Sunday was the final Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series race of the 2019 season and crowned the Track Champions. This was highlighted by Troy Bogner winning his fifth Track Championship tying Herman Zehnder for the most track championships. When you realize that this is Route 66's twenty-first season and Troy and Herman have won ten of the 21 Pro Championships, that is domination by two drivers!
Onto the rest of the day. First, I want thank Mother Nature for this weekend! This season has been a struggle and there haven't been too many kind words directed at her! The weather for Friday night's Race Your Ride and Sunday's ET Bracket race was spectacular. Great days to be at Route 66!!
The racing started promptly in the morning with the two rounds of Time Trials. Sunday included a Junior Drag Racing League "Fun" race. Their last race of the season was rained out so it was decided to include this. The track appeared to be hooking well.
After the completion of the Time Trials, the round robin eliminations began. The first to complete its class was Pro Bike. It's only right, that the race should come down to numbers 1 & 2 in the points, Mike Krueger vs Tom Ewig! Tom was slight quicker off the line, .022/.026. Both pushed each other to a double break-out, with Mike running closer to his dial-in, 8-46/8.450, than Tom's, 9.11/9.086. With this win Mike secured the Track Championship.
Next up was High School. This pitted Darcy Ancel against Owen Rink. Darcy had the slower vehicle so she left first with Owen trying to race her down. Owen had the slightly faster reaction time, .071, to Darcy's, .076. Owen was not able to track Darcy down with Darcy running closer to her dial-in, 16.08/16.133, to Owen's 14.65/14.721. Like Pro Bike, this win secured Darcy the High School Track Championship.
After High School, it was Super Pro's turn. This put long time bracket racers Don Schomer and John Woolwine against each other. They were very close in their Dial-in's, Don 9.71/John 9.32. They were both going for the win and pushed each other to a double break-out. John would have won, however he went red by -.001! This gave Don the win.
In Pro, it was Troy Bogner against Jody Kovel. Jody had the slower car and started first with Troy trying to catch him. At the line, Jody ran closer to his dial-in,10.48/10.498 to Troy's 9.42/9.447, however Troy beat Jody on the tree, .059/.083. This goes down as a "Hole Shot" win for Troy and as previously mentioned, the Track Championship.
The last class to be contested was Sportsman. This placed Steve Mroz against Andy Brodzinski Jr.
Steve had the slower car leaving first with Andy trying to catch him. Andy tried a little too hard and broke out giving the win to Steve. However, I'm not sure it would have made much difference when you compare the numbers, Steve .060/14.34/14.342 to Andy's .086/12.58/12.536. This gave Steve the Sportsman Championship. This was Steve's fourth 2019 season final losing three previous times to Paul O'Keefe, #2 in points. Paul went out in the first round today which secured the championship for Steve.
JDRL "Fun" race
In the "fun" race, it was just a good time! No pressure, No money just racing!
In the final it was Cooper Hamelen against Danny Ellis. It was Cooper taking the win with having the better reaction time and running closer to his dial-in than Danny, .074/8.96/8.991 to .144/8.02/8.055. Cooper was not available for photos after the race.
In addition to those championships and photos already mentioned, it was Mike Murray taking the Super Pro Championship.
In Junior Modified, it was Danny Ellis taking the Championship.
In the Junior Sportsman class, it was Hayley Becker taking the championship. Hayley was not available for photos, however here she is from a previous race.
It was long time Super Pro racer Al Kuefler's birthday and what a birthday show it was! Look at these reaction times:
Round 1 - .006
Round 2 - .000
Round 3 - .000
Round 4 - -.008
Al said he wasn't upset about going red by -.008 because he was so close to another perfect light. He will take that any day!
To show the fun that was being had, in the first round eliminations of the Junior "Fun" race, I saw Sydney and Samantha Senko coming through the tunnel to race against each other. I thought this was going to be fun. Then I noticed there was dial-in of 17.00. It seems, Junior Sportsman racer Ryan Brockman selected their dial-ins. Syd won with a 17.633 with Sam breaking out with a 15.377. I don't think either have ever gone that slow down the track!!
