2021 PDRA AMERICAN DOORSLAMMER CHALLENGE - EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK - LEE, HALSEY, MORTON SCORE KEY WINS
HOLY TOLEDO - Jason Lee has been making headlines in numerous different classes and sanctioning bodies over the last few years with Eric Gustafson’s Coast Packing Company ’69 Camaro, but he hadn’t won a race in Pro Boost before this weekend. He stepped up in a big way for the final round, firing off a 3.659 at 208.97 in the heat of the day to defeat Randy Weatherford and his 3.672 at 209.88.
“What a day,” Lee said. “This is the best place in the country, in my opinion, to do it. This is actually a local track for me. I had family come out and it was great to have them here. They haven't been able to watch me race for several years, so they finally had an opportunity to come out. It's awesome to win in this organization because I think it's probably the most highly competitive group of guys out there. Hopefully we can just keep this rolling.”
Lee started eliminations from the No. 9 spot, but he quickly stepped up as one of the quickest cars in the class during eliminations. He used a holeshot advantage and 3.637 at 209.79 to beat Todd Tutterow’s 3.621 in the first round. Second-round opponent Daniel Pharris threw away a 3.657 with a .005 red light, but Lee was ready with his 3.674 at 208.91. A consistent 3.678 at 208.62 was enough to move on over Chuck Ulsch’s 3.718 to earn a trip to the final round.
Weatherford was quick and consistent on the tree and down track in his ProCharger-boosted WS Construction ’17 Camaro. He stayed in the 3.60s throughout eliminations, running a 3.63 over James Beadling’s 3.639, a 3.653 to beat Johnny Camp’s 3.676 and a 3.667 to eliminate Kevin Rivenbark.
JIMMY'S JAMMING - A weekend that includes taking the low qualifier award and the event victory has become almost a routine for two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey. But his trip to the winner’s circle was anything but routine, as he faced a pair of multi-time world champions – Tommy Franklin and “Tricky” Rickie Smith before defeating Tony Wilson in the final round.
Halsey’s 3.685 at 206.70 in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro was just quicker than the 3.704 at 204.05 from Wilson, who enjoyed his second consecutive “career-best” weekend.
“Beating Rickie in the semis, that was big for us,” Halsey said, who wished a happy birthday to his longtime girlfriend, Cathy Crouse. “He's one of the best there is. We need to beat people like him to continue our run. With Jay [Cox] and Ron [Muenks] going out second round, that helped us big time. Beating Tony in the final helped us a little bit there too. This weekend just gave us a little bit of lead and breathing room.”
Halsey, who held the points lead over Muenks, Cox, and Wilson going into the weekend, posted a 3.633 at 207.85 to highlight an ultra-quick first round of eliminations on Saturday night. When the sun came out on Sunday, Halsey found his spot for race day, running a 3.68 at 207.11 to beat Franklin’s 4.505 and a 3.697 at 206.35 to defeat Smith, a former NHRA Pro Mod and PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion, and his 3.727 in the semis.
Wilson, a semifinalist at the first two races of the season, qualified No. 11 in his Justin Elkes-tuned, Musi-powered “Midnight Special” ’69 Camaro. His 3.678 defeated Matt Guenther’s 3.681 in a tight first-round match. A 3.709 beat a red-lighting Jay Cox and a 3.727 kept Wilson ahead of Ed Burnley’s 3.818 in the semis.
MORTON WINS - After taking runner-up finishes at multiple races in 2020, Extreme Pro Stock veteran Elijah Morton scored his first PDRA victory since the 2019 season opener. He earned it as a driver, cutting a .021 light to leave on Chris Powers and secure a holeshot victory. Morton ran a 4.167 at 176.49 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang, while Powers chased with a 4.075 at 177.11.
“It's just an awesome win,” said Morton, who was sure to recognize veterans and members of the military for their service. “My guys worked hard today. We had a lot of little gremlins we had to get corrected. The starter fell off right before we were getting ready to go up for the third round and they fixed it. Everybody jumped in. We had a lot of little things happen, but my crew did a great job. The driver did his job today too. We're just so thrilled to be here. It's a very rewarding win today on Memorial Day weekend. What a memory.”
