SATURDAY NOTEBOOK: WINNERS ARE CROWNED IN MICHIGAN
SCRUGGS WINS ANOTHER ONE - Heading into the ADRL Summer Drags VIII July 13-14, at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, Jason Scruggs was second in Pro Extreme points, the equivalent of just over seven rounds behind leader Mick Snyder, who had won the three previous events. After Snyder lost in round one with a spectacular, wall-scraping, up-on-two-wheels ride and Scruggs scored his second win of the year, the former back-to-back class champion had closed the gap to about three rounds of competition.
“I hated seeing what happened to Mick and (his father and crew chief) Larry today. That’s about the first time all year they haven’t went down the race track, so I feel like this deal just gave me a lucky break to make things a little more interesting,” Scruggs said. “They’re still way ahead of everyone, but at least this makes it so everybody can talk about the points a little bit as the season goes on. It makes it a little more exciting for everybody.”
Scruggs entered the third and final qualifying session in 16th place, but a run of 3.674 seconds at 206.64 mph in his screw-blown ’63 Corvette placed him fifth to enter eliminations. Once there, Scruggs drove past Quain Stott and Tommy D’Aprile before making a solo pass in the semis after Von Smith lost a “sure” win of his own when his second-round solo run was disqualified for leaving before the starting tree was activated.
That positioned Scruggs against first-time finalist Terry Leggett and his ’09 Mustang after the 10th-place starter benefited from Snyder’s miscue, made a second-round single when scheduled opponent Brandon Pesz couldn’t recover in time from a major engine fire in round one, and in the semis defeated Todd Martin, who also was looking for his first final-round appearance.
Scruggs was on his game for the final, leaving with a .046 holeshot and posting new track records of 3.638 and 208.87 mph, while Leggett also made his best run of the weekend at 3.689 and 205.70 mph.
“I think it probably could’ve gone a little faster, but I didn’t want to get too greedy,” Scruggs said. “You know, I like to take as much as a track will give me and once the sun went down this was an awesome race track and I’m pretty sure we could’ve went pretty fast, but everybody had to kind of keep me reeled in and run just a .63, .64 and they were probably right, but I sure would’ve liked to try.”
After previously winning at Bristol, TN in May, the event victory tied Scruggs at eight with Joshua Hernandez for the most career Pro Extreme wins. More importantly, it also brought him closer to adding to his 2007 and 2008 championships.
“It’s a long season, so we’ll see what happens,” the Saltillo, MS-based cotton farmer said. “We just want to come out here and go rounds and win races and don’t worry about the points. If we do everything else we won’t have to worry about points—and I know everybody says that, but it’s true.”
AN EMOTIONAL VICTORY - Michigan’s own Bob Rahaim earned his breakthrough first Pro Nitrous title July 14, in the ADRL Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, and promptly dedicated the win to ailing crew chief Kevin Bowen, who recently was hospitalized for cancer treatment.
“I want to thank Kevin especially,” Rahaim said after beating Pat Stoken in the final round. “He’s not here today; he’s pretty sick right now and had some surgery, but I know he’s watching what’s going on and without him none of this would’ve happened. He really pulled our whole program together and this win is a tribute to him.”
Rahaim qualified third behind Jim Laurita and Doug Riesterer in the number-one slot. He caught a break in round one when Blake Housley’s red-light start allowed a troubled seven-second pass to advance, then defeated Ed Burnley and John Vergotz to meet Stoken, who beat Jason Harris, Riesterer and Rickie Jones on his side of the ladder.
A career-best 3.797 at 197.10 mph delivered the race win to Rahaim, while Stoken posted a game, but losing 3.936 at 188.55 pass.
“This car just checked out,” Rahaim said of his Reher-Morrison 855-equipped ’69 Camaro in the final. “As soon as I got through the gear change I knew it was just flying, man, as straight as an arrow.”
The win came in Rahaim’s third ADRL final-round appearance.
“It’s amazing. It’s been a life-long dream to compete at this level and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out. We’ve been close a couple of times before, but to finally get our first win is something special,” the Grosse Point resident said. “Everyone did just a fabulous job all day long and I want to thank everybody for their help.”
