46th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals Sportsman Recap

Those Traxxas girls are just crazy

Those Traxxas girls are just crazy Love those Gator hats!

Photos and words by Phil Hutchison

I don’t know why I bother listening to the weather when it comes to racing in Florida. All week long leading up to the Gators, rain was forecast each day. Even Sunday looked iffy but thank to the Weather Gods, the reports were premature and the race went off without a hitch with no rain falling on the property during the weekend. And the racing was great. One of the best Gators in recent years with lots of side by side runs by the Pros and the NHRA Sportsman racers.

In no particular order, my recap from last weekend

Competition Eliminator

The Comp finals had two of Division One's best drivers as Santangelo (far lane) defeated Ackerman for the win

The Comp finals had two of the NED’s best  as Santangelo (far lane) defeated Ackerman for the win

Former Lucas World champ and multi time event winner Joe Santangelo got the chance of a lifetime when Speedco Racing team owner Arnie Martel asked the Connecticut driver if he would be interested in wheeling the team’s B/SR and Camaro Super Stocker in 2014. Good thing Joe said yes since he’s done nothing but win with the potent roadster and Camaro.

Joe qualified the ’34 Chevy in the #5 spot with a 0.585 under 7.775 and took it from there.

Kamplain had not chance of catching Joe in the semifinals

Kamplain had no chance of catching Joe in the semifinals

On his way to the Winner’s Circle Joe defeated the Pontiacs of Bo Butner and Randy Daniels in the first two rounds, then took out a red lighting Steve Szupka in the quarterfinals only trimming 0.06 off his index in the process. In his semifinal match against Greg Kamplain’s B/ED,Joe used a great 0.015 light to take out the Brownsburg IN drivers 0.564 under 6.906 but a 0.138 RT killed Kamplain’s chances of making the finals.

Szupka went red against Santangelo in R3

Szupka went red against Santangelo in R3

Frankie Aragona also went red in R3 losing to Camplain's dragster

Frankie Aragona also went red in R3 losing to Kamplain’s dragster

On the other side of the ladder, former D1 and Lucas champ Al Ackerman’s little F/D was taking out Jenny Treadwell’s E/ED, a no show Rodney Rosenstiel in R3, and then defeated 2014 Lucas champ David Rampy’s A/EA in the semis to meet Santangelo for the Gator’s Comp title.

Ackerman got by reigning Lucas champ David Rampey in his semifinal race

Ackerman got by reigning Lucas champ David Rampy in his semifinal race. Maybe Rampy was afraid of hitting his CIC index too hard after already losing 0.06 earlier in eliminations but did not run the number to get around the F/D of Ackerman

Ackerman was first out of the gate with a 0.016 light but Santangelo was no slouch either as he was right with the Saddle Brook NJ driver with a 0.019 RT. On the top end Santangelo had enough motor to hold off the dragster of Ackerman, running a 0.555 under 7.745 to Ackerman’s close -0.529 7.971. The win in Comp was the second for Santangelo behind the wheel of Martel’s B/SR having won the US Nationals in 2014.

Joe is flanked by Kelly Kundratic and Christina DiBartolomeo after his Gator win

Joe is flanked by Kelly Kundratic and Christina DiBartolomeo after his Gator win

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Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car

Low Qualifier

Low Qualifier Jonnie Lindberg gets ready for Sunday morning’s R1

Top Alcohol Funny Car featured some of the best racers inside and outside the USA as recent Winternationals’ winner Jonnie Lindberg and fellow Swedish racer Ulf Leanders had their potent funny cars solidly in the field of 16. Also joining the “Out of Towner’s” was reigning Lucas champ Steve Harker who calls Australia home when not racing out of Gainesville GA in his ’13 Monte Carlo.

Mickey's new look Chevy

Mickey’s new look Chevy was #3 qualifier 

Lindberg put his ’10 Monte Carlo on the pole with a 5.467 followed by Harker’s 5.533. D1’s Mickey Ferro had his new green look Monte Carlo in the #3 spot with a 5.557 while Todd Veney capped off the top 4 with a 5.569 in the Follow a Dream Camaro. John Headley held down the bump with a 6.143 in his ancient Mustang.

Todd Veney

Todd Veney

Harker (near lane) could not match Ulf

Harker (far lane) could not match Leanders’ ET in the finals of TA/FC

The finals of Top Alcohol Funny car went down to the World Champ Harker against Ulf Leanders for the Wally. Leanders was off the line first with a 0.088 to Harker’s 0.101 and ran a 5.541 @ 261.47 MPH to defeat the champ’s 5.626 @ 256.80 MPH. Low qualifier Lindberg went out in R2 due to some violent tire shake against Paul Noakes.

Ulf gets ready for his final round matchup against Harker

Ulf gets ready for his final round matchup against Harker

Two wins for the Swedes in '15

Two wins for the Swedes in ’15

Marie Ferriolo had a new look at Gainesville sporting a Mustang body on her Funny Car

Marie Ferriolo had a new look at Gainesville sporting a Mustang body on her Funny Car

While Alcohol Dragster did not feature an international cast of characters like Funny Car, it did feature some of the quickest cars in the class including Lucas Champ Chris Demke out of Tujunga CA along with former champ Duane Shields from Boulder City NV. Joining this cast was multi time winner Randy Meyer out of Kansas, and D1 hitters Rich McPhillips out of PA, Jackie Fricke and teammate John Finke, and Richard Bourke from NJ.

Randy Meyer got by Jackie Fricke in the semis of T/AD

Randy Meyer got by Jackie Fricke in the semis of T/AD

The finals boiled down to the blown dragster of Lucas champ Demke and the A/FD of Meyer.

World Champ Chris Demke

Reigning Lucas Oil World Champ Chris Demke made it to the finals of T/AD

Demke (near) lane, got a big surprise in the finals as Meyer ran his best ET of eliminations to take T/AD

Demke (near) lane, got a big surprise in the finals as Meyer ran his best ET of eliminations to take T/AD

Demke had reeled off bracket like times throughout eliminations with a 5.28, 5.27, and another 5.27 to get to the final round. Meyer had been in the low 5.30’s all day and needed to step up his game in the finals if the Kansas racer wanted to win. Step up is exactly what Meyer did as he laid down a 5.219 at a Top Speed of the Meet 277.37 MPH to shock Demke’s off pace 5.33 at 276.24 after both drivers got off the line with nearly identical RTs.

This what happens when your oil return line snaps off during a burnout

This what happens when your oil return line snaps off during a burnout

Mia Tedesco went out in R1 after blowing off the tires

Mia Tedesco went out in R1 after blowing off the tires

Richard Bourke had low ET with a  5.215 in the opening round Sunday morning.

Super Stock

David Rampy, who had a decent chance for a double at Gainesville in both Super Stock and Comp had to settle for just one. Earlier Rampy lost to eventual Comp R/U Al Ackerman in the semis but took his Camaro to a win in Super Stock beating the always tough Mike Crutchfield in the finals with a 10.238 at 127.57 mph for the win. The win was Rampy’s 87th Lucas Oil National event win.

Crutchfield (near lane) had the better RT but broke out by 0.030 handing Rampy the win

Crutchfield (near lane) had the better RT but broke out by 0.030 handing Rampy the win

Rampy won his 87th NHRA event at the Gators

Rampy won his 87th NHRA event at the Gators

Wendell Howes' high flying Cuda went out in R1

Wendell Howes’ high flying Cuda went out in R1

Stock

Kevin Helms’ Mopar out of Schriever LA took the Stock win over the Camaro of Jeff Adkinson with a 0.018 light running a 8.923 on his 8.92 dial.

Helms had to chase down the Camaro of  but the Mopar driver had a better light and took the win

Helms had to chase down the Camaro of Adkinson but the Mopar driver had a better light and took the win

Helms also had his Mopar in the Factory Shootout during Thursday's qualifying

Helms also had his Mopar in the Factory Shootout during Thursday’s qualifying. Bo Butner’s Mustang got the better of Helms in R3

Bubba Linke (near lane)  took class on Thursday

Bubba Linke (near lane) took C/SA class on Thursday

Super Classes

Bill Clark takes his first ever Wally

Bill Clark takes his first ever Wally

In Super Gas it was Bill Clark out of Dartmouth Nova Scotia Canada taking his ’00 Firebird over the  red lighting Mustang of Craig Porter from Silver Spring, Md. The win was Clark’s first in NHRA competition.

