ANNUAL RACE FOR THE WALLY SUPERB
Each year, as a part of the annual anniversary weekend, Island Dragway participates in what is now known as the All Access Challenge, formerly the National Dragster Challenge competition. While the payouts for the winners is the same as all the other races, there is something about the possibility of adding a special Wally trophy to the case, and it brings out the best of the regulars and always some new faces in the quest to add their name to the list of those who have accomplished the feat.
Sizeable fields filled the lanes, including the largest Bike eliminator in quite a while. It was fortunate that the weather cooperated so well and there were only a few minor delays in the action due to mechanical difficulties. In short, the race went off virtually without a hitch.
Todd Martin showed why he has been so successful in the Super Pro eliminator as he strung together five rounds of win lights to take home his trophy in the bracket. Martin’s best light came in the opener and he was just quick enough through the rest of the action. The RED entry put away the Mustang of James Arata in the quarters and dropped into a bye run in the semis. Robbie Boyd’s Camaro won over the dragster of Don Algieri when the latter broke the rear on the car in his first appearance of the season. Dave Hebig, who finished number one in points last year, drove his dragster unopposed in the QF and lost a very tight race to Boyd in the SF round to send the Chevy up to the title run. Martin’s worst light in competition popped up in the final but Boyd was having his own trouble reacting to the green go signal, and the dragster rapped out a victorious 6.31 lap at 149 mph to the losing 7.55 and 136 by Boyd.
As per usual, Pro started off with the biggest car count and it was apparent that it was going to be a grinding ordeal to win this one. Craig Sonderfan had his Chevelle tuned up and took down Greg Myers’ Camaro to get out of the QF, along with Brian Davison besting Bill Wackermann, Kevin Render taking care of business with John Hedenburg and Lou Buxbaum running solo. Render, who seemed capable of running in the mid ten forties round after round, beat Sonderfan to move into the final, 10.43 and 126 to a 9.79, 131. Buxbaum the motored his Firebird past Davison 9.76 and 131 against a 10.72 at 127. Buxbaum gave away the final dash when he went red on the tree and Render just drove through the traps at 12.70 to collect his cup.
With almost as many Street racers showing up as in Pro, this bracket, which seems to be one of the most competitive week after week, was a dog fight. Jeff Rahner lost in the opener to Bill Hakucsa, but that was not the end of his night. Winning in the buyback race, Rahner took his Buick convertible through the rest of the field and sealed the deal against Steve Baker for the bracket win. Baker, making a second half comeback after finishing first in the bracket in the first half, was driving like his old self, taking starting line advantages against each and every opponent, right up to his match with Baker. Baker turned back Patty Franek in the QF and Rahner pushed Connie Wackermann under in their race in the semis. Rahner was ready with his Skylark when the green light came on in the rubber round and the big block Chevy motored entry clocked a time of 11.53 at 111.94 mph that finished well ahead of Baker’s Camaro’s 12.01, 109.79.
Bike bracket had a little of everything, from Suzukis to Kawasakis to a Harley and a sled. By the time the semis came along, Dave Ferguson and his Arctic Cat sled got by the Suzuki of Barry Stephens and Jeff Santini ran past Scott McGrath. Ferguson made the final a short race when he lit the red bulb to toss out his 9.31 runner-up time as Santini grabbed the headline with a slip of 9.44 and 142.37.
In other action, Madelyn Elsea won J/D over Savannah Kinney, 8.01, 72.69 as opposed to an 8.86, 73.24. And Greg Brinster and his SUV took down the Cobalt of Michael Franks to win the J/ST class, 9.43, 73.88 to a breakout 11.20, 61.85. Trophy bracket was won by Casey Pirro over Adam Skippy.
The NETO circuit had its first of two days of competition and some great racing was had in these two classes. Brian English won the Comp class when he defeated Chris Kraft. English’s Camaro ran 8.74 at 141.19 while Kraft’s 55Chevy developed mechanical troubles. And Steve Consentino drove his huge 62 Dodge wagon to the Nostalgia class victory, finishing off with a win against the Super Bee Dodge of Mike Kwiatek. Consentino clocked 10.62 and 126.79 to Kwiatek’s 10.33 at 127.21. English eventually won the King of the Hill honors when he defeated Consentino in the single elimination runoff.