- Published on Monday, 20 May 2013 13:21
Marty Thacker collects 29th Wally.
NORWALK, Ohio – A spicy hot mix of furiously fast machines pleased the crowd all day long on Championship Sunday at the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser May 19, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
New talent squared up against savvy veterans in final rounds in the National Hot Rod Association Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the new NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series.
And on an unseasonably beautiful May weekend, shared family experiences mattered to racers as well as fans.
The championship round of Top Alcohol Dragster lined up rookie second qualifier Kyle Michalek, Louisville, Ohio in a 2012 DSR against the formidable Marty Thacker, Robinson, Ill., a 25-year veteran in the class and now a 29-time event champion.
Marty Thacker crossed the beams at 0.040 seconds with Kyle Michalek hot after him at 0.064 seconds.
Then Marty Thacker grabbed the top end of the battlefield, crossing the finish at 5.403 seconds and 263 mph, compared with 5.455 seconds for Kyle Michalek at 257 mph. The margin of victory added up to 0.076 seconds.
“It felt great,” Marty Thacker said. “Everything was working great. The guys did a great job. Everything was handled smoothly. Some weekends you feel like you’re the underdog every round, but this weekend I felt like the other guy was the underdog.
“We have been developing a new head program for two years now,” said Mary Thacker. “And we made some changes over the winter that really helped. And this year it kind of came together.
“We have 28 Wallys at home,” Marty Thacker said. “The last one was 1½ years ago at the National event here. I think we’ve got a hot rod again.”
A full-time employee at an oil refinery which makes gasoline, Marty Thacker initiated his 30 years of racing in a Super Comp roadster.
“Then we had some low-dollar alcohol cars we raced with another operation,” Marty Thacker said. “In 2002 we got our first sponsor and bought a new car and went NHRA racing. This is our 11th year of doing NHRA full time. I’ve been very blessed.”
Five crew members and a pit dog, Speed Racer, wrenched together for the victory with Marty Thacker, who praised Summit Motorsports Park.
“It’s neat to see somebody put this much effort into a race track,” Marty Thacker said.
When Chris Foster called his family with plans to race his 2011 Mustang Top Alcohol Funny Car almost 10 hours away from home at the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars, he must have asked, “Can I get a witness?”
The Fosters all showed up to cheer for Chris Foster, 44, Davenport, Iowa, who’s raced for 29 years, including 22 years in the fast, erratic temperamental beasts.
“We have four generations of us here this weekend,” Chris Foster said. “It’s the first time we’ve all been together for a race.”
And what a show! Chris Foster masterfully connected rounds for his third Cavalcade of Stars victory in a row.
In the final round, number two qualifier Chris Foster squared off against number one qualifier John Anderika, Wyoming, Pa. in a 2010 Monte Carlo Funny Car.
Chris Foster owned both ends of the track, with a reaction time of 0.060 seconds versus 0.086 seconds, an elapsed time of 5.656 seconds versus 5.727 seconds, and speed of 254 mph versus 250 mph.
“This is one of those places,” Chris Foster said. “We have a good feeling about it. There’s nothing better than coming and supporting the Bader family. They support us so much.
“This year we had really great weather,” Chris Foster said. “Can’t complain about anything. And the team stuck together.”
Speaking of sticking together…Chris Foster’s father, John Foster, 66, Davenport, Iowa crews on the clutch with Chris’s stepfather, Dwight Baxter, also from Davenport, Iowa.
The third generation link is John Foster’s grandson, Nick Foster, a registered nurse from Memphis, Tenn., and the fourth generation, Nick’s son Mitch, who is three years old.
Chris Foster’s crew chief, Will Hanna, trekked to Norwalk from Deer Park, Texas. Will Hanna credited the win to building on past success.
“We’ve just been working on stuff from last year,” Will Hanna said. “We had a good Division Nationals. Last year we had a good set up, but it was prone to shake the tires.”
The Funny Car responded to adjustments.
“As usual Chris did a great job,” Will Hanna said. “I’ve worked with a bunch of teams in my day. And if the driver doesn’t do his job or the team doesn’t do their job, it doesn’t work out very well. This team has been together four or five years now. It makes a difference.”
