- Friday 17 May, 2013
Funnies, dragsters, sizzling door cars battle it out on track.
NORWALK, Ohio – The Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser drew the hottest, sweetest, fastest sportsman racing machines on the planet Friday to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
We’re talking E.T. slamming Top Sportsman door cars in the sixes, gorgeous dragsters and altereds in National Hot Rod Association District 3 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series action, and trackside presence of legends of the sport such as Ray Price and Al Hanna.
Many fans never before witnessed the spectacle of Nitro Harley racing, with riders pulling wheelies to 1,000 feet and hugging the beasts with flames spitting out both sides.
After several rounds in the six-second range pushing 225 mph, announcer Bill Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park, asked fans if they would like to hop on the back of one of those and go for a ride.
Then SHOWTIME! Presented by Croghan Colonial Bank almost dared anyone to pick a favorite! But families tried anyway, through a paired up parade of snazzy hot rods, classic styles, clean lines and frolicking wheelstands.
For another out-of-the ordinary treat, Pro Stock Snowmobiles turned out elapsed times of 8.14 and 155 mph in a quarter mile.
Any time 260 mph Funny Cars and 280 mph dragsters come to town, we’ll have race track drama. They didn’t disappoint on Friday.
From the slick, hard-working crews in the staging lanes to turning the corner into the water box and up to the starting line, then the screaming, flame-throwing five-second passes, what a show!
The Drag Racing Association of Women and Racers For Christ Super Shootouts presented by Moser Engineering raced off Super Gas, Super Street and Super Comp.
In Super Gas, Bill Jackson, Mansfield, Ohio urged his 1979 "Scratcher" Monza off the line 0.002 seconds early, handing a red light gift to Scott Deffenbaugh, Lebanon, Ind., driving a 1966 Nova SS.
In Super Street, Larry Batt, Gaston, Ind., arranged a win-light combination in his 1973 Vega that lifted him by 0.004 seconds over A.J. Buchanan, Vickery, Ohio in a 1991 Mustang.
Then Super Comp staged another tight final round with a margin of 0.028 seconds. Todd Kujawa, Elkhart, Ind., piloted a Vintage dragster over Kevin Trusty, Groveport, Ohio.
On his first appearance at Summit Motorsports Park, Scott Holdridge and his Black Ice Jet Dragster challenged veteran class dominator Jill Canuso and the Hanna Motorsports Queen of Diamonds Jet Dragster in the first of four matchups this weekend.
Jill Canuso launched with a 0.029-second reaction time and crossed the finish line in an elapsed time of 5.323 seconds at 294 mph. Scott Holdridge assembled a 0.180 reaction time and nearly caught Jill Canuso by crossing the finish line with a 5.496 elapsed time and 295 mph.
Guests along the fence and near the water box caught in-your-face action.
Brian Gaisford, Antwerp, Ohio, a supervisor at Defiance Metal Products, traveled more than two hours for a first dragstrip visit of his son, Julian, five years old.
“We came up here to see my friends’ cars run, from Advanced Chassis from Antwerp,” Brian Gaisford said. “My friend Dan Bowers builds them.”
Randy Stake, 43, a meat cutter from Gardner’s Super Value, Norwalk, and Noah, 11,both from Shelby, Ohio watched through a gate by a billboard.
Three men from Pittsburgh checked out the NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series qualifying runs, which concluded with Tommy Grimes, Clemmon, N.C. leading the pack with a 6.309-second elapsed time at 224 mph, and Jay turner, Julian, N.C. on the number 8 bump spot at 6.557 seconds and 217 mph.
Dalton Dominytus, 20, a landscaper, visited the Summit Motorsports Park booth at the Cleveland auto show and received tickets for his fourth visit to Norwalk.
Adam Smith, 20, logged his first view of Nitro Harleys on his first visit to Summit Motorsports Park.
“You have to have a lot of guts to do that,” Adam Smith said.
Rob Ankney, 19, who rides a dirt bike, said the Harleys are “chest rattling.”
Through first round qualifications, racers in the National Hot Rod Association Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series turned out some sharp numbers.
Troy Stone, Elkhart, Ind., mashed his Vintage dragster to first qualifying position in Top Dragster with a run of 6.192 and 226 mph. At the 32-car bump sits Michael Smith, Owosso, Mich., with an elapsed time of 7.201 seconds at 187 mph.
Top Alcohol Dragster found Brandon Booher, Urbana, Ill., in first with an elapsed time of 5.386 seconds at 267 mph. Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., landed in the eighth spot for the bump with a run of 5.929 seconds and 229 mph.
John Anderika, Wyoming, Pa., leads Top Alcohol Funny Car with an elapsed time of 5.632 seconds at 255 mph. So far the eighth place bump penciled in Chris Foster, Davanport, Iowa, at 6.983 seconds and 138 mph.
