The weather was a little iffy all day for Route 66's Race Your Ride #5. I believe this led to a lower than normal car count, however what we lacked in quantity was far exceeded by the quality of the cars that raced tonight. First, Bruno Massel, NHRA broadcaster, 2-time NHRA World Champion and co-host of Discovery Channel's Garage Squad, was out with his car. He stated he came out to have some fun.
During my pit walk before the event, I saw Andy Brody with his Buick. Andy had been working on the car during the off-season and just recently completed it. This was his first time on the track this season and he was testing some new front end components.
The Pro Mod driven by Harry Hruska, which was formally the Precision Turbo car had a new paint scheme and sponsor:HPL Superior Lubricants. Harry made several hits testing the car.
Troy Bogner was out testing his ET Bracket Pro Class Camaro. Troy has been having problems with his reaction time. In two of his last hits, his reaction time were very good .026 and .029. I think he has fixed the problem.
We also had three JDRL dragsters out testing. Samantha Senko was making a pass intended to ensure everything was okay with the car. The family is driving to Indianapolis tomorrow to compete in the Midwest Jr. Super Series.
Bob Buckley was testing his nostalgic front engine dragster, Rock n Roll Express.
Mid way through the event, the weather caused staff to shorten each race from a quarter to an eighth mile. Although there was a cold wind blowing all night, it still turned into a great night of racing. Here are more images from the event.
First, I want to extend my sincere condolences to the family, friends and the racing community on the loss of Top Sportsman driver Randy Alexander at the NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga.
Second, I want to praise the work of the Route 66 staff on an exceptional day of work. There were challenges all day, from several oil downs, car breakages, and near the end of the event, at the top end, an incident with the front engine dragster of Tim Cullinan. This included a major oil down and close brush with the wall. Tim is fine.
The day started as a beautiful sunny partly cloudy sky with moderate temperatures. Besides a Race Your Ride, this was the first race of the season for Midwest Top Sportsman, Midwest Super Comp and the Chicagoland Buick Club.
Chicagoland Buick Club:
Midwest Super Comp:
Midwest Top Sportsman:
After qualifications, the elimination rounds started. In the Buick Club finals it was Keith Egon against Joe Rivecco. It was a good race, however at the end Joe went a little fast and broke out.
In the Midwest Super Comp Series, it was Jim Glossen up against Russ Brown with Jim Glossen taking the win light.
The last race of the day, was to be the Midwest Top Sportsman final with Eddie Banderowicz taking on Kyle Dumke. Both cars made their burnouts and were staging when one cloud came over and the rain started pouring down. Part of the complex was in bright sunshine and the other part, it was pouring. Unfortunately, the track was lost and the finals had to be cancelled.
The rest of the day was taken up by the Race Your Ride and teams doing some testing. Some of my favorite cars were out on Saturday testing.
Tom Motry's Drastic Plastic with Troy Martin driving.
Bill Anderson's nostalgic funny car, Afternoon Rush Hour Roadshow.
Tim Cullinan and Jeff Cochran's nostalgic front engine dragsters.
Greg King brought his nostalgic funny car to the track. This was built on the Discovery Channel television show, Garage Squad.
I know this is not Wheels Up Wednesday, but I would be remiss not showing some of the more spectacular wheel stands from Saturday.
Here are some of the Race Your Rider's:
Sunday was certainly a day of UPS! First the weather was fantastic for racing. And last was the story behind the above photo!
Throughout the day, I kept seeing the above 1963 Plymouth Fury come to the line. As Eliminations started the car kept winning round after round. I could not recall seeing this car race before. And, of course, I didn't look at the number on the car. Finally, I went to race control and learned Ricky Pena was driving the car. Ricky normally campaigns a red AMX. When Ricky won the Pro Class over last week's Sportsman winner, Tony Lyons, after Tony broke out, I met Ricky in the Winner's Circle. He related the following: He purchased the car two years ago from long time racer Jay Tappela. Jay has been experiencing some health issues and sold the car after it had been sitting since 2010. This was only the second time that Ricky had the car on the track. Jay just happened to be at the track today, so he was brought to the Winner's Circle to celebrate with the car, Ricky, family and friends. Jay related after he originally bought the car, long time Route 66 racer Dave Ancel built it into a race car with Bill Osborne painting it. Jay related he campaigned the car winning many races and track championships. Congratulations to Jay, Ricky and crew to bring the car back to the Winner's Circle!
