Canadian racer participation during NHRA’s  Gatornationals was once again significant….and we have the images to prove it!…

Jeff Veale (Stoney Creek ON) roared to his fastest speed ever – 283.73 mph! — which was top speed in TAD at Gainesville. He qualified #4 (5.235 secs) but was upset in round #1.

Rick Distefano made the long voyage from Calgary to compete in Pro Mod at Gainesville. Unfortunately his first NHRA national event effort in quite some time was a DNQ. (Watch for some more details on Rick’s upcoming season plans – coming soon to DragRaceCanada!)

So great to see Winnipeg’s Kenny Lang back in the fold after taking most of last season off! Lang did run a decent 5.936 secs – but that fell short of the swift Pro Mod class bump.

Top Sportsman class racing featured a first time Gatornationals event entry by Todd Chase from Pine Glen NB. Todd qualified his cool Daytona #21 but his event quest ended in round one.

Our favourite Canadian Lucas Oil Drag Racing series car had to be Wendall Howes’ (Plan B!) ’68 Barracuda – which runs as a SS/IA. Wendall (from Rothesay NB) roared to a quick .938 sub index run during qualifying.

Mike Scott (Calgary) was the quickest Canadian entered in Top Fuel Harley racing. His 7.030 secs was #14 for 20 machines entered at the conclusion of qualifying.

Maritimes veteran drag racer Doug Forbes tried his hand in Top Dragster racing with his S&W Chevy powered car. Forbes (from New Brunswick) qualified #20 but then had a red-light foul in round #1.

Tyler Scott and team owner Larry Dobbs raced their Ontario-based Harmon HVS Camaro in TAFC. They lost a close round #1 match to DJ Cox – 5.504 secs to 5.554 secs

Melanie Salemi (who is originally from Orillia ON) entered her 2nd career NHRA Pro Mod event in the potent Western NY-based Strange-sponsored Firebird. Mel ran a best of 5.904 secs – but that missed the super quick bump.

Legendary Canadian engine builder Ray Barton was at Gainesville monitoring the action in the FS/XX class which features many racers with his engine programs.

Vito Bosca entered his Bathurst NB based ’86 Camaro in Super Gas. Bosca, who did have a runner-up in the class the week before during the LODRS divisional event – lost on a red-light in round two this time.

Some very promising stuff from the all new injected nitro Can-Am TAD team developed by Jeff Chatterson and Dyno Dave Heitzman. The team qualified at their first ever NHRA national event (5.367 secs). (DragRaceCanada will have a feature on this racing cooperative – coming soon!)

Jim Bell’s Edmonton-based turbocharged Camaro was the quickest Canadian PM car at the event. With skilled Carl Stevens Jr at the controls they ran a 5.832 secs at 254 mph to crack into the swift program.

Al Kenny was the top finishing Canadian Sportsman driver at Gainesville. The Kingston-based racer won in Top Dragster – which was his 8th career NHRA national event score – but first in the T/D category.

Two of Canadian drag racing top talents – Barry Paton and Daniel Mercier – sharing some thoughts!

This first round battle in Super Comp was all Canadian with Jason Kenny (far lane) defeating Jim Morrison.

James Cowie vaults off the Gainesville Raceway starting line in his popular “Lobo” Corvette from Miramichi NB.

Quebec’s Daniel Mercier made some nice performance strides at the Gatornationals. He qualified his injected nitro car #9 with a 5.259 secs and recorded (what we believe to be) his career best speed – 279.61 mph!

A lot of eyes were on Port Perry’s Eric Latino in Pro Mod racing. He entered his first race back after that major crash at Las Vegas late last year. Eric is now driving the former ’69 Chevelle raced by Jim Whitely.  Eric did run a promising 5.918 secs.

All photos by Bruce Biegler

To view additional images from the Gatornationals weekend – link to our event photo gallery:  HERE