07/20/13 POINTS CHALLENGES SURFACE EARLY IN THE CHASE

07/20/13

POINTS CHALLENGES SURFACE EARLY IN THE CHASE

Getting a late start on the hunt for points to represent Island Dragway at the Bracket Finals surely hasn’t diminished the quality of the competition for supremacy to be the top seed at the divisional event. Although there is still plenty of time for a great deal of shuffling in all categories, each bracket has brought the few to the top of the list and provides both a numerical and psychological advantage. But even those who seem to be presently in control know that just one bad outing can cause a huge swing in the standings and they must be on their game each and every round.

The Super Pro tally currently is a toss-up between Frank Duplissis Jr and George Roche Jr. Each racer had one bracket victory to his credit as the day’s event got underway and early rounds seemed to set the stage for a showdown before it was over. Rich Wilk was also in the hunt but dropped his opening race and fell back from contention for the present. Roche had dispatched Mark Pullen and Barry Moyer to move into the quarters while Duplissis got the better of James Arata and Randy Kurachik in his quest. Roche then faced Bob Willing and the Camaro took down the quicker RED entry with a 9.13, 111.28 slip to a losing 6.61 and 150.55. Todd Martin, making his first appearance of the year, edged out the 56 Chevy of Mike Canova when the 7.96 and 129 3 effort came up short to the dragster’s 6.42, 156. After Duplissis took the bye to complete the round, he matched his dragster with Martin’s and advanced into the final as he recorded a 6.43 at 146.96 that defeated Martin’s 6.46 and 151. Roche went to the final on a solo pass and a classic matchup for the points lead developed. Whoever won the round would leave with the lead, but it would be very slim indeed. Duplissis picked up a little advantage on the tree and as both racers neared the finish line it was time to play who can push the other guy to go too quick for the stripe. As it turned out neither driver dipped under the handicap but a 6.42 at 161.57 showed up for Duplissis and he took the S/P title for the day as well as the points lead. Roche was runner-up and kept the competition close on a 9.16, 110.66.

While the Duplissis family goes head to head in S/P, the Maffiore clan competes together in Pro eliminator. And they’d do so very effectively. Frank Jr had the lead prior to the start of eliminations with Sr only about a round behind. But a rare first round loss for Frank Jr changed the dynamics quickly and Frank Sr won his race to draw virtually even. Frank Jr and Chuck Henion Jr, who was also looking the rule the category both lost early, and trying to buy back in found on the Monte Carlo of Maffiore being successful. With his closest rivals both out of the points count for the day, every round that Maffiore Sr won expanded his lead by 100. The father and son met in the QF round and after Sr, this week in a 94 Caprice, was late on the tree Jr fell off the pace to a 13.00 and let pop advance on a 14.93. Duane Hoven was having a good day with his Maverick as he sent Mile Williams home, 10.85, 122 to the Camaro’s 10.69, 123. Matt Cestra fouled out against Reggie Whitson, a buy back runner with his Buick. And Andrew McCauley gunned down the Nova of John Lobosco, 10.82 at 125 aboard the Mustang to a losing 10.39, 122 that was too quick and too late. Whitson surprised McCauley in the semis, 12.36 and 104 turning back a 10.82, 125. Maffiore then went to the trophy dash when his 14.55 and 88.99 held off the closing march of Hoven, who lost on a 10.81, 122.88 ticket. It didn’t take Maffiore long to secure the victory when Whitson turned on the red light and tossed away a 12.44 at 107.97 for second place to Maffiore’s 14.52 and 93.10.