The rest of the day was just a solid day of racing with a few stoppages for minor issues but overall, it was just good racing. Unlike Saturday, the good weather allowed racing the entire quarter mile. I did inquire of several drivers about the newly repaved track top end. There was nothing but praise for the condition of the track. Many stated they were happy that the left lane "bump" was gone! Here is some of the images from qualifications.
After eliminations started, the first class to finish was High School with Connor Lawson defeating #1 qualifier Samantha Senko.
Next up, was Pro Bike with Jonathan Vickers taking the win over last week's winner Bruce Damewood. It appeared Bruce had trouble at the start with an unusual .874 reaction time.
After Pro Bike, it was the Sportsman Class' turn. It was Paul O'Keefe defeating Jack Larsen when Jack broke out.
And lastly in the Super Pro Class, it was Justin Ford taking the win light when Dave Ancel went a little fast and broke out.
Just a few more from Pro winner Ricky Pena's Winner Circle celebration.
At yesterday's race, I tried something new by mounting a remote camera in the left O'Reilly lane and me working the right Toyota lane. There were some challenges, but I am going to work at perfecting the use. Here is an example of what it looks like.
Miranda (Lawson) Alley has returned to bracket racing, driving the flat black Chevrolet S-10 race truck. At Saturday's Race Your Ride, she developed a motor problem. Damian Begler found a motor and overnight replaced it. The only problem is that it is a 9-second motor and Miranda is licensed for 10-seconds. She had to start pedaling it at the eighth mile mark to ensure she did not drop into the 9's. That is not a good way to make consistent runs!
During last weekend's bracket race, Jeff Sandowski developed a motor problem. After several days of investigation, he learned there was a problem in the valve train. He work four straight days and nights to rebuild the motor and get back to the track.
One of my favorite cars and most consistent, has been Don Dumdie and his 1957 Chevrolet. Yesterday, shortly after launching from the left lane, he suddenly slowed and pulled over. At the time I didn't know what happened, but later I contacted Don's daughter, Sherry, and she shared they believe it to be a rear end issue. Good luck with it, Don!
Over the off season, Cody Medeisis led a rebuild of Emilee Ballard's Camaro's motor. After several good runs by Cody, something broke in the drive shaft. Emilee's response,"I didn't break it!" Here is the car and staff picking up the pieces.
Here are some images from the rest of the day:
Mother Nature finally smiled on us for the first race of the 2018 season, ET Bracket Race #1 sponsored by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel. It was a mostly clear day with temperature in the 60's. A far cry from what the weather has been. The racing was hotter than the day. With many of the cars hitting the track for the first time, some issues can be expected to occur. To our good fortune, there was only one oil down all day. Rt. 66 staff promptly cleaned and re-prepped the track with minimal delay. As is the case with most bracket races, there were two rounds of qualifying.
At the conclusion of Qualifying, the elimination rounds began.
The first class to crown a winner was High School, with Tori Trench defeating Connor Lawson. At the beginning of the day, Tori was not inclined to run High School, however when her brother TJ's car broke she decided to attempt the race in her daily driver and won! This was her first time ever competing in High School.
Next up was Pro Bike. In this race, it was last season's champion, Tom Ewig against Bruce Damewood riding his "old reliable" red/silver flame bike. Tom was a little fast coming off the line redlighting which awarded the win to Bruce.
After Pro Bike, Sportsman was on track to crown its winner. It was Fred Trombley and Tony Lyons going head to head. Both are long time competitors in the class with many wins. Today, it was Tony Lyons pulling off the win when Fred broke out.