In Top Sportsman, Jerry Albert, Avon, Ohio and his Corvette yellow 1997 Camaro grabbed the Wally from a dazzling array of hot rods, including the brand new Best Engineered 1969 Camaro of Glenn Butcher, Doylestown, Ohio in the final round.
“This is my home track,” said Jerry Albert, a commercial construction foreman at Williams Brothers Builders in Elyria, Ohio. “I’ve had this car since 2000. It’s an old Moser Engineering Pro Stock car. It’s got a 622 Dart single four barrel.
“The last time I raced this car was in the Jegs Sports Nationals last year in Columbus, and I won that, too,” Jerry Albert said, adding he’s returning to Summit Motorsports Park July 4-7, 2013 for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
“I got one big Wally,” Jerry Albert said. “I want another one. I won the IHRA World Nationals here twice, so I need that NHRA Wally.”
Other plans of Jerry Albert include the Summit Racing Equipment Shakedown at the Summit presented by Mickey Thompson Performance October 4-6, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, as well as Mallory Super Pro in the Mr. Gasket $53,100 Super Series at Summit Motorsports Park.
“R&R Auto Body is finishing up my bracket dragster,” Jerry Albert said. “They’re painting it this week, so I’ll be out here a lot after that.”
Jerry Albert credited consistent runs for his success at the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser.
“I had good reaction times until the final which threw me,” Jerry Albert said. “As I was pre-staging, his nose hit the stage beams. I hurried up and got into it. Then he rolled up into it. We were both late, but the car ran deadly consistent.”
Two 0.001-second reaction times contributed to final round victories – for Tom Losket and Jack Fisk Jr. -- in door car categories.
Jack Fisk Jr., Thornville, Ohio mashed his 1996 Chevy S-10 to a Super Street Wally with a 0.001 reaction time, 10.913 elapsed time at 128 mph over Marsha McFall, Tipp City, Ohio in a 1967 Camaro with a reaction time of 0.017 seconds and elapsed time of 10.861 and 116 mph.
“We race all the divisionals,” said crew member and son Lee Fisk, New Holland, Ohio. “And we’ll be back for the Ten Grand Nationals.”
Tom Losket, South Park, Pa., collected a Stock Eliminator Wally in a 1969 Plymouth road runner with a 440 six-pack logging a 0.001-second reaction time, an 11.162 second elapsed time and 110 mph over Charles Downing, Britton, Mich. In a 2010 Cobra Jet with a reaction time of 0.048 seconds and an elapsed time of 11.185 seconds at 113 mph.
“This is my first race car,” Tom Losket said. “I haven’t used anything else to race with. I bought the car in 1976 or 1977. At the outset it was a GTX. I converted it so it’s a clone road runner.
“At the time it had a Hemi four-speed,” Tom Losket said. “But Hemis are expensive, so I decided to switch to a 440. That 440 has been in there since the early 80s.”
The new NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series rounds out the talent lineups and dragstrip thrills in crowd-pleasing ways.
During Top Fuel Harley eliminations on Championship Sunday, on a round-winning run Douglas Horne, Aberdeen, Md., cranked the throttle wide open for a 6.353-second elapsed time at 220 mph, even though the mean machine danced along the center line.
“He was leaning, but he never slowed down,” said announcer Bill Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park. “There is no ‘quit.’ This class -- more than any other class in drag racing -- is made of men. They don’t know the meaning of ‘We’ll get it next time.’”
In the next round against racing legend Jay “the Bulldog” Turner, Tommy Grimes slammed the tree on his way to an unofficial Summit Motorsports Park elapsed time record of 6.249 seconds at 219 mph.
“It’s Grimes’ time!” Bill Bader Jr. said.
Tommy Grimes went on to win the Top Fuel Harley Wally in a final round win over Douglas Horne, who won at the tree by 0.001 second, then muscled the 2010 Harley upright when the launch wheelie landed off center.