Craig Porter (near lane) left too soon handing Clark his first NHRA win

Craig Porter (near lane) left too soon handing Clark his first NHRA win

Bertozzi (near lane) lost on a double breakout to teammate Labbous

Bertozzi (far lane) lost on a double breakout to teammate John Labbous

And in Super Comp it was an all Anthony Bertozzi final as the Ashland VA racer owned both cars racing for the Wally. John Labbous out of White House TN, driving one of Bertozzi’s cars, got off the line by just a tick and what ended up in a double breakout, beat Bertozzi with a 8.888 to a 8.870. The win was Labbous’ second NHRA win.

John Labbous 2015 Gatornationals Super Comp winner

John Labbous 2015 Gatornationals Super Comp winner

 

Top Sportsman

Ronnie Davis

Ronnie Davis

Starting in 2015 both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will be contested on a national scale for a NHRA World Championship for the first time. The Godfather of D2 Top Sportsman racing Ronnie Davis, won the first national event of the year driving his venerable Corvette to a win over a stout field. Davis’s final round opponent, the ’06 Cobalt of Jeff Barker got a little loose off the line losing some ET and giving Davis lots of room on the top end for his second NHRA career win. Davis ran a 6.768 on a 6.63 dial as Barker was way off with a 6.989 on his 6.63 dial.

Barker had a good weekend taking his Chevy to the finals of Top Sportsman

Barker had a good weekend taking his Chevy to the finals of Top Sportsman

Curt Fredrich ran too quick in the semis sending Davis to the finals

Curt Fredrich (far lane) ran too quick in the semis sending Davis to the finals

Sandy Wilkins, Mount Ulla NC, went too quick in R2 in his beautiful '69 Camaro

Sandy Wilkins, Mount Ulla NC, went too quick in R2 in his beautiful ’69 Camaro and was done for the weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gainesville Gatornational Action. It’s getting Hot in Here

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Puckett leads Comp and Troy Jr surprises with a #1 in Pro Mod

Photos by Phil Hutchison Story by Phil Hutchison and Courtesy Jegs.com

After two days of qualifying at the 46th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Van Puckett from Monroe GA has his G/AA ’05 Chevy Cavalier in the #1 spot with a 0.656 under 8.19 to lead the field into today’s first round of competition.

Van Puckett

Van Puckett

The biggest surprise at the event had to have been Troy Coughlin Jr grabbing the provisional #1 spot in Pro Mod after two sessions on Friday.

The son of 2012 Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin drove his Jegs.com Corvette to the  No. 1 qualifier in the Real Pro Mod Association/Jerry Bickel Race Cars Pro Mod event Friday at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway.

Troy Jr speeds to the #1 spot in Pro Mod

Troy Jr speeds to the #1 spot in Pro Mod

Coughlin’s pass of 5.876 seconds at 251.49 mph topped the speed chart of the 27 Pro Mod cars that made runs in the two qualifying sessions Friday. His dad was No. 4 overall with a run of 5.893 seconds at 252.43 mph that was the fastest speed of the day.

Troy Sr put his brand new Corvette in the # with Top Speed of the event at

Troy Sr put his brand new Corvette in the #4 with Top Speed of the event at 252.43 MPH

“We were low e.t. for the session and Pops was top speed,” Coughlin said. “All in all, a great day for the JEGS.com team. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my pro career, and of course I’d love to hold on to that No. 1 spot.”

Coughlin is moving up to the NHRA Pro Mod series for 2015 after a successful Sportsman career that included the NHRA Division 3 Super Gas championship and numerous race wins, notably two U.S. Nationals victories.

World Champ Chris Demke

World Champ Chris Demke

Leading the Top Alcohol Dragster class is 2014 World Champ Chris Demke. Demke from Tujunga CA, put his blown Uyehara chassis dragster on the provisional pole at a 5.280. D1 racer Richard Bourke is #2 with a 5.297 in his A/FD

New paint for McPhillips dragster. Rich is currently in the bottom half of the field  but expects to move up during Saturday's session

New paint for McPhillips dragster. Rich is currently in the bottom half of the field but expects to move up during Saturday’s session

McGaha led the Pro Stock category after two sessions with a run of 6.507 at 212.73 in a Chevy Camaro. McGaha, who set career-bests for both time and speed at Gainesville, is going for his third No. 1 qualifying effort of his career.

Chris McGaha led the Pro Stock category after two sessions with a run of 6.507 at 212.73 in his Chevy Camaro. McGaha, who set career-bests for both time and speed at Gainesville, is going for his third No. 1 qualifying effort of his career.

Britney Force is currently #2 in Top Fuel Qualifying

Britney Force is currently #2 in Top Fuel Qualifying with a 3.817

Schumacher is holding down #1 in TF with a 3.796

Schumacher is holding down #1 in TF with a 3.796

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bartone and Densham take Bakersfield titles as Hix repeats in Fuel Altered at the Good Vibrations March Meet

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Photos and Story by Phil Hutchison

One of the many ET cars at Bakersfield

One of the many ET cars at Bakersfield

Seventy-seven? Seventy-seven? What does that number mean? That number represents the number of nitro powered racecars at the Good Vibrations March Meet held at AAA Famosa Dragstrip, which included Top Fuel, Funny Car, and AA/FA. And that number does not take in account of the other 40 or so blown alcohol dragsters and Funny Cars that populated the ET and Nostalgia classes. It was a feast of superchargers and nitromethane. All heading down the Nitro Highway at Bakersfield.

T Bone wins again but this time he had to work for it and showed just how fast the Bogg's prepped T/F can go

T Bone wins again but this time he had to work for it and showed just how fast the Bogg’s prepped T/F can go

Reigning Hot Rod Heritage Top Fuel champ Tony Bartone picked up where he left off the 2014 season, in the winner’s circle. Bartone from Long Island City NY, had the field covered by his usual tenth of a second but had to work for the win in the finals of the March Meet.

Top Fuel Runner Up Adam Sorokin

Top Fuel runner up Adam Sorokin

Bartone’s competition in what was described as a “David vs. Goliath” final, the blown small block Chevy of Adam Sorokin, made it as difficult for the champ to win as he could. Sorokin, La Cresenta CA, put a good half a tenth of a second hole shot on the NY racer and was leading to the 1000 foot mark when the little Chevy gave up the ghost, popping the supercharger to a slowing 5.79 @ 192.58 MPH. Bartone, in the other lane, had his hands full as his blown Hemi was all over the track in an attempt to catch Sorokin The champ, who usually shuts his car off early to save parts, had to leg it through the traps catching Sorokin with a record 5.531 with a big speed of 270.81 for the win.

Sorokin was way out in front of Bartone but the blower let go just before the 1000 foot mark

Sorokin was way out in front of Bartone but the blower let go just before the 1000 foot mark

Now the rest of the world knows just how quick the Steve Boggs tuned Hemi can go.

The Bartone Winner's Circle

The Bartone Winner’s Circle

“I was a little late, worse light of the weekend in competition, which is not what you want to do,” Bartone said of the start. “Eight, 900-feet, 1,000 feet, I looked over and Adam was right there. There was no letting up. He blew up, I blew up at the finish line.”

Jason Densham set low ET in the finals of FC

Steve Densham set low ET in the finals of FC with a 5.694

In Funny Car, it was second-generation racer Steve Densham driving the family’s “Teachers Pet” Camaro to a convincing win over defending March Meet champ James Day. Densham from Oceanside CA, was second off the line with a 0.096 light to Day’s 0.019 RT, caught the ’78 Dodge Challenger of Day by halftrack setting low ET of the event at 5.694 to Day’s losing 5.874.

Day was out first but Densham ran him down with ease, and Low ET

Day was out first but Densham ran him down with ease, and Low ET

Low Qualifier Dan Horan went out in R2

Low Qualifier Dan Horan went out in R2

Earlier in Eliminations low qualifier at a 5.715 and defending series champ, Dan Horan got out of the groove in round two getting very close to the wall, losing to fellow Californian, John Weaver’s Dodge Daytona. Weaver lost in the next round to eventual finalist, James Day.

Cruz sat out the final eliminations after not getting his California Charger into the quick 16

Cruz sat out the final eliminations after not getting his California Charger into the quick 16

Thirty Funny Cars attempted to make the quick 16-car field with some of the biggest names in the Hot Rod Heritage Series not making the cut. Sitting out Saturday’s first round were NHRA regular Cruz Pedregon driving his California Charger Firebird, series regulars Mendy Fry and Jon Capps, and Don Schumacher Senior Vice President Mike Lewis behind the wheel of the Nitro Nick Vega of Anthony DeCero.

