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Season VIII
Area 51 Racing Grand Championship Series
Races #3 & #4

March 23rd & May11th 2019 – Tucson Dragway – Tucson, AZ
Arizona Differential Specialists SportComp Eliminator
Growler Racing TopComp Eliminator Super 660 Shootout


Ron Shelly and Jeff Morgan in a side-by-side wheels-up leave
exemplify what the Pro tree TopComp/SportComp Eliminators are all about.

What a story these two races turned out to be. DRAGCAR started out the southern state swing at Tucson Dragway on March 23rd with the scheduled Race #3 of the Grand Championship Series and Super 660 Series but after a nice start to the day, all came to a halt when the racing surface started exhibiting signs of distress which resulted in the calling of the day’s racing after the finish of the qualifying rounds. Tucson Dragway’s management handled the situation with class as all racers were issued a “raincheck” on their tech cards and a new date was immediately added to the calendar for the return and restart of all of the day’s races. But as an added bonus, Jim Hughes promised us all one of his famous racer barbeques upon our return so what more could we all ask for?

As a way of rewarding racers for their efforts, Grand Championship Series racers were each awarded their qualifying points in addition to 500 of the normal 1000 show up points. The Fast Five on March 23rd consisted of Dylan Smith in his big block Chevy powered dragster taking top honors with an 8.164 @ 163.14 leaving Ron Shelly to take the #2 spot with a very stout 9.098 @ 147.21 out of his big block powered Vega. The #3 spot was taken over by Jeff Morgan in his small block Chevy powered T with a 9.214 @ 139.26 and Pat Marback in another roadster took the 4th spot with a 9.512 @ 142.52. Non-member, Bill Fowler, rounded out the Fast Five with a 9.609 @ 144.57mph.

Sunday May 12th was set to be the re-race date following an already scheduled May 11th race but a bad weather forecast had many of us concerned that Sunday’s race might not happen and the plan changed to have both races run on Saturday, so Race #3 was then run first on and Race #4 was to be run just hours later.

Left: Paul Polito (near lane) faced off with teammate Mike O'Donnell in E1 of both races with the score being 1 each. Right: Michael Porter (near lane) scored the Best RT of Eliminations award in Race #4 and also the Super 660 7/5 class win. 

While some of the names changed in the Fast Five line-up at the start of the Race #3 “re-race” on May 11th, Dylan Smith still sat in the top spot with a stellar 8.129 @ 162.80 while Jeff Morgan this time took #2 with a 9.115 @ 140.24. Ron Shelly then handled 3rd with a nice 9.200 @ 149.36 as #4 was picked up by Mike O’Donnell in the big block powered “Bad News Travels Fast” Mustang. “Big PaulPolito in his freshly dressed small block powered Vega-Saurus rounded out the Fast Five with a healthy 9.749 @ 139.72mph charge.

As is often the case, the first pairing out of the lanes turned out to be a tough one as defending S/E DRAGSTAR Chris Holbrook (Q-10.653/118) on a 10.65 in a borrowed racer lined up against Mark Ballard (Q-11.036/120) on an 11.00 for the opening pair of SportComp Eliminator E1. Holbrook took a .035 advantage off the tree and held on tight for the win as Ballard closed the gap to just .019 at the stripe, 10.630/123 over the quicker 10.964/121 effort.

In S/E E2, Hunter Wray (Q-12.573/105) went to the line on a 12.60 against Kyle Holbrook (Q-11.951/114) on his 11.75 and managed to get the win but not without a price as he blasted a well under 12.526/105 to snatch the win from Holbrook who went .006 on the tree and ran 11.809 in chase. This cost Wray the round points and also awarded Holbrook with the rarely seen Fair Competition Guarantee certificate for a free entry into his next race. Then the next pair saw the closest heat of the race as Chris Holbrook on his 10.65 took on Scott Sturm (Q-10.953/123) on a 10.85. Once both cars left it was Sturm with .028 in RT advantage and he needed all of it to take the win as Holbrook closed the gap to just .007 at the stripe, 10.880/122 over the quicker 10.659/124 effort. We also saw the ugly “DQ” show its head as Cody Nelson (Q-16.475/88) on a 16.50 took on Mike Gardner (Q-10.779/124) on his 10.80. Nelson left the line a little late but Gardner waited for what must have felt like an eternity as almost 6 seconds ticked away. Gardner finally got the tree and immediately closed the spread with .094 in RT advantage but though he gained on Nelson at a rate of 52 feet per second on the top end, he still fell short by well over a car length as Nelson stopped the clocks about a day early with 16.156/88 over the hard charging 10.755/124 effort. While he did get there first, Nelson’s .344 under performance earned him the DQ and it was still Gardner moving on into the next round.

