CELEBRATING 61 YEARS WITH FLOPPERS
Each year rolls over into new events and new memories of what used to be and reminds us of the history of the sport of drag racing, and the roll of Island Dragway in that history. So many milestones to consider, but not the least of these is the history of Funny Cars and their impact on our recollections. Since the early 1970s this class has had a special place in the hearts and minds of race fans and gets us back to a time when you could lose your troubles with a night at the races. That feeling returned this weekend as Island Dragway marked 61 years of NHRA style racing by bringing in a stable of nostalgic funny cars to headline a weekend that included old school competition and the runners of NETO. And what an event it turned out to be with tight races and super slick supercharged action that just exuded nostalgic nirvana.
A total recap of the action would take many pages but there were numerous highlights throughout the afternoon. The first round had Cody Helger’s Dazed and Confused Camaro out of Rhode Island nail down top speed of the round with a whopping 199.14 mph blast in 6.83seconds. That was followed by the low elapsed time of the event by Top Fuel Joe Morrison at the throttle of the Screamin Eagle from Pirrone Racing a 6.40 lap at a top end of 198. Krista Massarella pointed her now supercharged Monza Temporary Insanity mount to a 7.33 and 192 for the lady and Drew Sweetman hustling a 7.00 at 180 in the Frantic Ford Mustang.
Mike Geroni tossed out a stout 7.00,186 aboard his beautiful Fiat Topolino entry that had some wondering just how fast this round would be. John Cerchio clocked a 7.14 time in his Warpath Buick on an early chute. The pairing of Morrison against Bob Toth and the Steve Musser owned Time Bomb Vega had the crowd on their feet. After a tremendous burnout, Morrison backed up only to find an oil line leaking and had to shut off. Toth, ever the showman, used a big pedal and driving skill that netted him a fabulous 7.20 time and top speed of the event at 199.49 mph. Anyone who didn’t feel the heat of nostalgia funny car adrenalin rush had better check for a pulse. Thanks to all the more than a dozen teams that came out to help celebrate this year’s anniversary.
In other action, Al Zimbaldi was the class act of NETO Nostalgia when he gunned down Saturday’s winner Steve Consentino. Zimbaldi Painting was the event sponsor for this race and Al collected the top prize aboard his former Pro Stock Camaro call Rat Pack. Luck played a big part of his victory as he beat Gerard Diemer in the semis when the latter broke out at 10.09, 129 to the Chevy’s 10.18, 129. Consentino hung a huge light on Zimbaldi in the final but broke his Dodge Wagon and let the Putnam Valley racer take the trophy with a 210.91 at just 98 mph.
NETO Comp almost saw a trifecta for Brian English and his points leading Camaro. English hauled in the Saturday win and the club’s King of NETO award and worked into the title round on Sunday. There was only one block left, in the form of Jerry DeSlandes and his Duster who had a head start of a half second in the last race. English made a mistake on the tree and went red early that endured DeSlandes the win at a 9.07 time and a speed of 149.10.
The track class action fell out as follows. N1 went to local racer who defeated Eddie Korpos when the Chevy ran a 9.90, 120 against the Nova’s 10.19and 136. N2, the largest field of the day, got a victory for Ernie Svolto and his Cuda when he outlasted the Comet of Mark Santee. Svolto ticketed a 10.73 at 123 to push Santee under the dial at 10.48 and 118. Jerome Hillier drove is Maverick to the N3 class honors over the Impala of Michael Franks. This race had a double break out to decide the winner as Hillier’s 13.07, 101 was less under than Franks’ 12.91 at 102. And Jerry Ackerman collected another N4 trophy by defeating Bernie Spirock. The battle of Fords was never tight as Spirock was super late on the tree and Ackerman easily turned on the win light at 16.11, 73 mph to a losing 14.50and 95.96.
And so another anniversary has come and gone for Island and we try to imagine how to make it even better next year. Congratulations to the participants and thanks to those who came out in support of the event. And a special thank you to the management and staff of Island Dragway for all the hard work they put in to make this year’s event a huge success. See you next year.