U.S. STREET NATIONALS, BRADENTON - EVENT NOTEBOOK

         

 

FINAL NOTEBOOK - A FITTING TRIBUTE, AND A STRONG FINISH

 

HALSEY HEADLINES WINNERS LIST AT U.S. STREET NATIONALS - Despite racing with heavy hearts after track worker Daniel "Chaps" Stone was killed in an on-track accident Friday night, management, staff and competitors at south Florida's historic Bradenton Motorsports Park pressed on Jan. 29-31, to complete the annual U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons.

Beyond the obviously tragic accident that also involved Pro 275 racer Paul Major, it was a remarkably clean race with no other accidents, on-track incidents, or even major cleanups throughout the rest of the weekend. 

Wrapping up about 8:30 Sunday night, reigning PDRA Pro Nitrous champ Jim Halsey emerged as 2021 U.S. Street Nats Outlaw Pro Mod champion in his '68 Camaro, barely edging out number-one qualifier Todd Tutterow in the final round.

"I could see him the whole time; it was really close," Halsey said. "Got him by three thou at the top end. So yeah, it was pretty close. Like a bracket race."

Radials vs. the World honors went to second-place starter Bryan Markiewicz and his Procharger-equipped '69 Camaro, while Mark Micke drove Jason Carter's twin-turboed '78 Malibu to the Pro 275 title, and Rob Goss won X275 from the number-one position in his Procharger-boosted '09 Challenger. 

Justin Cyrnek also followed up his first-place qualifying run with a win in Limited Drag Radial, as did Chris Holdorf, who ran the Outlaw 632 table with his supercharged '53 Corvette. 

In Ultra Street, Dave Fiscus from Batavia, OH, came from farthest down the qualifying sheets among race winners, rising from a 13th-place start to beat sixth-place starter Scott Parson in the final. Heavy Street saw the unique '90 Mazda RX7 of Florida's own Rick Prospero make a solo pass in the final after Jim Stanley's '02 Camaro broke on the starting line.

JIM HALSEY: NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET - How fitting that Jim Halsey's nitrous-huffing '68 Camaro figured so prominently on posters and online advertising for the annual U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park. The current PDRA Pro Nitrous World Champion lived up to the pre-race hype Jan. 31, driving his multi-hued machine to a very tight holeshot victory over screw-blown rival Todd Tutterow in the Carmark Engineering Outlaw Pro Mod final.

"Pretty cool to win like that, especially when you're up against guys like Tutterow with these big, badass blower cars. It's kind of tough for us," admitted Halsey, who eked out a three-thousandths-of-a-second margin of victory thanks to leaving with a .012 advantage off the start. 

With a 3.58 seconds at 211.46-mph pass that held up throughout eliminations as quickest and fastest of the meet, Tutterow placed his Mike Decker-owned 2019 Camaro atop a list of 38 entries competing for a spot within the 32-car qualified field. Randy Weatherford started second after posting a personal-best 3.59-seconds run at 211.03 in his Procharger-boosted '69 Camaro, and Halsey was third at 3.61 and 208.42 mph.

With round one of Pro Mod eliminations completed Saturday night, Halsey advanced to Sunday's 16 with a 3.60 at 208.88 win over teammate Erica Coleman, while Tutterow ran 3.61 at 210.24 against a redlighting Scott Napierata in the final pair down the track that day.     

On Sunday, Halsey opened with a solo 3.64 at 206.76-mph pass after 14th-place qualifier Jackie Slone was unable to continue, then ran another 3.64 at 207.78 against a redlighting Melanie Salemi in her screw-blown '68 Firebird.  Victory in the semi-finals came courtesy of a sizable .046 holeshot against Weatherford, whose 3.61 at 208.33 wasn't able to hold off Halsey's 3.62 at 208.23 mph. 

Meanwhile, Tutterow outran teammate Robert Abbott with a 3.64 at 207.75 to open his Sunday efforts, then went 3.60 at 207.78 to down Terry Coyle in Chip King's supercharged '72 Mustang, before beating a second teammate, Kurt Steding and his 2020 Camaro, with a 3.61 at 209.72 in the semis.

With lane choice, Tutterow lined up on the left for the final, but it was Halsey with the advantage off the start, leaving with a .044 to Tutterow's .056 reaction time. It paid off 3.62 seconds later as Halsey turned on the win light going 207.05 mph. Tutterow showed 3.61 and 206.92 on his scoreboard.

"It was a good race. I mean, he was a little quicker on the tree than I was, but I had a little better ET and when we got to the finish line I really couldn't tell who won," Tutterow said. "And the scoreboard was kind of delayed before I saw my speed. I thought it should've run more speed than it did."