Brad Thompson had a blower explosion during his first round win but the damage was done and the Camaro did not return for round 2

Brad Thompson had a blower explosion during his first round win but the damage was done and the Camaro did not return for round 2

Joining Cruz was Mike

Joining Cruz on the sidelines was Mike Lewis after he got sideways in the Nitro Nick Vega in his last attempt in making the field

Mendy Fry had nothing but troubles in her Dodge FC not making the show

Mendy Fry had nothing but troubles in her Dodge FC not making the show

My new favorite West Coast brewery is Firestone Walker and their 805 brew

My new favorite West Coast brewery is Firestone Walker and their 805 brew. Here Dana and her crew show off their best stuff

In the Fuel Altered class it was a repeat of the 2014 final with Oregon racer Dan Hix driving his supercharged ’34 Chevy against second-generation racer Jeremy Sullivan in his blown Fiat. Sullivan, who wounded his Hemi in a semi final victory over Shane Harter, could not make the final bell giving Hix a free ride to the winner’s circle.

Dan Hix made it two in a row at Bakersfield

Dan Hix made it two in a row at Bakersfield

Hix soloed for the AA/FA crown after Jeremy Sullivan was a no show

Hix soloed for the AA/FA crown after Jeremy Sullivan was a no show

Sullivan (near lane) hurt his Hemi during his semi final win

Sullivan (near lane) hurt his Hemi during his semi final win

Other winners at the Good Vibrations March Meet were:

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Jr Fuel – Scott Parks, Burlingame KS, ’12 N&P 7.08 179.78 MPH

 

A/Fuel Darrell Waters, Bonsall CA, ’05 Comstock 6.50 209.10 MPH

 

Hot Rod Josh Wagner, Wasco CA, ’72 Maverick 11.636 112.11 MPH

 

Nostalgia Eliminator 1 Jason Barta, Bakersfield CA, ’08 FED 7.697 153.91 MPH

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Nostalgia Eliminator 2 Jeff Crider, Bakersfield CA, ’68 Tuttle 8.606 149.53 MPH

 

Ed DeSaute (far lane)

Ed DeSaute (far lane)

Nostalgia Eliminator 3 Ed DeSaute, Rosemead CA, ’62 Corvette 9.618 139.85 MPH

Jesse Adams

Jesse Adams

7.0 Pro Jesse Adams, Yuba City CA ’00 Uyehara 13.08 58.35 MPH

 

A/Gas Keith Morovich, Bakersfield CA, ’67 Nova 7.63 173.36 MPH

 

B/Gas Tom Tourek, Surprise CA, ’67 Camaro 8.592 156.41 MPH

 

C/Gas Wayne Hoover, Alta Loma CA,’67 Nova 9.612 139.79 MPH

 

D/Gas Jake Wood, Redding CA, ’68 Camaro 10.623 125.76 MPH

 

Howard Anderson (far lane) had the baddest blown gasser on the property

Howard Anderson (far lane) had the baddest blown gasser on the property

AA/Supercharged Howard Anderson, Applegate CA, 6.539 213.43 MPH

Here are a few more images from this year’s Bakersfield March Meet. More to come later this week. And stay tuned for daily images from the Gators starting this Thursday.

Ron August lost control right past the finish line in his T/F and tagged the wall

Ron August lost control right past the finish line in his T/F and tagged the wall

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Marcus Lawson failed to crack the tough Funny Car field in his ex Dale Pule Firebird

Marcus Lawson failed to crack the tough Funny Car field in his ex Dale Pulde Firebird

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2014 Season Northeast Division Awards Banquet a Big Hit in Hershey

 

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Photos by Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison

Story by Phil Hutchison and courtesy NHRA Northeast Division

More photos go to: http://www.division1photos.com/

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Saturday Jan 17th the 48th annual NED banquet was held at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey PA. Nearly 600 racers, family, and friends were on hand to recognize the Best of the Best in the Northeast Division from Junior Dragster to the Blown Alcohol classes.

Bob Frye was awarded a "Talking Box" for all his efforts as our MC

Bob Frey was awarded a “Talking Box” for all his efforts as our MC

Former NHRA/ ESPN announcer and D1 favorite son, Bob Frey, was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. And as usual, Bob did an outstanding job keeping the show moving and entertaining the guests with his wit and knowledge of all things NHRA drag racing.

The 2014 Lucas D1 champs flanked by Josh Peterson from the NHRA home office (left) and Bob Lang (right) and Bob Frye i

The 2014 Lucas D1 champs flanked by Josh Peterson NHRA VP Racing Administration (left) NED’s Dave Mohn (right) and Bob Frey

RFC’s Dale Ressler

RFC’s Dale Ressler gave the invocation 

While the banquet awards the champions in the NED for their 2014 feats, the banquet also recognizes non racers too. Track operators, managers, safety officials, and others  in the background making the Northeast Division events the successes they are.

Gloria and Bob Ley

Gloria and Bob Ley 

One such person was the winner of the 14th annual NED Distinguished Service Award. My good friend and long time NED Certification Team member along with Northeast Stock/Super Stock Association head honcho Dave Ley was the recipient for 2014. Dave, who recently retired from his full time job in his home town in Vincentown NJ, is one of the tireless people that the racers see when going through fuel check or the scales, or you might spot Dave in the staging lanes getting the racers in line for eliminations. Dave along with his wife Gloria, are at the track from sunup to sundown and you cannot thank them enough for what they do. Congratulations to Dave Ley.

Dave Ley and NED Tech Director Ryck Campbell

Dave Ley and NED Tech Director Ryck Campbell

Amanda Bosciasscio and NED's Larry

Amanda Boicesco and NED’s Larry Wiggins

The Image of Youth Award is one of my favorite categories. It is awarded to a second generation racer for their exemplary achievements on the track. Amanda Boicesco, daughter of Super Gas racer Iggy Boicesco, was the hands down 2014 winner. Back when she was just getting interested in NHRA drag racing, Amanda competed in the Junior Drag Racing League before joining her father competing regularly at Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events. Amanda chalked up her first LODRS win in April at the NED Season opener at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Iggy and Amanda

Iggy and Amanda

Steve Sisko receives his ET Driver of the Year award

Steve Sisko receives his Summit Super Pro ET Finals award which he promptly gave to Jason Kenny as a thanks for letting Sisko wheel his Jegs/Accelerated Travel dragster in Pomona

Again, everyone on stage was a winner but some were bigger winners than others. Bracket racer Steve Sisko falls into the category. Steve, representing Atco Dragway at the Summit ET finals at Delmar Dragway, won Super Pro earning the right to race at the World Finals in Pomona for the Summit Championship. Steve had a great weekend in California as the Atco NJ driver took the Super Pro win over the best ET racers in the USA. What was even crazier, Steve was behind the wheel of Jason Kenny’s Super Comp dragster that Jason offered up for Steve to drive at the Finals. For all of his success in 2014, Steve was awarded the ET Driver of the Year by his fellow racers.

Steve drove Jason Kenny's dragster to a Super Pro win at the Finals in Pomona

Steve drove Jason Kenny’s dragster to a Super Pro win at the Finals in Pomona (photo courtesy of J. Kenny) 

Steve Sisko thanks NED's Larry Wiggins for his ET Driver of the Year Award

Steve Sisko thanks NED’s Larry Wiggins for his ET Driver of the Year Award

Sportsman racer Thomas Stalba Jr. who, in addition to winning the Super Comp title in 2014, was selected as the NED Lucas Oil Divisional Driver of the Year. Tom, who calls Williamstown NJ home, won back to back races at Atco and Cecil, had a double/double at the Atco event winning Super Gas on top of his Super Comp win. And Tom just lost the NED 2014 Super Gas title by one point to Jason Kenny. The 2014 title was Tom’s career 7th in the NED .

Tom Stalba Jr had one heck of a great 2014

Tom Stalba Jr had a great 2014.  Tom’s wife, Karen a former champ in Top Alcohol Dragster, holds daughter Emily and their son Paul is holding Tom’s Lucas Oil Driver award. 

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2014 Eastern Region T/AD Champ Jackie Fricke

2014 Eastern Region T/AD Champ Jackie Fricke

Jackie Frick, who is the 2014 Eastern Region Top Alcohol champ driving Joe Cantrell’s A/FD, was another success story for 2014 as Jackie will go down in history as the first female to win an NHRA Region in the Alcohol classes. Women have won D1 Top Alcohol Dragster divisional titles (Jeanie Booz and Karen Stalba) but Jackie is the first to win the Regional title. Jackie, Stalba, and Sisko, all call New Jersey home. What is it with the Jersey racers? And Bob Frey too??