When photographing a bracket race, it can be fast paced with race after race. Trying to get the shot, sometimes, take precedence over which cars are racing. This was happening when I noticed a car that I hadn't seen in awhile. It was long time 66 racer John Singleton! John had moved to Tennessee and was back in town and decided to come race. It was good to see John back at 66!
On Saturday, there was one of the last car nights at the Duke's Drive In, Bridgeview. Dukes has been a long time gathering place for car guys and racers. It is closing and eventually hopes to re-open at a new location. However there is no timetable for that to occur. Near the end of the night, Nick Hooten started his car and it backfired shearing off several teeth from the flywheel. The racing family jumped in with Joe Malfeo offering up his garage to make the repairs. The car was taken to Joe's, repaired and made it to 66 about 4:00 a.m. to race Sunday. Unfortunately, Nick went out in the first round, but the car survived. Great job everyone!
And "POOF" like that the 2019 Route 66 ET Bracket Season is over. Next up for the Indy qualified bracket racers are the ET Bracket Finals. Good luck Team 66!
To see all the images from Sunday's race please click here.
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We finally got a moderate temperature, low humidity day to race! Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts Race Your Ride was a mix of street cars and race cars. With a major race at Cordova and a Midwest Junior Super Series race in Martin, Michigan, it was a good turnout.
There were five Junior racers practicing.
There was a cadre of regular Route 66 bracket racers practicing for Sunday's Championship final race of the season. In particular points leader, Paul O'Keefe, went head to head on several passes against 3rd in points, Meghan Hurley. Dave Menoni driving his brown Monte Carlo was testing a setup, going to his past wheel standing one. Race #5 winner, Fred Trombley was testing. He stated since he changed his motor from a 350 c.i.d. to a 383 c.i.d., he has had to race starting in 2nd gear because of the additional torque. In the off-season he may have to buy some slicks.
There was also a group of cars/drivers licensing.
There was even a "K" car driving down the quarter mile.
The Route 66 Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series ran Race #5 on July 6th with the NHRA King of the Track Wally up for grabs. In addition, the Sportsman class and Junior Modified class needed to complete Race #4 and #1 respectively. The day started very nice with a lot of good passes during Time Trials.
During the day things got a little sticky for me. There were several long track delays with oil downs and weather. The day stretched on to the point, I had to leave to take care of some personal family commitments. However, I want to acknowledge the day's winners.
First, lets look at the completion of the rain delayed ETB #4. The Sportsman class final was between the two leaders in points, Paul O'Keefe and Stephen Mroz. Paul had the faster RT, .043, to Steve's .062. They pushed each other into a double breakout! Paul took the win when he ran closer to his DI (12.20) with an ET of 12.199 to Steve's 14.313 on a DI of 14.37.
In the Junior Modified Final, it was Danny Ellis up against Cooper Hamelen. Danny had the faster reaction time .027/.127 and ran closer to his DI (7.90/7.940) to Coopers 9.18/9.206 to take the win.
ET Bracket #5
In the final of Super Pro, it was the door slammer of Tom Begler against the dragster of Tori Trench. Being in the slower car, Tom left first and had a faster reaction of .014 to Tori's .033. Tori tried to run him down, but at the stripe, Tom ran closer to his dial-in, 8.018/8.214 to Tori's 7.68/7.709 to take the win light.
In Pro, it was Ryan Alley against Ed Kroll. With the slower car, Ed left first with a faster RT, .043 to Ryan's.049. Ryan was able to run Ed down running closer to his dial-in, 9.21/9.235 to Ed's 10.73/10.803 to take the win.
In Pro Bike, it was Mike Krueger against Tom Ewig, both riding Kawaski's. Tom was riding the slower bike and left first with a better reaction time of .038 to Mike's .170. However, Mike was able to run Tom down, causing Tom to breakout with an ET of 9.059 on a 9.09 dial-in. Mike ran within .012 of his dial-in of 8.47 with a 8.482 ET.
In Sportsman, it was long time Bracket racers, Fred Trombley vs Bill Larson. Bill left first with the slower car, however Fred had the better reaction time .026/.083. Bill ran closer to his dial-in 13.23/13.280 than Fred's12.19/12.252. This was a hole shot win for Fred!
In High School, it was Samantha Senko up against Dave Kovar Jr. This was a heads up race with a dial-in of 20.00. Dave had the better reaction time, .030/.081. As both cars approached the stripe, they pushed each other to both break out. Sam was closer to the dial-in with a 19.577 to Dave's, 19.519 to take the win.
