Castrol Raceway’s thriving Top Eliminator has declared it’s 2017 season points champion….

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. To prevail as the overall season champion for Castrol Raceway’s thriving “Top Eliminator” may very well be one of the most tasking title chases for any Canadian drag strip.

Just last weekend that popular series which mingles both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster racers into a dynamic co-eliminator, wrapped up it’s 10-event schedule for 2017. And when the smoke had cleared and the post season audit was complete by circuit founders Bob and Gord Ebertz, a champion was officially declared.

James Bast, who is a branch manager for an electrical wholesale company based from Grand Prairie Alberta (EECOL Electric), and who has been dabbling with a pretty ferocious Jerry Bickel-built Chevy Camaro in it’s fourth year of existence, is the new and first time champion. Using a naturally aspirated 632 CID Sunset-motor program, Bast combined some solid season consistency with a full season schedule chase to ultimately edge out Stoney Plain Alberta’s Eddie Radjo in the final points total, 506 to 501 points.

James Bast (from Grand Prairie AB) prevailed to win one of Canada’s most demanding individual race track points titles – taking top honours for Castrol Raceway’s Top Eliminator.

Castrol Raceway’s Top Eliminator does allow competitors to claim their best 8 finishes from the season’s 10 scheduled events. And in a real testament to the strength of the program the reality is that no less then a rather remarkable 72 different drivers were entered for competition for the series at some point over the season.

“2017 was my fourth year racing this Camaro,” James confirmed. “Jerry Bickel told me when I purchased this car that in reality it works better the more power you give it — it’s built for speed. During our journey with it – we certainly found that to be the case. We got the car itself very consistent — so the only thing left was for the driver to be on. And when that happens – we were tough to beat — it was almost like a marriage.”

For Bast, his sport of drag racing is both a hobby and also a family affair, which includes his wife Amanda and two sons (Evan and Ethan). His team also includes valued crew members Larry and Victor Decock.

Bast’s team employs a naturally aspirated 632 CID Sunset-motor program in their ’68 Camaro TS car

The 2017 title for James Bast was however not without some late season drama. They did enter the final weekend’s “double header” event in 2nd place behind Radjo’s Top Dragster.

“We knew winning the title was within reach but still a ways away,” James continued. “As fate would have it we got paired up with Eddie who was in first place – the first round – of the first race. Right then and there we controlled our own destiny — it was either going to start or end. Eddie is a great racer and hadn’t had a first round loss all year and we needed to give it to him right then — and we did! That round win was huge because we could see some day light from there.”

James did lose out in the quarter final round for race #1 that day. But that twist of fate did prove to a bit of a blessing in disguise.

“If we would have won that round it would have given us a bye into the final and then the overall points lead,” he added. “Although we were upset (because we had lost that round) when we got back to the trailer we did discover a broken valve spring. So if we had run that bye round that day – there might have been some serious engine damage and our season would have really been over. So we made the repairs and lived to fight another day – the next day.”

James Bast is very well know for his “mongo” burnouts — which has secured him as a definite fan favourite!

“Heading into the last day I was under huge stress and pressure but I was determined to stay focused and get the job done,” Bast continued. “But the stars aligned for us and every round happened the way it needed too. We continued to control our own destiny because we had two rounds racing against top four points contenders. It would have been an awesome feeling to win the last event on the last day too but I ended up going .002 red in the final — but by then we were able to clinch the points championship.”

James Bast has been racing this Jerry Bickel-built TS Camaro since 2013

“That was quite the feeling and I felt a real flood of emotions after we actually did it,” James admitted. “It’s the first time in life on a personal side I can say I really felt proud of myself. It was such a long hard fought year. In this sport the highs are high and the lows are very low. I’m not much of a religious guy but man I feel blessed right now!”

James was quick to again recognize the dedication and the support of his family and crew and also cite his valued associate sponsors which includes: Western Budget Motel, Team Ace Racing, Boucher Motorsports, Milwaukee Power Tools, Bennett, Redneck Electric, Fancy Doors, Integrity Heating & Stealth Projects.

He was also very appreciative of Castrol Raceway, the Top Eliminator Club series organizers and his fellow circuit racers.

“Bob and Gord host a very progressive racing program for us,” he said thankfully. “It’s a top notch group with event’s that really pay well and that’s why the fields are so competitive. Not only does that make you (out of necessity) become a better driver — this series also nurtures and creates more up and coming talent.  I’m very proud to be Castrol Raceway’s Top Eliminator Club 2017 Champion!”

Eddie Radjo (from Stoney Plain) finished a close second in the final “Top” points chase. (Don Meleshko photo)

Joe Graves had a superb year with his consistent TS Pontiac – finishing 3rd in the final championship points tally.

Edmonton’s Scott Hearn (one of Alberta’s single most talented racers) placed 4th in final points.

For more information on Castrol Raceway’s Top Eliminator click:  HERE

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler