Calgarians come Close in Colorado!    

Calgary’s Jirka Kaplan came extremely close to taking full advantage of his first ever visit to the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver’s Bandimere Speedway….

The innovative Canadian racer placed runner-up in Competition eliminator during last weekend’s NHRA event there driving his rather revolutionary AA/AM ’23 T.  Kaplan lost a razor thin final round decision to Cliff Neff when Neff’s slightly better RT (.082 to .095) combined with a NHRA mandated CIC adjustment against Kaplan gave him victory.

Calgary's Jirka Kaplan just missed taking the Comp title at Denver on Sunday

Neff (who is from nearby Arvada CO) ran a final round winning time of 8.320 secs at 157. 21 mph which held off Kaplan’s event best run of 6.640 secs 184.55 mph.  Kaplan’s altitude class index was adjusted to 7.15 secs for the final round.  He had begun eliminations with the index sitting at 7.26 secs.

The strong finish was just the latest success story for Kaplan and his talented crew which includes Canadian engine-building guru Les Davenport.   Earlier this season they rolled their machine to an historic 5.97 secs lap during the Mission BC LODRS event – a barrier breaking event for the Competition eliminator category overall.

“I had never here before and a big part of drag racing for me it about going around and racing at different places,” Jirka revealed.  “I had always thought Denver would be a neat place to go and race – and that was certainly the case.”

Kaplan is driving a machine that has been the talk within Competition eliminator ranks for a long period of time.   Over a number of racing seasons, the car has seen a constant evolution as he and Davenport continue to refine their technology.

Jirka Kaplan's race team visited Denver for the first time.

Today the altered features a rather small 370 CID BA Hemi engine program and a 14-71 supercharger.  That power (which exceeds 1500 HP) is applied through a torque converter and 2-speed Lenco transmission.

“There is no doubt that we run a very different combination for the class,” Kaplan added.  “We also had to make a lot of adjustments to the transmission ratios and our tune-up for the high altitude here.  But it’s challenges just like that are a big part of the attraction of drag racing for me.  I think we did well here, and we did have some good luck too – it was fun.”

Editors Note: DragRaceCanada is planning a more extensive off-season feature story on Jirka and Les who remain cutting edge innovators within our sport.  Fans can look for that later this year.

Posted by:  Bruce Biegler

(Bruce Biegler Photos)