Racing out of the No. 7 slot on the 10-car ladder, Morton scored a major first-round win over John Montecalvo in the opening round with his 4.179 at 176.67. A .004 reaction time gave Morton his first holeshot win of the day, running a 4.127 at 177.21 to John DeFlorian’s 4.083. Finally, Morton caught a break in the semifinals when Bill Neri left the starting line too soon, allowing Morton’s 5.253 to beat Neri’s 4.442.
Powers, who won the PDRA season opener in his Sonny’s Racing Engines ’14 Camaro, was consistent throughout the weekend’s various weather conditions, running a 4.105 to beat Justin Kirk in Saturday’s chilly opening round, then a 4.121 in the sun on Sunday. He did have to lift to a 10.208 on a semifinal single, though.
A BREAKTHROUGH - Daryl Stewart has pushed his Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro to semifinal finishes at the last three races he’s attended – two PDRA races and an unsanctioned race – so he was eager to go one round further at the American Doorslammer Challenge. He one-upped that goal, though, as he left on defending world champion Wes Distefano in the final round and recorded a 4.205 at 168.60 to get his first win in Pro Outlaw 632. Distefano ran a 4.224 at 168.03 in the runner-up effort.
“This win definitely helped us out,” said Stewart, who thanked tuner Clayton Murphy and crew member Chris Dunn. “After getting to the semis at the last three races, it was getting tough. But it's all good and this definitely breathes some life into us. We're ready to go. We're excited for Maryland now.”
Stewart, who is just five races into his first season of competition in 25 years, qualified No. 2 and went 4.186 at 170.54 to knock down Chris Holdorf in the first round. A 4.195 at 170.32 followed to defeat Nicole Liberty-Cach in E2, then his 4.207 at 170.47 eliminated Vince Khoury in the semis.
Distefano was the low qualifier in his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro. He started eliminations strong with a 4.174 to beat Tara Thornton, then slowed to a 4.297 and 4.26 to defeat Brian Werner and Tony Gillig, respectively.
UNCONVENTIONAL ROAD - Multi-time world champion Eric McKinney didn’t have the conventional road to the winner’s circle in Pro Nitrous Motorcycle. After qualifying No. 1 with a 4.01, the Ohio native received two bye runs in eliminations, including the final round when he recorded another 4.01 to claim the PDRA “660 Man” trophy.
“It's awesome because this is basically our home track,” McKinney said, thanking his father and team owner, Scott McKinney, as well as tuner and teammate Ashley Owens. “Our whole family is up here. It's the first race my boys got to come to. Having the whole family in the winner circle is awesome. We set out to chase points but we had to miss the first race due to truck problems, so this win works out good. It's been a long time since I've held a trophy, so it's really cool. It's also awesome to win on Memorial Day weekend – hat's off to all the veterans and military members.”
McKinney’s had a single in the first round because his opponent, Gerald Smith, broke in qualifying and wasn’t able to return for eliminations. McKinney ran a 4.258 at 174.08 to get data for the final round. He was unopposed again in the final because Owens, his opponent for the round, had to head to the airport to catch a flight.
Owens qualified No. 2 on the team’s other McKinney Motorsports Hayabusa, then used a holeshot advantage and 4.103 to beat Chris Garner-Jones’ 4.06 in the first round.
ESSICK DELIVERS - Maryland’s Tim Essick had the car to beat in Pro Street. Between qualifying No. 1 and ripping off low E.T. of the event in the opening round, Essick proved himself all weekend. The performance ended with a 3.974 at 188.33 on a final-round single, as Chris Cadotto broke on the burnout and couldn’t make the run.
“It's terrific,” Essick said, mentioning sponsors ATI Transmissions, ProCharger, Precision Racing Suspension, Billet Atomizer, and UPR. “It's been a long weekend, but outside of that, everything just worked flawlessly. We just kept racing the racetrack, doing our thing, not worrying about who we were racing. This gives us a ton of momentum. We have a lot of good data, a lot of good laps. We changed a couple things in the engine, so we got all that ironed out up here so we'll be set and ready to go when we get home [for the next race in Maryland].”
