First drag race held in Detroit is a success

A standing room only crowd witnessed history in Detroit on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the inaugural Motor City Showdown held at the Coleman A. Young International Airport.

After three rounds of competition, the Big Tire finalists were Detroiters James “Doc” Riley squaring off against Diamond Hugo. Both Chevy cars took turns taking the lead, but at the finish line it was Diamond Hugo by a nose.

The Small Tire final saw Mark “Junior” Southwell in a fox-body Mustang take a half car-length win over Enoch Ball in a Chevy-powered ’69 Firebird. 


The event also included a car show and entertainment by Underground Resistance. Hopes are that the Detroit city government will make this an annual event.  

Fall Fling begins at Bristol with Dragster Shootout

Kicking off the Sparco Fall Fling presented by Optima Batteries, was a Test & Tune session followed by the American Race Cars/RaceTech Dragster Shootout on Tuesday, Sept. 26.


Throughout the day, trailers continued to pull into Bristol Dragway, while racers used the time trial session to dial-in their combinations for the eighth-mile competition. Thirty-two pre-entered racers received two time runs to dial themselves in for the American Race Cars RaceTech Dragster Shootout. The winner receives their choice of a brand new American or RaceTech dragster. Runner-up takes what’s left, with $500 going to each of the semifinalists.


With eight cars left, representation ranged from up and down the east coast, over to Ohio and of course, Tennessee. At the round of eight, Tim Markoglu from New York dispatched Ohio’s Josh Grandt. New York’s Vinnie DiMino defeated Tennessee’s Buddy Fleenor, while Troy Williams Jr. from Florida took out South Carolina’s Bennie Ulmer. Finally, Shane Maddox from South Carolina defeated Florida’s Shane Carr.


For the semifinals, New York was looking to dominate but it was not to be as Maddox used a better reaction time to turn away DiMino, and Markoglu turned on the red-light to advance Maddox to make it South Carolina versus Florida.


In the final, only five-thousandths of a second separated in reaction time and as can be expected by two great racers, less than that much separated them at the finish line with Williams (shown) taking the double break-out win and the RaceTech dragster home to Florida. Maddox was not exactly a loser though as he leaves with the American Race Car dragster. 

SCSN winner will receive ‘Wally’ at Gateway national event

This Friday, Sept. 29, at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., one Street Car Super Nationals racer will earn a commemorative acrylic Wally. It will be presented to the winner of the Outlaw 8.5 Heads-Up Shootout class.


“We’re beyond stoked for this,” said SCSN Promoter Mel Roth. “Everyone wants to earn a Wally at some point in their career and we’re honored to be able to bring our Outlaw 8.5 class to Gateway Friday to show drag racing fans on a huge stage what the Street Car Super Nationals are all about. We’ve been coming to Gateway for a couple years now and we’ve never failed to provide great drag racing to the great drag racing fans of the St. Louis region.”


The 13th running of the Street Car Super Nationals returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nov. 16-19.  

Pritchett crew finds ‘gremlin’ in dragster

Although disappointed with her start to the NHRA Countdown to the Championship with losses in the first round to open the six-race playoff three weeks ago at Charlotte and a second-round loss Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., Leah Pritchett believes her team led by crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam have conquered a mechanical gremlin that plagued the team.


"One of our biggest successes at Maple Grove (Reading) was finding what was wrong with our race car gremlin-wise," she said. "We feel comfortable that we have our hot rod back."


Pritchett, who has won four times in six final rounds with six No. 1 qualifying performances, will arrive at Gateway ranked seventh but only 97 points out of the lead. St. Louis is the third of the six events of the Countdown and the last of three weekends in a row.


"This is such a highly critical weekend. It's coming down to the wire," she said. "We need to qualify near the top like we have most of the year and win rounds. There's 16 rounds of racing left that leaves and a lot of points on the table and we plan on getting most of them."   

Irwindale holds double divisional for Jr. Dragsters

Irwindale Dragstrip will hold two NHRA Jr. Dragster race days on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.


There is only one race left after the Irwindale event to determine the champions in the 17-race Division 7 JDRL Challenge Series. The division included races in Tucson, Maui, Kauai, Sacramento, Las Vegas and 12 other drag strips west of the Rockies.


Coming into Irwindale, the points leaders are: Peyton Janiuk leads the most "junior" of the young racer's divisions. The 5-year old, who races out of Las Vegas, has 60 points; Jacelyn Gonzaga, from Porter Ranch, has the lead with 481 points in the 6 to 9-year old category; In the 10-12 year old competition group Paso Robles' Macie Gordon leads with 438 points; La Verne resident, Braiden Chesleigh, is the points leader in the 13-14 year old category with 449; Savannah Coates has 396 points next to her name atop the 15-17 year old group and lives in Santa Ana; in the Junior Comp. division (ages 14-20) which uses larger motorcycle-type engines, a heavier chassis, and which requires an advanced license, Derrick Hegwood from Tustin has the points lead by slim little point (428-427) over Andrew Thomas from Chowchilla.  

Keith Hughes of ‘Boston Strangler’ BB/FC passes away

The “Boston Strangler” Funny Car made an appearance at the NHRA national event at Epping, NH, earlier this summer.


Keith Edward Hughes, 72, of Punta Gorda, FL, died on Sept. 13 after a lengthy illness. A native of Lynn, MA, Hughes taught auto mechanics at Masconomet Regional High School for five years before becoming Auto Tech Dept. Head at Northeast Regional Vocational Technical High School, from which he retired after 25 years.


In 1973 Hughes partnered with Arnie Karp, Rick McGarvey, and the late Bob Ellison to build and race the “Boston Strangler” BB/FC with a crew of Pat Murphy, Tom Stillwell and Bruce Sampson. They won 10 NHRA and IHRA championships and set several records over the years.


In 2005 Hughes was crew chief for the “Boston Strangler” Top Fuel dragster. In 2008 he was inducted into the New England Raceway Hall of Fame along with Arnie Karp.


Hughes is survived by his wife, Shirley, brother David G. Hughes, two step daughters, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Donations in his memory may be made to Tidewell Hospice, 1158 Veronica St., Port Charlotte FL 33952.

OREC sets open house for new facility

Officials of the Onawa Racing and Events Complex in Onawa, Iowa, have announced an open house will be held Saturday, Oct. 14, at the facility and will include street vehicle fun runs.


“We want the public to see the construction progress that has been made while allowing street legal cars, trucks and bikes to make runs down the track,” said Scott Gardner of Gardner Race Track Consulting.


Progress has been made in a variety of areas including the installation of the safety wall, the finish work on the track surface, grandstand assembly, installation of spectator fencing, paving and more; but a lot of work remains to in making the facility a fully operational drag strip. It is being constructed on the under-used Onawa municipal airport.


A grand opening will be scheduled in 2018 with the timing system operational and complete track surface preparation and more.  

Guidry joins DENSO as Director of Engineering

DENSO Products and Services Americas, Inc., has named Mike Guidry as its new Director of Engineering.


Guidry comes to DENSO with more than two decades of management and engineering experience in the automotive and aviation industries. His areas of expertise include concept-to-launch product development of power electronics, motor controls, sensors and feedback, hardware, software and embedded systems. His pioneering work has earned him more than 20 patents issued or pending.


“Quality and innovation are part of DENSO’s DNA, so it’s especially exciting to join the company in this era of rapidly advancing technology,” said Guidry. “I’m honored to be part of the team dedicated to developing cutting-edge products and systems that increase the safety, reliability and efficiency of the vehicles people depend on every day.” 

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