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9/10 +9/17/17 TWO SUNDAYS IN SEPTEMBER OLD TIMERS AND BIG BUCKS

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9/10 +9/17/17

TWO SUNDAYS IN SEPTEMBER

OLD TIMERS AND BIG BUCKS

After the regular season ended in August, Island Dragway began its Fall season with a mix of test and tune and special events.  One of the most anticipated events of the year is always the Ol Daze Drags, traditionally held the Sunday after Labor Day. This event, now in its 29th year, brings out the racers and fans to watch cars of a former era of the sport and to gaze in amazement at a host of antique iron in the form of the car show.  And this year was no different.  A good crowd on entrants filled the pits along with the ever popular NETO nostalgia club.  And although there were a few tough spots brought on by a medical emergency in the pits that worked out well and a violent crash by Craig Norton and his 55 T-bird, the day otherwise was hugely a load of fun.  Fortunately, according to published reports, Norton is recovering from his injuries and we all wish him a speedy recovery and a quick return to the track.  After the incident the rest of the event was run over the eighth mile distance for safety reasons.

Four classes of regular nostalgia cars were run based on elapsed time breakdowns.  Zach Carr took the N-1 honors with his Firebird over the Dart of Paul Crispyn, 5.82 to a 6.14. N-2 went to Mike Franek when his 6.33 time in the Dart bested the 7.37 effort of Jeff Rahner in a Buick convertible.  Steve Baker, coming off his number one finish in Street eliminator this season, grabbed the N-3 class by beating Bruce Kopco, a 7.67 in the Camaro overtaking the Vette’s 7.88.  And long-time racer Jerry Ackerman drove his Maverick to the N-4 trophy with a time of 11.36 that proved better than Russ Picone’s  foul starting 10.89 in a 38Chevy.

NETO Nostalgia was gathered in by Jerome Hillier aboard his Maverick Ford entry when he outlasted the Nova handled by Rich Mauceri.  Hillier had turned back the Fairlane of Frank Pisani in the semis while Mauceri bested Greg Schreiner.  Hillier won the final with a ticket of 7.95 at 85 mph when Maucri broke out on a 6.29, 103.49 slip.  The quickest and fastest car in the COMP division belonged to Lou LaFerrara and he drove his S&W altered to the victory, finally defeating the Camaro of Brian English.  Stringing together a bunch of mostly 4.7 second passes, the young driver out of Clark NJ ran past all comers and managed a bye in the SF round. English gunned down Scott Thorpe and his beautiful 55 Nomad in the semis and gave a good accounting of himself against LaFerrara.  But a .009 RT for the altered on a four tenths pro tree was just too much to overcome, and English’s .045 fell short of the goal to runner-up at 5.45, 127.67. Laferarra powered out another fine pass of 4.78 and 142.54 to take the title.

The following weekend it was time for the Division One Bracket Finals, which eventually had two Island Dragway entrants earning a trip to Pomona for a national championship opportunity.  Todd Martin won the Super Pro Division title while Barry Stephens came off a Race of Champions victory to also get the chance to go west based on the NHRA’s random ROC winners to fill out an eight car field for the title runs.  Good luck to this pair on the quest for a national title.  And congrats to Bill Doczi on a runner-up in Street and Anthony Capirose for a second place in the High School eliminator.  

On the Sunday after the finals it has become a custom to hold a $2,000 to win footbrake race for those who have not yet had their fill of racing for the weekend.  Racers from the area stop by to try for the big prize and it is always a most competitive event with some of the best pedal drives in the country.  This year the surviving five in the quarters included Rob Zetterberg and his Monte Carlo, Jim Young and his Camaro, Mike Rosa aboard a Nova, Brian Davison in a Camaro and Chuck Henion in his Nova.  Davison moved up to the SF and a bye run for an automatic shot at the money.  Zetterberg took out Rosa in there pairing of the semis when Rosa went red to bounce out a 9.81, 133 that allowed Zetterberg the other final spot on his 9.66, 140 effort.  Davison got the starting line advantage in the final and appeared to be on his way to a big pay day, but at the big end both drivers were edgy about running under the dial and both lifted just before the finish line. Zetterberg skinned by for the light on a ticket of 9.71 seconds at a speed of 125.46 mph.  Davison  got the $500 second place money with a slip of 10.80 at 126.47.

The remainder of the season contains more T&T events along with some interesting specialty races. October 1 features the diesel truck show and race, another big dollar footbrake race on the 7th, mid-month has  the Fall Nostalgia event and a bike only event is on the schedule for later in October.  Be sure to check the web site for updates.

10/7/17 YOUNG UP TO HIS OLD TRICKS

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10/7/17

YOUNG UP TO HIS OLD TRICKS

Over the years a Camaro racer by the name of Jim Young has proven to be a formidable competitor anytime he rolls through the gate.  Most of the other racers know of his reputation and work hard to be at their best if and when they stage up in the lane opposite the Parsippany native.  For the past couple of years Young hasn’t been as regular a competitor at Island and his win-loss record has suffered a little bit of decline over that period of time.  How to get yourself back on the winning side of the ledger is a simple formula, race for a big payout to the tune of $2,000.  And this weekend it was the end of the season footbrake race that brought out the best racers to fight it out for a prize that surely will buy a lot of brats and beer for the Octoberfest.