Going to the line, Halsey knew he had a tough challenge ahead of him, and when it was all over he had a similar take to Tutterow.

"I kind of figured he had a little advantage on us performance-wise so I just did what I thought I needed to do," he said. "Which was do my job driving and push it. And I actually thought I did better than it was. I was .044 and I thought I was better than that. Maybe I was (staged) real shallow or something.

"But it was a fun race to win. I could see him the whole time," Halsey continued. "When you have an advantage on everybody to where you win by a tenth (of a second) every run, then it kind of gets old after a while. This one, I knew I was in a drag race for sure."

 
TOUCHING TRIBUTE - The U.S. flag was flying at half mast over Bradenton Motorsports Park to honor and offer tribute to track employee Daniel "Chaps" Stone, who lost his life in a tragic accident Friday night during the U.S. Street Nationals. A memorial service also is planned for Stone this coming Wednesday at the track.

 

STEVIE FAST: WHAT WENT WRONG - In a word: everything. 

That pretty much sums up "Stevie Fast" Jackson's assessment of qualifying "The Shadow," his legendary screw-blown 2015 Camaro sixth in an 11-car field, then losing to Daniel Ray in the opening round of Radials vs. the World eliminations at the 2021 U.S. Street Nationals.    

"We started sucking when we cranked the truck up in the driveway and we never quit sucking until we pushed the car into the trailer. That's the easiest way I can tell you. It's been a rough weekend," Jackson admitted. "But opening weekends of the season can be like this. Half the stuff that you think was going to do better in the off season, your changes don't work."

Even getting to South Florida's historic Bradenton Motorsports Park proved to be a challenge for the back-to-back reigning NHRA Pro Mod World Champion and his Evans, GA-based team. 

"We missed out on the day of testing (Thursday) because our truck and trailer broke down on the way here and we had to get it towed," he explained. "And then we just had some, some struggles, but this race always kind of sets the tone for the year and we're getting all the bad luck out of the way now. We'll be in much better shape to be competitive at Lights Out (Feb. 24-28 at South Georgia Motorsports Park). 

"We found some stuff over on the legal side of things at the end of last year that made the engine more responsive and powerful, so we transposed some of that stuff into the radial tire car and just don't have a good handle on making it consistent yet," Jackson said, holding up a small, homemade cartoon of co-crew chief Phil Shuler thinking "Burn it up!" 

Regardless, Jackson remained apologetic, knowing his legions of fans have practically come to expect record-setting performances each time he hits the track.  

"I hate it for everybody that drove a long way to come watch us race, just to watch us stink the joint up, but if you line the car up enough times, you're going to have these outings where just nothing seems to go right. So we definitely didn't perform the way we wanted to this weekend, but we're going to keep swinging at it."

CYRNEK SETS LDR RECORD, WINS EVENT - Just to leave no doubt, Justin Cyrnek of Rockdale, IL, backed up his unprecedented 3.973-seconds qualifying pass with an unopposed 3.976 in the opening round of Limited Drag Radial eliminations for the U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton, FL. 

He then ran 3.99 to oust Greg Powrie from round two, but had to win with a holeshot against Paul Gargus in the semis, leaving with a .060 advantage that allowed his '04 Mustang to prevail with a 4.27 at 182.70 mph over the 4.26 at 161.61 put together by Gargus in his '69 Camaro.

That left only number-two qualifier Shane Stack and his fan-favorite '86 Monte Carlo waiting for Cyrnek in the final, where he overcame a .012 holeshot with another stellar 3.975 at 192.14 to beat Stack's 4.011 at 186.23-mph effort.

 

 

SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - KING TUT SHINES IN DAY TWO QUALIFYING

TUTTEROW TOP QUALIFIER IN PRO MOD - Todd Tutterow's Friday-night pass of 3.58 seconds at 211.46 mph withstood the challenges of 37 other Outlaw Pro Mod competitors after Saturday's lone and final qualifying session for the 17th annual U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons at Bradenton Motorsports Park.

Tutterow, driving the screw-blown Decker's Salvage late-model Camaro, will face off against Largo, FL's Ken Cruz, who ran 3.96 at 186.36 to secure the 32nd and final qualifying slot with his supercharged '02 Camaro.

Jim Halsey retained his third position from Friday night's action, as did Kevin Rivenbark and Kurt Steding to round out the top five.

In fact, it takes until the 10th slot to see the first change and that came about only because Adam Flamholc withdrew from his '63 Corvette to put Steve Wiley in the seat. Unfortunately, Wiley managed only a 6.48 to place 36th overall.