In race #2 for Junior Sportsman, it was Mia Rybarski against Brody Grimes. This was a double breakout race with Mia running a12.154 on a 12.16 dial-in and Brody a 12.299 with a 12.45. Unfortunately, Brody was a little quick on the throttle going red by -.046 giving the win to Mia. Brody was the #1 Qualifier with the Best Reaction Time in time trials.
In Junior Modifieds, it was Kamryn Schubbe against Danny Ellis. This was a heads-up race with both dialed-in at 7.90. Kamryn broke out with an ET of 7.863 to Danny's 7.911, however as in the Sportsman final, Danny went red by -.065 leaving the win to Kamryn.
At the conclusion of the Bracket racing, it was time for the King of the Track. This pitted the four top winners (excluding High School and Juniors) against each for the title and a Wally. In the semi-finals, it was Tom Begler paired with Mike Krueger and Ryan Alley against Fred Trombley. Tom and Ryan won and faced off in the Final. It was Ryan who had the better reaction time and ran closer to his dial-in (.024/9.21/9.243) than Tom's .019/8.18/8.223 to take home the Wally.
To see all the event's photos please click here. I want to thank Sam Martin for taking and supplying the Winner's Circle photos.
Everyone had high hopes for great weather for the "Classic". Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas. For the better part of the day there was a persistent rain that didn't allow for any on-track activity. However, the fans did not let the weather win. With umbrellas and wet weather gear they toured the Midway. viewed the classic cars, and visited the teams in the pits.
And then there was the Pin-Up contest to crown Miss Classic.
The Midway activities continued through the day and finally in mid-afternoon, the weather started to break. The "66" staff hit the track to dry it again and make another attempt to get cars on the track. The scheduled was changed and starting shortly after 5:00 p.m. cars were to go on track and an attempt to complete the whole program would begin. This year, Chaplain Bill Beagle made a dedication to longtime Route 66 Drag Staff member Bob Norkus who recently passed away. Katherine Norkus, Bob's daughter represented the family. This was followed by the National Anthem for which, in motorsports tradition, the drag staff paid homage.
The Will County vs Grundy County Annual Grudge Match were to start the program. Terry D'Arcy provided the trucks to be used in the Match. Grundy County won it's third consecutive match 4-2. They now hold a 3-1 advantage in the four years of the Match. To see more about the Match, click here.
The night was filled vintage and nostalgia cars, Super Stocks, Pro Stocks, the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit were amongst the types of cars blasting down the track. In addition, John Lawson brought his two nostalgia nitro fueled funny cars, Runaway and QuickDraw. Bob Malloy brought the Beedy & Malloy nostalgia front engine dragster out for a pass. All in all it was an impressive group of cars.
After the first part of the "show" was completed it was the NHRA Junior Drag League's turn to hit the track for race #4. This race sponsor was Sub-Trailer Hitch and AreA Landscaping Supply Inc. sponsored the Best Reaction Time.
The Junior Sportsman were the first class to run. After the one round of Time Trials, there were three rounds of eliminations before the Finals. In the Finals it was Brindy Covell vs Nellie Ford. Brindy cut the tree down with a .001 reaction time with an ET of 11.941 on a 11.93 DI and 53.55 mph to Nellie's .294 RT, 13.967 ET, 13.96 DI, 45.71 mph. With Nellie running closer to her dial-in, this would count as a hole shot victory. Brindy also won Best Reaction Time in Time Trials with a .028. Also this was the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Challenge race and came with a Wally. At the conclusion of the event Nellie was not feeling well and was not available for Winner's Circle photos. Get well soon, Nellie!
In the Junior Modified class there were four elimination rounds before the Finals. In the Finals, it was Zach Manaseri against Danny Ellis Jr. for the Wally. This was a heads-up 7.90 DI race. Zach had the faster RT .067/.111 and ran closer to the DI, 7.954/7.969 to take the Wally. Zach is aging out of the JDRL and this is his first Wally. This finals appearance should keep Danny in the lead for the season championship.
Ruby Zolper won the award for the Best Reaction Time.