Next up was Pro and it was Herman Zehnder in his Mustang against John Coyle in his Camaro. Herman and John are both long time competitors with Herman winning multiple championships. John hadn't been able to race in the past two years due to family commitments. At the start, Herman left a little early causing a redlight awarding the win to John.
The last race of the day was Super Pro. This was the classic wily veteran, Don Schomer, vs young gun, Nick Hooten. Don is a long time competitor in the Pro Class and this was his first time in Super Pro. This was Nick's first final in the big car. He has had several in the JDRL Division. In this case it was Don Schomer pulling off the win. Don stated as he approached the finish he let off slightly to avoid "breaking out" to take the win.
This was a great day of racing at Route 66. Here are some more images from the day.
Last night before going to bed, I checked the weather and there was a 0% chance of rain. Shortly after starting the racing, imagine my surprise when it started to rain. There was a persistent intermittent light rain. The Route 66 staff did an excellent job of maintaining and improving the track all day. Due to the weather it was decided to run an 1/8th mile track. Finally, the rain moved out and by extending the length of the event, almost everyone was able to get some runs. With the first ET Bracket race scheduled for tomorrow, it was important for many to shake down their cars. Being Opening Day there several surprises with new cars. Joe Zehnder is back to driving a Chevrolet Camaro, retiring the Mustang.
Bill Macke had his Buick Apollo body completely redone. When I saw it on the trailer, I didn't realize it was the same car.
Keven Hamelen's maroon Camaro is now gold!
Joe Malfeo has a new green and black S-10 pickup truck that he built for bracket racing. Unfortunately, it did not make it on the track today.
In addition to car changes, Route 66 will be producing a podcast for its events. Please stop by their tent at the end of the south grandstand and take the opportunity to speak with the folks and promote your race team.
The JDRL cars were present, with some new kids getting there licenses and others testing.
There was a variety of vehicles racing today, from street cars, race cars, motorcycles and juniors. Here is a sample:
This being the second day of the Race & Performance Expo, I was going to make it a little shorter day. I did want to make the 10:00 a.m. Motorsports Marketing-"Digital Marketing Overdrive" presented by Jeanette DesJardins. Prior to the seminar, I went by the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow booth for the engine building contest, as witnessed by the above video and below images.
While not being a contest, the Hot Rodders also had the Juniors working on engines.
Up next was the seminar. Since I only use social media and digital content, I was very interested in this topic. In addition to Car Chix, Jeanette is president of Crank It Media, a professional Internet Marketing Services company. She focused this seminar, primarily, on Facebook and Instagram, since Facebook had recently purchased Instagram. I was surprised to the learn the capabilities of the business pages of Facebook. I would definitely recommend Jeanette to anyone attempting digital marketing.
The rest of the day was spent networking and taking general Expo images.
On both days I spoke with Scott Hoffman. who drives the Nostalgia Pro Stock Camaro "Showhoff". This year, the only change to the car was freshening the motor.
I ran into Joe and Herman Zehnder. Joe is ready to run the Mustang again this year, but is in the market for an early generation Chevrolet Camaro. He has previously owned 6-7 Camaros.
I spoke with Sam Martin, Route 66 Operations Manager, who stated they are looking forward to testing the new top end, shut down area. As those that frequently run Route 66 know, there was a major problem with "weepers" last year. At the conclusion of the season, the shut down area was completely repaved. The other big change was the schedule. Click here to see this year's schedule.
Spoke with Bruce Boyle, who will be driving a red Chevrolet Camaro this season. Bruce picked up this car last year and has yet to decide whether he will run in Super Pro or Pro.
Also spoke with John Hixon. John was in Florida for business and stopped to see Morgan at College. He has both cars teched (his and Morgan's) and ready to start the season.
Nichole Medeisis will be staying in Iowa for the summer, but will be coming in for the weekend's to race.
Mike Pryka hopes to have his car out by mid-season, but in the meantime he will be out with his camera to capture all the action.