Significantly, PDRA nitrous Pro Mod star Tommy Franklin made the jump up from 36th on Friday night to 16th after Saturday morning with a 3.69 at 204.29-mph combo in his '69 Camaro. Virginia-based Steve King also broke into the qualified field, moving his screw-blown C7 Corvette up from 33rd to 27th with some last-round 3.85 at 183.29 heroics.

Round one of Pro Mod eliminations is scheduled to be completed Saturday evening, with the remaining four rounds of racing reserved for Sunday.

JEWELL REPRESENTS IMPORT MUSCLE - Driving the only import entry in Outlaw Pro Mod at the U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons, Rachel Jewell of Hilton, NY, ran a best of 4.95 at 144.81 mph in Friday night's qualifying round, leaving her 35th of 38 entries and outside the 32-car field. The 2006 Toyota Solara carries a turbocharged 2JZ engine.
LEGEND IN THE LANES - Legendary former Top Fuel driver Darrell Gwynn shared a moment in the lanes with Pro Mod pilot Craig Sullivan prior to Friday night's qualifying rounds at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
HANEY IMPROVES WITH FINAL QUALIFYING PASS, WINS 1ST ROUND - Following up on a career-best 3.65 pass in Thursday's practice sessions at Bradenton Motorsports Park, Oklahoma auto dealer Keith Haney ran 3.68 at 205.76 mph on Saturday morning to qualify his nitrous-huffing ride 12th overall in the 32-car Pro Mod field.

Round one of racing also was held Saturday night, with Haney leaving with a .065 light against an outstanding .005 by 21st-place starter Jerico Balduf in the left lane. An eighth of a mile later, though, Haney's "Black Mamba" Camaro finished first at 3.67 and 206.16 mph--his fastest official speed ever--beating a 3.75 at a fading 174.91 mph by Balduf's Batman-themed '69 Chevelle.  
SOLID START TO BARNETT'S PRO MOD CAREER - Lyle Barnett, competing in his first-ever Pro Mod race, ran an identical 3.687 elapsed time to Keith Haney in Saturday's lone qualifying session, but Haney got the nod for 12th place based on going slightly faster than Barnett's 202.33 mph in Richard Freeman's Elite Motorsports Camaro.

Barnett went on to race 20th-place starter Stan Shelton and his 2019 Mustang in round one of eliminations, where he left with a stellar .011 light, then posted a winning 3.67 at 203.80 mph to once again reset both ends of his personal Pro Mod records.
FRANKLIN OUSTED FROM  FIRST ROUND - Despite involving the numbers 16 and 17 qualifiers, the biggest upset in the opening round of Outlaw Pro Mod competition still had to be Robert Abbott of Bowling Green, FL, defeating multi-time PDRA Pro Nitrous champion Tommy Franklin with a holeshot.

Though Abbott left with an adequate, but far from intimidating .063 reaction time, Franklin was dead late with an uncharacteristic .189 light, negating his 3.68 at 204.42-mph combo and allowing a .037 margin of victory for Abbott's 3.69 at 202.48-mph effort.     
SALEMI'S START SINKS SULLIVAN - Also winning with a holeshot in round one of Pro Mod racing at the U.S. Street Nationals was Buffalo, NY's Melanie Salemi over Craig Sullivan from Plainfield, IN.

Salemi's screw-blown '68 Firebird moved first at .045 to take a .036 advantage off the start that wound up as .018 at the finish, with her 3.69 at 206.20 downing a 3.67 at 206.67 by Sullivan's also-screw-blown '69 Dodge Daytona.  

 

 

 

FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - A TRAGIC OPENING DAY IN BRADENTON

TRAGEDY STRIKES U.S. STREET NATIONALS - An unidentified track worker was killed Friday night during round two of Pro 275 qualifying for the 17th annual U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
The burst panels on the engine of Paul Major's 2001 Corvette let go as it crossed the eighth-mile finish line and the throttle may have then hung open as the car entered the shutdown area. The track worker apparently was struck by Major's car near the end of the pavement. Major was uninjured in the accident. 

Details were not readily available when all track activity was canceled for the night about 7:30 p.m. Friday. Qualifying for all classes was scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

UPDATE: The track worker has been publicly identified as longtime BMP employee Daniel "Chaps" Stone. A GoFundMe.com page has been established to aid Stone's family and several racers have reportedly pledged to donate any winnings from the event to the cause. CompetionPlus.com joins the entire drag racing community in offering sincere condolences to Stone's family and friends.