Young and his Chevy entry was never more than .055 off the green light all afternoon, and through seven rounds was always the first to react to the go signal.  His only easy race came in the sixth round semifinal when he fell into the bye slot for the round.  He had to be better than Scott Embley twice due to the buyback system as Young was the winner in the opener and again in the quarterfinals versus the Nova driven by the Saylorsburg pilot.  Young showed Blake Furman and his Plymouth the exit in the second heat and then took out Tim Iren’s Malibu in the next match.  After sending Everett Foley to the showers in round 4, Young again paired off with Embley in the QF.  Meantime, Kevin Render was advancing his Monte Carlo into a final round scenario by defeating Mike Franek in a round 1 buy back, John Hedenburg’s Ford and the Duster of Brent Long and a bye run to work his way into the quarters.

Round 5 open with Young turning away Embley, 10.51 and 123.79 against a 9.59, 138.57.  Render hit a 10.43 at 120.16 to push out the Malibu of Joe McLaughlin who ran under his number at 12.48, 105.18.   Joe Folarino ran unopposed in his Camaro.  Young   head start in the semis and parlayed that into a shot at the big bucks as the Chevy posted up a 10.47 and 126.03 ticket to a losing 9.78 and 134.26 for the racer out of Old Bridge.  Young was a single.

Render had the most invested in the day because of his need to get back in after an initial loss and was psyched up for the challenge of taking on Young.  He was perhaps a little too psyched up as he was supposed to give up .06 on the tree but couldn’t wait long enough for his countdown and went red at -.037 for the automatic loss and runner-up pay on a 10.43, 126.97.  Young saw he was going to take the money and ran a little under the dial with a slip of 10.48, 128.54.

So for the second of the two footbrake mega dollar events for the season, another local racer made off with the bigger check.  Jim Young  joins Rob Zetterberg as the two top paid racers for the year.  Almost can’t wait for the next time these folks race for the bank bag full of loot.

10/15/17 LIKE IT USED TO BE FALL AT FALL NOSTALGIAS

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10/15/17

LIKE IT USED TO BE FALL AT FALL NOSTALGIAS

Fall is when racers think about what they will do over the long winter months when bench racing and vehicle maintenance are all that occupies the time.  But before the temperatures drop and the skies tend to drop a more solid form of precipitation, there is the annual Fall Nostalgia race to brighten the mood and lift the spirits.  Old timers and new fans alike can spend a day watching a living history of the sport and celebrate its rich colors and sounds.

And so it was as a strong field of competitors brought out the iron of yesterday and patiently waited for the mist to lift and the track to dry.  By one in the afternoon the event finally took off, and it was soon evident that the wait was well worth it.

As with almost all of the nostalgia races, the gang from NETO was on hand as they put on their season finale event.  Broken into two groups, the Nostalgia class used a standard sportsman tree while the Competition bracket left against a four-tenths pro tree.  And after a long absence, the East Coast Gassers made a return to action and brought with them a fine field of old time “hot” cars that made us old timers swoon just at the sight of them.  Due to the late start all the racers had to dial in their mounts with just a single time trial.

Neto Comp took five rounds to complete and finished with Lou LaFerrara nabbing the title over Brian English.  English powered his Camaro past Gerard Milidantri in the quarters and the smoking 63 Vette of James Mullin to win the semis.  LaFerrara gunned down Ron Baker’s Chevelle and soloed his way to the final round.  And that final was a close one as the cars were separated by just .006 on reaction time and each ran close to the dial.  LaFerrara’s altered took the win light via a 7.62, 164.03 slip as English fell to runner-up on an 8.63 at 157.23.

Steve Consentino probably wishes that all the circuit races were held here as the Mopar pilot out of Dumont won for the second time and took a runner-up in four races this season at Island.  His Dodge wagon was better than Rich Mauceri’s Camaro for a QF victory and then he punched out the Fairlane of Frank Pisani in the semis.  Rick Arborio Jr advanced over Joe Puma’s heavy 61 Pontiac to get a bye run in the SF.  Consentino was vulnerable in the title race as Arborio took almost a tenth on the RT but the big Dodge ran right on his number at 10.57 and 126.93 that pushed the Camaro under the handicap for a loss at 11.73, 112.49.

The ECG brought out a wild mix of entrants from 1930s Fords and Chevys to Willys and Anglia bodied racers and everything in between.  It was like watching a car show in rapid animation.  Scott Hasko and his 40 Willys eventually took the title when he finished off the day against the 51 Olds of Gregg Grubel.  Hasko easily beat a red lighting Tommy Majors in a beautiful 37 Ford to move up to the semifinals where he ran unopposed.  Grubel ran alone in the QF while Pat Kelly took  the measure of Carly Boyer.  Grubel turned back Kelly’s 61 Falcon to line up with Hasko to decide the matter.  Grubel moved too soon and went red to lose the final with a shut off 14.84 and Hasko posted an 11.46 at 116.95.

Non-circuit racers had three classes of competition to show their stuff.  Two regulars, Bryan Mirsky and Robbie Boyd worked their way to the title dash in N1 with Mirsky’s 66 Chevy emerging with the win slip on a 10.12, 114.54 while Boyd was late on the launch and lost via his 9.28 and 146.78.  John Hanek took the N2 final against Pete Ianzano when his Chevy hit a 10.84 at 123 that was better than the AMX’s ticket of 10.90 and 123.  And Sam Neary was the best of the N3 group as his 67 VE bug needed only an 18.41 run to best the Challenger of Cory Albea, who fouled out on the starting line.

They say the old speak of the past because they have no future, and the young speak of the future because they have no past.  On a nostalgia day at the races, the old and the young find common ground to partake of the sport of drag racing in a mix that binds all groups together.  And perhaps that is the very best part of the entire sport that all can enjoy.

Until the skies clear and the temps go up, best wishes for the holidays and a safe off-season.  Already looking forward to the season opener that is just down the road.

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