Of the four drivers who headed the points in Street only one survived past the opening round. Tony Golonka came up short in the first round, and Rudy Gnehm and Russ Picone were gone by the end of the second session. Only Bill Voelzke made it to the QF segment where he lost to Dan Baker’s Ford, 14.89, 84.14 to the Dart’s 11.63 and 112.79. Matt Cestra, who bought his way back in after an initial loss, sent Vincent Gould to the exit as the Suburban used a 17.70 and 77.13 to turn away the 12.62, 105.84 by the Malibu. Bob Levers soloed the round in his Corvette. Baker took the semis over Levers after the Vetter fouled out a 14.07, 95.73 and the Lightening machine clocked a 14.82 at 89.81. Cestra was unopposed on his way to the title race. Cestra completed his comeback via a superior RT and a 17.76 at 74.75 that was enough to hold off the closing but too late truck’s 14.87, 87.69.

Bike eliminator was taken by David Ferguson, whose Arctic Cat went off against the Suzuki of Ken George in the final. Ferguson added to his points total with a 10.98 and 108.95 to cross the stripe ahead of the multi-time track and division champ, who ticketed a 9.44 at 145.86 mph.

James Arata defeated Randy Kurachik for the Consolation One honors while Randy Pobutkiewicz was better than Gerard Lisa for Consolation Two. Arata and his Mustang made a withdrawal from the luck bank after giving up the advantage on the starting line and it appeared the dragster had it covered. Both drivers feathered it at the finish line hoping perhaps to push the other under but good times popped up with a win light for Arata. An 8.37 at 123.63 was good enough to beat the 6.54 and 154.16 in a race decided by a mere .002 seconds at the stripe. Randy P cut a great light at .006 to start the final round with Lisa for the C2 class. Needing only an 11.06 and 105.03 to complete the task the Chevy pickup bumped out the Malibu’s 10.35 at 128.19.

With a week off to recover and a two day points event coming the first weekend in August, one thing is certain. The struggle for a spot on the finals team and for the right to go to the Race of Champions will intensify very shortly. Stand by for some great racing action.

07/06/13 HELLO AGAIN FROM ISLAND DRAGWAY WE’RE BACK

 

07/06/13

 

HELLO AGAIN FROM ISLAND DRAGWAY

 

WE’RE BACK

 

Mark Twain once said “the reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated”. Last December it appeared that the demise of Island Dragway was not an exaggeration, but a cruel reality. Suffering financially from a number of factors, not the least of which were back to back seasons from hell as far as the weather was concerned, it looked like the track that set the standard in the early 1960s had gone the way of the Dodo bird. But, like the mythological Phoenix bird, which seems to arise from the ashes and is reborn, Island Dragway was rescued and reopened starting this weekend under new management and with a new set of dreams to provide a safe, friendly place to pursue the need for speed. Taking the reins at the facility is Melissa DeMarckey, the granddaughter of original owners Ed and Kate Kowalick. Melissa has grown up around the track, competing in the Junior Dragster class for a number of years and then graduating to a Super Pro/Comp dragster. Along with long-time employee John Ringwald assisting with the management duties, DeMarckey brings a different perspective and energy to the venerable old facility and a new vision of what is desired and needed to make the operation a success.

The grand reopening weekend started off with a tremendous turnout Friday night for Street Legal drags. For the first time in many, many years the local police were needed to control the line waiting to get in off of Route 46. Saturday brought a bracket racing tune-up and test and tune session. Sunday was committed to a Nostalgia event with any entry older than thirty years eligible to compete and more test and tune action for the rest. All in all a terrific start to the next installment of drag racing at the Cabbage Patch.

With no points at stake the bracket contingent was out just to get the feel of the surface and the thrill of the competition. Scott Vanderlely and his Chevelle out of Ottsville Pa emerged with the Super Pro title when he punched out the RED entry driven by Martinsville NJ’s Randy Kurachik. Mark Smith in a SBC Pinto dropped the QF round to Kurachik when the former broke out by a thousandth of a second to advance the dragster. Chris Hunt moved his Vega into the semis with a win over Brian Mursky’s 66 Chevy. And Vanderlely took out Marc Pullen after Pullen was super late on the tree. An automatic advance for Vanderlely with a bye in the semis left Kurachik to face Hunt for the other spot in the final. The digger rapped out a 6.47 at 157 mph in the 1000 foot race to get the light over the Vega’s 8.34 and 122.62. Vanderlely cut a .008 RT in the final dash and was never headed as he covered the distance in 8.16 seconds at a speed of 124.64 mph for the initial S/P victory of the year. Kurachik was second best via his 6.53, 157.17.

