The Independence Day weekend was packed full of planned action that took a little turn to the cool side, but still provided some great racing and fond memories.
The Hanna Motorsports Jet racers were scheduled for a Friday night special event that had to be postponed due to bad weather. Fortunately the jet car trio was available for a Saturday appearance and so they became part of the annual King of the Track gathering with all classes marked for increased payouts and a $2K guaranteed purse in the Super Pro bracket. A late start to the festivities due to an errant starting line electronics problem was eventually worked out and from then on it was all burners lit.
Rich Hanna and Ken Hall provided three rounds of match race madness over the thousand foot distance that had everyone in the place on their feet for a good view. Driving the GOJO First Strike Firebird, Hanna took a first round win light over the Xlerator Top Secret Pontiac piloted by Hall in a side by side match that was decided by the hole shot Hanna got on the line. Pounding out a 4.959 at a speed of 243.31 edged out a slightly quicker but later arriving 4.950 and 248.20. Rich again took the RT advantage in Round Two but could not hold off the power of Ken’s ride when he set a new track record for the distance at 4.916 and a top end speed of 249.21 mph. The losing 5.02 and 243.15 by Hanna left him wanting more, and just one more round to get it. The rubber match went to Hanna again on a superior reaction to the tree and he recorded a ticket of 4.931, 245.09. Hall missed lowering the et mark with a close to the record 4.919 seconds, but did up the ante on the speed mark with a stout pass of 249.44 mph through the traps.
Jill Canuso was also on hand driving the Hanna’s Queen of Diamonds II jet powered dragster. This young lady can handle the raw horsepower of the BIC Lighter sponsored machine and made three terrific runs 1150 pound racer with 6000 pounds of thrust. All her passes were in the 4.60 range and in excess of 260 mph. She left the track with an et record of 4.615 seconds and the speed mark of 264.55.
The regular internal combustion engine race cars were led by the dragster of Dave Helbig as he collected the two thousand dollar check in Super Pro eliminator. With the payout for the class guaranteed by RW Performance Transmissions, Helbig worked his way through the field to square off with the previous week’s class winner, Robbie Boyd and his Camaro. Boyd had turned back Jason Wilson in the QF and Brien Bielen in the semis in a rematch of the final round one week ago. Helbig disposed of the Vega of Chris Hunt and followed up with a victory over Phil Judd to earn his spot in the title race. Boyd received the head start in the final but some sort of mechanical problem cropped up and his reaction time way off the mark. Helbig collected the money with a 6.24 second pass at a speed of 151.26 mph.
While the prize was a little smaller in Pro it was still enough to bring out the best in the competitors and some fine racing was the result. Jim Young opened the quarters with a win light over the roadster driven by Bob Boucher. Barry Van Scoten and his “El Nova” got the better of Joe Theodore while Bob Dukin ran solo in his Malibu. As VanScoten had the bye in the semis it left Dukin and Young to fight it out for the other spot. Young’s better launch cut down the 9.52, 136 effort by Dukin and sent the Olds racer ahead at 10.71, 122. Van Scoten actually had a couple of hundredths on Young in the trophy dash and it looked like the orange Chevy II was headed for the pay window. But as they got to the finish line he lifted just a tad and slowed to a 10.96 and 122.61 on a dial of 10.91. That was just enough to let Young sneak by with a 10.71 and 121.46 against a dial of 10.68 to grab the win by a margin of .0001 seconds.
Street was garnered by Bill Hakucsa when he ran down Pat Conway in the last race. Having taken out Eric Stewart and Keith Burnham earlier, Hakucsa watched as Conway gunned down Bob Gay and Chuck Henion Jr. The class was decided by a double break out deal that had Conway under his number with an 11.96 and 106.84 that gave the light to Hakucsa when he ran less under his dial at 11.48 and 121.94.
Bike eliminator belonged to the always tough Ken George as he outlasted Don Hookway. Hookway got the title race with wins over Scott McGrath and a single in the semis. George had to contend with points leader Barry Stephens and Jim Totaro to make his way to the money run. The Suzuki of George clicked off a strong 8.55 at 143.51 to defeat Hookway’s close but losing 9.32 at 137.61.
` Mike Conway was the best of Trophy racers and finished up the night with a victory over Jean Ann Zetterberg. Zetterberg as the track champ in S/P some years back but leads a more laid back life these days. Racing her street car just for fun she got close to the award, dropping the final to Conway with a ticket of 11.09 at 112.39. Conway’s winning marks were 11.74 and 105.98.
The four bracket winners were supposed to race for the King of the Track Wally, and half of the contest did get finished. George and his motorcycle got by Hakucsa’s Camaro to gain one side of the ladder. Helbig was successful in downing Young for the other finalist spot. Unfortunately, with the lateness of the hour the final was postponed until a later date to see who will hold the title King of the Track for 2014.