I spoke with Bob King, drives the '55 Black Gasser King's Ransom that was built on Velocity Channel's Garage Squad. Bob stated the car is ready to go, but after the season the may freshen the motor.
Both Bobby Churchill and Kamryn Schubbe will have Junior Dragsters specifically for the Midwest Junior Super Series.
Today was day one of the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow 11th Annual Race & Performance Expo. I heard a great analogy that this is the spring training for racing in our area! First up today for me was the Women in Race & Performance seminar. It was moderated by Car Chix' Jeannette DesJardins and consisted of a panel with Marina Anderson, driver/owner/builder of the Anderson Family A-Fuel Dragster, Heather Dorethy, Technical Sales Representative at Precision Turbo & Engine and Natalie Decker driver of the Venturini Motorsports #25 Toyota in the ARCA Series. Natalie won the pole and finshed fifth at Daytona this past week.
The seminar hit on all facets of motorsports from social media, personal life/work balance, sponsorhips, etc. It was interesting to hear from both sides of the sponsorship topic. Heather's company awards sponsorships and Marina and Natalie, being drivers are looking for sponsors. All told it was an excellent seminar. Another interesting part of the seminar was that Natalie was accompanied by her owner Bill Venturini Sr. and their Pr rep Tom Venturini. I have followed Bill's career for a long time and Tom always visits with us in the Media Center when ARCA races at Chicagoland.
A few more images from the seminar.
After the seminar I went looking for the Byron Dragway booth. Late last year a shockwave was sent through the local drag racing community when it was announced that the Vangsness family putting the Dragway on the market for sale. There is nothing new on that front to announce, but Byron is moving forward with an entire season schedule to include an enhanced Firecracker Bracket Nationals with a Saturday, $100,000 to win race! The general manager, Randy Simpson explained the slots are nearly complete. On Friday and Sunday the "to win" purse is $30,000/$50,000 respectively.
I next ran into Brian Nolte from Grundy County Speedway. This year Grundy County is going to add the POWERI Midget Series to their schedule. He stated it will be a mixture of Friday and Saturday night shows.
There was also a large contingent of Junior Dragsters on display.
I learned that Kamryn Schubbe has a new car this year designed specifically to run in the Midwest Junior Series.
During the day there were two autograph sessions. One included many of the top local racers, including current part-time Top Fuel Driver TJ Zizzo, Dale Creasy, Rocky Ausec, Kim Harris Panozzo, Cody Mediesis, Joe Malfeo, Garage Squad's Joe Zolper, Tom Motry, amongst many.
The other, was the Car Chix Calendar "Girls". Amongst those signing, were Jenny Zolper and her daughter Ruby. Jenny drives her Plymouth Duster Pro Mod and Ruby is a Junior Dragster.
Here are some more images from the day. I had many conversations with friends that will continue tomorrow. It was a fun day seeing all the good friends and racers. Until tomorrow.
Today was one of my most favorites events of the year! The 4th Annual IPAC Practice Tree Nationals benefiting the Route 66 Raceway Junior Dragster Program. I want to thank Bob and Becky Churchill for hosting this event. Second, I want to thank the following sponsors for contributing to the success of this event:
Midwest Junior Super Series
Precision Turbo & Engine
Hoosier Tire Midwest
Sontag Speed Supply
J & P Racing
Route 66 Raceway
Core & Main Waterworks
Sub Trailer Hitch
Head First Fabrication
It was an excellent turnout of racers and families to enjoy the day.
Jeanette Desjardins was on hand representing Car Chix. If you are going to the Race & Performance Expo next weekend, Jeanette will be hosting the "Women in Race & Performance " seminar Saturday morning with speakers Marina Anderson. Heather Dorethy and Natalie Decker. Natalie just completed the Daytona ARCA race where she won the pole starting position and finished fifth in the race.
After some good food, the competition began. There are three classes in which to run, Pro, Sportsman and Junior and you are not limited to one class. The racing started like most ET Bracket races with qualifications followed by round robin eliminations. The competition was hot and heavy with friends and family competing against each other. Here are some images from the competition:
After many rounds of hot competition it came down to Don Edelston vs Rich Reichenberger in Pro. In Sportsman it was Joe Rivecco vs. Connor Lawson and in the Junior class it was Bobby Churchill vs Ryan Elberts.