The Pro division, as has been the norm over the years, contained the largest contingent of the day. When it was all over Jim Young had another trophy to put in his case when he bested Frank Armando in the title run. Armando had lost in the first round but bought his way back in and gunned down John Lobosco in the quarters. Young was better than Pat Conway and Mick Lucas turned back the efforts of Carmen Bruno in the QF. Young was guaranteed the final with a semis bye run and Armando rode his Camaro to a 14.06 at 96.41 to bump out Lucas’ Chevelle that posted up a losing 10.42, 130.25 after a foul start. Young was near perfect in the final with a run activated by a .002 and a slip showing 10.86 at 114.69 to turn on the win light. Runner-up numbers of 14.12 and 92.30 went to Armando.

Bill Voelzke piloted his Dart to the Street honors, finishing off the night against Rob Hammer in a Malibu. Tom Woods lost in the QF as his T-bird was not good enough to get by Hammer, and Voelzke bested the Maverick of Jerry Ackerman. Armando and Russ Picone also advanced out of the round to make it a full four car semi. Armando had also lost in the first round in this bracket and after buying back in fell out to Hammer in the semis. Voelzke sent Picone to the exit and made ready for the deciding race in the class. This looked to be a good one but it was over as it started when Hammer tried to take too much advantage on the tree and it popped up red, tossing out his 13.15 and 100.60 time slip. Voelzke was all smiles as his 11.64, 113.09 gave him the crown.

Don Hookway put his Suzuki in the winner’s circle in Bike by taking the measure of Scott McGrath. McGrath made the mistake of fouling out his 10.28 and 125.95 that made the too quick pass of 9.37 and 143.81 the victory ticket for Hookway. Trophy class belonged to Joe Lasler and his Pontiac out of Langhorne Pa. Gary Coleman drove his 31Ford Coupe into the trophy race with hopes of putting it in the spotlight, but the foul light turned his 13.26, 101.84 into a runner-up effort. Lasler took home the cup on a pass of 12.06 at 110.19. Randy Pobutkewicz defeated Steve Gillan in Consolation Two when Gillan fouled to eliminate his 10.72, 124.38 from the count, Randy P recorded a 12.22, 110.82.

Sunday turned out four class winners for the Nostalgia Nationals competition. The N-1 class, the quickest of the group, was taken by Paul Crispyn and his Dodge when he outlasted Gerry Capasso. Although Capasso had the better light he ran an off the pace 9.28 and 148.94 that allowed Crispyn to grab the win light via his 9.27, 144.69. Sal Albanese won the N-2 division in a final round victory over Bill Voelzke. The Dodge driver, looking to make it a perfect weekend, fell just one round short as Albanese and his El Camino used a 12.12, 112.92 with a great RT to get to the stripe ahead of the losing 11.80, 110.18 effort by Voelzke.

Moving into the N-3 racers, Ray Keegan was better than Jerry Ackerman for the trophy. Keegan hit a 14.15 and 95.79 that held off the 13.59, 100.20 by Ackerman. Blaine Hertzog nailed down the N-4 honors with a victory over Greg Schreiner. A 14.32 at 95.43 held sway for Hertzog’s AMC Hornet 360 machine while Schreiner’s Camaro dropped the final at 14.09 and 96.85 mph.

So, the first weekend of the modern era is in the books. We thank all those who contributed their time and or funds to help make the rebirth of the track a reality. And we thank all those who came out and joined us over the three days. We hope you enjoyed yourself and will come back to see us again. And remember to tell you friends and bring them along. We’d love to meet them.

