It would be hard to find a more perfect day to go racing than Sunday at Route 66 Raceway! The weather was absolutely beautiful and the car count was high. This led to some incredible racing at the fifth E.T. Bracket Race of the season. In conjunction with the bracket race, the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League conducted its second race of the season.
The day began with the customary two rounds of Time Trials.
At the conclusion of the Time Trials, the racing began in earnest. The first class to complete its eliminations and have its final was High School. It was Connor Lawson of Elwood up against Brandon Elliot of Coal City. The race was won by Connor at the start with his .085 reaction time to Brandon's .231. This was Connor's second final in a row and second victory of the season.
Next up was the Pro Bike class. It was Thomas "Turtle" Cole of Davenport, Ia., up against last year's Bike Champion Tom Ewig from Oak Creek, Wi. This was a very competitive race with both "breaking out", however Thomas' 9.226 was closest to his 9.203 dial-in giving him the win.
After the Bikes, it was Sportsman turn to run its final. It was Jack Larsen of Cropsey, Il in the 72 Mercury Comet "Underdog" against Andy Brodzinski Jr. This race was won on the start as Andy "red-lighted" giving the win to the "Underdog" Jack.
In a field of 57 very competitive cars, Super Pro was the next class to complete its eliminations and go to the Finals. It was Dominic Bowden of Channahon versus Mike Murray of Crestwood. This was a very exciting and close race. Dom's .005 reaction time gave him the win. Look at these times: Bowden-.005/7.48/7.491/170.51 to Murray-.032/7.67/7.672/173.34! This was Dom's second career Route 66 win. If you remember a little while back, Dom had his first victory the same day as son Braden won in identically painted dragsters.
By my count, there were 143 Pro ET cars racing today. To say the competition was stiff, is an understatement! In the Final, it was John Haut against Frank Valencia. John took the victory and posted numbers that are very hard to beat!
In conjunction with the "big" cars the Junior's were running their second race of the season. They follow a similar format, with two classes, Junior Sportsman and Junior Modified. The Juniors were sponsored today by the following:
Sportsman Class - Speiss Farms
Modified Class - John Lawson's Auto Rebuilders
Best Reaction Time - Route 66 Food 'n' Fuel
Also Winners and Runner-ups will receive products sponsored by Lucas Oil.
Their day started with their Time Trials.
After Time Trials, it was time for eliminations to begin. The first Final was the Sportsman Class and was between Cooper Hamelen of Tinley Park and Holden Grimes from Braceville, Il. It was Cooper who took the win light. Cooper was also the #1 qualifier.
In the Modified Class, it was Ryan Elberts, Morris, Il., against Tori Trench, Alsip, Il. The race was a double break-out, however Tori went -.004 on the tree giving the win to Ryan.
Bobby Churchill was the #1 Qualifier in the Modified Class.
Miranda Alley (Lawson) was back behind the wheel of the Blue Nova today after her sister Audi decided to go to Norwalk to watch some Nitro. Miranda was almost giddy to get back in the car she gave up to Audi last year. Her brother, Connor, won High School.
If you happen to follow the Bowden family on social media, you will know that Super Pro Winner Dom's wife, Ann, is a Younique dealer and is close to being awarded a Caribbean vacation. She has this week to close the deal. So, if you use, need, or desire to try Younique products get a hold of Ann so she can reward Dom for his win with a Caraibbean vacation! Also the Bowden Winner's Circle are a lot of fun!!
We also had a nostalgia Pro Stock car driven by Tony Gillig. His dad, Bob, was a long time Pro Stock competitor and they decided to build a replica of Bob's Olds Cutlass. They obtained the car from Don Ness and this was its first time on the track.
Saturday, at Great Lakes Dragaway, was the Car Chix sponsored Battle of the Sexes highlighted by the Zolper Family Grudge Match between Joe and Jenny. Over the last two years, Jenny has had the title of the Fastest Zolper. Joe decided he would reactivate his Plymouth GTX Pro Mod to challenge Jenny's claim. This was run, in conjunction with, a Car Chix women's only bracket race. The winner of the bracket race would then face off against the winner of the regular Great Lakes Dragaway's bracket winners. Jeanette DesJardins held the Car Chix Driver's Meeting in front of the Car Chix merchandise trailer.
In speaking with Jeanette, she explained they are sponsoring three events in 2018. This one, there bread and butter event at Byron Dragway on August 18th and a new event, Car Chix Outlaw, at Cordova International Raceway on October 13th.
Also, earlier in the day, Bobby Churchill won the Junior Trophy race. This was Bobby's first time racing at Great Lakes. A little backstory was that Bobby's grandfather, Bob, last raced at Great Lakes in the UDRA days in a Funny Car in 1991 with the same color scheme as Bobby's junior dragster.
While this was going on, the regular bracket race started its time runs.
And on the Grudge Match front, Joe Zolper was prepping both cars.
The Grudge Match was to consist of a best of two out of three races with the winner taking home the trophy and the bragging rights to being the fastest in the Zolper family.