In the big car category, this was the Run Tuff Eliminator race. There were quite a few cars trying to qualify for the top 16 spots to go for the title of Run Tuff Eliminator. In the end it was two of the local Rt. 66 ET Bracket racers running for the title, John Hixon and Mark Marusak. In the finals Mark had the better RT, .022 to John's .047. However, Mark was a little too quick at the stripe and broke out, 9.919 on a 9.93 DI. John was 9.903 on a 9.90 DI! John celebrated in the Winner's Circle with his youngest daughter Savannah. This is the first time in the WC with her Dad!
With all the bad and threatening weather, I was skeptical we could complete the show. However with great teamwork, the Staff at Route 66 pulled it together and completed a great event. Kudos to the Staff and the fans for sticking-it out to witness some great racing.
To see all the images from the day, please click here.
On the drive to the raceway, it was a beautiful day that bode well for some great racing. As the day wore on it did get a little warmer than anticipated. And, of course, Mother Nature couldn't leave us alone. At the end of the event with two cars to go, she had to give us a brief, spitting rain. It did provide a nice rainbow. I will get to the end of the event later.
This bracket race included the Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series, the NHRA Junior Drag Racing race #3 and the completion of the Super Pro and Pro classes of the NHRA. Tv Challenge for the Wally from ETB #4, which was a rain shortened event.
Like normal ET Bracket races, it started out with two rounds of Time Trials.
As soon as the Time Trials were completed, the round-robin style of eliminations began. The first to complete its Final was High School. This matched long time competitors (in the Junior classes) Allison (Allie) Furman against Darcy Ancel. Darcy ran closer to her dial-in (16.14/16.214) than Allie (13.78/13.971), however Allie beat her with a quicker reaction time (.132-.260)
Next up was Pro Bike. This matched Bob Sutterlin against John Niles. Bob was a little fast on the trigger and redlighted (-.004) giving the win to John. John's last win at Route 66 was in 2010. He had stayed away for five years before this race. In fact, he was using a Tom Ewig motor. Tom jokingly stated, "Maybe for not much longer!" as John had beaten Tom in the semi's. Welcome back to 66, John!
In the Sportsman Class, it was former champion Steve Flounders Jr. up against Craig Jones. As they launched Craig jumped a little quick (.006) redlighting and giving the win to Steve. It may have not made a difference because Steve had a .046 RT and ran a 12.155 on a 12.15 dial-in.
After Sportsman, it was the Pro class' turn to shine and shine it did. It was Matt "Fink" O'Connell against Mark Marusak. Mark ran a 9.964 on a 9.96 dial-in, however, it was Matt's .027 RT to Mark's .047 that gave the win to Matt as he ran a 9.897 on a 9.88 dial-in. It was a fantastic race. Matt commented that he had been running real well at US 41, but just couldn't get a handle on the car at 66. He recently figured something out and this was the result!
To complete the ETB #6, it was the Super Pro class featuring Nick Mistrata vs Mike Murray. This was a great heads-up contest! Look at these numbers:
Nick Mistrata .011 RT 7.64 Di 7.634 175.39
Mike Murray .009 RT 7.64 Di 7.621 172,72
Both broke-out but Nick ran closer to the Dial-in giving him the win-light.
Junior Drag Racing #3
The Route 66 Junior Drag Racers want to thank their race sponsors:
Junior Sportsman: Red Oaks Landscaping
Junior Modified: Lawson's Auto Rebuilders
The Juniors follow a similar format as the ET Bracket Series.
In the final of the Junior Sportsman Class, it was Hayley Becker against the driver with the day's Best Reaction Time, Ryan Brockman. This time Ryan was just a little too quick and redlighted awarding the win to Hayley.
In the Junior Modified Class, it was the #2 qualifier Zach Manaseri against Madison Drafke. Madison was just a little too quick on her reaction time causing a redlight by .036 sec. giving the win to Zach.
It was Sydney Senko having the Best Reaction Time and claiming the #1 seeding in the Junior Modifieds. Sydney lost in the second round to eventual runner-up Madison Drafke.
After the conclusion of the bracket race, it was time to complete ETB #4 in the Pro and Super Pro classes. First up was Pro. This pitted good friends Mark Marusak against four time Pro Track Champion Troy Bogner. At the line it was Mark Marusak taking the win light for the NHRA.Tv Challenge Wally. This was Mark's first Wally!