07/13/13 DOUBLE POINTS WEEKEND YIELDS FIRST WINNERS OF THE YEAR

 

07/13/13

 

DOUBLE POINTS WEEKEND YIELDS FIRST WINNERS OF THE YEAR

 

With the shortened season facing points racers this weekend had a double header for those who wanted to make up some early ground on a possible road to the bracket finals. Saturday was a regular afternoon/evening affair while Sunday was a daytime race that included all the Summit Racing Series brackets in competition. When you take into consideration the limited number of opportunities to race for points and the potential for bad weather on the weekend, the sooner you score some round wins the better your chances of securing a berth on the Island Dragway team.

Saturday’s winners included George Roche Jr in the Super Pro category while Bob Boucher nailed the Pro honors. Tony Golonka was the best of the Street runners and Dave Ferguson went home with the trophy in the Bike bracket. The family Duplissis both went down in the opening round but earned their way back in via the buy-back system. Frank Duplissis Jr fell to Roche in the quarters as the small block powered Camaro got a hundredth on the tree and turned in a 9.14, 110 pass to force the dragster under the number at 6.33. Rich Wilk advanced his RED entry over the Camaro of Henry Barends, an on the dial 6.27 at 161 besting an 8.89, 115. Frank Duplissis Sr had a single and practiced up a 6.39. Roche automatically moved on with a bye in the semis and Wilk sent Duplissis to the trailer in the digger battle, a 6.27 and 158 holding court over a too quick 6.37, 160.23. Wilk gave up too much on the tree in the final that turned his 6.28, 158.99 into a runner-up ticket and gave Roche the season opening victory via his 9.15 at 110.86.

Pro eliminator worked down to a full eight car QF during which Bob Boucher defeated Frank Maffiore, Larry Pappas put away Gerard Lisa, Matt Cestra ended the day for Chuck Henion Jr and Kevin Pelanne finished off Nick Canova to set the stage for the semifinal. Boucher cut a light on Pappas and hustled his Roadster to the win light at a 9.91, 129 against the losing Firebird’s 10.50 and 115. Cestra held off Pelanne for the other side in the title dash, the Nova turning in a 10.81 at 121.79 versus a slowing 9.73, 136 by the Chevelle. Boucher then completed his title march by overcoming a later starting line reaction and running a sub-dial 9.87 at 130.43 that still made him the victor when Cestra broke out by a wider margin at 10.74 and a speed of 122.61.

Tony Golonka drove his Plymouth PT Cruiser to the Street honors, taking the nod over Rudy Gnehm and his truck. Gnehm had knocked off the Mustang of Russ Picone in the semis after Picone went red on the tree and the truck took a warm-up lap of 13.13, 99.90. After a solo run by Golonka, the two finalists paired off in a race that was over as it started when Gnehm was the one who saw red this time, a mistake that wasted his 13.13, 99.90 to give Golonka the cup at 15.49 and 87.94.

Bike bracket was taken by the sled of Dave Ferguson as he was better than Vinny Cianci. Ferguson beat Jason Beitel in the opener and had a semifinal bye to get to the deciding race. Cianci took out Gary Degrange and Don Hookway in the earlier goings and had to give up the handicap against Ferguson. The Arctic Cat rider hung a hole shot on the two-wheeler and the outcome was never in doubt as Ferguson lite the bulb on the scoreboard, 11.04 and 101.45 to a too late 9..30, 143.93.

Edward Horn bested James Harmon for Trophy, the S-10 timing out at 11.56 and 111.66 to get the stripe over the Mustang’s 13.13, 109.40. Mike Franek carded a 10.87 at 94.02 in winning Consolation Two over Randy Pobutkewicz, who lost the round on a 14.59, 65.71. The brothers Romanello faced off in the J/D trophy dash and Vincent emerged with the cup over Anthony. The winner clocked a 9.04, 74.11 to a second place card of 8.96 and 72.11.