Jackie and Shawn Fricke

Jackie and Shawn Fricke

It wouldn't be a NED Banquet without the Aragona clan. Frankie Jr won his 5th Divisional Comp title in 2014

It wouldn’t be a NED Banquet without the Aragona clan. Frankie Jr won his 5th Divisional Comp title in 2014

NED Stock champ Anthony Fetch and his wife Heather

NED Stock champ Anthony Fetch and his wife Heather

Peter Biondo not only captured the NED Super Stock title, Peter is also the 2014 Lucas World Champ in Super Stock

Peter Biondo not only captured the NED Super Stock title, Peter is also the 2014 Lucas World Champ. Peter has won 11 Northeast Division titles in his career.

Peter Biondo

Peter Biondo

MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Sportsman Shootout presented by Select Performance winner Michael Daniele and his fan club

MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Sportsman Shootout presented by Select Performance winner Michael Daniele and his fan club

NED Wrench of the Year went to PC Richard and Son crewchief Paul Iaconis

NED Wrench of the Year went to PC Richard and Son crewchief Paul Iaconis with Ed Alessi (left) and Stock Champ Anthony Fetch who Paul turned the wrenches for in 2014

The newest member of the NED Hall of Fame, Alcohol Dragster owner and driver Ken Winward

The newest member of the NED Hall of Fame, Alcohol Dragster owner and driver Ken Winward

Pat Dehner accepted the Best Supporting Sponsor award for PC Richard & Son.

Pat Dehner accepted the Best Supporting Sponsor award for PC Richard & Son.

The Englishtown Raceway Park gang

The Englishtown Raceway Park gang

2014 Super Gas champ Jason Kenny

2014 Super Gas champ Jason Kenny

Super Street champ Frank Quarno Jr

Super Street champ Frank Quarno Jr

Ultimax Belts Pro Stock Snowmobile winner Frank Berard Jr

Ultimax Belts Pro Stock Snowmobile winner Frank Berard Jr

2014 Comp Champ Frank Aragona Jr with team members Michelle Costa and Steve Szupka

2014 Comp Champ Frank Aragona Jr with team members Michelle Costa and Steve Szupka

Bubba Linke could not make the banquet so accepting his PC Richard and Son Stock Wally was his cousin, Jeanne Linke

Bubba Linke could not make the banquet so accepting his PC Richard and Son Stock Wally was his cousin, Jeanne Linke

Mabel and Duke

Mabel and Duke Risley

NED's Pat Hamilton was recognized for her great work in the front office

NED’s Pat Hamilton was recognized for her great work in the front office

James Paylor won the 2014 Northeast Division JR. Dragster Championships 10-11 age group racing out of  US 13 Dragway

James Paylor won the 2014 Northeast Division JR. Dragster Championships 10-11 age group racing out of US 13 Dragway

Josh Peterson, NHRA VP Racing Administration was attending the banquet as the NHRA home office rep.

Josh Peterson, NHRA VP Racing Administration was attending the banquet as the NHRA home office rep.

Your D1 Photographers  Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison

Your D1 Photographers Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison

Stock racers Bob and Penny Bender made the trek up to Hershey from the Eastern Shore of MD

Stock racers Bob and Penny Bender made the trek up to Hershey from the Eastern Shore of MD

National Dragster’s “Be a Winner/Be a Member”  Track winner Atco Dragway

National Dragster’s “Be a Winner/Be a Member” Track winner Atco Dragway

Well it is Hershey PA

Well it is Hershey PA!

MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Dragster Challenge presented by Select Performance winner Rick Bell with NED's Ryck Campbell

MX Industrial/Magnaflux Top Dragster Challenge presented by Select Performance winner Rick Bell with NED’s Ryck Campbell

Harry Gray was the 2014 PC Richard and Son Open champ in Top Sportsman

Harry Gray was the 2014 PC Richard and Son Open champ in Top Sportsman

NHRA JDRL Eastern Conference Finals

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12 Year Old Jarrod Kissinger Cecil County Dragway

 

2014 Northeast Division JR. Dragster Championships

Alexis Wade

Alexis Wade

First Last Age Group Track
Alexis Waid 8-9 y/o Age Group Raceway Park
James Paylor 10-11 y/o Age Group US 13 Dragway
Charlotte Mallow 12-13 y/o Age Group Mason-Dixon Dragway
Benjamin DeYoung 14-15 y/o Age Group Lebanon Valley Dragway
Cameron Murray 16-17 y/o Age Group New England Dragway
Cecil County Dragway Team Champions

 

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NED Banquet on Tap for Saturday Night and a Look Back to 2014

Photos by Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison   Story by Phil Hutchison

2013 NED Winners celebrate their Division Championships

2013 NED Winners celebrate their Division Championships with NHRA Vice President Graham Light (left) and NED Director Bob Lang (Right) 

This weekend the 2014 Northeast Division Champions will be the stars at the annual NED Awards Banquet. Saturday January 17 at the Hershey Lodge in Chocolatetown USA, all of the NED’s best will be on hand to receive their 2014 Division Wallys.

If the faces and names of the 2014 Lucas Oil NED Champs look familiar, they are. Nearly all of the Division One winners in 2014 are former and in some cases, many time D1 Champs. Hey, when you’re good you’re good.

Leading the D1 list of winners is Competition Eliminator champ Frank Aragona Jr from Freehold NJ. Aragona won both the Epping NH and Cecil County events to distance himself from #2 in D1, Scotty Richardson, who finished second 40 points behind the New Jersey racer.

Aragona and his great family after his Cecil County LODRS win

Aragona and his family after his Cecil County LODRS win

With his crew chief and dad, Frank Sr, Aragona won the NED Comp title once again

With his crew chief and dad, Frank Sr, Aragona won the NED Comp title once again

Richardson had a legitimate chance in winning the D1 crown with some late round appearances, but an untimely crash at the Epping event in Vinny Barone’s I/AA Cavalier in July put a hurt in Scotty’s chance in winning the 2014 Comp Crown.

Scotty Richardson had one of the quickest cars in the land but a nasty crash put the Vinny Barone team out of the action

Scotty Richardson had one of the quickest cars in the land but a nasty crash put the Vinny Barone team out of the action

Although 2013 Comp champ Kyle Cultrera did not have the season in 2014 as the previous year, he still managed a win at the Englishtown Lucas Event and finished in the #3 spot for the year.

Kyle won the E Town event and finished in the Top 3 in the NED

Kyle won the E Town event and finished in the Top 3 in the NED

Super Stock winner Peter Biondo, who has more Division One wins than any other active racer, took yet another D1 title in Super Stock behind the wheel of Phil Monteith’s GT Hatari Pontiac Firebird.

Phil, Emily, and Peter in the MG winner's circle after Peter's win in Super Stock

Phil, Emily, and Peter in the MG winner’s circle after Peter’s win in Super Stock

Biondo also won the E Town event in September to cap off a great 2014

Biondo had a classic Biondo year in the NED

Peter finished the season 100 points in front of his nearest competitor, NY racer James Antonette Jr showing how dominant he was in 2014. Biondo won the early Lucas event in Arizona, following that with a win at Commerce GA and another win at Maple Grove to distance himself from the rest of the pack in Super Stock.

James Antonette had a good year just not quite as good as Biondo's

James Antonette had a good year just not quite as good as Biondo’s

Stock Eliminator went to multi time Lucas winner Anthony Fetch from Colonia NJ. Fetch wheeled the G/SA Camaro of Gary Richard to a lone win at the Maple Grove event but had enough late round appearances to take the crown in 2014. Fetch’s closest competitor, the Nova of Donny Pires, was nearly 50 points behind in spite of a win at Epping and a runner up at Englishtown.

Fetch won the Stock title at the Grove on Memorial Day weekend behind the wheel of the PC Richard and Son Camaro

Fetch won the Stock title at the Grove on Memorial Day weekend behind the wheel of the PC Richard and Son Camaro

Super Comp went to another long time division winner, this time it was Thomas Stalba Jr from Williamstown NJ going the distance in his dragster winning back to back events at his home track of Atco during a rain delayed final at Cecil county and  later won the Cecil County event to make it a sorta double/double for the New Jersey racer. Coming in right behind Stalba in the #2 spot was transplanted Canadian racer Jason Kenny who was only 12 points back in his Jeg’s sponsored dragster.

