With the long, cold winter of 2014-2015 beginning to fade into memory, and after a month’s wait to turn some tires due to lingering weather issues, Island Dragway kicked off its 55th  anniversary year of operations with a full bracket program, and a couple of new classes for 2015.

Along with the traditional dial-your-own brackets, this season will feature selected weekends that include two heads-up index classes, one for 10.0 racers and another for 11.50 cars, and a Pro Dial handicap bracket racing off a 5 tenths pro tree.  These additions provide an opportunity for more racers to compete in a desired class, and also for regular drivers to double or triple up on entries.  Several other categories will also take their place during the year including Modern Muscle and Junior Street competition.  So with the ice and snow gone and the sun shining, let’s get to covering the action from the first competitive race of the year.

The Super Pro guys returned to quarter mile racing this season, and at the end of the day it was Bryan Mirsky and his 66 Chevy that got the job done.  Mirsky outlasted the dragster of Troy Lippincott to move out of the quarters, while Barry Luyster ran  on his 7.71dial to push Mike Sulc out with a too quick 8.62. After Todd Martin soloed the round he paired off with Martin and the two RED entries both ran well, but Luyster just a tad better to take the win light on a 7.72, 168 to a close but losing 7.56, 177.  Mirsky tuned up on a single and then staged with Luyster for the payoff.  A .005 RT for the big Chevy gave him plenty of room to play at the top end and his 9.90 at 135 mph took down the digger’s 7.75 at 159.

Pro continued the tradition of bringing out the largest field and some of the finest racing of the day.  Larry Pappas started off his year with a bang, hauling in the honors handily in the final against Mark Santee.  Santee, buying his way back into the race after a first round loss, gunned down Ben Carducci’s Vette with his 63 Comet entry, advancing from the QF with a time of 10.42 after Big Ben fouled.  Pappas used his top end eye just right to edge out Frank Maffiore Jr, whose Monte Carlo’s much better light caused him to brake slightly too hard and let the Camaro skid by at a 10.04, 131 to the 11.21, 109 for Frank.  Andrew Bracuto ran alone.  Pappas went off with Bracuto for a SF match and again gave up a little on the tree but managed to hold on for the victory, 10.07 and 131 to the 10.22, 132 by the Firebird.  Santee was a single and then it was time for the rubber round.  This thing was over when the tree came down as Santee took an unusual nap on the line and Pappas was never challenged for the money, recording a 10.10 at 119 versus a break out but late arriving 10.38, 124 for Santee.

The buyback system worked out to the finalists’ advantage in Street as both Bill Hakucsa and Gary Coleman regrouped from an initial loss and worked the field to get to the trophy dash.  Coleman bested Keith Burnham in the quarters as Everett Foley was better than Blaine Hertzog, Frank Maffiore Sr took out Bill Wacherman and Hakucsa ran alone.  The semis had Coleman knocking down the tree and posting up a 12.27 to send Maffiore to the showers at 17.98.  Hakucsa ended the day for Foley when his Camaro clocked an 11.51 against a too quick 11.47 for Foley’s Duster.  Hakucsa, who had fouled out in the opening round made the same mistake in the final, turning on the red light and wasting an 11.43, 124 for runner up money.  Coleman drove his Caddy powered 31 Ford Coupe to the pay window at 13.23 and 100.32.

Bike Eliminator presented the largest first round field in many sessions.  When you mix former track champs like Ken George, Barry Stephens, Dave Ferguson and others, you get some really exciting pairings.  Don Hookway took out Ken George in the first round then dropped his QF race against Barry Stephens in round two.  Joe Dipiazza was better than Scott McGrath, George Bailey bested Mike McCulloch and Dave Ferguson on his sled all made the jump to the semis.  Bailey won over DiPiazza when the latter fouled and Stephens overcame a starting line advantage by Ferguson to make it to the first final contest of the year.  Stephens, who so often seems to have the right combination when it counts most, drilled the tree for a relatively easy title at 9.48 and 127.53.  Bailey finished second best at 10.30, 139.10.

Vincent Laurita often runs at the track with the NETO circuit, but this weekend he showed to try his hand in the 10.0 Index category.  The neat Chevelle from Larrangeville NY met and beat the 88 Pontiac of Mo Bolduc to take the inaugural race, 10.03, 126 against a 10.06, 134.44.

The other Index category of 11.50 went three tough rounds before Dave Harvey emerged with the title.  Harvey was better than Bill Hakucsa in the SF while Rich Shuleski won over a fouling Bill Cohen.  Shuleski turned on the red light in the trophy race and ran well under the number at 11.35.  Harvey and his Valiant were the victors at 11.55, 106.45.

Pro Dial is another new segment for 2015, and it is run on a dial your own handicap but off a .5 Pro Tree.  Bill Doczi’s Camaro won his SF race with Paul Ravitis and Keith Reis Sr powered his El Camino past Bill Cohen who broke out.  Doczi made the mistake of leaving too soon in the deciding race fouling away an 11.99, 113.87 ticket.  That gave Reis the cup with a slip of 11.55 and 115.35.

Trophy eliminator fell to William Van Goor when he took the measure of Geroge Renz.  The Camaro recorded a 10.77 at 123.61 that made the losing pick-up run too quick at 15.48, 84.62.  Craig Sonderfan won the Consolation Two race over Bill Van Goor.  Needing only a 9.97 and 114 mph effort, Sonderfan passed the Camaro of Van Goor as it ran up a time of 11.33 at a speed of 116.05.