In Super Pro, it was Mike Murray taking the win light over Nick Hooten for the Wally. This was Mike's second final of the day as he lost in the ETB #6 race final. He almost doubled up, however I think he was happy with the Wally!
The Trench family was racing with heavy hearts this weekend with the loss of the family Matriarch Susan Trench, mother to Todd and grandmother to TJ and Tori. The Junior teams displayed a sticker and ribbon on their cars in honor of Susan.
Earlier in the week, Andy Brody (Brodzinski Sr.) found a piece of the oil pump bracket in the oil pan. He and his son Andy work through the night, Saturday, to get the car back together to race Sunday. From what I saw it was running rather well.
The Lawson family has been taking a hit lately. First their El Camino ate its motor and then the white Monte Carlo blew up for a second time. You need a scorecard to determine who is in which car this weekend. I think I got this right: Tyler was in the Blue Nova, Connor was in the shiny black truck and Audi was in the flat black truck. Miranda was having the most fun this weekend with Corbin while everyone else raced, including Ryan (her husband)!
Speaking of Corbin, he is not going to know how to act without a Wally in the Winner's Circle. First his Dad, Ryan, winning King of the Track and then Mark Marusak winning the Wally on Sunday!
I sometimes wonder when are racers having the most fun, driving or clowning around with each other! Bob Churchill and Todd Trench doing, I don't what, in the Winner's Circle!
I want congratulate all our Sunday winners! Next up for the bracket racers is the Sunday after the Rt. 66 Classic. I hope to see everyone out there!!
To see all of Sunday's action, please click here.
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Friday night's, Race Your Ride #11 at Route 66 was a beautiful night of racing with a few surprises. I have repeatedly said, that you never know who is going to show up at a Race Your Ride. When I arrived, I saw some rather large car haulers and soon realized, John Lawson was here with both his nostalgia nitro funny cars, Runaway and Quick Draw. I first noticed that Quick Draw was sporting the older, new style Firebird body. When I talked to John, he related that last week in Michigan, they had an engine explosion that blew the body off, destroying it. They had to do a complete rebuild of the car. This is the second time in a year, he has had a problem in Michigan. If you remember last year, Runaway crashed on the burnout and burned.
Friday they had better success with good runs with both Runaway and Quick Draw.
Apparently, they didn't have time to put the driver name on Quick Draw, however I am pretty sure it was Joe Haas and John driving Runaway.
The Tiffen & Hess car showed up to run, however after unloading they found a broken starter. They loaded the car back up and in their words, "Going to kick back, drink a couple of beers and watch everyone else run!".
After posting pictures of the Lawson cars on Facebook, Bob Malloy posted he was loading up his car for its first run on the new motor. I have been following the motor change on Facebook.
Dave Brown, the driver, gave an update on the run on Facebook:
"This was the first time out with basically a new complete combination. New block new piston and rod combination and cam. A fresh new clutch with new facings and new tires. As with anything there were several bumps a long the road and also at the track. All we wanted was an A to B pass nothing special just figure stuff out. It was up to me to determine how hard to run it. This was one run take it home and check things over. Last year was all oil pressure issues so wanted to make sure all this new stuff survives. It shook all the way down and never cleared up so clicked around a 1000ft. Hopefully all looks well and step on it with a couple small changes at the rt66 classic in 2 weeks."
I was talking to Dave Kocher, driver of the Plane Insane II. He has been having staging problems with the car, it has been surging and rolling back. He diagnosed a converter problem and while it was out, had the transmission worked on. He also made some recommended adjustments. This was his test run night before Sunday's ET Bracket Race.
There were several cars that I had not seen run at Route 66. One was the AMC Rambler of Mike Pena. Mike was licensing in the car. He completed his licensing on the last pass of the night.
We also had some of our regulars testing. I spoke with Morgan Hixon and she stated that this is probably her last outing this year due to her returning to college in Florida for her junior year. Morgan has been working with NMRA/NMCA this past year. I kidded with her about leaving the driver's seat and coming to the dark side!
We also had some of our Juniors testing.
We also had a cadre of street cars driving down the track that the NHRA stars run.