Karen, Tom, and the kids after his win at the Atco/Cecil event in August

Karen, Tom, and the kids after his win at the Atco/Cecil event in August

Stalba at the Cecil LODRS. Tom won both the Atco rain out that was held at Cecil and later that weekend took the Super Comp title again for a back to back win

Stalba at the Cecil LODRS. Tom won both the Atco rain out that was held at Cecil and later that weekend took the Super Comp title again for back to back wins

Don’t feel too bad for Jason as he took the Kenny family Corvette roadster to a NED Super Gas title in 2014 without winning a single event. Jason went rounds all year and it paid off with the NED Super Gas title. And who was #2 in Super Gas for 2014 in the NED? None other than Super Comp champ Tom Stalba who lost the Super Gas crown by 1 point!

Pro Sportsman racer Jason Kenny

Pro Sportsman racer Jason Kenny

Placing third in the NED Super Gas points was another multi time Division 1 winner Mike Sawyer who also place well in Super Street taking his Camaro to the #2 spot behind winner Frank Quarno who took the Super Street title on the strength of his Maple Grove win and a runner up at Epping.

Frank Quarno out of Morris Plains NJ is the 2014 NED Super Street Champ

Frank Quarno out of Morris Plains NJ is the 2014 NED Super Street Champ

Rick Bell won top Dragster presented by Select Performance and Top Sportsman presented by Select Performance went to the Chevy of Mikey Daniele who repeated as the Wantagh NY driver took the 2013 crown.

Rick Bell makes a run during the MG Lucas event

Rick Bell makes a run during the MG Lucas event

In addition to the Lucas Division winners being crowned at Hershey this weekend, the winners of the Eastern 2014 Lucas Oil East Region Points in both Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster will be on hand to receive their Wally’s.

2014 was Jackie Fricke's break out year as the NJ Alcohol Dragster

2014 was Jackie Fricke’s break out year for the Flemington NJ Alcohol driver

Winning her first ever Eastern Region title was long time racer Jackie Fricke from Flemington NJ. At the end of the season Jackie was actually in a tie for first with former D1 Champ Rich McPhillips but won with head to head tie breaker with McPhillips as Jackie had earlier defeated the McPhillips in the finals of the Epping event putting the NJ driver on the stage at Hershey this weekend.

Rich McPhillips won the MG event in the early summer

Rich McPhillips won the MG event in the early summer

Top Alcohol Funny Car was an extremely tight race with winner Mickey Ferro edging second generation racer Matt Gill for the title by just 1 point. Ferro won the Epping Lucas event while Gill had his lone win at the out of division event at Gainesville in October.

Mickey Ferro, 2014 Eastern Region Alcohol Funny Car champ

Mickey Ferro, 2014 Eastern Region Alcohol Funny Car champ

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Second generation racer Matt Gill son of long time NED racer Paul Gill, just missed the podium by point

Second generation racer Matt Gill son of long time NED racer Paul Gill, just missed the podium by a point

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California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield with Dave DeAngelis

Photography by  “Diamond” Dave DeAngelis

Story by Phil Hutchison and courtesy of NHRA Communications

It's Bakersfield. What else can you say

It’s Bakersfield. What else can you say

Dave DeAngelis, one of the premier photographers on the East Coast and frequent contributor to NorthEastDragReview, travelled to the left coast of the USA to capture the beauty and action from the California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California at historic Bakersfield Dragway in Famosa CA.

Party like it's 1966

Party like it’s 1966

So many classes being contested at the CHRR

So many classes being contested at the CHRR

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Tony Bartone, former D1 Champ and long time fuel racer, ran the table all year in Top Fuel as his NY based dragster never saw a losing round in 2014

Tony Bartone, former D1 Champ and long time fuel racer, ran the table all year in Top Fuel as his NY based dragster never saw a losing round in 2014

The event, the final event in the NHRA Heritage series, came to a thrilling close as all eyes were on the drag strip during a busy day of racing.

Former Bakersfield winner Adam Sorokin had a forgettable weekend as his swoopy dragster broke in Round 1

Former Bakersfield winner Adam Sorokin had a forgettable weekend as his swoopy dragster broke in Round 1. Here Sorokin (near lane) slows after a qualifying pass

In the Nostalgia Top Fuel final, Tony Bartone and Rick White were pitted in the championship round with Bartone eyeing his fifth win of the year and a clean sweep of the season. Bartone had secured the Top Fuel title before the event and had yet to lose a single round of eliminations. As the cars staged in the finals, White’s dragster deep-staged, rocked through the staging lights and red lit, giving the win to Bartone and completing his perfect season.

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TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Rick White, Hansen, 5.684, 254.28 def. David Hirata, N + P, 6.032, 175.05; Bill Dunlap, Stirling, 5.764, 224.17 def. Brendan Murry, Rooman, 6.144, 182.72; Jim Young, 5.848, 246.66 def. Jim Murphy, N & P, 6.066, 245.32; Rick McGee, Uyehara, 5.828, 209.75 def. Ron August, Uyehara, 6.997, 147.12; Rick Williamson, Davidson, 5.804, 252.90 def. Denver Schutz, N & P, 5.826, 227.19; Terry Cox, Uyehara, 5.871, 226.58 def. Dusty Green, Stirling, 6.520, 168.56; Tony Bartone, Mckinney, 5.680, 230.10 def. Adam Sorokin, Stirling, broke; Tony Bartone, Mckinney, 5.680, 230.10 was unopposed; 
QUARTERFINALS — Bartone, 5.634, 237.30 def. Cox, 5.961, 218.37; White, 5.684, 254.52 was unopposed; Dunlap, 5.770, 226.39 def. Williamson, 6.082, 196.96; Young, 5.743, 253.28 def. McGee, 6.117, 198.03; 
SEMIFINALS — White, 5.859, 211.56 def. Dunlap, foul; Bartone, 5.642, 256.70 def. Young, 5.768, 247.70; 
FINAL — Bartone, 5.864, 212.39 def. White, broke.

Dan Horan's pony went to the winner's circle at the CHRR

Dan Horan’s pony went to the winner’s circle at the CHRR

Funny Car went to the ultra thin Mustang of Dan Horan as he defeated John Hale’s Camaro in the finals on Sunday

Maple Grove Dragway's Mike Lewis who knows his way around a fuel car, piloted the Nitro Nick Vega to a round 2 finish

Maple Grove Dragway’s Mike Lewis who knows his way around a fuel car, piloted the Nitro Nick Vega to a round 2 finish

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Rick Rogers, Camaro, 5.857, 244.07 def. John Weaver, Arrow, 5.857, 239.02; John Hale, Camaro, 5.709, 256.80 def. Richard Townsend, Camaro, 5.791, 237.59; Jason Rupert, Camaro, 5.792, 254.23 def. Brad Thompson, Camaro, 5.758, 251.49; Mark Sanders, Mustang, 5.834, 217.28 def. Dennis Swearingen, Omni, 5.979, 204.20; Jordan Pawlick, Mustang, 5.907, 245.00 def. Steve Easton, Barracuda, 6.032, 231.68; Dan Horan, Mustang, 5.723, 253.09 def. Robert Overholser, Firebird, 5.844, 247.97; James Day, Challenger, 5.805, 244.60 def. Tim Nemeth, Firebird, 14.031, 61.47; Mike Lewis, Vega, 5.864, 242.84 def. Kris Krabill, Firebird, 5.854, 241.84; 
QUARTERFINALS — Day, 5.757, 245.67 def. Rupert, 5.806, 252.38; Hale, 5.765, 253.66 def. Pawlick, 5.887, 244.21; Horan, 5.728, 254.42 def. Lewis, 5.937, 221.71; Sanders, 5.729, 246.62 def. Rogers, foul; 
SEMIFINALS — Hale, 6.267, 211.83 def. Day, broke; Horan, 5.743, 246.84 def. Sanders, 5.735, 249.90; 
FINAL — Horan, 5.724, 254.38 def. Hale, 5.791, 247.29.

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Cacklefest is so cool. All the noise, color and smell you senses can take

Cacklefest is so cool. All the noise, color and smell you senses can take

As usual the best part of the reunion next to the racing, is the Cacklefest and the never ending car show featuring some of the coolest iron ever made.

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It wouldn’t be Bakersfield without the wild AA/FA’s to get the crowd on its feet!

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With so many classes featured at the event, it is nearly impossible to give each class its due. So here are the best of the best from the CHRR. Enjoy

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Sunday’s final results from the 23rd annual California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California at Automobile Club Famoso Raceway.