Essick started the day with a single as well, posting a 3.956 at 188.81 in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. A 4.162 at 186.46 followed in the second round to defeat Jesse Lambert, then a 4.047 at 187.16 to beat Bob Ross and his 4.107 sent Essick to the final round.
Cadotto qualified No. 2 in his supercharged ’97 Dodge Ram known as “the Brick” and opened eliminations with a strong 4.066 to beat a red-lighting Ron Stang. He slowed to a 4.605 in his second-round victory over Joseph Thomas and posted a 4.732 on a competition single in the semis.
STANLEY HEADLINES SPORTSMAN WINNERS - A long day of fast bracket racing in Elite Top Sportsman ended in victory for Cheyenne Stanley and his twin-turbocharged ’07 Mustang. Final-round opponent Erica Coleman laid down a perfect .000 reaction time in her Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro, but she encountered trouble and slowed to a 4.266 on 3.87 dial-in. Stanley was also off pace with his 4.151 on a 3.90 dial, but he held on for the win.
After late-round finishes at the first two races of the season, Top Sportsman points leader Nick Meloni secured his first event victory of the season in his TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro. Meloni ran a 4.292 on a 4.28 dial-in, while final-round opponent Troy Finner went red by .009, throwing away a 4.305 on a 4.29 dial.
One of the quickest Elite Top Dragster fields in PDRA history came to a dramatic close in the final round, as Peter Maduri defeated Michael White in a race decided by thousandths of a second. Maduri left first in his K100/Dynabrade ’17 Chrome-Worx dragster with a .004 reaction time to White’s .005. Maduri sealed the deal with a 3.792 on a 3.79 dial-in, just edging out White’s 3.768 on a 3.76 dial-in.
In Top Dragster 32, points leader TG Paschal padded his lead with his second win of the season. He had a .005 starting line advantage over Shanna Stone, then his 4.288 on a 4.29 dial-in beat Stone’s 4.358 on a 4.36 dial in a double-breakout final round.
The next race on the 2021 PDRA tour is the North-South Shootout presented by Line-X, June 24-26 at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Maryland.
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - FAST TIMES, GREAT RACING HIGHLIGHT SATURDAY ACTION
HALSEY DOMINATES, MARINIS WALKS AWAY FROM CRASH - After qualifying No. 1 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro, defending Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey uncorked a 3.633-second pass at 207.85 to set low E.T. of the event in his first-round win over Brian Shrader, who didn’t make it to the finish line. Halsey will take on fellow two-time world champion Tommy Franklin in the second round.
Dean Marinis, who sustained a high-speed crash just after crossing the eighth-mile finish line with a winning 3.656 pass, walked away without major injuries but is unable to return for second round. His first-round opponent, Ed Burnley, will take his spot on the eliminations ladder.
First-round results: Jim Halsey 3.633 def. Brian Shrader (no E.T.), Tommy Franklin 3.665 def. Jackie Slone 6.366, Lizzy Musi 3.661 def. Marcus Butner 3.893, Rickie Smith 3.694 def. John Vergotz 3.799, Dean Marinis 3.656 def. Ed Burnley 3.761, Ron Muenks 3.979 def. Jim Widener 5.084, Jay Cox 3.683 def. Dane Wood 3.755, Tony Wilson 3.678 def. Matt Guenther 3.681.
JOHNNY P IS THE MAN - With cool air and track conditions, the naturally aspirated, clutch-equipped hot rods in Extreme Pro Stock struggled to put the power to the ground in their opening round. Defending world champion Johnny Pluchino navigated the challenges most effectively, recording a 4.064 at 179.54 to defeat Dave Hughes’ 4.12. Pluchino and his Kaase-powered Strutmasters ’13 Mustang will take on Chris Powers in round two.
Powers had the second quickest pass of the round with his 4.105 at 172.56 over Justin Kirk, who won the most recent race on tour.
