Editor’s Note – we are having problems with our gallery at the moment, so our photos from this race have been posted in a Facebook album. Sorry for the inconvenience, and we will have this fixed by the next race.
Heads Up Racing in our area kicked off with quite an amazing start to the season, with the first installment of the 2013 Finishline Performance / Cecil County Dragway Outlaw Street Car Shootout series. Besides some cool temperatures after sunset, the weather was perfect and it was a delightful day to suck in as much burnout smoke as possible.
During the off season, precision machinery was brought out to Cecil to touch up the year old racing surface – all of the concrete was ground to a perfectly level height. The results of this work are evident with the elapsed times on the boards, and the consensus from the racers about how great the racing surface was on the first race day.
Another big change is Finishline Performance coming on board with Cecil County to run the fuel shack. Dave O and the team have every fuel available for any engine combination, on the premises – there’s no need for you to go pick up fuel and haul it in yourself, any longer – you’ll get the same competitive prices, right at the track, along with the usual professional service from Finishline Performance.
When the sun went down, we saw some auxiliary lighting on the track – another welcomed addition. The staff at Cecil is learning about the best places and angles for the extra lighting and will continue to improve on this throughout the season, maximizing light on the track without any impact to the drivers.
Besides our photo galleries, be sure to check these photos out from the other awesome photographers on the property!
We heard rumors of some impressive time slips during the Friday test session, however, the fans showed up on Saturday to see the real thing. During the winter, most 10.5 teams changed a good bit of their setups, and the first race is always tricky for them as they get new gear dialed in. Two teams we do not usually see at Cecil were on the property, Nick Agostino from Ontario, Canada (yes, Canada), and George Williams out of Mastic, NY. While the qualifying order had Tommy Mauro, Anthony DiSomma, and Mo Hall at the top, the other twelve teams could just have easily gone to the top spot – their qualifying order that day was not indicative of the power they make and the hard work they put in. Tommy Mauro took number three with a 4.345 @ 180, while Anthony DiSomma took number two with a 4.186 at a big 191mph. At the top was Mo Hall, his Fulton powered, HFR Fabrication built Camaro going an impressive 4.175 @ 179 – setting the stage for the year by snatching the top spot with a nitrous car.
Half of the wins in round one went to the lower qualified teams – Brad Harris, Nick Agostino, and Mike Decker all earned spots to the quarter finals. Decker in the Decker’s Salvage car improved big time, figuring out their setup and putting up a 4.261 pass, with plenty more left in it. Anthony DiSomma continued to improve as well, running a 4.144 pass up against Billy Mitchell, who had a .073 advantage leaving the line on DiSomma but could not keep the tires stuck to the track.
In the quarter finals, Nick Agostino met up with the #1 Qualifier, Mo Hall. Nick caught Mo leaving absolutely dead late, and shot down the track to a 4.361 @184 pass, taking the win over Hall. Hall had a huge fireball (caught by Bill Robaey) when his fifth system came on, a victim of the cool night air. In one of the fastest side-by-side races ever at Cecil County, Shawn Zubler & KOS Motorsports took out the Decker’s Salvage Camaro on a holeshot. Decker went 4.156 @ 188 with a .187 reaction time, while Zubler’s Trans Am ran a blistering 4.162 @ 188, his .041 reaction time earning him a spot in the semis. TJ Kasper, no stranger to round wins, took out Tommy Mauro. Kasper went 4.310 @ 190 while Mauro spun the tires. Closing out the semi-finals could have been a huge upset, as Anthony DiSomma pedaled his way to a 4.523 pass against Brad Harris’ 4.389 – however, Brad was a bit late with a .197 reaction time to DiSomma’s .056, handing DiSomma the holeshot win.
Semi-final action brought us Nick Agostino and the team out of Canada, with the (relatively) little 480ci, twin turbo power plant, against Shawn Zubler. Zubler ran his career best on his last pass, but could not duplicate the effort and had to pedal to a 4.519 pass, while Agostino also had to pedal, but made it to the stripe first, with a 4.349 @ 155. TJ Kasper got the jump on Anthony DiSomma, leaving the line with a .018 advantage, but Ant improved yet again and ran an amazing 4.121 @ 192 pass to TJ’s race day best of 4.238 @ 183.
