Cayuga’s Nitro Nationals: Did We See the Future?

 By:       Bruce Biegler

When I was driving back last night following the inaugural Canadian Nitro Nationals at Cayuga a notion crossed my mind.   Is it possible that I had just witnessed the most successful independent drag racing event presentation in Canadian history?

I won’t bother dipping into the controversy surrounding the original “A***” sanctioning of this event.  We all know now how badly that crumbled following some upbeat optimism earlier this year.   While totally unfortunate — all of that quickly became a moot point once the event fired up on Friday afternoon.  

TMP Cayuga Dragway chose correctly to take control of their own ship and call it either destiny or fate – they did a pretty good job steering it through the weekend.

TMP booked in a pair of nitro Funny Cars (Dale Creasy & Jack Wyatt) and four Top Fuel dragsters (American drivers Spencer Massey, Mitch King versus Canadian born racers Todd Paton and Fred Farndon).  That was supplemented by some cool exhibition vehicles and a solid foundation of Canadian class talents, the PMRA and Napa Quick 32 circuits most notably. 

 The fan response was more than I expected or have witnessed in all my years of attending events at Cayuga Dragway.  There is no doubt that the jam-packed grandstands on both Saturday and Sunday rivaled and probably exceeded the best days that even the IHRA  had there during their national events run. 

Looking for fan response? Check it out....

At Cayuga’s Nitro Nationals, it was of course fuel cars that were the main attraction for the hoard of seemingly nitro starved fans.   While the actual on-track performances could probably be considered marginal at best (it was very hot) and came nowhere near any track records, for the overflow crowd that seemed secondary.  They left happy — covered with rubber and with nitro singed nostrils.  

It was great to see Canada’s own Todd Paton return home and driving.   His Tim Hortons-sponsored team spearheaded by “El Captain” was a clear crowd favorite every time it ran.

My hat is also off to the PMRA circuit that put on yet another terrific show.  New York State’s Mike Stawicki really rattled the Pro Mod world with the quickest and fastest times ever seen in Canada.   Driving his G-Force Race Cars-sponsored ’68 Firebird, Stawicki ran a stupendous 5.803 secs at an unheard of 255.15 mph terminal speed.   While the car is not considered NHRA Pro Mod legal – there is no one — that will deny how impressive the performance was.

255.15 mph in a Pro Mod? Come On!

So back to my lonely drive home — all of that and more has me wondering what exactly is it that major sanctioning brings to the table for Canada?  For me it begs an obvious question — why are we (as Canadians) just not doing this ourselves?

 I saw it again in black and white just one week before during the Rocky Mountain Nationals at Edmonton.  If Castrol Raceway had not padded their event line-up as expertly as they did — the credibility of their event would have suffered greatly.

So maybe the time has really now come for the likes of great facilities like Edmonton, Grand Bend, Cayuga and beyond to band together to form Canada’s very own national series.  

It’s been talked about conceptually a few times – but now I think we have hard proof and a potential proven formula.   There is nothing to stop us from accomplishing success on our own – Canadian style. 

Nitro Returns to TMP!

To view additional photos from the Canadian National Nationals:   HERE

(Bruce Biegler Photos)