While each sportsman sanctioning body has its own signature event, no one has as many entries, fun, or energy as the IHRA Hooters Racing Series does every year at Norwalk. The weeklong event featured nearly 1,000 entries this year, with the widest possible variety of sportsman entries ranging from Volkswagen Bugs to low 6-second dragsters.
Qualifying just to make the field was a show in itself, as racers used all the parts they had in an attempt to make eliminations. In Erson Cams Top Sportsman, no less than 86 doorslammers showed up for a 48-car qualified field that featured an incredible bump spot of 7.004 seconds. Mark Malcuit was probably one of the most disappointed racers on the grounds that weekend as he missed the bump by just .004 seconds. Mark was still able to slip in as an alternate along with Steven DeRosa, but both were gone at the end of the first round. Well into Sunday evening, Ronnie Proctor, DeWayne Silance, and Sandy Wilkins were all who remained. Proctor showed Silance up on the starting line with a .029 holeshot, which forced the latter into a .001 breakout in a vain effort to catch up. Wilkins singled into the finals on a bye and took a huge .169 advantage over Proctor at the start to pick up the win. Wilkins averaged a .012 reaction time over the course of six rounds of elimination to cap one of the best driving jobs seen all season.
Mallory Top Dragster was just as awesome with 68 cars on hand. At the end of qualifying, Randy Fraker was number one with a great 6.344/212.90, while Jeremy McCormick anchored the 48-car field with a 6.888 at 197.59. Strange things can happen in racing, however, as seen in the case of Jason Harris, who ran the same identical ET as McCormick, but didn't make the field because of a slower speed. Harris got into the field as first alternate after a qualified car broke and won his first match. McCormick was gone by the second round, but Harris kept on winning as he beat Larry Kilpatrick, Charlie Careccia, Jeff Ledford, Frank Carpinelli, John Anderika, and then Jeff Miles, Jr. in the finals. Every one of the cars he beat were qualified well ahead of him, but that didn't keep Harris from coming from the outside looking in to beat them all.
Accel Quick Rod had a mind-boggling 105 entries with 9 out of last year's Top 10 cars in the field. Gary Williams edged John Dustin with a slight holeshot for a true winning margin of just .0073 seconds in the semifinals, while Jeff Brooks used a great .003 light to beat Jason Folk. Brooks had another tight light with a .009 in the finals, but gave it away when Williams made up that margin by running closer on his dial.
Lakewood Super Rod saw nearly 100 entries, with Tony Gray coming out on top over Corinne MacMillan. The field in Hurst Hot Rod cars was just as large. Tim Shuck won the battle of classic Chevys in the finals of that class as he took a slight advantage off the line to run a 10.936 on a 10.90 while John Swink ran a 10.965 on a 10.90.
The always-popular Accel/DFI Super Stock class saw Mark Young grab the top spot by running 1.147 under the SS/PGA2 index in his '93 Mustang Cobra. Thomas York was number two with a 1.005 under run. Richard Feldman, Stacey Wilson, and Greg Gay rounded out the Top Five qualifiers. In the semis, Michael Lyons went on to the finals when Bob Marshall redlighted. There, he came up on the short stick to Lyn Laperriere's SS/DA '69 Camaro in an all-Michigan championship round.
Hays Stock Eliminator saw 12 cars qualify a full second under their respective indexes. Jeff Ross of Barton, Ohio, led the way in his D/PS '72 Cuda, with Bill Hawk and Truman Fields completing the Top Three. By Round 7, just two cars remained: the crate-motor entry of Brent Martin and the Top Stock car of Scotty Stillings. Martin's car moved first off the line and ran an 11.937 on an 11.92, which was more than enough to beat Stillings' Camaro, which ran nearly a half-second off the pace at the end.
Box and No Box racers have been fighting it out all year in the Summit Super Series of events, and they were all there at Norwalk. Dennis Hrivnak was the winner in Box ET, while Todd Crager took the victory in No Box. In the combined ET finals, Hrivnak took the event win when Crager redlighted.
It was a great event that was tempered only by the news about Hurricane Kristina on the way home, and an event to look forward to next year!