Sunday dawned bright and a list of hopefuls filled the pits ready to battle it out for the top spots and the biggest points. The Super Pro contingent was led by Frank Duplissis Jr who worked his way into the semis with a victory over the Mustang of James Arata to square off with his father, Frank Sr to see who would enter the dash for the cash. Sr had soloed the QF and made a tough opponent in the SF faceoff, but the kid strapped an RT advantage on pop and blistered him with a 6.44, 156.52 to send dad to the trailer on a 6.47 and 154.42. Barry Hohnarth and his Beretta was the sole door-slammer in the semis and he went on over Bob Willing and his RED machine, the fendered car hitting a 6.97 at 147.15 to the dragster’s 6.66, 149.28. Hohnarth had previously taken out Scott Lorish’s dragster while Willing put a hurt on Jason Wilson. So to determine the deal it was Duplissis’ dragster and the Chevy of Hohnarth with the doored car getting the head start. Duplissis slapped on another almost routine RT edge and pounded out a winning 6.48 second, 151.48 mph time slip for the victory. Hohnarth fell short of the mark via a 6.99 and 139.57.

It took six round wins to haul in the Pro money, and it looked like child’s play for young Matt Lisa. The son of long-time racer Joe and a graduate of the J/D ranks, this young guy can handle a race car. Driving dad’s G/SA Nova, Matt mowed down competitors round after round until he got to the quarters, where he faced and beat the always tough Jeff Rahner, 11.60, 112.63 coming in less under the numbers that the losing 16.29, 80.42 in a double break out contest. Frank Maffiore Jr chased down Frank Sr in their pairing, 11.43 and 115.51 to a 17.78 at 74.58. Mike Franek went alone to close the round. Maffiore was the bye in the semis as Lisa and Franek went at each other. The Chevy pilot hit an 11.47 at 106.32 for the victory over a 10.41, 130.71 for the Mopar. Lisa then sealed the deal over Maffiore with a little starting line magic and a right on the number 11.60 at 111.82 for his first Pro bracket win. Maffiore gave a good accounting of himself, losing by a slim margin on an 11.44 and 114.31.

Vincent Gould has been trying his hand in Street for a time and this weekend it paid off, in spades. Gould raced and bested Bill Voelzke for a QF win while Doug Eberhart was downing Tom Woods and Mark Ketterer handled Pete Navetta in the round. Ketterer easily won his match with Eberhart when the latter fouled out a 12.29, 100.81 that made the 14.08 and 96.31 for the Mopar good to go. After a solo pass by Gould, he brought his Malibu up to the line to take on Ketterer and cut the best light of the day, a .001 that he coupled with a ticket of 12.55 at 107.02 to put on the win light in his lane. Ketterer made a nice pass on his dial but was unable to match the reaction time and settled for second best at a 14.09 and 95.55.

The Bike bracket once again featured final round that included Dave Ferguson, but this time he came up just a bit short. After having won the night before, Ferguson had some easy passes with a bye in the first round, a no-show opponent in the second, making his semifinal race with Dave Thoman his first competition of the day. Thoman was late in leaving and Ferguson went to his second straight final round on a 10.97, 107.23 to 10.91, 116.17 pairing. Charlie Koenig made his way to the title fight b besting Vinny Cianci and Neil Smith before a solo in the SF pitted him against Ferguson. The battle of the sled had Ferguson with the nod on the line but he was unable to run his dial and lost at 11.27, 87.87 and Koenig garnered the honors with his 10.27, 113.96 effort.

Finishing up the event was the Trophy class winner, Ben Carducci at the wheel of his plastic 57 Chevy. Chris Valentino got the last shot at the Vette but went red bulb on the tree, dumping a 14.71 and 93.10 ticket into a second-place position. Carducci lucked out as his comatose RT didn’t deter him here, and he won the cup at a 12.12 and 113.04.

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