HALF A WEEKEND BETTER THAN NONE
The plan was for a double points weekend with a pair of Summit ET Racing Series events on the bill. And Sunday was sweetened with the addition of several nostalgia circuits including NETO, Mandra and the East Coast Gassers. Well, as has been the pattern recently old Mother Nature played a major role in the ultimate outcome.
Saturday weather was threatening right from the start and the plan was to run one time trial and to right to eliminations in an attempt to beat the approaching rain. As the old adage goes, the best laid plans of mice and men oft times go astray. Several pauses were needed during the practice session as light sprinkles made the track too slick to run on, but the trials were complete and the lanes were filled with the first round contestants. And once again it was an on again-off again style of racing with drips and drizzles temporarily halting the action. With the cooperation of the racers and crew the first round of eliminations was finally completed, just before the hardest rain of the day brought about the decision to put a stop to the event, split the money with the winners of the first round, and call it a day.
Now, Sunday was a different story. Although not exactly Chamber of Commerce weather it was fairly warm with no threat of rain. And that made for some close competition in the brackets and in the circuits.
The thousand foot racers, also known as Super Pro, were led by Jason Wilson, who managed some great reaction times when he needed them and ran right around his dial all day long. After downing Ralph DeBruin in a pairing where both put up the same RT, Wilson picked on another great dragster pilot in the form of Todd Martin. Martin either got lost on the delay setting or had a sticky button as he left very late and Wilson easily won the match at 6.44 and 142 to a 6.38 at 139. Other quarter-final winners included Phillip Judd who drove his S-10 to a victory over the Mustang of James Arata, 8.88, 112 to a losing 8.13 and 126. John Maggiulli Jr got the best of Bryan Mirsky when his dragster hustled a 6.30 and 129 while chasing down the Chevy’s 8.27, 122 breakout. Maggiulli gunned down Judd in the semis after Judd fouled away an 8.86 and 116 as the RED entry slowed to a 6.44, 133. Wilson got a bye into the final round where he dispatched Maggiulli handily as the latter went red to toss out a 6.33, 139 pass and give Wilson his first victory for the year on a 6.38 time at 158 mph.
The Pro eliminator was again the largest initial field and Bernie Kelly waded through the group to emerge with the title. A five car QF had Kelly punching out Mark Ketterer on a great run for the supercharged Camaro at 9.07 and 134.52 against the Dart’s 11.76, 113.95. Rich Martin and his Fairmont Ford ride used an on the number 9.50 at 136.68 in sending Greg Myers’ Camaro to the trailer at a too quick 10.51, 124.76. Jeff Rahner’s 66 Chevy wagon ran unopposed at 18.59. Kelly and Rahner locked up in the semis in a race where the wagon received almost 7 seconds head-start. And while Rahner ran close to the dial at 15.97, 87.61 it was Kelly who got the win light with a closer 9.02 and 135.85. Martin ran solo to work into the final but a too quick reaction on his part fouled him out and sent Kelly to the pay window, along with an off the pace 9.45 and 106.09.
A full eight car show in the QF of Street found John Dickson beating Tom Woods, Jeff Rahner besting Keith Burnham, Chuck Henion Jr being better than Eric Stewart and Bill Hakucsa taking the measure of Ron Zang. Dickson went off against Rahner in the semis and the 66 Nova ran 11.83 at 111.32 to hold on when Rahner went slightly further below his dial at 15.93, 87.70. Henion then got a waltz to the last race when Hakucsa lit the red bulb and set the stage for an all 66 Nova final. Dickson picked up a couple of hundredths on the tree and powered out a sub-dial 11.82 at 110.84 which would have been a losing effort, except that Henion put up a bigger run under number of 11.47 at a speed of 111.65 and threw the win light to Dickson.
Bike eliminator set Don Hookway against Dave Ferguson for the money. Hookway had put away Scott McGrath in the semi-final round and Ferguson got by Barry Stephens. Hookway and his Suzuki lined up with the Suzuki powered Artic Cat of Ferguson, and with a superior light took the race on a 9.33 at 138.64. Runner-up numbers were 11.26 and 109.37.
Trophy class was taken by John Crowley when he caught Ted Covalence before the finish line. Crowley’s Nova needed only a 12.44 and 105.16 ticket to finish Covalence off at 18.14, 75.
NETO Comp provided some great racing action for the afternoon and Lou LaFerrara Jr made the best of it with a win over Jim Mullen. Mullen and his Vega was having one of his best days in a couple of years here as he made it to the final dash with the S&W altered of LaFerrara. Racing on a four tenths pro tree with a handicap head-start can be a bit tricky but in this case it was Mullen who failed to take advantage of his handicap and after starting late his 8.73 at 132.86 fell far short of the goal. LaFerrara cranked out a stout 7.60 elapsed time at a speed of 174.35 on a straight as an arrow run.
In the Nostalgia category Henry Trapp grabbed the brass ring when he defeated Steve Consentino. All day long Trapp and his 55 Chevy out of Stormville NY was hitting the tree in .00 numbers no further off than .006, and in the final cut a perfect light and ran a 10.491, 124.98 to take the cup with a .011 package. Against that kind of driving Consentino dropped to second place with a 10.51, 128.47 time slip with his well-appointed 62 Dodge wagon.
The MANDRA racers were led by Chris Righetti and his Lake Harmony Pa based 66 Chevelle. Jim Shearer’ 71 model Chevy provided some great opposition as they worked their way to the title match. When it came to the last race Shearer was closer on the tree but further off the dial and Righetti was able to drive around him at the finish line. A winning 10.30 at 122.61 held up to the runner-up card of 11.13, 119.60.
After a several year absence from Island the East Coast Gassers made a return visit and put on quite a show. Anybody who remembers the old days of the gasser wars could not help but get into this circuit’s deal. The last two survivors were Ron Carson aboard his 1953 Ford and Scott Hasko and his 1940 Willys. As this pair lined up for the final you could almost transport back to the late 60s and feel like a youngster again. Carson gave up the handicap and made a good move on the tree, sending the vintage Ford to victory lane at 9.50 seconds and 131.90 mph. Hasko’s Relic Willys hit an 11.34 time at 114.80.