A MEMORABLE WIN - Formerly a Pro Nitrous racer, John DeFlorian returned to the ADRL this season as an Extreme Pro Stock rookie. He arrived at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park July 13-14, determined to conquer a track that hadn’t been particularly kind to him in the past.
“This place has been our nemesis track; I mean, it’s kicked our butt every time we came up here before, not qualifying, losing early, we just never did any good here,” said DeFlorian, who works as shop foreman at Jerry Haas Race Cars in his home state of Missouri.
“So we really wanted to turn that around, qualify strong, go some rounds and win this race and thank the Good Lord we did exactly that against a lot of great drivers and teams today; it was an awesome day!”
With Sonny Leonard horsepower beneath the hood of his Haas-built 2012 Camaro, DeFlorian qualified fourth with a 4.088 pass at 177.46 mph behind reigning class champ and number-one starter Cary Goforth, Doug Kirk and new teammate Kevin Bealko. He beat former event winners Dean Goforth, Todd Hoerner and the polesitter before meeting up with good friend Matt Bertsch in a battle of first-time finalists for the race title.
“We ran for a long time and had some success in Pro Nitrous, but we never got to the winner’s circle, and then we come over to Pro Stock and we’ve had a good car all year, but the driver’s been screwing up some,” DeFlorian admitted. “It’s all about getting it all right and that’s what we had our minds set on when we came up here.”
DeFlorian took a slight advantage off the start in the final with a .022 light to a .036 by Bertsch, then powered through to his best pass of the weekend at 4.086 at 174.78, while 10th-place starter Bertsch ran 4.128 at 174.19 mph.
“The final was really awesome,” DeFlorian declared. “I left the starting line and I didn’t see him, but the car was up in the air, making gear changes, and it runs through and goes an .08, so I was just thrilled, tickled to death. I’m telling you, it was a dream come true.”
A FORTUNATE WIN - Alan Pittman extended his points lead by winning his third Extreme 10.5 (XTF) event title of the year July 14, at the ADRL Summer Drags VIII in Martin, MI, but needed a little help from his final-round opponent to get it done.
“I felt real good and I pulled up to the starting line and had it in low gear, but the car wouldn’t move forward so I had to stick it in high gear and leave in high gear,” Pittman recalled of his race against number-one qualifier Billy Glidden and his nitrous-boosted 2010 Mustang.
“He would’ve definitely had me beat if he hadn’t turned it red,” Pittman said of the ever-so-slight, one-thousandth-of-a-second mistake that negated the 3.917 at 188.96-mph pass by Glidden, his best of the weekend. “I got lucky that time.”
Pittman, who started third, beat Dan Myers and Todd Moyer to reach the XTF final, where he cut a .050 light and ran 4.044 at 195.28 mph in the screw-blown ’09 Mustang owned by Terry Leggett, who came up short in his career-first Pro Extreme final against Jason Scruggs.
“I feel like I won already when Terry Leggett made it to the finals,” Pittman said. “I mean, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him and his wife and the Man above, you know what I’m saying?”
HOLBROOK MAKES IT HAPPEN WITH HEAVY HEART - Former IHRA Pro Stock World Champion Chris Holbrook (near lane) has been one of the staunchest supporters of the ADRL’s new SuperCar Showdown (SCS) since its inception; in fact, he submitted the first official entry when the class was announced in mid-January this year and remains the only driver to have attended all SCS events held so far.
But when the Livonia, MI-based racer called series administrator and ADRL trackside announcer Bret Kepner on Wednesday and said his father-in-law had passed away the previous night, Kepner understandably assumed Holbrook’s perfect attendance streak would end prior to this weekend’s ADRL Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI.
Instead, Holbrook asked if a crew member could bring his supercharged 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet to the track and if he showed up late on Saturday prior to eliminations, could he be placed on the bottom of the ladder and race?
“My father-in-law’s name was Al Soucey and he passed away on Tuesday; he’d been pretty sick so it’s probably a blessing; at least he’s not in pain anymore,” Holbrook said.
“We had been working and planning for this race for quite a long time with it being our home race and all, but I was going to cancel for this weekend,” he admitted.