Hunter Wray had the “Bounty” on his head and it was the Semi-Finals before anybody could lay claim to it as Mike Gardner took on the kid after both had been re-indexed in previous rounds. Wray left first on his 12.45 and had a nice .036 light but Gardner’s .000 was just deadly and he paired that with a 10.724/124 to take the win by .064 over a tough 12.452/106 performance. While Gardner did go “Right On The Light” and take out the “Bounty”, he was ineligible for the bonus awards as a non-member.

Left: Kyle Holbrook (near lane) fell to Hunter Wray in Race #3 but was rewarded the Fair Competition Guarantee free entry because of Wray's under-index performance. Right: Gary Cope (near lane) took theSuper 660 7/0 class win over Brad Akers and then proceeded to win the Highbinder Showdown Final against Michael Porter. 

The S/E Final came down to a shootout between two Tucson local track favorites as Mike Gardner went to the line on his 10.75 against “Mr. WolfMarvin Wolfmeier (Q-11.049/124) on an 11.00 index. Both of these two were pretty even going into the final as each had run right about 2 hundredths under their index in prior rounds and when the trees both flashed, it was Gardner with a slight .027 - .040 RT advantage. The two raced down track nearly dead even all the way but it was the red Falcon of Gardner by .030 as the clocks stopped with a 10.758/124 flashing the win over a tough 11.025/125 effort. That Was A Drag Race!

Mike Gardner's red Falcon left only a quarter of a second behind the Vega wagon on Marvin Wolfmeier's but turned it into a side by side drag race by the 60' point and both cars were locked together for the remaining distance of the track as both racers went across the finish line flat out just trying to get there first. 

In TopComp Eliminator, E1 opened with the Tucson Asphalt team cars lining up against each other as Mike O’Donnell in the Mustang on a 9.35 faced car owner Paul Polito in the Vega on a 9.70. It was Polito with the big RT advantage and the win running 9.766/139 over the off pace 9.468/144 effort. The next pairing had Jeff Morgan on a 9.10 going up against Dylan Smith on his 8.10. Smith took a .032 RT advantage off the tree and used it to capture the win in a close .013 MOV finish with an 8.14/161 over a slightly better 9.121/140 effort.

In the T/E Semi-Finals Paul Polito went to the line on his 9.70 against fellow Vega racer Ron Shelly on a 9.20 making his first showing of the season. Polito must have taken his eye off the tree for some reason because his half second handicap was cut almost in half when Shelly left with the computer looking inoperative in the tower as his RT timer read only zeros. At the end it was Shelly taking the win easily with a 9.340/131 over the valiant 9.770/140 effort, and Shelly’s .000 RT also earned him the “Right On The Light” money on that pass.

The T/E Final came down to the defending Season VII T/E DRAGSTAR, Ron Shelly going up against the Season VII Junior DRAGSTAR, Dylan Smith. Shelly being on a 9.20 took the tree first and Smith gave chase on his 8.10 but it was Shelly holding .041 in RT advantage with a .003 light and at the big end Smith was unable to make up the deficit as Shelly took the stripe big with a mean 9.205/146 over the slightly off 8.163/164 attempt.

Then the winners of SportComp and TopComp, Mike Gardner and Ron Shelly were going at it in the CompStar Showdown Final for bonus points, cash, and bragging rights. Shelly was still on his 9.20 and Gardner was on his 10.75. Both cars had run on their indexes previously and both racers had recorded triple 0 RT’s enroute to this showdown so it looked to be a tough race indeed. Both cars staged, the trees flashed, and both cars left, and it was Shelly with the .067 RT advantage which paid off at the other end as he passed the Ford before the traps to take the win with a 9.223/142 over a nice 10.789/124 effort.

Left: Ron Shelly (near lane) returned to DRAGCAR competition after a long knee injury healing process and fell right back in step as he beat Dylan Smith to the finish line in the T/E Final. Right: The CompStar Showdown Final saw T/E Winner Ron Shelly chase down, catch, and pass S/E Winner Mike Gardner (far lane) for the CompStar Showdown Annihilator Win.