Bill Neri delivered the upset of the round, though, as he pulled out a 4.218 at 171.69 to defeat JR Carr.
First-round results: John DeFlorian 9.877 def. Steven Boone (broke in qualifying), Elijah Morton 4.179 def. John Montecalvo 11.321, Johnny Pluchino 4.064 def. Dave Hughes 4.12, Chris Powers 4.105 def. Justin Kirk 7.868.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - IT'S MOTHER NATURE FOR THE WIN
Due to persistent rain showers, Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) officials canceled Friday qualifying at the DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies at Summit Motorsports Park. The series will try to complete a second, final qualifying session on Saturday, with Sunday set aside as race day.
“We are in a difficult position with a poor weather forecast for today’s racing schedule and we do not expect it to improve,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “We are monitoring Saturday’s weather. If there is a window for Q2, we will make every effort to complete qualifying tomorrow. If that is the case, then Sunday will be reserved for eliminations. If we cannot complete qualifying on Saturday, we will run Q2 Sunday morning, followed by eliminations.”
Friday spectator tickets will be valid for Saturday or Sunday. Saturday ticket holders will receive a $5 refund when they scan their ticket on Sunday. Sunday tickets will be $20 at the gate. Kids 12 and under get in for free.
No new entries will be accepted for Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams. All entries already on the grounds will be contested.
The fireworks and jet dragster exhibition planned for Saturday night have been canceled due to time constraints.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK - COMPETITION HEATS UP EARLY IN NORWALK
BIG TIRE, BIG PERPHORMANCE - Barrier-breaking Radial vs. the World driver Daniel Pharris teamed up with the GALOT Motorsports team for a run at the PDRA Pro Boost world championship earlier this year. It took one of his best runs in the car in big-tire Pro Mod trim to top the 19-car Pro Boost qualifying order at Norwalk. His 3.649 at 207.05 in the Steve Petty-tuned GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro was the quickest of eight passes in the 3.60s.
“Honestly, we tried to keep it as safe as possible,” Pharris said. “Could we have gone faster? Probably. Have we been faster? Yes. It's kind of a double-edged sword. You want to go No. 1 but you also want to make the field too. We were going to do whatever it took to get down the track. If it shook and I had to get out of it, I was gonna try to get back in it and try to run it down there just so we could put a number up. But it's kind of like Russian roulette. We swung as hard as we thought we needed to swing and it stuck. We're happy with it.”
A pair of Pittsburgh-area drivers followed Pharris to round out the top 3. Johnny Camp, who won the PDRA season opener in his ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro, qualified No. 2 with a 3.656 at 207.34. Kurt Steding in his screw-blown P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro is third with his 3.66 at 208.91.
DON'T MESS AROUND WITH JIM - A strong pass in Thursday testing indicated Jim Halsey and his Brandon Switzer-tuned “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro had what it would take to qualify well in the evening’s lone session. Sure enough, the defending Pro Nitrous world champion laid down a 3.65 at 208.04 to take the provisional No. 1 spot by a sizable margin.
“The nerves were pretty bad before that run because this could be your one and only with 18 cars on the property,” Halsey said. “If you don't go down [the track], you could be going home early. The pressure was on, for sure. It takes the pressure off for tonight, anyway. We can sleep tonight and hopefully we get another run or two tomorrow or Saturday.”
Jay Cox, fresh off a win at the PDRA Doorslammer Derby in early May, was the only other driver to record a pass in the 3.60-second range, running a 3.695 at 205.66 in his Buck-powered Butner Construction “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro. Michigan’s Jackie Slone qualified third with a 3.725 at 202.39 in his Musi-powered Slone Boys Racing ’69 Camaro.
DETERMINATION DELIVERS FOR PELCARSKY - After some rule changes affected the Pro Outlaw 632 class following the last race on tour, Jimmy Pelcarsky was determined to keep his small-block-powered $hameless Racing ’15 Camaro running at the front of the pack. The Sagamore Hills, Ohio-based driver accomplished that, recording a 4.187 at 168.87 to lead the 18-car qualifying order.