“But my wife, Holly, said to me, ‘You know what, you guys have been working so hard at this, I know you need to go testing; why don’t you get Dan to drive the rig to the race and see if you can still get to it somehow?’ So I called up Bret and he said it was no problem whatsoever and here I am.”
Kepner explained the exception for Holbrook to miss qualifying could be made since the SuperCar Showdown is currently considered an exhibition class within the ADRL. “If it was any other class we couldn’t have done it,” he said.
Holbrook attended his father-in-law’s viewing on Friday and the funeral on Saturday before showing up mid-afternoon at the U.S. 131 facility. Unfortunately, all his effort and dedication to compete resulted in a first-round loss to Jimmy Roazello.
“We didn’t do so well here today, but at least we tried,” Holbrook said. “It would’ve been nice to win it for Al, but hopefully we’ll get one for him soon.”
TAKING ADVANTAGE - When Casey Stemper bowed out of Pro Extreme Motorcycle (PXM) competition with transmission trouble July 14, in round one of eliminations for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII in Martin, MI, it opened the door for Eric McKinney to extend his advantage in the season-long points race.
“We came into this race a little over two-and-a-half rounds ahead of Casey and of course wanted to stretch out that lead,” McKinney said after stepping through that door by earning his third race win this year after going to five finals in the six events held so far.
With only 11 entries on the grounds at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, McKinney led an eight-bike field into eliminations after a 4.100 at 172.86-mph qualifying pass that eclipsed Stemper’s previous number-one effort by just two-thousandths of a second.
“We were kind of chasing him (Stemper) in qualifying a little, but then in that last (qualifying) session he sat it out and we went a .10 to take away the number-one spot and that’s all Ashley Owens, you know? He made the difference there,” McKinney said of the runaway 2011 PXM champion who is serving as his exclusive tuner this season.
“The way I see it you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with and with Ashley and my mom and dad, my uncle Steve and we’ve got Steve Drake and his wife and mom with us here this weekend, I feel like I’ve got the best of everything,” McKinney added.
McKinney opened eliminations with another 4.10 to beat T.T. Jones, then downed Brunson Grothus with a 4.11 in the semis to reach first-time finalist Dave Norris, who previously prevailed over Billy Vose and Dave Vantine.
Both riders stepped up with their best passes of the weekend in the final, with McKinney posting a .014 reaction followed by a track record 4.073 pass at 170.15 mph to beat the .016/4.133/170.95 package put together by Norris.
“It was just a routine pass, everything went pretty smooth,” McKinney said later. “Dave, he’s an excellent racer, deadly on the tree, and with this eighth-mile stuff you’ve got to be on your game. I’m glad it all came together.”
CASTELLANA WINS ANOTHER - With the quickest pass so far recorded in ADRL Pro Mod, native New Yorker Mike Castellana joined Billy Glidden and Ashley Owens July 14, as the winningest racers in series history.
In qualifying his nitrous-fed 2012 Camaro number one over the eight-car field for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII, Castellana covered the eighth mile at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in 3.874 seconds at 188.15 mph.
Castellana caught a break in round one when Swedish racer Adam Flamholc left too soon, but he overpowered Mike Janis with another 3.87 in the semis to reach doorslammer legend Pat Musi in the final. “First round it kind of shook the tires on us, but he had red lit so we got our first-round break and took it from there,” Castellana said.
A .021 light led to an impressive .959 60-foot time, followed by 2.563 to half-track and a record-setting 3.827 at 196.35 mph at the eighth-mile finish line for Castellana, while Musi rolled the beams to end his day.
“We just had to tiptoe through the day sessions where the track was really hot and be really careful until the sun went away and the track temperatures came down to where we could really get after it,” explained Castellana’s crew chief, Shannon Jenkins. “We knew once it got a little cooler that we had a pretty good hot rod.”
The win was Castellana’s fourth in Pro Mod and coupled with his nine previous Pro Nitrous race titles, he tied Pro Extreme Motorcycle’s Owens and Extreme 10.5 racer Glidden with 13 ADRL national-event victories apiece.
“All the credit belongs to Shannon and my crew and our supporters, Al-Anabi Racing and Sheik Khalid,” Castellana stressed. “I couldn’t do any of this without all of them.”
