Story and Photos by Phil Hutchison
2011 Gatornationals TAD champ Chris Demke from Sunland California drove the Peen Rite blown dragster to a decisive victory at the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at the Strip in Las Vegas NV. Demke’s final round opponent, the A/FD of Division 4’s Mike Manners was right there with the California driver in the ET department running a 5.39 to Demke’s 5.385 but the 0.005 reaction time of Demke had Manners way behind from the hit and Demke took the win by nearly two car lengths.
Lucas points leader Duane Shields lost in the first round in his Short Line Express A/FD and has used up all his available races for 2011. Number two in the TAD points is Bill Reichert and his is also done for 2011 so this leaves the #3 car of Joey Severance to add to his total.
Severance, who most recently was runner up at Maple Grove, still has the Las Vegas Lucas Divisional next week at the Strip and the World Finals in Pomona to pick up the 45 points he needs to catch and pass Shields. Duane can only try and block the Division 6 racer from here out. Colorado racer Jim Whiteley has an outside chance if Severance falters but it looks good for the D6 racer
Former Division One racer Tony Bartone from Long Island NY, was the class of the field in TA/FC setting Low ET and Top Speed of the event at 5.547 @ 261.37 MPH along with being the #1 qualifier in the 16 car field.
In the finals it was Lake Forest CA racer Shane Westerfield in his ’06 Monte Carlo against the ’09 Centre Point Collision Centers Mustang of Bartone with the NY racers getting off the line first and taking the win with a 5.547 260.41 to Westerfield’s 5.674 @ 255.10 MPH. NED’s Frank Manzo has already won the 2011 TA/FC as Bartone will have to settle for #2.
In Super Stock , Maspeth NY’s Peter Biondo was in a blocking mode in the Hatari Firebird having run his full compliment of NHRA National and Divisional events. His closest compeitor coming into the Vegas event was Division 6 racer Jackie Alley. Alley still had two full NHRA National events to try and earn points along with the season ending Lucas race in Vegas.
In a perfect Biondo world Jackie would have her Camaro on his side of the ladder and meet and defeat her early to hold on to the points lead. But it is not a perfect Biondo world and Jackie qualified on the other side of the ladder and as fate would have it, faced Biondo for the Big O Tires Super Stock title.
By this time Jackie had passed Biondo in the Lucas World points chase and it was payback time as Biondo defeated the new leader and probable Lucas World Champ.
Peter got the better light with a 0.011 RT in the Pontiac GT/DA to Jackie’s 0.037 and ran a 9.946 on his 9.93 dial forcing the SS/DA Camaro of Jackie’s to break out running a 9.703 on her 9.76 dial.
The final Get Screened America Pro Mod event of the year went to Leah Pruitt in the Roger Burgess turbo Mustang. Leah defeated the #2 man in 2011, Danny Rowe’s blown Camaro in the finals running a 5.910 @ 253.04 MPH to Rowe’s 5.940 at 243.55 MPH after both drivers got off the line together.
Other winners at Las Vegas were:
Stock Eliminator — Jim Meador, Chevy Camaro, 11.047, 108.81 def. Andy Durham, Dodge Challenger, 9.693, 139.16.
Super Comp — Billy Torrence, Dragster, 9.039, 176.19 def. Bill Dennis, Dragster, 9.027, 174.80.
Super Gas — Ed DeStaute, Chevy Corvette, 10.057, 148.49 def. Michael Miller, ’27-T Ford, 10.036, 148.36.