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Ol Daze Drags 2017


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Dave Hebig led the field of winners on a Saturday afternoon that was threatened from start to finish with weather issues.  The Orefield Pa dragster pilot, who finished up as the number one seed in last year’s batch of S/P racers, has had a less successful 2017.  Appearing in his third final round showing for the season, Hebig ran his record to two wins against one defeat and give him a shot at a repeat trip to the Champ Race if he can do well in the next two, and last, points races. He would likely have to clear the table in the last two events and the others at the top of the chart would need to make early exits, but a slim chance does exist.  Randy Wendtland was the last car standing in the way for the dragster after posting up reaction times of .004 and .002 in earlier races and drawing a bye run in the semifinals.  Terry Kimball and Rich Wilk had been unable to stop the Camaro from advancing even in the face of the common belief that dragsters have an inherent advantage in a race with a doored car.  Hebig bested Ed Korpos and his Nova, James Baggiano  in a street roadster and the Hugger entry of Robbie Boyd to make it to the deciding round.  Wendtland fell victim to the curse of the good lights when he triggered a foul start at-.007 to toss a loss in the match with Hebig, whose dragster slowed from the 6.0 numbers of earlier rounds to a 6.42 and 123 mph to take the trip to the pay window.

Bill Wacklermann nailed down the Pro victory for the second time this year when he outlasted the Camaro of Bill VanGoor.  Wackermann’s 02Camaro hadn’t been in the final since the end of June and VanGoor was making his first appearance in the bracket final.  Lou Buxbaum had fouled out to Wackermann in the QF as did Andy McCauley to VanGoor.  Gerard Hemlich dispatched the Mustang of Steve Shadis to become the third F-body entry into the semis.  VanGoor edged out Hemlich after spotting him .15 on the tree in RT and making his 9.59, 139 ticket a winner against a 10.92 at 121.  Coming off a solo in the semis, Wackermann then took a starting line advantage that he almost gave away when he broke out on his dial at 10.936, 121.66 (10.95 dial).  VanGoor was only .002 seconds further under on his pass as he dropped to runner-up with a time slip of 9.574 and 140.14 against a handicap of 9.59.

Street bracket came up big for Bill Doczi as he was victorious in his first title dash.  Doczi moved out of the QF on a solo and Bob Levers, who was destined to be the second place finisher, took out Bill Hakucsa.  Steve Baker was better than  Gary Coleman and Bill Voelzke handed Connie Wackermann a loss.  Doczi and Baker ran one of the best races in the semis as they left on identical reaction times and the Camaro from Clifton flashed the win light on a 12.36, 106.16 slip while Baker sent slightly under at 12.11 and 108.32.  Voelzke caught a foul light that sent Levers on with a 13.11 and 110.11 in his Corvette.  Another almost dead even start in the final was a bit anticlimactic when the Corvette slowed perhaps in fear of breaking out to lose the round on a 113.32, 108.58.  That gave Doczi the trophy with his on the brakes 12.51, 94.47.

Charlie Koenig has missed a lot of races during the season and hasn’t made many waves when he has competed. But this weekend he rode his sled to victory in the Bike division.  The Edison racer eliminated Gary DeGrange and ran unopposed to face off with Don Hookway who was trying to make up points ground on Barry Stephens, who exited in the opening round.  After Hookway beat Dave Ferguson in the SF he saw an opportunity to draw within under two rounds of racing on the leader.  He ended up just under three rounds as Hookway lost the final to Koenig as both left before their green lights under the Trustart system in effect this year.  The bigger foul was in Hookway's lane and his on the dial 9.59, m141.62 turned into a loss. Koenig carded a 9.97 at 127.75 to gather in the title.

Competition finished up with Bryan Mirsky topping Consolation One and Steve Gillan heading up Consolation Two.







The year was 1960.  Ike was in the White House.  Folk was the hot lick in the music industry along with the early rock and roll riffs.  American car culture was at a fever pitch.  And the sport of drag racing was spreading from California to the right coast in a big way.  A farm family loses their cattle herd to a fire and somehow gets involved in the development of a drag strip where crops had sprouted up for years.  And the name for the track takes its cue from the name of the farm, and Island Dragway is born.  Forward fifty-seven years ahead, and that same strip of asphalt continues to provide a venue for folks who want to go fast and enjoy the thrill of competitive racing.  And while the track has had several other names through the years, like Country Park Raceway and Island  Raceway, ownership has remained with the same family for the entire time.  Today, operations are in control of a third generation of that family, and Island Dragway continues to provide a safe and fun environment for family fun.