AND THE NEWEST WINNER IS - Since the ADRL added Top Sportsman as an official class exactly one year ago during its annual July event at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, there has not been a repeat winner in the class. That trend continued July 13-14, at the ADRL Summer Drags VIII, where Waycross, GA’s Bruce Thrift became the latest Top Sportsman driver to visit victory lane.
Both Thrift and William Brown III, appearing in his second consecutive final, dialed in at 4.36, but Thrift left first in his ’07 GTO with a .016 light to Brown’s .036, then ran 4.376 at 153.61 to take the win, while Brown broke out by two thousandths with a 4.358 pass at 161.29 mph in his 2005 Grand Am.
“It took a few races to get the car sorted out, but this old car has been good all day, it’s varied two hundredths—and every now and then I show up, too,” Thrift said.
“This was real special to me because William, he helped me out when I first started stepping on this thing,” he continued. “I mean, he’s one of my best friends out here and when we unloaded today we saw where we were on the ladder and said we’d meet in the final and that’s how it worked out.
“It was a fun day of racing. I can’t tell you how happy I am that ADRL added Top Sportsman.”
In the ADRL’s new SuperCar Showdown, Bo Butner won his third event title with a 5.779 pass at exactly 119 mph in the Summer Drags VIII final, edging out the 5.806 at 188.57 by Drew Skillman in a battle of 2012 Mustang Cobra Jets.
SNYDER WIN STREAK SNAPPED - Heading into this weekend’s Summer Drags VIII, Mick Snyder was the hottest driver on the ADRL tour after winning the last three events and building a sizable lead in the Pro Extreme points standings in the process.
His streak of success came to an end in spectacular fashion in the opening round of eliminations against Terry Leggett, however, as his Powersource Transportation ’63 Corvette got up on its two left wheels and only the left guardwall at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park kept it from going over.
“I broke the rule and pedaled it and about that time it was still shaking the tires and just went back and forth,” Snyder explained later with a grin. “What’s really amazing is how early you lift and it still does all that stuff. I was just along for the ride. As soon as it went right, I was off the gas. Then it came back left and that’s when it tilted over.”
Only about eight inches or so of the left vertical surface of the deck lid made contact with the wall, while a shower of sparks emitted from the headers scraping the track surface.
“Jason (Peterson, track owner) came by and said, ‘You’re welcome,’ and when I asked for what, he said, ‘For my wall saving your butt!” Snyder laughed.
“At least if I was going to lose a race, I made the highlight reel doing it.”
MARTIN MISSES ADRL ACTION - A familiar face to veteran ADRL observers surfaced July 13-14, during the ADRL Summer Drags VIII, as Harold Martin was in the pits at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park tuning the EFI-equipped, Martin Technologies 872 in Chris Juliano’s ’67 Mustang Pro Nitrous entry.
Juliano qualified with a 4.079 at 174.77 mph in the 13th position, and though improving to 4.013 at 183.46 in round one of eliminations, he fell to the 3.907 at 190.92 by Robert Patrick Jr.
“This is my first time out at the race track this year and I’ve never gone this long before. I’m pent up because I love racing and it’s been part of my life for many, many years. I won’t lie; not being out here has been real tough,” said Martin, who was an ADRL Pro Nitrous regular, competing as part of the National Guard team when the Guard also was the series’ primary sponsor for the 2009 season.
Martin said he took some time off from racing in order to focus more on business, but is now feeling ready to get back into the sport as a competitor, perhaps even this year with the ADRL or NHRA in the Pro Modified ranks.
“We’ve never been afraid of travel to race,” Martin said. “My car is ready and the tanks in the truck are full of diesel.”
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK -
THROTTLE IN THE BOTTLE - After winning the two most recent ADRL Pro Nitrous (PN) events this year at St. Louis and Richmond, Doug Riesterer continued his dominance of the class at the ADRL Summer Drags VIII in Martin, MI, with a 3.800 pass at 195.22 mph that came in the first pair of PN cars to take on the eighth mile at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
Immediately following Riesterer’s run, the skies opened up, causing the first of two major rain delays that eventually cost all ADRL racers one complete session on Friday and allowed only three of eight pro classes to finish two qualifying rounds. Round two of qualifying was to be held Saturday morning, with the final scheduled session to follow before eliminations that afternoon.