TOP FUEL
Tony Bartone, Mckinney, 5.864, 212.39 def. Rick White, Hansen, broke.

FUNNY CAR
Dan Horan, Mustang, 5.724, 254.38 def. John Hale, Camaro, 5.791, 247.29.

JUNIOR FUEL
Don Enriquez, Farr, 7.179, 184.98 def. J D Zink, Uyehara, 6.920, 190.38.

A/FUEL
Bobby Cottrell, N & P, 6.355, 216.06 def. Bill Wayne, Uyehara, broke.

7.0 PRO
Bobby Cottrell, 7.033, 179.18 def. Eily Stafford, Hansen, 6.994, 194.80.

7.0 PRO B
Jesse Adams, Dragster, 7.046, 180.38 def. Joey Steckler, Corvette, 7.094, 199.85.

NOSTALGIA ELIMINATOR I
Jason Barta, FED, 7.610, 172.78 def. Hans Jakob, Hansen, 7.644, 173.92.

A/GAS
Eric Bush, Camaro, 7.607, 177.37 def. Dean Hall, Impala, 7.625, 177.67.

AFX
Doug Hampton, Fairlane, 10.296, 118.70 def. Mitch Akers, Impala, 10.115, 133.43.

PRO MOD
Mike Maggio, Camaro, 5.699, 259.01 def. Rob Cacioppo, Corvette, broke.

 

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The NHRA Northeast Division Finishes 2014 at the Dutch Classic with Hochrum, Wolkwitz, and Nichols Leading the Winners at the Season Closer

With the Pennsylvania sun setting, Gary Wolkwitz is off the line and on his way to a win at the NED Dutch Classic

With the Pennsylvania sun setting in the background, Gary Wolkwitz (near lane)  is off the line and on his way to a Hemi Challenge win at the NED Dutch Classic

Story by Phil Hutchison  Photos by Diane Kubicke and Phil Hutchison

For more photos from the Dutch, go to: http://www.division1photos.com/

For Round by Round action go to: http://www.northeastdragrace.com/

With the beautiful fall colors in the background of the Grove, two Comp cars slow down after their round one matchup

As the beautiful fall colors  frame a great Sunday at the Grove , two Comp cars slow down after their round one matchup

The weather did not cooperate as well as the racers and the NHRA would have liked. Rain on Friday and Saturday forced eliminations to be completed entirely on a sunny Sunday. Getting the entire field of cars entered at the Dutch down the track in one day was tricky but with minimum down time the event was in the books early Sunday evening. As usual, thanks have to go to the Dave Mohn’s NHRA crew and Lex Dudas’ Maple Grove team to keep the race safe and clean.

The NED faithful had a treat as ESPN Stat Guy Lewis Bloom was in the house doing the play by play during the weekend.

Bucky Hess (near lane) needed to cut the tree down in the finals of the Hemi Challenge, but cut it just a tad too much red lighting and putting Wolkwitz in the winner's circle

Bucky Hess (near lane) needed to cut the tree down in the finals of the Hemi Challenge, but cut it just a tad too much red lighting and putting Wolkwitz in the winner’s circle

Winning the MOPAR Hemi Super Stock Challenge at the Division 1 presented by SONY/P.C. Richard & Son, Dutch Classic was long time D1 racer Gary Wolkwitz from Califon NJ. Gary qualified his red ’68 Dodge Dart on the bottom part of the ladder with an off pace 8.858 during Friday’s abbreviated qualifying session but on Sunday Wolkwitz was the man to beat as his Mopar ran low ET of each round on his way to a final round victory over Bucky Hess.

Wolkwitz'a final round ET tied the NHRA record

Wolkwitz’a final round ET tied the NHRA record

Wolkwitz (far lane) got his ticket to the finals stamped winning over former Dutch champ, Jim Pancake, in the semi final round

Wolkwitz (far lane) got his ticket to the finals stamped winning over former Dutch champ Jim Pancake in the semi final round as Pancake left too soon as is evident by the red light on the tree

In earlier rounds, Wolkwitz defeated  David Barton and former Dutch winner Jim Pancake running an 8.297, and an 8.295 before laying down a NHRA National record tying 8.28 in the finals over a red lighting Hess. Hess still sporting a patched up front end on his Jason Line powered  ’68 Cuda, had a good weekend qualifying in the #2 spot with an 8.393 and was running consistent 8.30’s during eliminations before running into the Wolkwitz Dart onslaught.

Runner up in the Challenge, Bucky Hess, still had the wounds of his crash at Maple Grove during the spring LODRS evident on his '68 Cuda but the Jason Line powered Mopar still made it to the finals

West Virginia’s Bucky Hess, still showing the wounds of his earlier crash during the spring Lucas race  but despite the look,  Bucky put the Jason Line powered Mopar in the finals.  

Kyle Kohr (near lane) was in his first ever Hemi Challenge and got off the line first in round 1 but the Dart of Wendell Howes caught the rookie driver and ran a 8. 435 for the win

Kyle Kohr (near lane) competing in his first ever Dutch Hemi Challenge, got off the line first in round 1 but the Cuda of Wendell Howes caught the rookie driver running a 8. 435 for the win

Mark Howes gets some air in the Team Howes Dodge

Mark Howes gets some air in the Team Howes Dodge

Hemi Guru David Barton, driving the Jim Daniels Cuda, was expected to go rounds at the Dutchafter qualifying #1 with an 8.324 but went out in R2 after spinning the tires agains Wolkwitz

Hemi Guru David Barton, driving  Jim Daniels’ Dart, was expected to go rounds at the Dutch after qualifying #1 with an 8.324 but went out in R2 after spinning the tires against Wolkwitz

The Hemi Challenge racers at the Dutch

The Hemi Challenge racers at the Dutch

Frank Ferrucci (near lane) was way too late

Frank Ferrucci (near lane) was way too late in the finals with a 0.117 RT as Hochrum was off the line with a 0.032 for the win at the Dutch

In Stock Eliminator it was Bob Hochrum’s  BB/SA COPO Camaro running all over the field with  reaction times and ET’s that put the Chevy in the money round.  Hochrum’s final round opponent, former Cecil Country LODRS winner Frank Ferrucci from Patterson NJ, picked a bad time to have a terrible 0.117 light as Hochrum’s 0.032 RT and a 9.393 time sealed the deal for the Colonia NJ racer. 

Earlier Hochrum, who has been racing in D1 for too many years to count, showed the “Kids” in the division how it was done in the NED as he put second generation racers Jeanne Linke, Stephen Smyth, and first year racer Jimmy Daniels on the trailer in his way to a win with the COPO Camaro.

Jeanne Linke had her Camaro going rounds but ran into the all conquering Camaro of Hochrum in R3 and was done for the day

Jeanne Linke had her Camaro going rounds but ran into the all conquering Camaro of Hochrum in R3 and was done for the day

I cannot remember ever seeing Timothy Stickles Dodge Aspen in Stock before but the New Hampshire driver went deep into Stock eliminations bowing our in round 5 losing to runner up Ferrucci

I cannot remember ever seeing Timothy Stickles Dodge Aspen in Stock many NED events,  but the New Hampshire driver went deep into Stock eliminations bowing our in round 5 losing to runner up Ferrucci

It's Nichols (far lane) over the roadster of  in the finals of Super Gas

It’s Nichols (far lane) over the roadster of Vorner in the finals of Super Gas

Wilmington DE Super Gas racer Earl Nichols took his silver and black Corvette roadster to the Dutch win beating Mickey Vorner’s roadster in the finals as Vorner ran too quick with a 9.845 to Earl’s winning 9.925

Earl had one of his best days at the Grove winning Super Gas over a quality field of racers

Earl had one of his best days at the Grove winning Super Gas over a quality field of racers

The finals of Comp had Miller's S-10

The finals of Comp had Miller’s S-10 (near lane) beating a red lighting Mark Hopkins

Competition Eliminator went to Tom Miller’s PSTA Chevy as his opponent, the D/A Beretta of Mark Hopkins left way too soon giving Miller the win.