When asked what she would do with the trophy when she won, she stated," Its going to look good laying in Joe's spot in the bed!" I guess that means Joe would be sleeping on the couch.
In the first race, it was Joe winning with a time of 8.749, 157.97 mph to Jenny's 9.028 and 149.95 mph. That was uncharacteristic for Jenny. She said the car just seemed to lay down. Joe looked at the engine and discovered that late last year, Jenny experienced some burnt valves so they adjusted the engine to run a little richer and forgot to take that out.
In the second race, it was Jenny all the way running an 8.584, 156.46 mph to Joe's 8.798, 154.29
With the Grudge Match all tied up, the trophy was on the line for the third race. Joe and Jenny did not disappoint with both running their personal bests. It was Jenny with an 8.468, 159.54 mph taking the win light to Joe's 8.522, 157.23 mph. Joe presented the trophy to Jenny and after hugs announced that this was not the end, that another match would be necessary. Both thanked all that attended and gave to the charities which benefited from the match.
I had to leave before all the racing was completed because of a bracket race at Route 66 in the morning.
To see all the images from the day, please click here.
Friday night was not only hot temperature wise, but Route 66 had hot cars making hot hits! The night's theme was Mopar Night. Any Mopar vehicle could compete for fastest ET in a special race. The prize? Tickets to an upcoming Route 66/Chicagoland Speedway event. The racing was competitive with Victor Cervantes winning with an ET of 10.247 in his 2006 Jeep Cherokee SRTA.
The runner-up was Tony DeMaio in his 2017 Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
Speaking of Mopar, if anyone has been paying attention to social media, there is an upcoming grudge match between Garage Squad/Prison City Choppers owner Joe Zolper and his wife, Jenny. It seems, ever since Joe built Jenny's car, she has been faster. Joe tried to go faster in her car and did not. Obviously, Joe has been taking a beating and decided to break out his 1969 Plymouth GTX pro mod in an effort to claim "Fastest in the Family".
Joe has not had the car out in six years and with all his other commitments, has been working long hours to prepare it. On his only run of the night, Joe made a good burn-out and was on a good run. As he neared the stripe at the top end, a wisp of smoke could be seen coming from underneath the car. I later learned the bad news. The engine broke two push rods! The good news is that Joe is a mechanic extraordinaire and will be able to fix it. I spoke with Jenny afterwords and she was disappointed for Joe that the engine broke, however, with a wink and a glint in her eyes, stated "It's good for me!" There's not too much competitiveness in the family!
Another family out for the night, was the Harris family. It looked like a Harris family reunion with Dad, Dave, driving his car...
...daughter Kim Harris-Panozzo driving her's...
...and other daughter Leslie Harris-Kranz crewing for Rocky Ausec in the Solid Rock Mach 1 Mustang
Rocky made one good hit in the Nostalgia Alcohol Funny Car One Evil Mach 1 Solid Rock
Another Mustang to visit Route 66 Friday night, was the one driven by Orlando, Florida's Randy Seward. Randy is on a 10,000 mile trek called the "Pony Express" to race at 47 different race tracks in 65 days. Here he is racing against Kim Harris-Panozzo.
The 8-second Mustang is powered by a 331 C.I. twin turbocharged engine estimated to be putting out 1,300 H.P.
The night also brought out the Junior Dragsters of Cooper Hamelen and Jake Coomer.
There were plenty of race cars including Joe Malfeo' Nova, Bruce Boyle's Camaro, Bil Umhofer and his return to the dragster, Tim Kirman's TS car amongst the many.
There was also quite a few street cars taking advantage of this Race Your Ride.
Last but not least, there was Greg King's Nostalgia Funny Car. This night the car was to be driven by Route 66 Track Announcer (and former racer), Greg Nickleski. This car was built on the Velocity Channel's Garage Squad. The plan was to make two passes and go from there. Unfortunately, a brake line started leaking. The delay, caused by the time needed to make the repair, would only allow time for one run. The car was started, made a burnout and the the engine stopped. It was decided not to run the car this night, however it was a good effort to get this car down the track! Better luck next time.
PS Just one more image, an enhanced, over the top processed pic of Kim Harris-Panozzo's Camaro.
If you weren't at Route 66 Raceway Saturday, this was the type of racing you missed! While I grant you that the day didn't start off very well, however the Staff at Route 66 did a magnificent job of recovering, prepping the track and completing today's program. I thought for sure the program would go deep into the night, but the program was completed at 7:00 pm while it was still light out. Kudos to the entire Operations Staff. Today, the program consisted of ET Bracket race four and Junior Drag Racing League race #1. Due to an earlier rainout, this was the opening 2018 race of the season for the Rt. 66 JDRL racers. Because of the inclimate weather, it was decided there would only be one time trial instead of the normal two.
After the completion of the Time Trial, the bracket racing continued with the the first round of eliminations, followed by the round robin racing of the rest of the elimination rounds. The number of rounds in each class is determined by the number of participants in each class. The first class to complete its elimination rounds was Pro Bike. It was Mike Krueger defeating Frank Linders in a double break out. In the case of a double breakout , the driver who breaks out less is declared the winner.