“It was dry when we made the run, but there was rain hitting the windshield while I was slowing down,” Riesterer said later. “Actually, I was thinking, ‘I hope that’s rain and not water from my motor!’”
Riesterer said he put a tune-up in his Reher-Morrison powerplant that he knew could push his ’67 Camaro to a 3.80 lap, but he wasn’t sure the big Hoosiers out back would stick.
“All you can do is put your best educated guess in there and hope for the best,” the Victoria, TX-based mechanical engineer said. “I knew it could run the number, but honestly, I also thought it only had about a 20-percent chance of going down the track.”
Even after settling dew on the track postponed the Friday-night qualifying round, which traditionally is the quickest, Riesterer remained unconvinced his time would hold up as number one through Saturday’s two qualifying opportunities.
Regardless, while qualifying number one is “always nice,” Riesterer insisted he really didn’t care where he ended up on the list, so long as he stayed in the top half of the 16-car field to secure lane choice for round one of eliminations.
“It doesn’t pay anything; they don’t even give you a plaque, so I really don’t care if I’m number one or not,” he said. “Besides, these are all fast cars and good teams out here; you give any one of these guys a chance and they can step up and bite you, it doesn’t matter where they qualified.”
Rounding out the top five behind Riesterer were Michigan’s own Bob Rahaim, Jim Laurita, Robert Patrick Jr., and Stan Allen with Monroe Guest in 16th, ahead of three non-qualified entries.
A PLEASANT SURPRISE - After 22 cars made qualifying attempts for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII in Friday’s lone Pro Extreme (PX) qualifying session, it was the Garret Race Cars-built ’69 Camaro driven by former class champion (2006) Bubba Stanton that held the top spot with a 3.669-seconds pass at 207.04 mph over the eighth mile at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI.
“I didn’t really expect that,” Stanton admitted. “I figured it’d be a .69 or .70, but we gave it our best guess and it took what we gave it. I guess we got lucky.”
After previously working with hired crew chiefs, Stanton and team owner Roger Henson are making the tune-up calls on the car together and the Potts Camp, MS-based driver said it’s a much more relaxed and enjoyable arrangement.
“We just talk about things and decide what we’re going to do. That’s it; no arguing, no drama,” he said. “It’s still a new car and it feels like we finally got the bugs worked out and calmed it down and now it’s going down the track.”
Following Stanton on the provisional qualifying list were 2009 champ Frankie Taylor, Brandon Pesz, Alex Hossler and Von Smith, with Mike Recchia in the 16th-place bump spot. Current points leader Mick Snyder, who has won the last three PX races, failed to make a clean pass and was mired in 20th place.
Due to two heavy rain storms, only one of three scheduled qualifying sessions were completed for Pro Extreme, but an early 10 a.m. start on Saturday prior to eliminations will allow all PX competitors two more opportunities to improve their positions.
ON TOP AFTER TWO - After two passes on the U.S. 131 Motorsports Park eighth mile with his Haas-built 2010 GXP, reigning Extreme Pro Stock (XPS) World Champion Cary Goforth finished up Friday evening with a top-qualifying 4.068 at 175.62 mph for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII.
“The track’s good, probably the best one we’ve had on the starting line all year,” Goforth said. “The car really threw me back in the seat when it took off and I knew if I could hit my shift points right it would be a good run.”
Also stepping up in the second qualifier was second-place man Doug Kirk with a 4.071 in his 2012 Mustang, while Kevin Bealko was third at 4.072 in his 2011 GXP. Coming off a surprising DNQ at the previous event in Richmond, VA, Bealko’s teammate, John DeFlorian, was next with a 4.088 in his 2012 Camaro.
Twenty-two entries made qualifying attempts on Friday and there will be one final opportunity to qualify Saturday before eliminations begin.
“This was a good start to our weekend, but we still have a long way to go,” Goforth said.
WEATHER IS THE BOSS - Major rain storms interrupted qualifying for the ADRL Summer Drags VIII twice on Friday, forcing six hours of cumulative delays and the cancellation of one scheduled qualifying session before ADRL officials finally called it a day about 10:30 p.m. when dew began settling on the racing surface at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI.
