the next ADRL event June 22-23, at Richmond, VA), but I know he’ll do his best to get it done.” (Photos by Roger Richards)
AIMING FOR TITLE - Just one year removed from being among the first pair of Top Sportsman drivers ever to make a pass on an ADRL eighth mile, Marco Abruzzi heads into this weekend’s Gateway Drags IV presented by CarSafe leading the way in points toward the inaugural ADRL Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman championship.
Abruzzi and his Summit-backed ’68 Camaro opened 2012 with a win at the ADRL season opener at Baytown, Texas, in March, then followed up with a quarter-final finish a month later at Bristol, Tennessee, and a semi-final run early in May at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway, where the Top Sportsman experiment began last year.
“(ADRL President) Tim McAmis had called me and said he was looking to put something together for Top Sportsman and he knew I was pretty much dialed in to the whole Top Sportsman deal, so he asked if I could help get a few cars together to do some exhibition runs just to get it going,” Abruzzi recalled of the initial show that included him, close friend and racing partner Glenn Butcher, Tyler Hard and Ronnie Procter.
“It just happened that Glenn (Butcher) and I were already looking. Glenn and I were full-time IHRA Top Sportsman racers, but we were looking for somewhere to run our cars because IHRA was just not what it once was,” Abruzzi continued. “Back in the day, the place to race Top Sportsman was definitely the IHRA, but now it’s become ADRL. I tell everyone now that this is the place to race. It’s a good time, fun, you have to have a fast car because it’s got that element of qualifying, it’s well run and they treat us well, like professionals. There’s great track prep, great tech, everything about it is good. I honestly don’t have anything bad to say; it’s top notch.”
Abruzzi will be looking to extend his 241-point advantage over second-place Chuck Mohn this weekend at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, IL, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, where he’s enjoyed success in the past.
“I really, really wanted to win an NHRA national event and the first year they ran Top Sportsman I lost in the final at Charlotte and then a couple of races later I won here,” he said of his 2010 victory over Rich Smith after qualifying 12th at Gateway. “That still stands as one of the bigger wins in my life.”
That said, Abruzzi admitted adding the first ADRL Top Sportsman title to his two IHRA world championships and three divisional championships would be “a big deal.”
“I didn’t know at first if I would go to all 10 events this year. My initial plan was to go to the first three events and see if I represented myself well enough to warrant running the rest of the races, so it looks like I’ve committed myself to run all 10 of them now,” he said. “It looks like it could be a close points battle—but I really don’t pay attention to the points, especially not at this point in the season—I just do my best and let the points add up and however it ends, it ends.”
MR. JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES - If it has wheels, chances are Todd Tutterow might have a hand in making it go faster.
Sure, Tutterow is an ADRL Pro Extreme standout, a former ADRL world champion and a 2011 Battle For The Belts winner.
But, these days, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing the ultra-talented Tutterow.
He’s calling the tuning shots for Tommy D’Aprile Pro Extreme car and that team is having newfound success; he’s working with NHRA Pro Modified driver Donnie Walsh and his turbocharged set-up; he’s setting up cars for a number of local Quick 8 racers and grudge racing teams; he’s tuning a new two-car Pro Extreme/Top Sportsman team; and Tutterow is also tuning a sand drag truck with a screw blower.
Throw in his dealings with Precision Turbo Owner and President Harry Hruska, a relationship that has Tutterow working on innovations from everything from a turbo-charged tractor-pulling team to a Pro Extreme turbo car, and it’s quite obvious Tutterow has a very full plate.
“It’s really been a lot of fun. We kind of do a lot and I’m working on race cars full time now,” Tutterow said. “There’s a lot of business out there.
“Of course, it would be nice to have that big multi-million dollar sponsorship, and this is a lot of work. It’s seven days a week, 12-15 hours a day and I’ve got a big calendar. But we’ve kept going and we’re trying something different, trying to make ends meet and keep racing.”
With the economy still struggling, Tutterow’s West Bend Grading business has been so slow that, coupled with his multiple racing projects, he’s pretty much parked the grading company.
That full schedule includes all 10 ADRL races, including this weekend’s Gateway Drags IV in St. Louis, the full NHRA Pro Modified schedule, numerous local races, plus 12 sand truck races in the United States and a full slate overseas this winter.
That relationship with the sand-truck team of Bader Ali and Mustafa Buhmaid formed when Tutterow raced in the Arabian Drag Racing League in Qatar, and the results have already been impressive.
Running on a 300-foot dirt track in a 4-wheel drive truck, Tutterow has already coaxed a 2.88 in testing, which is remarkable considering the U.S. record is 3.86. In real competition, Tutterow is expecting event more.
“They’re building another truck right now and I can’t see how it won’t run in the 2.30s at 300 feet,” Tutterow said. “We’ve been to Kentucky, St. Louis and North Carolina, and there’s no doubt this thing is going to be fast.”
“Doing something like this, it’s always a feather in your cap.”
The GALOT tractor-pull team, which is owned by Earl Wells, has enjoyed immense success in the National Tractor Pullers Association, finishing fourth nationally in 2008 and winning a number of regional events over the past several years.
Now, Tutterow is working with the North Carolina-based team on their new two-car drag racing team, along with some new turbo set-ups on their tractors.
That’s part of the extensive research and development with Precision Turbo, which may have Tutterow – or someone he’s working with – driving a turbo-charged Pro Extreme car at some point in 2012.
“(GALOT) approached me about building some engines for them for their Pro Mod and I’m kind of working with them and putting their whole race team together,” Tutterow said. “With their tractors, it’s all there, you just have to be open-minded with the info given to you. It seems to be working well and, even with tractors, all of this is related.”
Tutterow’s magic touch has remained in the ADRL, where D’Aprile has made back-to-back finals appearances for the first time in his ADRL career.
That has vaulted D’Aprile to third in points, while Tutterow is sixth heading to St. Louis.
As much as he wants his own world championship, his first priority is with one of his many clients.
“We took Mel Bush and their team on, and we’ve managed to have some pretty good success and a really good season,” Tutterow said. “My first obligation is Mel’s car and making that go fast and be successful.”
And, like everything he’s currently working on, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
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