BOYD GRABS S/P, SONDERFAN PICKS UP PRO WIN
KETTERER ALMOST DOUBLES UP
There are many things that a drag racer faces that represent challenges. One critical component of any day’s competition is the weather. Sometimes the air is cold and other times the heat is almost unbearable. Figuring out what to dial from round to round can be a nightmare. But this weekend the day was just about perfect. Temperatures in the high 60s, nice sunshine, not much wind and reasonable humidity set the scene for about an idyllic a day at the races as you will ever see.
And those conditions it was time for some new faces to collect the honors as Robbie Boyd, Craig Sonderfan and Mark Ketterer all garnered the titles in Super, Pro and Street for the first time this year. Boyd has switched to a RED mount this season and has been getting better and better as he gain more experience with the dragster. Sonderfan, who historically finishes in the top five or ten positions in points each year, has been shut out until this race in the Pro division. And Mark Ketterer almost pulled off a double, working his way to the final in both Pro and Street, winning the race in the latter category.
Boyd took out prior winner Bryan Mirsky in the opener of S/P, followed up with a win over the Vette of Joe Algieri in the quarters and fell into a bye run for the semifinals. Mirsky, on a buy back, bested David Hebig to advance out of the QF and Barry Luyster sent Randy Wendtland home to become the third entry into the semis. After Mirsky fouled out to Luyster the dragsters paired off for the deciding race where it was just about even up on the dial in. While Luyster gained a very small edge on the launch the win light came on in Boyd’s lane making his 6.45, 155.74 the better ticket. Luyster got close but went to runner-up status on a 6.49 at 154.72 mph.
Pro bracket was, as usual, the most populated and some of the finest racing you will find anywhere was the result. In the quarters points leader Jim Young ran his Olds entry to a win over newcomer Blake Furman and his Plymouth. Craig Sonderfan and his Chevelle took out the Firebird of Lou Buxbaum and Mark Ketterer drove his Dart to a win over the Fairmont of Rich Martin. Based on history one might have chosen Young to best Ketterer in the SF, but a sharp eye on the tree for the Mopar racer got him to the final with an 11.52 at 108.72 that set aside the 10.59 and 118.96 by Young. Sonderfan moved into his first final of the season on a solo pass. The final here was the last race of the night, and Ketterer had already picked up the Street bracket victory and was looking to go double at the pay window. Sonderfan was not to be denied his title now that he was this close, and he stepped out with a couple thousandths on the tree and needed only a 9.67 time at 133.38 mph to grab the crown. Ketterer still had a good outing with his second place finish of 11.54, 108.55.
Street eliminator was a bit unusual in one respect. The three cars that made it to the semifinal had all lost in the first round. Under the buyback process each driver had coughed up some money to try to get back into the deal, and for the first time in memory the trio were all eligible due to the second chance system. Keith Burnham hung a light on Bill Hakucsa to win his race in the quarters and Ketterer won over Bill Doczi when the latter fouled. Bill Wackerman ran alone. While Burnham was a bye run in the semis Ketterer faced off with Wackerman. The Dodge gave up a little head start and ran under the dial at 11.49, 115.18 but was the winner anyway when Wackerman’s card came up further under the handicap on an 11.59, 114.74. With four hundredths in the bank in the final Ketterer backed off at the top end for the victory at 11.55 and 107.93 that forced Burnham to break out with a 15.60 and 87.35.
So while three of the brackets were taken by first time winners, the story in Bike was an old refrain. Barry Stephens and his Suzuki came out of the number eight qualifying spot to nail down another event win. He opened up the day by besting the sled of Charlie Koenig and fell into a bye on the ladder for second round. Semifinal opponent Ken Thiedemann went red to send Stephens to another trophy race. Ashton Dickerson was walking through his side of the chart and put out Dave Ferguson to advance to the last pairing. Stephens slapped a hole shot on Dickerson and made it look easy in taking the win light on a 9.46 and 128.95 ticket. Dickerson recorded an on the dial 8.99 at 145.91 that came up short.
Allen Cestra was the best of the Trophy racers when he defeated Pat Campomizzi in the deciding race. Cestra won in the semis over a red lighting Ted Covalence and they managed to run right on his handicap of 10.22 at 127.87 for the final win. He needed that ET because Campomizzi hit the tree better and ran close at 12.97, 103.80 that made this one a close encounter, the MOV a mere .006 seconds.
Modern Muscle class was contested and the late model EFI racers put on a good show. With a few vehicles that aren’t generally considered high performance items mixed in there was a good representation of Fords, Chevys and Mopars all vying for the title. Jennifer Vignola drove her Challenger to victory over Doug Kelly and his Pontiac Trans Am entry. Maureen Lennon made it to the semifinal in her Mustang but dropped the round to Vignola. Showing some real concentration on the starting line, Vignola cut a .007 RT in the final and used her 12.30, 103.28 to capture the cup. Kelly made a decent run but was found wanting as his 13.86, 100.34 dropped his to runner-up.
When you have large Pro and Street fields it generally leads to a good turnout for Consolation Two. And that was the case this weekend, with the second chance racers numbering sixteen in the first round. By the time the last race came around it was a battle between teammates as Tylor Wyker in a S-10 went off against the Monte Carlo of Rob Zetterberg. Zetterberg was in his third straight C-2 final and looking to run his record to 2 and 1, but that was just not in the cards. Wyker left better and rapped out a 10.296 at 129.02 for the winning ticket. Zetterberg tried to chase him down but even a slightly under 9.48 and 141.19 proved insufficient to get the job done.