“They made the right call; it was starting to get dangerous out there,” 2011 Extreme Pro Stock World Champion Cary Goforth said shortly after being among the last few drivers to go down the track. “Give it another 30 or 40 minutes and I think you would’ve seen guys getting into trouble and we don’t need to see any crashed cars tonight.”
Two of three scheduled rounds of qualifying were completed in Top Sportsman, Pro Modified and Extreme Pro Stock, but beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Pro Extreme, Pro Nitrous, Extreme 10.5, Pro Extreme Motorcycle and the new SuperCar Showdown will complete round two before the final scheduled qualifying session is run for all classes. Eliminations will follow.
Number-one qualifiers heading into Saturday’s action include Bubba Stanton (Pro Extreme), Doug Riesterer (Pro Nitrous), Todd Moyer (Extreme 10.5), Billy Vose (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), Cary Goforth (Extreme Pro Stock), Mike Castellana (Pro Mod), Bob Gulitti (Top Sportsman) and Bo Butner (SuperCar Showdown).
XPS: THE EXPERIMENT - When Extreme Pro Stock (XPS) racer Richie Stevens crossed the finish line for the fourth time last month at Virginia Motorsports Park, he became the first driver to win a national event in Pro Stock with NHRA, IHRA and ADRL. Just one week later at Rte. 66 Raceway, near Chicago, Stevens’ longtime girlfriend Erica Enders became the first woman to win an NHRA Pro Stock race. Later that night, they officially got engaged, though plans already were in the works to tie the marriage knot this December.
“We only have December to do things because we start testing again in January. And I didn’t want to wait until 2013 because I didn’t want the number 13 in my wedding date. I’m kind of superstitious that way; I guess that’s the racer in me,” Enders said while waiting out a rain delay at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, where Stevens is competing in the ADRL Summer Drags VIII.
“But I had no idea he was going to ask me there; that was definitely a shocker. It was one of those days that was almost system overload. We’re really excited; I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since then. We’ve been together quite a long time and we’re blessed to share the same passion, so it’ll be great.”
Enders also shared a little of the XPS experience at Martin as she sat in the driver’s seat of Steven’s CarSafe 2009 Mustang for its Friday-morning warm-up before qualifications began.
“Richie asked me if I wanted to do it yesterday while we were on the plane and I’m like, ‘Yeah sure, why not, whatever,’ but then this morning he said, ‘Okay, get in the car,’ and I changed to, ‘No, I’m good, it’s okay.’ But he insisted, so I got in and he went over the entire starting procedure, which is quite a lot different from our small-motor cars,” Enders said.
“So he walked me through it and we fired up and I went through the gears. It was crazy, a different sound, different feel. It’s amazing that with all that torque and power you can still shift the car with two fingers; in my car you really have to use your strength and manhandle those Libertys to go in.
“Then, over here when I whacked the throttle at the end of the warm-up, how hard it kicks your foot off that clutch pedal is insane. That’s the biggest difference, the incredible pressure on the clutch pedal; I’d say it’s 10 times greater than on an NHRA car. I was thinking, boy, if I wanted to start driving one of these I’d have to start doing some serious leg presses in the gym!”
Enders stressed, however, she has no plans to race in the ADRL.
“I do want to get my license, even just to say I did it. And I don’t know the history of IHRA Pro Stock, but I’ve talked to a couple of people who do and it sounds like there’s never been a female driver in a mountain-motor Pro Stock before, so that would definitely be cool to be the first,” she said. “But I don’t want to take anything away from Richie and his program. I just want to get my license for fun, nothing more.”
S’COOL BUS WITH A MISSION – When one of chassis builder Larry Jeffers’ nieces was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, the professional chassis builder from House Springs, MO, found himself visiting Children’s Hospital in St. Louis on a regular basis and left with the inspiration to create a one-of-a-kind exhibition vehicle that would appeal directly to children. Using a chopped Pro Stock Truck body and a custom-built aluminum rear shell, Jeffers Pro Cars created a Pro Extreme-style school bus that made its on-track debut a couple of weeks ago during the Super Chevy Show at Gateway Motorsports Park, where it ran 4.09 at 150 in an early shutoff pass.