Anniversary weekend was a bit unusual in that weather did not figure into the equation.  The season has been riddled with rain and if there ever was a time for good conditions, it was this weekend.  And the weather gods complied.  If one had the power to order up conditions, these would be the ones at the top of the list.  And what better way to celebrate another anniversary than to go old school racing, fold in a couple of nostalgia circuits and bring in enough funny cars to make the place look like a fiberglass forest.  Nostalgia funny car racing has exploded in the past few years and there is a mix of nitro burners and alcohol fueled vehicles that will take you back to the halcyon days when floppers were kings of the sport. And show you how it used to be.  For young and old alike, watching a dozen pair of fast race cars gets in amongst your fibers, and makes it all right with the world.

Two of the best remembered F/C entries from the early 1970s went head to head in the nitro bash.  Bruce Larson and his USA1 Camaro went up against the Frantic Ford Mustang, this day piloted by Joe Morrison.  For those who were around the sport in those days it was like taking a trip in the wayback machine.  Best efforts on the day for the thousand foot racers netted Larson the better time slip with a 5.86 elapsed time at a speed of 180.38 mph.  Morrison was right there through the first eighth mile when the Ford started to skate a bit and he was forced to lift, still posting up a stout 6.14 second, 169.53 mph pass.

Quarter mile racers rang up some impressive numbers as well.  Over a dozen entries put on quite a show with crowd pleasing effect.   The alcohol burners had a mix of injected and supercharged entries with the former breed racking up some solid seven second, 170 plus tickets.  As for the blown cars, Bob Toth’s Time Bomb Vega ran a class best of 6.71, 196.70 and Chris Massarella’s Monza was close with his 6.87 and 196.50.  As for the blown, nitro quarter mile warriors, the best squirt of the day belonged to Chuck Exton’s Wild and Crazy Mustang, when the Chevy powered rocket pounded out a stellar time of 6.66 seconds and a trap speed of 208.46 mph.  In any league, these racers put on a great show, and the spectators loved every minute of it.  

While the other entries were not as quick as the funny cars, the action was just as competitive.  NETO ran both their Nostalgia and Comp eliminators and MANDRA had their best turnout of entries in some time.  As he did the night before, Steve Consentino had his Dodge wagon in the final of Nostalgia class and was looking for a double win weekend. He ran up against Roger Wright’s Cuda in the deciding race and went red on the tree to give Wright the win at 11.21, 116.06.  Comp class was  the reverse for Chris Kraft.  From a second place finish on Saturday night, Kraft worked his way through the ranks to race the split window Corvette of James Mullen on Sunday afternoon. A sharper launch and an 8.65, 158.28 lap moved Kraft to the winner’s circle and dropped Mullen to runner-up with his 8.16 at 164.63.  MANDRA final was between the Mustang of Bruce Thomas and the 47 Mercury of Anthony Picone. Thomas turned a better reaction time into victory as he pushed Picone under the dial, winning the deal with a 10.54 and 125.34 versus the losing 11.58, 112.98 for the Merc.

There were four class eliminators for the day, three with a nostalgia banner and a modern muscle bracket for newer EFI cars.  Barry Stephens, who we usually see on a Suzuki on Saturdays, drove his Chrysler to the Modern Muscle win over Ron Rando’s Hellcat.  Rando fouled out his 11. 57 time and Stephens motored to the trophy via a 14.77, 95.83.

Nostalgia One bracket was picked up by Mike Nickerson when his off the dial 10.23, 113.70 effort in his altered bested the 57 Chevy of Jeff Hall, that hit a sub-dial 9.74 at 137.69.  Nostalgia Two took five rounds of racing to determine a winner, and that honor belonged to Scott Klinger. Klinger’s Road Runner recorded a right on the dial 10.07 at 131.24 to get to the stripe  ahead of the Nova of Barry VanScoten. The losing entry went too quick at 10.60, 122.37 on a 10.64 handicap.  Nostalgia Three found Jerry Ackerman at the top of his game when he took on and took out Ron Zang.  Both racers ran under their dials but Ackerman was closer with his 13.08 and 101.64 in his Maverick, while Zang hit a 13.93 and 96.03 aboard his Camaro.

So another anniversary is in the books.  In just a few years it will be time for the 60th.  For someone who can remember back when the 20th was a huge deal, it just seems impossible that all this time has passed.  So many cars and drivers and so many fans over the decades that it seems unreal.  Island Dragway management and staff extends our deepest appreciation for your loyal support and participation over all this time.  We hope you have enjoyed your experiences with us, and we look forward to many years of good times and good racing to come.  






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.


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