Ron Shelly was the big winner of Race #3 but he also bagged the Bounty on Dylan Smith as well as the Right On the Light award with his trip-zip in E2. So, watch out, Ron Shelly is back!

“Phfshew, man, we’re not done yet!” No sooner, Shelly and Gardner were getting out of their cars at their pits and swigging down some water, the calls were starting to go out for the single shot qualifying rounds for Race #4 and the Fast Five lineup had none other than Dylan Smith in the #1 spot, Jeff Morgan in #2, Mike O’Donnell in #3 and Paul Polito at #4, but it was an S/E car taking the Fifth Fast position as Gary Cope’s small block powered Mustang qualified for the spot with a 10.701 @ 119.38mph.

SportComp E1 again opened with a tough race as Mark Ballard (Q-11.074/121) on an 11.00 lined up against Cody Nelson (Q-16.318/88) on a 16.30. Ballard took a .064 RT advantage as he gave chase on Nelson but it was still a close race as his 11.035/120 clipped Nelson’s outstanding 16.303/89 effort in the traps for a .032 MOV. Later in the round it was again Hunter Wray (Q-12.517/106) on a 12.50 facing off with Kyle Holbrook (Q-12.090/110) running on an 11.75. Wray was .016 later than Holbrook off the line but at the other end it seemed that Holbrook forgot it was a non-breakout race and he gave the stripe to Wray by only .001 with an off performance 11.825/103 to Wray’s wide open 12.560/107. Ouch! Then in the very next pairing Chris Holbrook (Q-10.709/115) almost exacted the very same miscue as he lifted in the traps on a 10.70 against Mike Gardner (Q-10.769/123) who was on a 10.75 to run 10.719/118 over a 10.789/124 for a mere .003 MOV. Phfshew!

In S/E E2, Hunter Wray still had the Bounty on him and it was Scott Gibson (Q-10.877/127) who captured it when the two paired up. Wray left first on a 12.50 with a nice .036 light but at the end it was Gibson getting there first with a 10.837/126 over the 12.557/105 attempt.

Earlier in the day during Race #3, Scott Gibson had qualified 3rd in S/E, and in the Super 660 ShootOut, but few had realized that he was missing in action after not having shown for E1. It was only minutes before the call to the lanes for Race #4's one-hit qualifying round that Gibson was seen pulling into the gate in his tow vehicle and driving up to his car which was sitting on jacks with no rear tires on it. It seems the Wray’s took the tires off his car while he was gone. Nice folks, huh? Actually it was a team effort to get Gibson back in the race.

In an unbelievable show of “race-manship”, Scott Gibson had opted to throw in the towel for Race #3 due to having a bad vibration in his car and he “raced” back to Phoenix in his tow vehicle to retrieve an old set of wheels and tires for his Mustang in hopes of getting back in time for Race #4. We’re talking at least a 300 mile round trip, and they left some time after 11:00 following Race #3's Q2 round, and he was still in the lanes when Race #4 qualifying started at 4:05. Wow! Glad he didn’t get any “timeslips” during that trip. That’s a racer there, and here he was going into the Semi-Finals on a 10.85 index against Chris Holbrook on a 10.70. When both cars left the line the RT’s were nearly identical and it turned out to be a real drag race as both racers charged across the finish at full throttle and Gibson’s 10.846/126 got the win over an off pace 10.774/124. Gibson’s sacrifice of Race #3 looked to have a chance of paying off but he had another round to get through and it was against Jeff Sefranek (Q-11.122/121) who had waived the bye in the Semi’s to go into the final.

Scott Gibson (far lane) was the big story of the day as he made a round trip trek to Phoenix to retrieve needed parts and ended up in the S/E Final against Jeff Sefranek. 

In the Final it looked like it was going to be a good race as Scott Gibson has been notoriously killer on the tree in the past and Sefranek was showing some good RT’s throughout Race #4 so it was likely going to come down to who ran quicker on their index. As odd as it looked, Sefranek’s big tire Mustang took the tree first with an 11.10 index just over a quarter of a second before Gibson in his stock looking Fox body on a 10.85, and when both were charging down track, Sefranek managed a slight .009 RT advantage, .024-.033. Again, both racers went across the finish line wide open and it was Sefranek taking the stripe ahead of Gibson by just .031, 11.101/121 over 10.873/126 for the Race #4 S/E Annihilator Win and the chance to go into the CompStar Showdown Final.