“It made the 10 o’clock news on Friday night and the news shows again on Saturday morning and Sunday morning. We had kids at the track that weekend who came just to see it because they saw it on TV; it’s something they can relate to whether they’re up close to it or they’re sitting in the stands,” Jeffers says. “We love having kids come by the pits; I let them sit in it, put on the helmet; they all want to get their picture taken with it.”
Powered by the same screw-blown BAE 526 Hemi that Wes Johnston used in May 2010 to set the current ADRL PX speed record of 211.69 mph, the bus “is capable of running 3.80s on a mild tune-up,” Jeffers says. “We’re not gonna’ be leaning on it; I don’t want to be breaking parts.”
Jeffers plans to put the bus on display at various children’s hospitals and schools, as well as make exhibition runs at all five remaining ADRL events this year, beginning this weekend with the ADRL Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
“I’m here (at the ADRL events) anyway, so why not?” Jeffers reasons. “I saw a lot of kids at Children’s Hospital who were less fortunate, so I built this just so I could take it out there sometimes, put some smiles on some kids’ faces, sell some t-shirts and donate some money to the hospital.”
NOT AGAIN – Todd Tutterow is taking it easy at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, MI.
After crashing his screw-blown ’67 Mustang Pro Extreme car at Gateway Motorsports Park in May, the former ADRL world champion was all set to roll out the ex-Dennis Radford, twin-turboed ’70 Duster in Pro Mod trim the next month for the ADRL event in Petersburg, VA. However, a last-minute discovery of a broken weld on a major frame rail on the Duster forced Tutterow to activate the Al-Anabi ’68 Camaro he drove in 2010 and part of last year’s season.
Tutterow took the roots-blown Camaro all the way to the final in Pro Modified at Virginia Motorsports Park, but planned to have the Duster back in form for this weekend’s ADRL Summer Drags VIII. That plan backfired, however, during a Monday test session at Summit Motorsports Park, the day after Tutterow tuned Don Walsh to his first NHRA Pro Mod win at the Norwalk, OH, track.
“We made some pretty decent laps; posted some good numbers, and then on the last lap we threw the rods out of it and really didn’t have the parts to fix the motor. It’s kind of an odd combination. My wife (Denise) told me to bring the Camaro that I ran in Richmond, but I told her, no we’ll be fine—and sure enough it happened,” Tutterow said.
“But instead of driving 10 hours home and picking up the car and turning right around and driving 12 or more hours up here (to Michigan), we just decided to cool it and kind of had a week’s vacation. So I’m up here just to tune Tommy (D’Aprile) in Mel Bush’s car and (my daughter’s) Jr. Dragster. I’m without a car this weekend.
“If it had been a little tighter points race (in Pro Extreme) or if I had my Mustang ready—it’d be a more competitive car—I might have done it,” Tutterow explained. “But I just took the opportunity to spend some time there at the amusement park, Cedar Point, riding roller coasters all day on Tuesday. The kids got a big kick out of it.”
CONSISTENCY IS WELCOMED - Team Aruba is hoping for a little more consistency in their program.
“Our program never lacks for hard work and effort,” relayed driver Trevor Eman. “But racing also takes a good bit of luck and that has been on a major pendulum swing for us this year. Hopefully it will swing back our way this weekend and stay there.
“We are very much looking forward to being at US 131 again. It's a great facility, an awesome stop on the tour and a great place for us to redeem ourselves after Virginia. Jason Peterson [track manager] does a wonderful job at his facility, and we are sure he will be hosting a great track this weekend. Together with the outstanding work of the Traction Twins, we plan on demonstrating a top notch performance for the fans at the race, our sponsors Aruba.com and Alltel Wireless and also all the people of Aruba back home who follow our every run.”
A key component of the Team Aruba racing operation is their Jon Kaase power plant, which recently went back to the Kaase Racing Engines shop for a tune up.
“Our motor went back to the shop to be freshened up and Jon Kaase delivered us back an engine that we are confident is bad to the bone. With a fresh power plant and the Jerry Haas built Aruba.com/Alltel Wireless Mustang, we plan on luck swinging our way and taking it all the way four rounds into the winners circle.”
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