And the winners were..Pro-Rich Reichenberger, Sportsman-Joe Rivecco and Junior-Ryan Elberts.
It was a fun day to get together with friends, relatives and fellow competitors for a day good competition, food, door prizes, and camaraderie. Again, I want to thank the Churchill family and all of those who helped and contributed for having this event to support the Route 66 Junior Dragsters.
To see all the photos from today's fun, please click here.
To see all our images, please click here.
If you see something you would like to order, please click here or on the "Ordering" link at the top of the page.
Saturday night was the 20th Annual Rockett Brand Racing Fuel E.T. Bracket Awards Ceremony. Scott Paddock led off evening with his opening remarks and a discussion with a founder of Route 66, Jim Bingham.
It was great to hear how the original partners came together and created the Raceway!
Before the driver awards were handed out there was one award that will be discussed later. The first driver awards began with the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League Sportsman Division. The season Champion was Cooper Hamelen with five wins. Cooper dominated the division, however Ruby Zolper, Ryan Brockman, Molly Lane and Madalyn Highland will be gunning for him in 2018.
Next up was the Junior Modified Division led by the season Champion Nate Kelly, followed by Tori Trench, Elizabeth Manaseri, Ryan Elberts and for a fifth place tie Jake Lucky and Brandon Loeschen.
Next up was the High School Class. Julie Nettles was the High School Champion with three wins followed by Connor Lawson (not present), Nate Kelly, Julia Hooten, and Kyle Smith.
The Sportsman Class was next up to receive their awards with Steve Flounders Jr. taking the Championship. This is Steve's first Track Championship at Route 66 with two wins and a runner-up. Steve literally grew up at the track as his Dad is a long time driver and track official.
The two-wheelers were up next, Pro Bike. The 2017 Champion was Tom Ewig. Tom had a great season with three wins and a runner up. He also won at the Indy Finals earning a trip to Pomona for the Summit ET Finals. (Not present was Bruce Damewood)
The Pro ET Class was next up for their awards. John Haut, with a round win over two time track champion Troy Bogner at the final race of the season, took the championship. John and Hermans Zehnder were not present tonight.
The Super Pro Class was the last class announced. It was Kenny King taking the championship with a two point advantage with one win and two runner-up finishes. (Nick Cryer and Justin Ford not present)
In addition to the track champions, there were several other individual awards. At the Rt. 66 Classic, it was Tom Raider taking the Run Tuff Eliminator race.
Dan Condon was the 2017 Route 66 Raceway Rookie of the Year.
The Moment of the Year was awarded to Troy Bogner when he had a perfect reaction time in the final of the King of the Track race.
Family of the year went to the Murray Family.
The last award of the day was presented by Jack Day of Rockett Brand Racing Fuel to Tom Ewig as Racer of the Year. Tom won the Route 66 Pro Bike Track Championship, the NHRA Division 3 ET Bracket Championship which earned him a trip to Pomona for the ET Summit Finals.
Now back to the award and surprise that I alluded to earlier. Brandon Brown was brought to the podium to present the 2017 Spirit Award. As he was speaking, I really wasn't listening to the presentation focusing on where Brandon would make the presentation, lighting, etc. Then at the end I heard the award was to be presented to Terry and Janet McGraw. To say I was a little stunned was to say the least. Janet and I can't thank the staff of Route 66 enough for this honor. I am still in a state of shock.
After all the awards, there was a lot of comraderie, Practice Tree racing, and a little dancing. A good time was had by all!