Comp winner Miller throws out the silk after his Round 1 win

Comp winner Miller throws out the silk after his Round 1 win

Super Stock went to David Chiles GT/BA Chevy over Wayne Truesdell's red lighting GT/D

Super Stock went to David Chiles GT/BA Chevy over Wayne Truesdell’s red lighting GT/D

Trusdell, cut the tree too close giving Chilles the Dutch win

Truesdell (near lane) cut the tree too close giving Chiles the Dutch win

Truesdell had one of his best NED races in quite a while going all the way to the Dutch Super Stock finals

Truesdell had one of his best NED races in quite a while going all the way to the Dutch Super Stock finals

Doug Linke

Doug Linke

Jack Sepanek was the Super Comp champ at the Dutch

Jack Sepanek was the Super Comp champ at the Dutch

The finals of MXI/Magnaflux Top Sportsman presented by Select Performance had Crazy Ed Foley over the Olds of Tom Simone as Ed's Mustang ran a 7.078 on a 7.07 dial

The finals of MXI/Magnaflux Top Sportsman presented by Select Performance had “Crazy” Ed Foley (far lane)  over the Olds of Tom Simone as Ed’s Mustang ran a 7.078 on a 7.07 dial

Ed Foley had another great NED weekend winning the Top Sportsman title at the Dutch

Ed Foley had another great NED weekend winning the Top Sportsman title at the Dutch

Tom Simone put his Olds in the finals of Top Sportsman

Tom Simone put his Olds in the finals of Top Sportsman

Top Dragster went to Joe DiPasquale who had a much better light than his competition, Michael Esposito (near lane)

Top Dragster went to Joe DiPasquale who had a much better light than his competition, Michael Esposito (near lane)

Joe DePasquale

Joe DiPasquale took Top Dragster

The finals of the 10.0 class had a wild wheels up run by both racers with the Mustang of Brian Correll beating the never ending wheelstanding Chevelle of Vinny Laurita

The finals of the 10.0 class had a wild wheels up run by both racers with the Mustang of Brian Correll beating the never ending wheelstanding Chevelle of Vinny Laurita

Vinny Laurita did finally land his Chevy but not after making every Facebook page in the USA

Vinny Laurita did finally land his Chevy but not after making every Facebook page in the USA

Jeff Thornton driving his Super Street Chevelle had the worse weekend of his racing career tagging the left and then the right wall during R2 totaling his Chevy in the process

Jeff Thornton had the worse weekend of his racing career behind the wheel of his Super Street Chevelle. Right after tripping the lights, Jeff got into the left wall and then the right during R2 . Jeff was OK in the crash, the car, not so goodJeff right after hitting the left wall

Jeff right after hitting the left wall

Then Jeff slams into the right wall

Then Jeff slams into the right wall

The finals of the 11.50 bracket had the wagon of Bill Cohen over the Chevy of Avril Krieg

The finals of the 11.50 bracket had the wagon of Bill Cohen over the Chevy of Avril Krieg

The 11.50 winner

The 11.50 winner Bill Cohen

The 8.50 Index final had the Chevelle of Al Davidowski (far lane) over the Mustang of Delon Pleasants in a very close final

The 8.50 Index final had the Chevelle of Al Davidowski (far lane) over the Mustang of Delon Pleasants in a very close final

8.50 winner

8.50 winner Al Davidowski

Best Appearing went to the Olds stocker of Sam Murray

Best Appearing went to the Olds stocker of Sam Murray

Best Engineered award went to the front motored Top Dragster of Bill Masiello

Best Engineered award went to the front motored Top Dragster of Bill Masiello

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Super Street runner up Alain Berard  who went too quick in the final against Marty Ganjoin's Camaro

Super Street runner up Alain Berard who went too quick in the final against Marty Ganjoin’s Camaro

Jerry McNeish D/S Camaro went to R5

Jerry MacNeish’s D/S Camaro went to R5

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Demke takes a Trifecta and Harker scores a Double at Maple Grove Dragway at the 30th Annual NHRA Nationals Linke, Fletch, Lynch, Martel & Martel take the rest of the Sportsman titles

Chris Demke will not forget his trip to Maple Grove anytime soon

Chris Demke will not forget his trip to Maple Grove anytime soon

Photos by Richard Muir, David Smith, and Phil Hutchison

Story courtesy of NHRA and Phil Hutchison

Demke's Sunday winner's circle

Demke’s Sunday winner’s circle

Chris Demke from Tujunga, California is the 2014 Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster Champ after his semifinal round win at the rain delayed Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals. The rained out event, held three weeks later at Maple Grove Dragway in Mohnton PA., had Demke behind the wheel of the Maddern Racing blown dragster defeating Don Nolan and Richard Bourke in rounds one and two before meeting up with 5-time Lucas Oil World Champion Bill Reichert in the semifinal during Friday’s qualifying. Demke clicked off a 5.309 second pass at 272.83 mph to defeat Reichert’s 5.449, 268.22 and lock up the 2014 championship.

Randy Meyer lost to Demke in the Charlotte finals

Randy Meyer lost to Demke in the Charlotte finals

In the finals of Charlotte on Saturday, Demke beat Randy Meyer in the final for with a 5.292, 275.79 run to Meyers 5.339, 217.84. Meyer was one of a few drivers chasing Demke for the championship and looks to finish in the top 5 in points.

Demke (far lane) defeats former Lucas champ Duane Shields in Sunday's finals

Demke (far lane) defeats former Lucas champ Duane Shields in Sunday’s finals

After winning the Charlotte race and the Lucas World Championship, Demke ran the table during Sunday’s NHRA Nationals eliminations giving the popular driver three Wallys over the course of two days.

Shield's A/FD losing to Demke's blown car in the finals

Shield’s A/FD losing to Demke’s blown car in the finals

In the final round at Maple Grove during Sunday’s eliminations, Demke ran 5.262 seconds at 272.45 mph defeating 2011 Lucas Champ Duane Shields out of Boulder City Nevada who clocked in at 5.392 seconds at 255.92 mph. Demke had a great reaction time of 0.005 off the line and made another great looking pass down the track to take the win.  This was Demke’s fifth national event win this year and his 15th Top Alcohol Dragster win of his career.

Steve Harker

Steve Harker

Taking the Top Alcohol Funny Car title at Maple Grove was transplanted Australian Steve Harker who, like T/AD winner Demke, won the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday, faced off against Californian John Lombardo Jr. and posted a winning run of 5.429 seconds, 267.69 mph in his ’13 Mustang. Lombardo, who smoked the tires, drove to a 10.494 second, 80.78 mph lap for his runner up finish.

Lombardo is already starting to strike the tires as Harker is off the line cleanly on his way to a win

Lombardo (near lane)  is already starting to strike the tires as Harker is off the line cleanly on his way to a win

Dale Brand came into the race with a chance to be the Lucas World Champ but it was not to be

Dale Brand came into the race with a chance to be the Lucas World Champ but it was not to be

Harker's winners circle

Harker’s winners circle

Harker faced off with Dale Brand in the semifinals as both drivers were in contention for winning the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series World Championship in Top Alcohol Funny Car. Brand had the lead in points over Harker coming into the event, but with Harker’s win over Brand in the semi-final round he was able to pass Brand in points and clinch the National Championship in Top Alcohol Funny Car.

Martel (near lane) won Comp Eliminator from the pole in his sharp 2015 Camaro

Martel (near lane) won Comp Eliminator from the pole in his sharp 2015 Camaro. His competition the Cavalier of Joe Carnasciale was later off the line and did not have the horses to hold off the quick Chevy of Martel

Arnie Martel out of Tewksbury, Mass driving his 2015 E/AA Camaro won the Competition Eliminator defeating the I/SMA Cavalier of Joe Carnasciale’s from Cranston Rhode Island. Martel, who qualified his Chevy on the pole ran a 7.665 second ET at 159.44 mph as Carnasciale put down a  8.873 ET @ 139.99 mph in the loss. The win at Maple was Martel’s 14th national event win.

Arnie Martel

Arnie Martel

The finals of Super Stock were already decided as Doug Ch  left too soon handing Fletcher the win

The finals of Super Stock were already decided as Doug Chervanik (near lane) left too soon handing Fletcher the win

In Super Stock it was many time winner Dan Fletcher from Churchville N.Y defeating first time finalist Doug Chervanik, from Sunbury, PA. Fletch took an easy win as Chervanik left too soon and went red handing Fletcher his 91st national event win and his 47th in Super Stock.

It's Fletch (again)

It’s Fletch (again)

Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were Russell “Bubba” Linke, Old Bridge, NJ., in Stock Eliminator as Bubba driving his C/SA ’97 Camaro defeated the  fouling out E/SA ’67 Camaro of Michael Iacono from Wading River NY in the finals.