By the time the final round action came to the starting line, the air was drastically different than it was at the beginning of race day, with temperatures in the 30s. Nick Agostino and team quickly figured out Cecil County, and even though their times were not as quick as DiSomma, could easily exploit any error in DiSomma’s setup and take the win. Agostino was improving throughout the day and we would only assume that streak would continue. Agostino did end up running his best time of the day, a 4.357, but had tospot pedal just a bit and his mph was down to 171. DiSomma also had to pedal, but was able to recover the run, and take home the win for the day with a 4.203 @ 179mph pass. Congratulations to Punisher Motorsports and DiSomma racing for opening up the season on the right foot.
With the popularity of the X275 class, particularly strong in our area, we have seen fierce competition at every single Outlaw Street Car Shootout. These race teams have to work quite hard to keep up with rule changes, but also to stay competitive, as each race we see the bar being raised. Chris Little, fresh off a win the night before at MIR, continued to run strong, and took the number two qualifying spot with a 4.689 @ 154mph pass. Ron Rhodes, also running record numbers for a small block nitrous car at MIR, was right behind Little with a 4.729.
An impressive story worth its own paragraph is that of Rich Bruder and the Bruder Racing family, who made it to the top of the qualifying field with a 4.662 @ 151. What is impressive is the fact that to compensate for rule changes, the Bruder family changed their entire powerplant, yet still ran at the top of the pack with barely any testing under their belt. No longer sporting a Procharger, the Bruder’s are now using a mid frame 88mm Garrett turbocharger, and DiSomma racing engine. During the off season, the car also spent time at Crazy Don’s Chassis Works for a double frame rail setup, and the entire front end was redone. While most teams would need a whole season to figure out how to run at the top of the qualifying field, let alone in the 4.6x range, this team’s hard work and knowledge is evident with their performance on the track.
Ron Rhodes (Rhodes Custom Auto) hurt his motor and unfortunately had to sit out eliminations, so Mike Cerminaro took his place. Mike faced Dan Whetstine, who with the help of Essick Motorsports, has had a strong start to the season. Whetstine was able to get past Cerminaro in the first round, but lost to Chris Little in the semi-finals.
Chris Little’s car was quite consistent, running 4.665, 4.661, and 4.654 to land him in the finals against the #1 qualifier, Rich Bruder. Bruder had spun in the first round on a single, but then ran 4.660, and 4.694 passes to land in the finals. Chris Little had a big advantage over Bruder leaving the line, but unfortunately could not get the 275’s to hook, and Bruder shot down with a 4.710 @ 156 for their first win of 2013.
Outlaw Drag Radial
Fresh off some impressive runs at SGMP, all eyes were on Frank Soldridge to reset the radial record at the County. He would not do it in qualifying, laying down a 4.593 for the number two qualifying spot. John Bova took third with a 5.061, while the rest of the field was made up of Bill Dutka, Paul Major, Mike Boccella, and Mike Modeste. This was the first time Major’s car has been out in competition since being rebuilt, due to an unfortunate incident at last year’s Shakedown at E-town. Boccella, also out in a new ride, made progress as the day went along. Mustang Mike Modeste had his twin Procharged ride out for the first time as well, and was getting a handle on the setup.
During eliminations, fans were not disappointed in the PSI Motorsports Cobra, driven by Soldridge. Soldridge went 4.335 in the first round over Mustang Mike’s 5.559, and was able to get by John Bova who had traction problems in the semi finals. Soldridge met Bill Dutka’s Malibu (J&E Performance) in the finals. Dutka had traction problems in the first round, but came back and ran a 4.786 in the semi finals. Dutka could not make a clean pass in the finals, as Soldridge had a great setup in the car, running a 4.295 (yes, 4.295, on radials) to take home the win for the day.
Outlaw Big Tire
Right from the start, we were all quite surprised at the qualifying numbers put up by the Outlaw Big Tire teams – with the top four being 4.55x or quicker. Ralph Hardesty brought his amazingly clean ride to the strip and took #4 with a 4.555 @ 167. Smokin’ Joe Schroeder set off just about every car alarm on the property, while running a 4.493 @ 169 in his blown ’69 Camaro. Mitch George, wheeling the Jack Boer Monte Carlo, had the candles lit on each pass and was so close to the #1 spot, landing #2 with a 4.479 @ 159. John Schroeder and family, no strangers to the top spot in Big Tire, were back at it with an impressive 4.454 @ 162 pass.
Ralph Hardesty made it past Smokin’ Joe in the first round on a holeshot win, his 4.570 to Joe’s 4.540. John Schroeder was behind James Houston by .070 at the line, but made up the difference and took the win with a 4.964. Mitch George didn’t have a clean pass on his single in the first round, but made up for it in the semis, taking out Ralph Hardesty with a solid 4.481 pass.