In TopComp Eliminator, E1 opened with Ron Shelly on a 9.20 index taking on Jeff Morgan on a 9.15 in a nearly heads-up drag race. Shelly put a light on Morgan at the tree and stayed out front for the win with a 9.211/144 over an even better 9.151/140 effort.

In T/E E2, Ron Shelly on a 9.20 was in a rematch with Dylan Smith on an 8.15. This time though Shelly's tires left the beams just a thousandth too early as he lit up the red with a -.001 RT to give Smith the trip to the final against Mike O'Donnell who had drawn the round bye.

So, how's this for a statistic, in this, already his 12th American DRAGCAR points series race over a full season and a half of competition, Dylan Smith running on his 8.15 index showed up here in the Final Round of Race #4 for his 12th straight Final Round appearance to chase down Mike O'Donnell who was on a 9.40. Once both were staged however, O'Donnell took a wild swing at anticipating the tree in an effort to beat the kid off the line and went red before the ambers even flashed, and Dylan Smith was now the Race #4 T/E Annihilator Winner on his way to the CompStar Showdown Final.  

Jeff Sefranek and Dylan Smith were meeting for their CompStar Showdown Final rematch of the Season Opener where Smith was unable to show for the round due to transmission issues. This time however, it was Sefranek complaining of transmission issues and even contemplating not making the round, but there he was in the lanes awaiting a battle afterall. Not only was Sefranek's car in question of being able to make the race, but so too was the weather as it became a race between the track crew and the approaching storm to get this Showdown finished before the coming rains would hit as they were only minutes away with light sprinkles starting to be seen on the cars and large lightening strikes flashing in the not so far distance. Smith and Sefranek however both felt okay with the track and greatly welcomed the wave to the burnout box before going to the line to battle it out one last time for the day. Sefranek took the tree first on an 11.10 index while Smith waited the 3 seconds for his tree on his 8.15 and in a rarity, Sefranek’s .047 light was considerably better than Smith’s and it was evident at the top end when Smith trailed Sefranek by about a car and a half across the stripe, 11.067/121 over 8.195/162. But while Sefranek did win the race, his .033 under performance did cost him the bonus round points as well as the award for the Bounty on Smith, and he and Smith were left to split the win pay on top of it all. Oops! So Sefranek went home the overall CompStar Showdown Predator race Winner but Dylan Smith went away as the CompStar Showdown Judicator points Winner.

Left: Dylan Smith (near lane) won T/E Annihilator honors when Mike O'Donnell went red and faced off with S/E Annihilator Jeff Sefranek (far lane) for the CompStar Showdown Final. Right: The Super 660 ShootOut Highbinder Showdown Final saw 7/0 class Winner Gary Cope take the win over 7/5 class winner Michael Porter.

Dylan Smith again snagged the Low Qualifier award but Michael Porter took the Best RT of Eliminations this time while Mike Gardner scored the Best Losing Package. Scott Gibson not only took the S/E Runner-Up honors, he also grabbed the Bounty on Hunter Wray.

The Super 660 Shootout Race #3 also ran on this day and in the end it was Gary Cope as the Winner of the 7/0 class chasing down Michael Porter as the Winner of the 7/5 class in the Highbinder Showdown Final. With identical RT’s it all came down to who was going to be on their number at the end and it was Cope again with a 7.110 over Porter’s 7.786 making Cope again the Super 660 ShootOut Highbinder Showdown Winner.

Congratulations to all of the winners of the day's races and we need to give a big Thank You to the Racers, Tucson Dragway and their crew, and to all of the Season VIII sponsors; Area 51 Racing, Arizona Differential Specialists, 1320 Industries, American Flowtech, American Walk-In Coolers, Micro Import Service, Inc., Race4Home Realty, Roadrunner Converters, TNT Distributing, Wallace Motorsports, American Flowtech, and Lone Star Aluminum Block Repair.

Please make sure to look to our sponsors for their services because without their continued support, the Season End Bonus payout program would not be possible.

The next race date on the schedule is the eighth mile Bonus Race on June 8th at Wild Horse Pass so be ready and be sure to;

Bring Your DragCar!



P.O. Box 14976
Phoenix, Arizona 85063

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