After several delays postponed opening day the lid lifter for 2019 was finally able to be completed, albeit with a few modifications to the order of things. The day dawned with some chilly temperatures, lots of angry dark clouds and a brisk wind that reminded you of maybe February rather than late April. Yoggi Berra was noted for lots of strange sayings, not the least of which was its déjà vu all over again. That is the way it felt here in 2019 that just seemed to be a replay of last year. Here’s hoping that the similarities are at an end and the rest of the season is going to show major improvement with the weather.
Because of the wind it was decided to run all classes on the eighth mile course for safety reasons. And even that looked iffy for a time as electric service was out until just before time trial starting time rolled around. The racing gods came around before the end of the event with less wind and warmer temps to carry competition into the evening.
A former regular in Super Pro who has been largely absent for the past several seasons rolled in with his dragster and rolled out with the biggest check for the bracket. Pen Argyl’s Jason Wilson had only one reaction time over .011 and that came in a race with Robbie Boyd in which the Quakertown racer went red. Another stranger, Scott Lorish made it to the semifinals before he fell to Wilson and earned the right to race last year’s class champ Andrew Bracuto, who sent Richie Williams to the exit in that round. Wilson picked up a couple of hundredths on the tree and both racers ran 3 hundredths off the numbers to give Wilson the title at 4.95, 130.87. Bracuto was right there with his 6.44 at 103.42.
Pro this year allows a two-step and trans brakes so we expect some serious transmission changes in the near future, and a lowering of average RTs in the class. The QF had Leigh Ratzkovich and his Mustang putting down the Chevy of bracket finals runner-up Chris Cassidy, while John Iacono was better than Craig Sonderfan and Rob Zetterberg punched out Mike Franek. Iacono was an auto advance with the bye in the semi and Zetterberg’s 5.93, 114 pushed Ratzkovich under his number at 6.57, 100.08. Iacono took a big head start in the final and it was over as soon as Zetterberg moved when the red light came on and bumped out Rob’s 5.95, 113.12 while John cli9cked off a sub-dial 9.76 at a top end of 75.86 mph.
Sportsman has replaced Street in the lineup with a few notable changes. Street appearance is no longer required and any tire is okay with regard to a DOT number. Mufflers are still on the needed list of items. Mike Barbone was the champ in the bracket, moving past a fouling Bill Doczi in the quarters. Bill Hakucsa who had returned to form with a class championship last year got by the new 578 Vette of Jeff Rahner, and Russ Picone’s Mustang handled John Dickson’s Nova. Barbone soloed into the money race leaving Picone and Hakucsa to vie for the other spot on the ticket. While Picone was vulnerable with his light, Hakucsa ran up alongside and tapped the brake pedal, maybe just a tad too hard and let Picone take the light at 7.35, 91.32 to a losing 7.52, 85.72. Picone tightened up on the tree in the last dash and had a real chance to win it, but a break out 7.33 at 93.54 dropped him to second best. Barbone and his Chevy hauled ion the victory with a slip of 7.38 and 86.90.
Bike eliminator this year allows for electronics just like in Super. That will take some time for the racers to get used to but this event had two old rivals at each other for the money. In a rematch of the final from last year’s bracket finals, Barry Stephens and Don Hookway hooked up on the final pass. Hookway took out James DiPiazza in the SF round while Step[hens was better than Joe DiPiazza. If racing is a matter of inches and thousandths of seconds, this race proved that to be true. Stephens gained .012 on the start and appeared to be headed for some payback until the timers came up with a too quick 5.903 on a 5.91 handicap at 115.47 to relegate the multi-time track champ to second class status. Hookway started off his year with a winning 6.06, 118.07 that was right on his dial.
Anna Sawicki qualified number one in Junior Dragster and carried that to the opening week’s win. Sawicki staged against Alexis Sanseverino to decide the deal and her 8.27 at 73.58 held up against Sanseverino’s 8.52 and 76.34. Theodore Myers bested Jayna Embley or the Junior Street award when his 10.66, 65.11 effort held off the charge of Embley’s 10.12 at 63.70.
The MANDRA circuit was on hand to run their own race and it is always nice to watch the nostalgic autos have at it. Carly Boyer, driving the family 39 Chevy worked through to face the 64 Fairlane driven by Mark Santee. Santee was in charge from start to almost finish when he had a half a tenth on the tree, but the long-time Ford racer went under his dial at 8.37 seconds and 82.35 mph. That opened the door for Boyer to take the win light via her 6.78 lap at a speed of 98.72.