IT AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER
AND NOW IT’S OVER
The 2015 Summit Racing Points Series at Island Dragway came to an end this weekend in awesome fashion. Along with the final day to earn points toward a berth on the Bracket Finals team representing the track, the folks at Boyd Machine put up a guarantee to support a Super Pro payout of $2000 to win as well as providing a specially hand-built trophy for the lucky winner. And due to an earlier rain out situation, the annual King of the Track event crowned the best of the best with a Wally.
Super Pro started off with the biggest field of the season and took six rounds to reach the conclusion that Art Paltz was the cream of the crop on this particular night. The dragster racer out of Edison NJ was the quickest and fastest car in the eliminator and consistently ran on or very near his handicap and put on quite a show of driving prowess with great starting line reactions,, especially when he needed it most. The last opponent to fall to the hauling machine was Jean Ann Zetterberg, who recently returned to the seat of a BBC motivated rear engine dragster, and has picked up right where she left off some years back when she dropped out of the action. While not the fastest car in the class, Zetterberg strung together some stout RTs and elapsed time numbers usually within a hundredth of a second or so of the dial. She bested Barry Luyster in a QF pairing when her 7.25, 153 on a .001 held up to a 6.41, 155 for the loser. Brian Mirsky’s Biscayne, the only doored car to make it to this round, used an 8.32 at 122 to end the night for Dave Hebig dragster that ran a 6.18, 165. And Paltz was better than Frank Duplissis as he ran up a 6.05 and 169.53 against a too quick 6.27, 162.43. Paltz ran alone in the semis while Zetterberg handily won over a red lighting Mirsky to set up the all dragster finale. The adage of saving the best for last applied here when Paltz left with a perfect .000 light and actually slowed down to a 6.06 time at 165 mph to collect the top payout. Zetterberg had to be pleased with her efforts even in the runner-up spot with her card of 7.24, 154.53.
Mike Franek struggled for a while in the second half of the season with recurring transmission woes, but he seems to have gotten that behind him. He ran well enough to take home the Pro honors with a win over Nicole Hoflund. Hoflund and her Chevy motored Cutlass moved out of the quarters when her 11.32, 118 sent Bob Dukin under his number with a 9.57, 136.41. Franek and his Dart Swinger used a 10.19 at 126 in a win over top points earner Craig Sonderfan’s Chevelle who hit a 9.77, 138 in the losing effort. Frank Armando ran unopposed. Hoflund advanced into the final with a single pass, setting up her second final round appearance of the season and looking to go two for two in the final. Franek won the shootout with Armando by using a better RT and 10.20, 121 that passed the 11.63, 112 slip by the Camaro. The deciding race began with a starting line advantage by Hoflund that kept her in the lead almost to the finish line. But she wasn’t able to seal the deal and posted an 11.40 and 117.69 that made her the runner-up. Franek squeezed by with his 10.20 at 124 even for the light.
While already guaranteed of another first place finish in Street, Bill Hakucsa was not content to let another victory slip away. With this week’s win, Hakucsa set the mark at nine final round appearances for the year and winning six of them. Russ Picone and his Mustang was better than the Chevelle of Doug Eberhart to open the quarters, Hakucsa won over a red lighting Bill Wackermann and Sean Conway advanced his Malibu past Chuck Henion. Hakucsa and Picone faced off in the semifinal with the Camaro taking an 11.66, 116 win over the loser’s 11.52 at 116. Conway had the bye and then readied to race Hakucsa for the title. Hakucsa gained a hundredth on the tree and played a cat and mouse top end game to add to his total win count with an 11.74, 105.60 time slip, leaving Conway in second place at 12.57 and 110.31.
If you need to ask about the Bike titlist you haven’t been paying attention all year. Barry Stephens ran away with the points all season long and capped it off by winning the last points race this weekend. The victory put his record at ten final rounds with eight wins out of the sixteen race series. And although the number one spot on the team was not up for debate, this race was. Stephens ousted Don Hookway initially and soloed the next round. His semifinal challenger was Neil Smith, who always seems to do his best when there is a Wally at stake, but Smith missed the green by .001 and automatically sent Stephens into another deciding race. Vinny Cianci worked his way past Artem Romaliysky and George Bailey to get the final shot at the title. Stephens grabbed the ring on a 9.60 and 128.35 versus a 9.498 and 148.87 by Cianci.
Nicole Hoflund defeated Stephanie Kelly in Trophy eliminator. Hoflund, in a prelude to her Pro final round appearance, took this one at 11.37 and 115 with her Olds entry to the Firebird’s 13.59 at 102.46.
Michael DeBruin won the Consolation One honors over Robbie Boyd and Scott Embley was better than Joe Dukin for Consolation Two. DeBruin managed only a 6.76, 118 that was good enough after Boyd broke out at 6.32, 158.43. Embley recorded a 9.27 at 137.34 in his defeat of Dukin’s 9.22, 144.86 run out.
The evening capped off with the King of the Track runoff. Barry Stephens took out Mike Franek in the first pairing and Art Paltz passed Bill Hakucsa at the thousand foot stripe to earn a trip to the crown. Paltz ran the table here, winning the Super Pro money, collecting low et and top speed marks and the KOT goodies when the dragster’s 6.04 and 171.21 was more than enough after Stephens fouled away his chance by .003 seconds that left him with a 7.90 and 126.29 card as a reminder of almost was.
Congratulations to all the racers who made it on the finals team this season. Thanks for all the effort and best of luck when you race for money, prizes and pride at the Division One event. To those who came up short we appreciate your participation and wish you better luck next season. The nicest thing about drag racing is the people involved, and the second best thing is that there is always another race down the road. Here’s hoping your journeys are smooth and rewarding.