“We needed that one,” said Ray Price, owner of Ray Price Harley-Davidson, the sponsor of Tommy Grimes’ Akea racing team. “We were able to find what makes it more consistent.
“What made the most difference was getting to run with the NHRA in the series and having consistent tracks,” Ray Price said. “The coolest thing was coming here, because I’ve always thought it is one of the greatest tracks. I love the way they promote it.
“Bill (Bader) Sr. back in the days of the IHRA, and Bill Jr. and Bobbie are following in his footsteps, they do a fantastic job,” Ray Price said.
Tommy Grimes’ hard-core determination at Cavalcade rooted in a previous race against Douglas Horne.
“We lost to (Doug Horne) in the semis in Virginia,” Ray Price said. “He got beat on a hole shot. We have been on his butt ever since. He didn’t want to get beat on a hole shot again.”
In Pro Dragster Harley-Davidson, Janette Thornley, Sacramento, Calif., drove her 2011 Hawaya Harley straight and true to a 167 mph final round victory over number one qualifier Dale Nilles, Purlear, N.C., who struggled with a squirrely bike not long after the launch.
Bob Motz and his flame-throwing spectacle of a Jet Kenworth blasted off the tree and sizzled the track at 208 mph for an elapsed time of 7.14 seconds in the quarter mile.
On the hairiest Jet Dragster side-by-side run of the weekend, Jill Canuso and the Hanna Motorsports Queen of Diamonds Jet Dragster launched at 0.028 seconds and rocketed to a 5.338 elapsed time at 293 mph.
Meanwhile, young upstart Scott Holdridge’s reaction time of 0.221 seconds meant his Black Ice Jet Dragster chased Jill Canusu the whole run, logging a 5.574-second elapsed time at 294 mph.
Jill Canuso never lost a matchup at Summit Motorsports Park, Bill Bader Jr. said.
Relaxed and happy, fans collected the sensory stimulations for great shared memories.
Eric Phifer, 52, who works for the rubber testing industry, and his son Chance Phifer, 26, a letter carrier for the United States Post Office, both from Akron, Ohio enjoyed Top Alcohol classes from the Budweiser trackside fence.
“It’s cool,” Eric Phifer said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“There’s nothing like it,” Chance Phifer said, adding his favorite part of the Cavalcade of Stars is Bob Motz and the Jet Kenworth.
Eric Phifer’s top billing goes to atmosphere: “Noise and speed and smell.”
And father-son nostalgia?
“This is our second Cavalcade,” Eric Phifer said. “We came when he was 14 and now he’s 26.”
Another father-son combo includes a special garage project.
“We love it here,” said Tom Trombley, a commercial electrician from Windsor, Ont., visiting Summit Motorsports Park with his wife, Tracey, and son, Paul, 14, who washes cars at a Chevy auto dealership. “We’ve been all over this country. I’ve been to 48 states already, traveling on vacations.”
Tom Trombley chose Top Fuel and Top Alcohol as dragstrip thrill champs.
“I love the Funny Cars,” Tom Trombley said. “I like them all, but the Funny Cars are the best.
We’re building a car right now for Paul,” Tom Trombley said. “I hope we’re going to get it into the Camaro Performance book. It’s going to be too nice to drive. It’s got a 427 big block Chevy engine.”
The Trombley collaboration is a synergy green 1967 Camaro, the first year of the series, said Paul Trombley, whose favorites of the Cavalcade of Stars includes Camaros, Top Alcohol Funny Cars and the Harleys.
Tom Trombley lauded the showmanship of Bill Bader Jr.
“He makes this whole track, this guy,” Tom Trombley said. “He is one of the best announcers.”
To everyone involved in the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser: A huge Summit Motorsports Park thank you for a fabulous weekend!
What a great group!
We loved opening our gates to you, our guests, seeing your smiles and hearing your cheers.
And we wish all of the racers would come back every week with those beautiful works of art and mechanical marvels you call race cars. Thank you for every minute of the show!
For RACE RESULTS from the Mickey Mart Rewards Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser May 17-19, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, click on: A beautiful weekend with fun and fast people!