The next class with a final was High School. It was David Kovar Jr. taking the win light over Connor Lawson. Connor beat David on the tree, however David was able to track Connor down and win by 2/1-thousands of a second.
Next up was Super Pro. It was an all dragster finals with Nick Mistrata up against Wally Pote. This race was decided at the start with Nick's .013 reaction time to Wally's .022.
The Sportsman Class was the next to bring their Final to the line. It was Paul O'Keefe against David Lyons. David had the better reaction time (.033-.047) but at the stripe it was Paul O'Keefe winning his second in a row Sportsman Class race. Paul ran a 12.223 on a 12.20 dial-in.
The last class to be contested was Pro. This was a race between Herman Zehnder and Dave Meccia and won by Herman Zehnder in another double breakoout. Herman broke out by .015 to Dave's .040.
...and a little video from the day's action.
Junior Drag Racing League
Due to an early season rain-out, this was the first race of the 2018 of the season for the League. For those that don't know, the JDRL is youth racing league that is broken down into two classes. The kids can start at five years of age after completing a licensing class. Here are the age groups:
Junior Sportsman - Ages 6-10 (11.90 & slower)
Junior Modified - Ages 10-17 (10-12 years-old are 8.90 & slower; 13-17 years-old are 7.90 & slower)
Today's racing sponsors are as follows:
The Sportsman class was sponsored by ReMax 1st Service and the Modified class was sponsored by Metropolitan Industries.
*The #1 Qualifier in each class will be sponsored by Route 66 Food and Fuel.
In the Jr. Sportsman Class there were eight cars competing. In the Finals, it was Ava Valencia against Holden Grimes. Ava took the win light when Holden broke-out by .014!
In the Jr. Modified class, it was Nate Kelley vs Ryan Campbell. Nate is a frequent visitor to the Winner's Circle and again today he prevailed. Nate had a reaction time of .074 to Ryan's .111.
In the Jr. Modified Class, Tori Trench was the #1 Qualifier.
In the Jr. Sportsman Class, it was Alexandra Coyle with the #1 qualifier spot. Unfortunately we did not get a photo of Alexandra in the Winner's Circle, however here she is on-track in her re-purposed former Ancel Jr. Dragster
Here is some video from today's action.
At the beginning of the day, I was surprised to see Sportsman driver Joe Zehnder driving his Mustang. This year he has campaigning a Camaro. Joe has been a long time Camaro driver, but for the last several seasons had been driving the Mustang. He has had great success in the Mustang. Unfortunately, while racing at US 41, the Camaro developed a valve-train problem, which will take a couple of weeks to correct. Joe rolled out "Old Reliable" and was the #1 Qualifier. Joe went several rounds before breaking out by .008 against Morgan Hixon.
Speaking of Morgan Hixon, this was her first race of the season. Morgan is attending college in Florida and has been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get back behind the wheel. In the day's race, Morgan made it to the Semi-Finals before losing to eventual winner Paul O'Keefe. Great job Morgan.
And then there is Autumn (Audi) Lawson and Miranda Lawson-Alley on their Burromax Electric Mini-Bikes. If my information is correct, they are selling these environmentally correct track bikes. If you need one, see them. Oh yes, and they are racers. Miranda has been having having problems with the S-10 and dad, Mike, is trying to resolve the issues. Audi drives the 1967 Blue Chevy Nova.
Again, I want to congratulate the Route 66 Staff on a job well done. With all the weather related issues, they could of easily given up and called it a day, They didn't and completed a day many thought wouldn't be done. Great job!
To see all of the day's action, please click here.
If you see something you like and would like to purchase, please click here or on the "Ordering" link at the top of the page.
Route 66- Race Your Ride #6
It has been nearly a month since the last Race Your Ride. The morning weather was a little iffy, however, by afternoon it had cleared and the weather was almost perfect. This RYR was characterized by variety. Many of the Bracket racers were testing for Saturday's Bracket race. In addition the "Staging Lanes" podcast team of Pete and Michael were recording another podcast episode.
The first car I noticed was the Tiffen & Hess, Golddigger Nostalgia Ford Mustang Funny Car. This is a new car that was testing and licensing.
Tiffin and Hess ran with the UDRA and the IFCA Funny Car circuits in the 60’s and 70’s and they were always tough competitors. They were also known to race at Oswego and US 30.
Another car that I was familiar with, was the car driven by Nino Cavallo. Nino is an Australian Pro Stock Champion. He has been competing with the NMCA, however, they have dropped the Pro Stock class. Nino is currently in Australia, so Kevin Lawrence was testing the car. The car recently had some engine work done and if everything checks out, the car will be shipped to Australia.
There were the Nostalgia front end dragsters of Beedy & Malloy, the Rob Buckley Rock n Roll Express and J & K Racing.
The Juniors were out testing for Saturday's first race of the Rt. 66 JDRL season. This was an unusual late start to the season due to an earlier rain out.
Tim Kirman was testing his Top Sportsman car tonight also.
Here are some more images of the Bracket racers and the street cars that came out for the sixth Race Your Ride of the season.