“It solidifies that even with the [weight] penalty, we're still a force to be reckoned with,” Pelcarsky said of his performance. “We wanted to show out at Norwalk, our home track, because I have a lot of people here supporting the PDRA and us as racers. I'd like to stay at No. 1 and we're going to work really hard – I have to change a piston – and we'll be back Saturday after the rain.”
$hameless Racing leader and defending world champion Wes Distefano tucked in behind Pelcarsky with a 4.192 at 169.68 in his Musi-powered ’68 Camaro. Past world champion Dillon Voss claimed the No. 3 spot in his Voss-powered Vigilante Associates ’17 Corvette with a 4.217 at 170.08.
MCKINNEY PACES BIKES - Three-time world champion Eric McKinney rocketed to the top spot in Pro Nitrous Motorcycle on the strength of a 4.01 at 178.35 aboard the McKinney Motorsports Hayabusa typically piloted by his teammate and tuner, Ashley Owens. The Ohio rider hopes to dip into the 3-second zone before the event is over.
“It's definitely awesome to qualify No. 1 so far,” McKinney said. “I'm riding Ashley's bike and he has it dialed in. He's trying to fix my bike. It's got some issues. We missed most of the races last year. It's awesome to come to our first race this year, at basically our home track, and set the pole right from the get-go. Hopefully we stay there.”
Two other riders made a qualifying attempt in the first session, with Chris Garner-Jones taking his Jones Racing Hayabusa to a 4.182 at 171.27 and Gerald Smith following with his 4.697 at 137.20.
BROWN SUGAR RUNS SO GOOD - Pro Street, the PDRA’s newly revamped Outlaw 10.5-style class, surged to 10 cars in the opening qualifying session of the class’ second stop on the tour. Tim Essick had what it took to top the list in his home-built “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang, posting a 4.013 at 186.74.
“Of course, like everybody on the property, you want to be No. 1 qualifier,” Essick said, thanking supporters ATI Performance, ProCharger, Billet Atomizer, UPR, and Precision Racing Suspension. “But we wanted to make sure we went down too. We tried to make sure it would go. We got two test hits in earlier today. One was just a little shakedown to see where we were at, then the second one we leaned on it a little bit. It set us up good for this first round of qualifying. It went down – it was kind of ugly – but it went down.”
Michigan racers Bob Ross and Chris Cadotto sit behind Essick in the top 3, with Ross managing a 4.116 at 182.75 in his ’88 Camaro. Cadotto in his supercharged ’97 Ram truck nicknamed “the Brick” is third with a 4.174 at 184.70.
BUDDY IS THE TOP SPORTSMAN - Buddy Perkinson, the defending world champion in Elite Top Sportsman, drove his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro to a 3.808 at 195.53 to sit atop the Elite Top Sportsman portion of the Top Sportsman qualifying sheet. Ohio’s Tim Molnar ran a 3.83 at 196.79 in his nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro to end up second. John Benoit in his Buck-powered ’17 Camaro is third with a 3.834 at 189.34.
Past Elite Top Sportsman world champion Donny “Hollywood” Urban is sitting just outside the Elite field with his 4.135 at 182.75, but he’s the current leader in the Top Sportsman 32 field.
Michael White, who frequently tops the Elite Top Dragster field with his centrifugally supercharged ’15 Maddox dragster, is in the familiar No. 1 spot with his 3.745 at 193.24. Ohio’s Bryan Keller took his supercharged KB Trailer Sales ’12 Spitzer to the No. 2 spot with a 3.759 at 199.40. Victor Puglia followed closely with a 3.759 at 189.44.
It took a 3.89 or quicker to make it into the 16-car Elite Top Dragster field. Mike Knott, from nearby Wakeman, Ohio, just missed the Elite field with his 3.919 at 186.18 in his blown Born Equipment ’08 Spitzer, though that means he leads the Top Dragster 32 field.
The PDRA DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies will continue Friday at Summit Motorsports Park.