On Thursday, I drove down to Indianapolis for a day visit to the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, commonly known as PRI. This is the largest racing industry trade show in the world. I was only going to have the one day to see and visit as much as I could. Upon arrival at the Indiana Convention Center, I went directly to the Media Center to gather as much information as possible. As I walked in and stopped, I suddenly realized I was standing next to a tall gentleman wearing a cowboy hat, Richard Petty! Richard was there for a Mahle Aftermarket press conference. Mahle was launching the Mahle Performance Engine Parts. As part of the announcement, Mahle has partnered with Petty's Garage to produce a 1968 "Restomod" Chevy Camaro for it's Drive With the Original technician program.
In Petty tradition, he was playing with the audience peeking over the top of the display and waving!
Even the media are not immune from the "King's" charisma!
Later, Richard was at the Mahle booth interacting with the fans.
After the press conference it was off to the exhibition areas to meet up with some friends. The first was Don Yonkers of Palmgren.
Palmgren is introducing a new CNC machine/system. Don has been traveling extensively around the world. He is next off to Orlando, then back to China. If you remember last year, Don was having some trouble with his car and finally found the problem. It was a problem with the distributor. Since they corrected the problem the car has been dead-on the index. For 2018, he will primarily driving at IHRA tracks.
After leaving Don, I ran into Camden Murphy.
Cam is a Monster Jam truck driver and Nascar Camping World Truck Series Driver. Starting in January he will return to the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series driving in the West Series. He is also working on his NASCAR schedule to blend everything together for a complete season. He is continuing his work with SimGear Simulators while networking at PRI.
Next up was a meeting with Rocky Ausec and Dennis Salzwimmer of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit (GLNFCC). Dennis is the Grand Poobah of GLNFCC and Rocky drives in the circuit with the Solid Rock "One Evil Mach 1".
In my conversation with Dennis, I learned that this is the eleventh season for the Circuit. When it started there were only 7-8 cars. Now they are in 7 states. At the July Nostalgia Funny Car Nationals at Keystone Raceway Park in New Alexandria, Ohio, there were 32 Funny Cars! The circuit has come a long ways and is gaining more and more fans. The new schedule is being worked on and should be announced in the near future. Here is Rocky, Heather Dorethy, and Dennis.
In the afternoon, I headed over to the Live Streaming in Motorsports seminar. The last several seasons, I have worked with Warren Evans of NHRA D3TV at the NHRA North Central Division 3 race at the Route 66 Raceway. Warren was the moderator for a panel of experts in the field
The panel consisted of Chet Christner-SpeedShiftTV.com, Eric Prewitt-PullingRadioNetwork.com, Josh Steinmetz-NTPApull.com, Mark Walter-MotorMania TV and Dragstory.com, Brian Lohnes-Bangshift.com and Bobby Bennett-CompetitionPlus.com. This panel came from all types of motor racing disciplines. Because of the diversity of the disciplines, there was a lot of discussion of the type of systems utilized. One of the biggest issues with Live Streaming is the music that is played at the racetracks when it is copywrited material. There were several work-arounds discussed with more work yet to be done. Speaking with Warren, I was happy to hear that NHRA D3TV is fully funded for the 2018 season and will be adding one race from each of the other Divisions.
My last event of the day, was the presentation of the Ken Schrader Real Racer of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by Speedway Illustrated magazine. It was good to see the magazine's Karl Fredrickson again. My daughter worked for the magazine for several years after graduating from college. Prior to the Racer of the year award, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ricky Standridge, husband of longtime motorsports writer Dorothy Standridge. Ricky has had over 200 Feature wins in his career.
This year the Ken Schrader Real Racer of the year was awarded to Mike Nichols of Harlan, Iowa. This year Mike had 32 wins in 45 starts and has had 600 Feature wins in his career. Congratulations to Mike!
I want to give a special shout out to Dave Pepper, General Manager of Thorsport Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I ran into Dave while walking around and we just haven't been able to get together due to conflicting schedules. I have known Dave since the mid-90's when he was the PR person for Brewco Motorports' #37 Scot Walters in the then Craftsman Truck Series. It was really nice to finally have a few minutes to chat.
Here are some images from the show.
I do have to say it was a busy, but fun day at PRI. Next year, I am going to try to fit multiple days into my schedule.