Boxscore: Skull Gear World Nationals By PPG Results
|HEADS UP CLASSES ||R/T ||ET ||Speed |
|TOP FUEL |
|W ||Clay Millican ||Drummonds, TN || ||.069 ||4.752 ||303.98 |
|R/U ||Cory McClenathan ||Bristol, TN || ||.105 ||4.901 ||285.59 |
|TORCO PRO MODIFIED |
|W ||Mike Castellana ||Westbury, NY || ||.111 ||6.613 ||168.30 |
|R/U ||Steve Bareman ||Elma, NY || ||Redlight ||BROKE ||BROKE |
|FUNNY CAR |
|W ||Jim Sickles ||Caledonia, NY || ||.033 ||5.902 ||246.39 |
|R/U ||Rob Atchison ||London, ONT || ||.019 ||22.034 ||38.30 |
|TORCO PRO STOCK |
|W ||Steve Spiess ||Manhattan, IL || ||.081 ||6.477 ||216.83 |
|R/U ||Rick Jones ||Galesburg, IL || ||.077 ||6.504 ||216.24 |
|TOP STOCK |
|W ||Monty Bogan ||Jonesville, SC || ||.047 ||9.877 ||133.25 |
|R/U ||Sid Bonnecarrere ||Gray, LA || ||Redlight ||9.875 ||133.14 |
|DIAL-IN CLASSES ||R/T ||Dial ||ET ||Speed |
|ERSON CAMS TOP SPORTSMAN |
|W ||Sandy Wilkins ||Fuquay-Varina, NC ||.012 ||6.94 ||6.989 ||180.09 |
|R/U ||Ronnie Proctor ||Harper's Ferry, WV ||.181 ||6.92 ||6.995 ||100.37 |
|MALLORY TOP DRAGSTER |
|W ||Jason Harris ||Pittsboro, NC ||.029 ||6.90 ||6.993 ||177.60 |
|R/U ||Jeff Miles, Jr. ||Jackson, SC ||.081 ||6.84 ||6.894 ||195.76 |
|ACCEL/DFI SUPER STOCK |
|W ||Lyn Laperriere ||Milan, MI ||.013 ||9.84 ||9.859 ||128.70 |
|R/U ||Michael Lyons ||Garden City, MI || Redlight ||9.16 ||9.174 ||149.15 |
|HAYS STOCK ELIMINATOR |
|W ||Brent Martin ||New Boston, MI ||.044 ||11.92 ||11.937 ||104.24 |
|R/U ||Scotty Stillings ||Indianapolis, IN ||.058 ||10.79 ||11.294 ||113.62 |
|ACCEL QUICK ROD |
|W ||Gary Williams ||Bradenton, FL ||.012 ||8.90 ||9.061 ||157.36 |
|R/U ||Jeff Brooks ||Fredericksburg, VA ||.009 ||8.90 ||9.097 ||154.42 |
|LAKEWOOD SUPER ROD |
|W ||Tony Gray ||Moore, OK ||.006 ||9.90 ||9.925 ||154.63 |
|R/U ||Corinne MacMillan ||Ajax, ONT || Redlight ||9.90 ||9.929 ||149.60 |
|HURST HOT ROD |
|W ||Tim Shuck ||W. Lafayette, OH ||.009 ||10.90 ||10.936 ||120.77 |
|R/U ||John Swink ||Buena Vista, VA ||.018 ||10.90 ||10.965 ||148.53 |
|BOX ET |
|W ||Dennis Hrivnak ||Fairview Park, OH ||.001 ||10.03 ||10.058 ||135.63 |
|R/U ||Mike Humphreys ||Huntsburg, OH ||.076 ||7.83 ||7.837 ||160.15 |
|NO BOX ET |
|W ||Todd Crager ||Shiloh, OH ||.030 ||10.38 ||10.425 ||123.70 |
|R/U ||Jason Septaric ||Elyria, OH ||.054 ||11.73 ||11.724 ||111.37 |
|ET FINALS |
|W ||Dennis Hrivnak ||Fairview Park, OH ||.199 ||10.04 ||10.909 ||91.44 |
|R/U ||Todd Crager ||Shiloh, OH || Redlight ||10.40 ||10.391 ||128.74 |
Racing The Road Less TraveledIn the early to late '60s, Super Stock was the showcase for the best of what Detroit had to offer. "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" was a marketing scheme that gave racers brand-new cars to race as a way to promote the brand. It sold a lot of cars for the American auto industry and is still seen to some extent even today within sportsman classes, especially in Super Stock.
There are some, however, who still race the road less traveled. Michigan racer Joe Leideker is one of those, as seen with this rare '60 Chevy Impala.
"My grandfather actually purchased this for me 20 years ago," Joe said when asked about the car. "I bracket-raced it for a year, but then fell into Super Stock. My dad's raced in that class for 38 years, and I stay in it because I love the friends and the camaraderie."
The '59/60 Chevys were unique in that they represented a growing design trend with longer, wider, and heavier cars that began to appear in the late '50s. The '59/60 Chevys came with a long 119-inch wheelbase, with a width of nearly 80 inches and a curb weight approaching 2 tons.
The unconventional styling of these cars with their cat-eye headlamps, wrap-around windshields, and bat-wing rears was rather controversial in their day. Some automotive magazines openly wondered if the rear-deck design of these cars would actually cause the back end to lift at high speeds.
In terms of power, the 348-cid V-8 with the 350hp Special Super Turbo Thrust with heavy-duty three- or four-speed transmission was the engine of choice and the best available power package. Even so, quarter-mile times of 16.7 seconds at 94 mph were about the best one could hope for off the showroom floor.
Joe runs his car with a 283, with a single 4-bbl crab and a Doug Nash four-speed combination, which fits right into SSP/I. His best numbers with the car came last year when he ran a 10.52 at 125-and-change off an 11.05 index, which is no small feat when you figure he weighs in at a hefty 3,860 pounds. While racing like that is hard on the drivetrain, it's all part of the allure of competing in this class.
"Getting these cars to run with what parts you have is another part of what makes this fun," Joe said. "I know it's just a bracket race after you qualify, but you can see how the class has grown by the counts over the past five years. You really get to be family with all the people you race with and I have a lot to be thankful for with the support of my dad and my wife."
Sometimes there's more than just winning, as Joe has definitely shown.