'KING TUT' RULES EARLY PRO MOD QUALIFYING - Todd Tutterow took over the lead in the second round of U.S. Street Nationals Pro Mod qualifying with a 3.58-seconds pass at 211.46 mph over the eighth mile at Bradenton Motorsports Park. 
Tutterow, driving the screw-blown Decker's Salvage Camaro, jumped up from the seventh position after going 3.68 at 208.59 mph in the opening qualifying session. He bumped the 3.59 at 211.03 first-round effort of Randy Weatherford down to second, with Jim Halsey third at 3.61 and 208.42 mph in his nitrous-fed '68 Camaro. 

‚ÄčKevin Rivenbark and Kurt Steding rounded out the top five after 38 cars made attempts to break into the 32-car Pro Mod field. Two more rounds of Pro Mod qualifying, plus the opening round of eliminations are scheduled for Saturday.
RECORD RUN ROCKETS BUGINGA TO PRO 275 LEAD  - Though marred and ended early by the tragic death of a track worker, round two of Pro 275 qualifying for the U.S. Street Nats at Bradenton Motorsports Park also delivered a record-setting performance by Manny Buginga and his '03 Mustang. 

Running in the right lane alongside California's Roger Holder in the first pair out, Massachusetts-based Buginga posted the quickest pass in class history with a 3.726 effort at 201.10 mph to earn provisional number-one honors.
At 3.75 and 206.92, Mark Micke was the leader after the first round of qualifying, which featured 24 entries vying for a place in the 16-car field.
GOSS GOES TO THE TOP IN X275 QUALIFYING - Rob Goss (l) and crewmember Bruce Maichle remove the front end of Goss' '09 Challenger shortly after the Sheridan, WY-based racer opened X275 qualifying for the U.S. Street Nats with a commanding 4.218-seconds pass at 168.41 mph. Goss credited tuner Wade Hopkins of Southern Speed Racing for the quick start, but added he's looking to go quicker and faster as the weekend progresses.
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Brunswick, GA's Charles Hull was a full seven-hundredths back in second with a 4.288 at 168.56 mph in his '92 Mustang, with Blake Copson and his '03 Mustang Cobra from Bridgewater, MA, third at 4.29 and 168.35 mph after 13 entries made attempts in Friday's lone qualifying session.   
EARLY QUALIFYING RESULTS - Just one round of qualifying for the U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons was completed for most classes Friday at South Florida's Bradenton Motorsports Park.

The lone sessions left Oklahoma's Justin Martin atop a 13-car list of Limited Drag Radial qualifiers with a 4.02 at 183.44 mph in his '72 Nova, while Bradenton's own Bill Gregan led 15 Ultra Street racers with a 4.57 at 152.38 in his 1990 Mustang.

Heavy Street leadership belonged to Rick Prospero with a 4.41 at 167.99 in his Florida-based Mazda RX7, while Chris Holdorf, another Florida racer, led Outlaw 632 after going 4.14 at 169.49 in his '53 Corvette.

 

MEETING OF THE MINDS - Nitrous Pro Mod fan-favorite Keith Haney (l) and uber tuner Brandon Switzer compare notes in the pits after Haney posted a 3.69 at 206.01 mph in the opening round of qualifying for the U.S. Street Nationals in Bradenton, FL.
CARD-CARRYING MEMBERS - Buffalo, NY's Melanie Salemi (l) with friend and crewmember Katey Knight pass time in the pits Friday afternoon while waiting for second-round Pro Mod qualifying to begin. Salemi and her supercharged '68 Firebird were unable to improve upon a troubled 3.83 at 161.09-pass in the opening round, however, leaving her 26th of 38 entries.
NEW HORSEPOWER - With a brand-new Musi-built motor up front in his '68 Firebird, Jamie Hancock ran 3.60 at 198.93 to place second behind Bryan Markiewicz after one round of Radials vs. the World qualifying for the U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park. 
TUTEN SETS PERSONAL-BEST RECORD - Despite dropping from twins to a single Harts turbo on his "same ol' 481X motor," Chris Tuten of Pelion, SC, ran a personal best 3.82 at 201.85 mph to place fourth in the opening round of Pro 275 qualifying. And though sporting its same, familiar '87 Mustang bodywork, Tuten said his self-record run came on his very first pass with an all-new tube chassis by Teddy Houser Race Cars.
FLORACING VIDEO ON THE SCENE - Brian Wagner with videographer Albert Alcantara are covering all aspects of the U.S. Street Nationals presented by Diamond Pistons for FloRacing.com.