SEASON POINTS FINALE
ONWARD TO THE DIVISION FINALS
The final race for points for the season was held under perhaps the best weather conditions of the entire year. Clear skies and cool temperatures greeted racers as they laid it all on the line in a last ditch effort to score tallies in the fight to compete at the Division One Bracket Finals, just a couple of weeks down the road. The top earners in three of the brackets were settled prior to this event with the exception of Super Pro, where at least two, and perhaps three runners were in contention for the right to run in the Race of Champions. It took only the first round to secure that honor for Todd Martin to once again represent the best of the bracket from Island. In a year where almost anything could happen, and often did, when it was finally over there were three familiar faces atop the standings and a newcomer in just one category.
Todd Martin finished the chase with a victory over Rich Wilk in Super Pro while Bill Van Goor took out Craig Sonderfan in Pro. Bill Hakucsa won his first Street event of the year (yes, his first of the year) and Gary DeGrange was tops in Bike. Martin overtook Randy Wendtland in the QF and soloed in the semis to face off with Rich Wilk for the money. Wilk had defeated Andy O’Hagan and James Baggiano to earn his way to the title race. Martin showed why he finished number one with a stronger RT and a 6.29, 156 run to best the 6.24 and 162 effort by Wilk.
Craig Sonderfan came close to finishing off his top seed in a similar fashion when he worked his way to the final round of Pro. There he met up with another Midland Park racer in the form of Bill VanGoor, who shut the door on the champ for the title this week. Sonderfan’s Chevelle won over the Mustang of Steve Shadis when they both went under their dials in the quarters while VanGoor’s Camaro bested the AMC Spirit of Jim Trommelen, who just also happens to live in Midland Park, 9.68 to an 11.29. Lou Buxbaum ran unopposed in his Firebird. VanGoor hit an on the dial 9.676 in a bye run in the SF while Sonderfan took out Buxbaum at 9.72 versus a fouling 11.64. VanGoor picked up .006 on the tree and cracked a 9.68 at 137.40 for the win light while Sonderfan took runner-up via his sub-dial 9.71 at 137.79.
Street champ Steve Baker exited the bracket in the opener and after a buy back lost in the second round as well. That did not change his points lead but opened the door for Bill Hakucsa to gather in his first victory of the year. The guy who has seemingly owned the bracket for about the past decade had an extremely off season and not only missed finishing number one but waiting until the last points race to win a race. John Dickson advanced over Chuck Henion in a QF race as Gary Coleman was better than Keith Burnham and Hakucsa gunned down Bob Dabrowski. Coleman gave a good accounting of himself against Hakucsa but the latter’s on the dial 11.50 at 113.14 was just too much for the Coupe’s 12.83, 104.76. Dickson came off a bye to face Hakucsa and the Nova from Rockaway beat the Camaro off the tree, then made a mistake at the big end and broke out at 11.47 and 114.72. Hakucsa’s less under 11.49 at 116.82 was good for the win light.
No change in the top seed for Bike but Barry Stephens didn’t finish his year the way he had hoped. The Suzuki rider exited in the first round against Don Hookway, who made it to the semis before losing to eventual winner Gary DeGrange. Dave Ferguson was the other finalist on his turbo sled. It was a good final round race until the very end when both racers seemed to bail out of the throttle at the top end and DeGrange took the nod via his 11.31, 114.16 ticket. Ferguson was second best on a 9.85, 132.56.
Dave Hebig was the winner in Consolation One when he defeated Rudy Gnehm in the final. Hebig cranked out his best run of the day at a stout 5.90 second, 174.03 mph slip as Gnehm fouled out on his 8.26, 120.90.
Consolation Two had the biggest first round car count of the year with twenty-one racers looking to grab the second chance win. Mike Franek and Bill Wackermann fought their way to the trophy dash in a Dodge vs. Camaro contest. Wackermann, whose worst light with opposition had been a.020, turned on the foul light in the title race and coasted to a loss. Franek nabbed the bucks with his time card of 10.74, 93.49.
So another season of Summit Series racing has come to a conclusion. It has been an interesting season, often fighting weather issues that frustrated both track officials and racers alike. But everyone stuck it out and there were many instances of great racing throughout the year. Congratulations to those who made the cut to take the trip to the finals, and good luck to all. For the rest, thanks for coming out and competing with us. We hope that you have enjoyed your experiences with us and will continue to join us in pursuit of the sport we love.
And to the entire crew, thanks for all your hard work over the season. There are many aspects to the operation of a race track, but the real bottom line is the staff and how well they perform. We look forward to working with you again next year.