Drag racing is all about getting a pass down the quarter-mile in the fastest possible moment to best the opponent in the opposite lane. This weekend fans and teams enjoyed the efforts of the fastest track crew in the region as Spokane County Raceway dodged a major rain storm on Sunday morning to get the final round of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in the books.
To get to the the finals meant working on track drying and smoothing out rough patches and small lakes that had formed on the racing surface from a persistent Sunday morning rain shower. By 1 p.m. drag cars were on the track and while the show was knocked back from its original schedule by nearly three hours, the first car to compete, a 1979 AMC Pacer driven by Jim Mantle of British Columbia had fans roaring for more.
And off they went to the tune of nearly 200 cars in competition when the weekend started that narrowed down to a final pair in 12 finales.
The weekend drew racers from far and wide with many of the Inland Empire’s finest more then holding their own in qualifying and elimination racing.
Of the drivers who traveled to the region for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, fans flocked to catch a glimpse of 15-time NHRA champion Mike Ferderer and his Pontiac K&N Filters Super Gas machine and legendary Long Island, New York, racer Tony Bartone who thrilled the Saturday night crowd with his run in the NHRA Nostalgia Series Top Fuel Dragster event.
Bartone made it to the final only to fall to Wisconsin’s Jim Young. Ferderer went out in quarterfinal action to eventual champ Eddy Plaizier. Also thrilling the crowd was Boise native and world champion Jackie Alley, who picked up a win behind the wheel of his Big O Tires Camaro as he bested Butch Walsh in the final round of Super Stock.
From a hometrack standpoint the lone Inland Empire racer to pick-up a championship in this year’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Northwest Thunderfest was Deer Park’s Jim Bonner, who wheeled his 1973 Vega to a 12.024-second win over Todd Haste, who fouled at the line and triggered the red light.
With racing in bracket divisions, where a driver had to come as close as possible to his designated time without ‘breaking out’ to full-on side-by-side action in the Top Sportsman class, this year’s Lucas Oil stop in Spokane offered something for everyone who enjoys a good day at the track.
When the smoked cleared after nearly seven hours of racing all anyone could talk about was the driver who had kicked off Sunday’s action – Jim Mantle and his AMC Pacer. Complete with the original interior, Mantle’s car was a hit each time it took to the track and in the pit area where throngs gathered to ask the Black Creek, British Columbia, driver questions about the car’s history.
All the attention seemed to help Mantle as he proved that it’s not the fastest car or the machine with the most technology that can get the job done for a victory. Sometimes you just have to keep things to a very basic approach, he said.
“I get it at all the tracks we run (the onlookers who gather around his unique car). But I tell them it still means that the car has to race well and I have to hit my (designated time) in the bracket,” Mantle explained after winning the Stock Eliminator finale.
“We got lucky today because the weather was tough on everybody with it going from cool and damp in the early going to hot and dry late in the day. In an older car like mine it seemed to slow me down so I was fortunate to get a single-car run in the semifinals that got me into the final and from there I just focused and tried not to think about (Mike Hering’s) Camaro who I could see was charging up behind me.”
Spokane has become a destination stop for racers on the NHRA Lucas Oil Series with the likes of national stars Bartone, Ferderer and Alley coming to compete, but in the end Mantle and a host of drivers showed the audience that there is a favorite to root for in every race.
Now NHRA fans will sit back and wait for the 2013 Lucas Oil stop at Spokane County Raceway with the hopes that 200 mph dragsters and even a 14-second Pacer will be back to put on a spectacular show.
FINAL ROUND RESULTS
Name/Hometown/Car Make/Elapsed Time/MPH
Eddy Plaizier, Edmonton, Alb., ‘63 Corvette, 10.115, 162.16 def. Steve Apted, Medford, Ore., ‘67 Corvette, 10.125, 161.60.
Barry Daniluk, Red Deer, Alb., ‘68 Camaro, 6.645, 184.72 def. Tom Burke, Selah, Wash., ‘92 Camaro, 7.989, 174.55.
Becky Lindsey, Puyallup, Wash., ‘66 Nova, 11.125, 133.76 def. Dwaine Ringguth, Grand Prairie, Alb., ‘86 Camaro, 11.128, 124.42.
Scott Hearn, Sherwood Park, Alb., dragster, 7.665, 159.32 def. Clint Geise, Renton, Wash., dragster, 7.397, 182.48.
Jim Mantle, Black Creek, B.C., ‘79 Pacer, U/SA, 14.503, 91.02 def. Mike Hering, Boise, Idaho, ‘69 Camaro, A/S, 10.638, 118.82.
Jim Bonner, Deer Park, Wash., ‘73 Vega, 12.024, 112.38 def. Tod Haste, Kennewick, Wash., ‘70 Camaro, foul.
Keri Ebertz, Sherwood Park, Alb., dragster, 7.798, 173.37 def. Leroy Carnes, Spokane, Wash., ‘27 roadster, 10.757, 119.71.
Ty Anderson, Vancouver, Wash., dragster, 9.117, 164.02 def. Scott Taylor, St. Isidore, Alb., dragster, 9.130, 165.62.
Jackie Alley, Eagle, Idaho, ‘69 Camaro, SS/DA, 9.736, 130.79 def. Butch Walsh, Firth, Idaho, ‘67 Camaro, SS/GA, 10.278, 129.03.
Aaron Strong, Auburn, Wash., ‘05 Cavalier, G/A, 8.478, 160.65 def. Pat Byron, Hoquiam, Wash., dragster, C/D, 7.059, 190.27.
Al Omond, Surrey, B.C., ‘97 Kawasaki, 8.136, 150.75 def. Jon Jenkins, Richmond, B.C., ‘84 Suzuki, 8.958, 146.48.
NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL
Jim Young, Salem, Wis., dragster, 5.658, 259.66 def. Tony Bartone, Long Island, N.Y., dragster, 5.889, 216.19.