Canadians Click at Rocky Mountain Nationals
Canadian racer participation was enormous and that equated to a slew of victories during Western Canada’s biggest annual drag racing event – the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals last weekend at Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway….
With gracious host Mopar Canada looking on, Canadian drivers made a clean sweep within the event’s Professional categories of Top Fuel, Nitro (Nostalgia) Funny Car, Pro Modified and Nitro Bike. They also shined in the event’s added attraction match racing and regional 6.90 Funny Car class as well as the IHRA’s “double header” Summit Pro Am Divisional events held for Sportsman racing.
John LaPorte’s invading Ontario-based Top Fuel dragster team which features driver Ike Maier continued their rather torrid ownership of IHRA Top Fuel class racing. After scoring at the Mopar sponsored race at Grand Bend Motorplex just two weeks prior, Maier won over a 4-car field at Edmonton to extend his winning ways.
After qualifying 2nd (with a 5.037 secs) Maier beat Scott Palmer in round one before then winning easily in the final over Kyle Wurtzel. Ike recorded a winning 4.988 secs at 279.73 mph while Wurtzel’s car lit up on the starting line.
That victory also marked a successful title defence for the LaPorte Racing team which in fact went undefeated during the 2013 version Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals held here last year.
“We’re now two for two within IHRA racing this year,” said Ike. “We made solid passes here and Jimbo and the crew did a great job giving me a consistent car.”
British Columbia’s own “Iceman” — Tim Nemeth — won the Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals Nitro Funny Car title for the second year in a row; beating hometown favourite and 3X event winner, Tim Boychuk in the final.
After first trading the top spot in Nitro Funny Car qualifying with Boychuk throughout the weekend, Tim Nemeth capped off a wild weekend with a thrilling come from behind win.
For the championship, Boychuk had a significant starting line advantage before something mechanical slowed his progress to a 6.190 secs at 205.19 mph which was in the end no match for Nemeth’s triumphant 5.929 secs at 238.05 mph.
Nemeth (who is from Chilliwack) had beaten Alberta’s Jordan Pawlick and Californian Devery Howard while advancing to the final.
“We were really excited about this event. We got here early, got setup and really focused on the possibility of back-to-back wins at one of our favorite tracks,” Nemeth said. “We started the weekend off rough. We had a good first round of qualifying, but after that we started to struggle and we thought this might not be a back-to-back weekend after all. But last night, I got everyone together, we had a nice dinner and I told them to suck it up, put the bad behind us and go to work. We got up this morning and everything just came together.”
Calgary’s Joe Delehay made the best of his return to IHRA event Pro Mod racing and claimed his 2nd career IHRA Ironman at Castrol Raceway.
Driving his supercharged Chevy Camaro – Delehay was by far the most dominating car at the event. His victory included both ends of the track Pro Mod record (6.001 secs and 240.72 mph).
“We came out this week with a new supercharger program that we had never run before,” said Delehay. “Castrol Raceway and the IHRA did a stellar job on the track preparation and we tried our best to run the first ever “five” in Pro Mod here – but came up just a bit short.”
Delehay’s ran a final round 6.086 secs at 238.72 mph to defeat the all new nitrous-injected Chevy Camaro driven by Sherwood Park’s Garry Weslosky which advanced to the final round in what was only it’s second ever event appearance.
Delehay’s win came over 14 other entries and included round wins over Kerry Stone and Glen Kerunsky.
For Delehay who was a dominate force within the new defunct WCPMA for many seasons – winning that points championship X4 – the win at Edmonton also kept an impressive streak going for him. He had previously won the 2013 Rocky Mountain Shootout (also at Edmonton last September) and then the marquee Street Car Super Nationals title at Las Vegas last October.
Pro Mod class racing also included the event’s most harrowing moment when Edmonton’s Toni Moretto had the transmission lock up in his nitrous-injected ’55 Chevy which resulted in a top end collision with Glen Kerunsky in round #2. Kerunsky’s machine received only a glancing blow and was able to continue, however Moretto’s car was heavily damaged — but thankfully the popular area racer did not suffer any injury.
Damian Cownden, from Victoria, B.C., won the Drag Specialties Nitro Bike category, meeting up with Nate Gagnon, from Qualican Beach, B.C. in the final.
Gagnon, who won IHRA’s most recent race in Grand Bend,Ontario just two weeks ago, had the advantage on the starting line with a .109 to a .137, but lost it at the top end as Cowndon rode to a 6.699 at 212.43. Gagnon had to shut it off early.
Cownden had set low ET of the event with a 6.596 secs qualifier over 4 other class entries.
The IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports and Parts Canada also featured competition within the highly popular regional Pro 6.90 Indexed Funny Car class which drew 17 cars for the 16 car eliminator.
Edmonton’s Shane Reykdal, who won this event in 2012 – prevailed again driving his very cool 1979 bodied Dodge Omni.
The Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car group driver wheeled his “E-Town Hustler” from the No. 7 position to victory lane. In the final he outdrove Edmonton’s Ryan Hodgson for the win. Reykdal combined a .025 light with a 6.982 at 197.62 mph as Hodgson broke-out by scant .003 secs.
Reykdal added wins over Cal Tebb, Landon Goudreau and Troy Sitko on his way to his second career Ironman.
Dawn Perdue (from Oxford PA) won the 4-car Jet Dragster feature portion over three other lady drivers, Elaine Larson, Katarina Moller and Marisha Falk.
She claimed the event with a final round 6.008, 262.74 nog to defeat Marisha Falk who rolled the beams and fouled out.
The event also featured some impressive booked in match racing not the least of which came in the form of NHRA legal Top Alcohol cars.
Manitoba’s Clif Bakx took the controls of a A/FD normally piloted by Gord Gingles and reset both ends of the Castrol Raceway track record for that class at 5.426 secs and 266.64 mph while winning his best of 3 match over Greg Sereda’s supercharged TAD.
TAFC paired off the two best cars running out of Alberta with Greg Hunter driving Geoff Goodwin’s SynOil Fluids Monte Carlo versus John Evanchuk’s Fury Racing Fuels Chevy. Hunter won that set 3-0 — with all matches being very close.
Sunday’s sportsman winners for the Summit Racing Equipment Regional Pro-Am event were Cody Liwiski (Top Sportsman), Scott Hearn (Top Dragster), Mark Faul (Super Stock), Ed Matiejewski (Stock), Mike Shannon (Quick Rod), Dave Stobbe (Super Rod), Carey Borchuk (Hot Rod).
The remaining sportsman winners included George LeBlanc (Box ET), Ray Peck (No Box ET), Jenna Michaud (Junior Master), Kassie Thomas (Junior Advanced) and Connor Scott (Junior Beginner).
Saturday’s Sportsman winners in the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour (race #1) included Scott Taylor (Top Dragster), Gary Miserva (Top Sportsman), Mark Faul (Super Stock), Casey Plaizier (Stock), Len Mayer (Quick Rod), Tom Patterson (Super Rod) and Casey Plaizier (Hot Rod).
The ET Bracket titles for Saturday went to Greg McLellan (Box), Kalim Menzel (No Box & ET Final), Chase Liwiski (Junior Beginner), Broderick Allison (Junior Advanced) and Matthew Michaud (Junior Master). Gary Henault (from Cold Lake AB) won the Drag Specialties Motorcycle eliminator on his Suzuki.
Posted with files from Bruce Biegler and Larry Crum
Photos by: Bruce Biegler and Don Meleshko
To view DragRaceCanada Rocky Mountain Nationals event photo gallery click: HERE