Robert Bailey, Wabash, Ind., leads Competition Eliminator at 6.632 seconds and a 7.21-second index, for an under index comparison of -0.578 seconds.
And Mark Malcuit, Strasburg, Ohio leads Top Sportsman in a 1968 Camaro with a 6.490-second elapsed time and 212 mph. That's right! Door car in the quarter mile. Mmm hmm.
Visit where the racers hang out in the pits to catch a glimpse of the mechanical genius behind the track performances. One pit on the Summit side of the race track spans the continent with racing friendship.
Phil Stanley, 40, Maine, owns PCS Performance, on the Web at pcsperformance.com, which specializes in performance parts for snowmobiles and motorcycles.
With Phil Stanley were Paul Austin, Seattle, Washington, and Ed Illgen, Rockford, Ill., who both race Pro Stock Snowmobiles. Paul Austin won the Indy rainout Pro Stock Snowmobile race on Friday evening at Summit Motorsports Park.
“I built these two sleds,” Phil Stanley said. “I’m a fabricator. I met them snowmobile racing. We did do it all, ice and snow. But the pavement seems to be the most consistent, so we’ll stick with that.”
Passing through a manufacturer’s midway, including Summit Racing Equipment, Trick Flow, and Muscle Products Corp., the Plymel family from Mentor, Ohio paused to check out model cars and trucks.
Top Sportsman driver Darryl McMillen, rumbled down from Goderich, Ontario, Canada with his silver and burgundy 1963 Corvette sponsored by TTK Transportation and Lucas Frieght.
For crew Darryl McMillen brought his wife, Carol McMillen, her twin sister, Cathy Williams, Brian Wettlaufer, and Ted Lucas from Goderich, and Mike Wagg, from Waterdown, Ontario, who’s crewing for a year and taking a break from driving his 1994 Dodge Daytona in Top Sportsman.
Carol McMillen said the group came together in the last 10 years.
“We raced here in 2004. That was when we started dating,” Carol McMillen said. “Bit it was with a Firebird. We came last year to the National event just to watch. We’re coming back to race at Nationals this year.”
In round one qualifying, Darryl McMillen and his Corvette turned out a 7.07-second elapsed time and 196 mph in a Top Sportsman field that so far logged a fastest run of 6.49 seconds at 212 mph.
Some fans know their favorite campsite by number and their claim to it spans decades.
James H. Nutter, 53, Hebron, Kent., works for Cummins Diesel in Walton, Kent.
“I’ve been coming to this race track for 33 years straight from Kentucky driving past four or five race tracks to get here,” James H. Nutter said of the almost four hour trip.
James Nutter’s favorite events include the Mickey Mart Rewrds Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser, and the Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services.
“I come to two major events here,” James Nutter said. “That’s the only place I come to any more. Just here.”
James Nutter’s track loyalty emerged from the early days.
“It was the 1982 World Nationals,” James Nutter said. “I was here in a 1969 Ford Fairlane, my daily driver. Everybody was stuck in the mud. It was such a rain out on Saturday, and they weren’t going to race on Sunday.
“Bill Bader Sr. himself got on a Ford 9N tractor and pulled everybody out of the mud personally,” James Nutter said. “It was the second year I came up here. That is what ultra impressed me about the track: That he himself pulled me out of the mud.
“From then on I’ve been up here every year for 33 years in a row,” James Nutter said. “I have camp spot number 20.”
Jeff Arnett, Hebron, Kent., shared the campsite.
“We did a lot of drag racing together when we were teenages,” Jeff Arnett said. “I got away from it for the last 20 years. He got me hooked back into it.
“I was busy being an accountant and a computer tech,” Jeff Arnett said. “It really stinks. Now I do carpentry work. Now I live in the real world.”
James Nutter pulled out a green cooler covered with racing stickers.
“I’ve been from Pomona to Gainesville to Reading,” James Nutter said, “and never anywhere on the face of this planet will there ever be a better race track than Norwalk Raceway Park.
“Every time I come up here -- I don’t care if it rains – I don’t get disappointed,” James Nutter said. “The World Nationals was like that unbelievable treatment. The Bader Family deserve it. I watched this place go from a forest to what it is.”
James Nutter brings his wife, Karen, and daughters Kelley and Deana, to Summit Motorsports Park, too.
“My two daughters, they’re both in the service now,” James Nutter said. “I’m so proud of my daughters.”
Kelley Nutter serves as a sergeant in the United States Air Force in Little Rock, Ark.
“She tells the boys how to fix C130 transport planes,” James Nutter said. “The youngest just finished A-school in the Coast Guard, and she’s getting ready to be deployed on a cutter.”
After filling the outsides of two coolers with race stickers, James Nutter recalls a special matchup.
“My favorite thing was when they took the NHRA and IHRA World Champs, and had them race it off,” James Nutter said. “That had never been done.”
The Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser continues Saturday, May 18, 2013 and Sunday, May 19, 2013. For information, click on: Count me in!