Just like X275, the Outlaw Big Tire finals put the top two qualifiers against each other. Mitch George lost before the race even started, going red by a mere .022. John Schroeder wasn’t just handed the win, though, he ran the best pass of the day in Big Tire, a 4.411 @ 159, to take home the win for the day, and also reset the track record at the same time!!
We heard something we would have never thought would come over the PA speakers – a bonus prize to the first Ultra 275 car running in the 4.xx second range. With many teams still struggling in X275 late last year getting into the 4 second zone, we’re impressed to see how far Ultra 275 has come in such little time, that teams are knocking on the 4 second area.
Three of those teams include Marc McCloud, John Keesey, and Todd Geisler, who rounded up the top three qualifying spots in Ultra 275. McCloud ran 5.131, Keesey 5.122, and Geisler 5.103, all so close that the fans could not wait to see any of these three line up against one another. The rest of the field was not far behind, with most teams less than 4 tenths behind the top 3.
Eliminations brought along some close racing, with upsets always possible as the race teams teeter on losing traction in this class at any second. David Cappolina was making some good hits with a 5.413 in the first round, and 5.408 in the second, but unfortunately hurt the motor and could not make the semi final call. Marc McCloud ran nice 5.127 and 5.104 passes, both the quickest passes of the rounds, but also could not make the semi-finals.
The fans had to wait until the Ultra 275 finals to see the top two teams face each other – Todd Geisler and John Keesey. Keesey was not able to make a clean pass, while Geisler’s car was on rails since the second round. Todd took home the win with a 5.086 to Keesey’s 6.461.
Wayne Roatche, Matt Downwarel, Jim Schmidt, and Cliff Sebring made up the top four spots, respectively, in 11.50 Index qualifying, all running in the 11.50x zone. Downwarel made it the farthest in eliminations, eventually falling to Michael VanDenHeuvel in the semifinals by a few thousandths of a second. Keith Huffman, frequent winner in 11.50, made it from the 8th qualifying spot to the finals against VanDenHeuvel, where he fell to the winner. Michael VanDenHeuvel made 11.590, 11.491, 11.493, and 11.511 passes in his journey to the winner’s circle.
Not that we are surprised by the qualifying results in 10.0 Index, but, we should be – 15 out of the 16 qualifying spots were all in the 10.0x range – WOW! We may sound like a broken record, but, 10.0 Index is insanely close racing, and performing well in this class is extremely difficult. Qualifying order is a good indication of racer skill, but, it’s anyone’s race to take.
Taking top honors in qualifying was RJ Facchine, running a near perfect 10.008. The rest of the field is too long and distinguished to list take a look at the qualifying results for yourself!
We mentioned that in 10.0, qualifying order is a good indication of skill, however, there are predators everywhere in the field, ready to upset. Rj Facchine felt this, losing in the first round against Bob Romano in the 16th spot, Romano running a 10.003 with .056 light. We saw another 10.003 in the second round, this time from Mo Bolduc (#4 qualifier), but his .057 was late compared to Kevin Baker’s (#12 qualifier) .018 light, and Baker’s 10.010 held up. Rob Ward had strong 10.197, 10.045, and 10.031 passes to make it all the way to the finals against Kevin Baker. Rob came correct on his final pass of the day, running a 10.002 w/ 027 light to take home the win for 10.0 Index.
This class houses some of our favorite rides to see, as they could just as easily win a car show as well as a drag race. The exception to that may be Rick Steinke – “Honk if Parts Fall Off” may be his motto, but he his tiring work on his Chevelle has finally paid off and the car is running great. Rick took the bragging rights in qualifying for 8.50 Index, running an 8.501 to take the top spot. Not far behind was, well, the rest of the qualifying field – all 16 spots ran in the 8.5x range. Behind Rick was Mike Pyott, running an 8.505, and newcomer Bill Pedus, with a 8.509.
Steinke kept his streak alive with 8.591 and 8.689 passes, until he ultimately lost to Zach Obert in the semi-finals. Zach’s clean, wheelstanding mustang was running great as well, reaching for the sky on each launch. Al Davidowski may have qualified 15th, but he is a serious contender in 8.50, running 8.510 and 8.541 passes, earning him a spot in the finals against Zach Obert. Obert and Davidowski left the line near simultaneously, but Zach was not able to make a clean pass, and Davidowski went 8.561 for the win.