Michael Iacono (near lane) left a tad too soon handing Bubba the MG win

Michael Iacono (near lane) left a tad too soon handing Bubba the MG win

Bubba Linke over Iaciano

Bubba Linke over Iacono in the Stock finals

Martel (far lane) won Super Comp over Al Kenny

Martel (far lane) won Super Comp over Al Kenny

Steve Martel from Shaefierstown, Pa., won Super Comp over D1 kingpin Al Kenny in what was two double breakouts for Kenny in the space of just minutes as Al was also in the Super Gas finals. Ouch

NHRA D1 Director Dave Mohn congratulates Super Comp winner Steve Martel

NHRA D1 Director Dave Mohn (left)  congratulates Super Comp winner Steve Martel

Jason Lynch (near lane) beat Al Kenny for the Super Gas title

Jason Lynch (near lane) beat Al Kenny for the Super Gas title in a double breakout final

Jason Lynch, Pleasant View, Tenn. beat Super Comp runner up Al Kenny in the  Super Gas finals to pour more salt into the Canadian racer’s wounds as both racers ran too quick but Lynch was the lesser of the two and got the win.

Jason Lynch's team after his win at the Grove

D1’s Dave Mohn congratulates Jason Lynch’s team after his win at the Grove

It was a double breakout with Kenny being on the short side of the stick allowing Lynch to take the Super Gas title at MG

It was a double breakout with Kenny being on the short end of the stick allowing Lynch to take the Super Gas title at MG

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Friday at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, the cream rises to the top

Tommy Johnson Jr., has his 14 Charger in the #6 spot with a    4.065

Tommy Johnson Jr., has his 14 Charger in the #6 spot with a 4.065

Photos and story by Phil Hutchison NorthEastDragReview

After a cloudy Thursday, Friday’s weather was a mix of sun and clouds, which helped with the on track performance from the Pros and the Sportsman racers alike

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One of the highlights of Friday’s action was the continuation of the rained out Charlotte event in the Alcohol categories. The action picked up with round two with the finals scheduled to be completed during Saturday’s final qualifying session.

Demke beat D1 racer Richard Bourke in the second round of the Charlotte race

Demke beat D1 racer Richard Bourke in the second round of the Charlotte race

The big news on Friday was Division 7’s Chris Demke locking up the Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster championship for 2014 with his semi final round win over soon to be retired and former World Champ himself, Division 3 racer Bill Reichert. Reichert ran what would normally be a winning run with 5.349 but Demke was laying down a 5.309 in the win.

2014 Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster champ Chris Demke

2014 Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster champ Chris Demke

Earlier in round two, Demke put down a 5.281 in his blown dragster which puts the Tujunga CA drive in the #2 spot behind low qualifier Randy Meyer’s A/FD which leads the quick show with a 5.251 ET in his Kansas based car.

Friday's Low Qualifier Randy Meyer

Friday’s Low Qualifier Randy Meyer

Alcohol Funny Car at Maple Grove was just as competitive as the dragsters with 19 cars trying to make the final 16 cut for Saturday’s first round.

Lombardo paces the field going into Saturday's action

Lombardo paces the field going into Saturday’s action

Leading TA/FC show is California racer John Lombardo Jr., from Brea taking his’14 Mustang to a 5.533 with transplanted Australian Steve Harker’s 5.546 in his Monte Carlo in the #2 spot.

Steve Harker

Steve Harker

Karen Stalba has her New Jersey based A/FD in the #16 bump and will have to step it up as there are some of the best D1 racers trying to bump her out of the show.

Karen Stalba has her New Jersey based A/FD on the  bump and will have to step it up as there are some of the best D1 racers like John Finke and Jackie Fricke trying to knock her out of the show.

Recent US Nationals winner Alexis DeJoria has her Toyota in the # 9 position with a 4.087

Recent US Nationals winner Alexis DeJoria has her Toyota in the # 9 position with a 4.087

#2 in Top Fuel qualifying, Brittany Force, Yorba Linda CA, with a   3.765

#2 in Top Fuel qualifying, Brittany Force, Yorba Linda CA, with a 3.765

Mia Tedesco has the Hirata A/FD in the # spot with a 5.32 ET

Mia Tedesco has the Hirata A/FD in the # spot with a 5.32 ET

Kyle Cultrera won his first round matchup over Mark Hopkins

Kyle Cultrera won his first round matchup over Mark Hopkins

The PSTA Chevy Truck of Tom Miller is going into round two of Comp after his first round win over Calvin Hill

The PSTA Chevy Truck of Tom Miller is going into round two of Comp after his first round win over Calvin Hill

Division Three racer Philip Smida has his unique '88 Cavalier still rocking in the Super Gas show

Division Three racer Philip Smida has his unique ’88 Cavalier still rocking in the Super Gas show

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Thursday at the Grove, Sportsman racers get the qualifying shots and the NBC Today Show makes an appearance at the drags.

PC Richard honcho Gary Richard gets the wheels up on his GT/AA Mustang  putting it into the #11 spot going into today's first round of Super Stock eliminations

PC Richard honcho Gary Richard gets the wheels up on his GT/AA Mustang putting it into the #11 spot going into today’s first round of Super Stock eliminations

Story and Photos by Phil Hutchison

Mohnton PA October 2. Gray skies and cool temps greeted the NHRA racers at the 30th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Dragway as the forecast sunny conditions never materialized but the lack of sun and cool made for quick racing at the Pennsylvania facility.

James Perrone (near lane) from Shirley, N.Y. ('69 Nova/350) took the G/SA title

James Perrone (near lane) from Shirley, N.Y. (’69 Nova/350) took the G/SA title

Stock Eliminator had class eliminations during qualifying while the rest of the Sportsman, Super Stock, Comp and the 0.90 classes were time trials and qualifying.

Stephen Smyth (far lane)  took the family Challenger to the CC/SA class win

Stephen Smyth (far lane) took the family Challenger to the CC/SA class win

Victor Cagnazzi (yes that Cagnazzi) entered his first Factory Showdown race and went to the finals of FS/B losing to eventual Factory winner David Barton

Victor Cagnazzi (yes that Cagnazzi) entered his first Factory Showdown race and went to the finals of FS/B losing to eventual Factory winner David Barton

In addition to Stock class eliminations, the event also feature the Factory Stock Showdown class with the best of the new breed of hot rods coming out of Detroit. Winning the A/B combo final was local racer David Barton behind the wheel of the Barton Racing Hemi Challenger as David defeated the winner of the Factory Stock A class Mike Skinner with a hole shot aided 8.751 (1.599 under) to Skinner’s 2014 Mustang 302 8.591 (-1.509 under) in a losing effort.

Skinner's Mustang was flying all day but just came up a little short in the finals against Barton's Mopar

Skinner’s Mustang was flying all day but just came up a little short in the finals against Barton’s Mopar

Arnie Martell

Arnie Martel

Leading the Competition Eliminator qualifying after two shots is Tewksbury MA racer Arnie Martel in his 2015 E/AA Camaro. Arnie paces the field with one qualifying shot left with a -0.720 under 7.58 in his Chevy.

# 12 in Comp is the G/EA of Steve Szupka

# 12 in Comp is the G/EA of Steve Szupka

Scotty Richardson has Vinny Barone's D/EA #14 going into Friday's last qualifier

Scotty Richardson has Vinny Barone’s D/EA #14 going into Friday’s last qualifier

Willie G gets prepared for his first ever blast down the quarter mile

Willie G gets prepared for his first ever blast down the quarter mile

Joining the action at the Grove was NBC Today Show host and Olympics commentator Willie Geist and MSNBC host Tamron Hall getting their first taste of NHRA drag racing. Doug Foley’s Pure Speed Racing Experience was on hand with his two seater dragsters to give the pair a first hand look and feel of what it’s like to be in a dragster going thru the traps at 140 MPH. It was a bit of a surprise for Geist as he had no idea that Tamron was at the track and it was not revealed until right before his pass that he would be racing his good friend and NBC cohort during the event.

Tamara gets strapped into one of the two seat dragsters of Doug Foley

Tamron  gets strapped into one of the two seat dragsters of Doug Foley

Both Willie and Tamron were loose and relaxed before their race

Both Willie and Tamron were loose and relaxed before their race

Tamron gets her first taste of a burnout

Tamron gets her first taste of a burnout

Tamron's dragster was lighter than Willie's due to her small stature and that may have decided the win as she took the round

Tamron’s dragster was lighter than Willie’s due to her small stature and that may have decided the win as she took the round

The episode is scheduled to air on NBC later in the month.

Super Gas got three shots down the track on Thursday as Friday brings the first round

Super Gas got three shots down the track on Thursday as Friday brings the first round

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More action coming from the Grove this weekend and stay tuned to more images from the 30th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Dragway.

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